Joel Kotkin recently discussed his new book, "The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050," on the radio. It's on my reading list. In the meantime, here're some of his main points:
No matter how much you may love New Urbanism, 80% of Americans prefer the suburbs, the 20% that does enjoy cities is heavily biased towards young renters, and immigrants love the suburbs even more than long-term natives. He points out that most people don't want to live in super dense urban areas and that "everyone's for smart growth, except in their neighborhood."
NYC and D.C. are the only major U.S. cities that have functioning economic centers that are amenable to mass public transit. Most cities are more like San Francisco, where work is distributed through multiple locations in the suburbs (e.g. Silicon Valley). Even if people were excited about public transit, it doesn't solve the issue of sprawl - suburbs originally sprang up on train lines, not highways.
He recommends telecommuting and living near where you work as solutions to gridlock. He seems to imagine suburban developments as town-like entities that cater to local needs with small, local town centers. He says that community cohesiveness can be fostered by investing in local cultural hubs like schools, churches and farmers' markets. He says Houston and Phoenix are cities of the future.