The potential costs of suburbanization are, of course, broader than farmland loss and
rising infrastructure costs. The decentralization of people and jobs also affects existing
communities and the quality of life for residents in old and new places. Low-density
suburban development increases automobile "dependence" as residents must drive
further to shop, work, and otherwise meet their needs. This dependence in turn increases
demand for more roads and also increases pollution. Both of these arguments are suspect,
however, since they both ignore other complicating elements.
Urban development and redevelopment is influenced by a number of "push" and
"pull" factors. Pull factors are a particular communitys characteristics
that attract people to live in it. The possibility of a larger house on a plot of land
might attract, or "pull," someone from a cramped city dwelling to a suburb or
rural town. The proximity to cultural and entertainment events such as professional sports
or the opera might pull others into downtown areas. Providing the kinds of neighborhoods
and housing opportunities people want is critical for developing, redeveloping, and
rejuvenating cities of all sizes. Large cities, for example, have a number of features
that attract businesses and people: roads, cultural activities, diverse and inexpensive
housing opportunities, and easy access to mass transit.
Equally important, however, are the push factors. Many cities suffer from poorly
functioning school systems, high tax rates, anti-competitive regulations, and old and
deteriorating housing stock. Cities may upgrade their housing stock, improve transit
opportunities and decorate their downtowns with new sports stadiums and casinos, but if
they do not address such basic push factors as poor schools, high taxes and crime, they
will continue to stagnate and decline.