Zombie Suburbs

Alana Semuels, reporting for the Altantic:

Alana Semeuls

Alana Semeuls

There are hundreds of zombie subdivisions like this one scattered across the country. They’re one of the most visible reminders of the housing boom and bust, planned and paved in the heady days where it seemed that everybody wanted a home in the suburbs, and could afford it, too. But when the economy tanked, many of the developers behind these subdivisions went belly-up, and construction stopped. In some cases, a few people have moved into homes in these half-built subdivisions, requiring services to be delivered there. In others, the land is empty, except for roads, sidewalks, and the few street signs that haven’t been stolen yet. In some counties in the West, anywhere from 15 to 33 percent of all subdivision lots are vacant, according to the Sonoran Institute.

”Since the post-2007 real estate bust, which hit many parts of the region severely, eroding subdivision roads now slice through farmland and open space, and ‘spec’ houses stand alone amid many rural and suburban landscapes,” author Jim Holway wrote in a report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy about zombie subdivisions. “Without correction, they will continue to weaken fiscal health, property values and quality of life in affected communities.”

Reckless we are in development of land. Matters are worse. Bankrupt we are.