Biosphere 2 and ghost burbs

Biosphere 2

The Anasazi in Temecula post I linked to recently got me thinking. It likened the enormous numbers of abandoned and emptying out subdivisions in the once-booming city of Temecula CA to the Anasazi leaving their ancient settlements.

Last week, Sue and I toured Biosphere 2 in Tucson AZ. Originally built as a closed-system experiment where eight people lived sealed inside for two years, it has passed through a number of owners and seems now like an abandoned space ship, slowly falling into disrepair. Oh, the tour guides try to keep a happy face and some experiments still go on, but rust is appearing on the supporting beams, maintenance is needed, and it seems slowly and inalterably doomed.

So too seem the numerous subdivisions all over southern California spawned by subprime. Built in hot desert-like areas requiring insane commutes to get to work, they appeared because prices in the big cities were too high for many to afford. Now those city prices are dropping fast and the subprime developments are filled with foreclosure signs.

For any recovery to occur, prices in these developments will have to fall much more than in the cities, else why live there and deal with a two hour commute each way to work. But by then the local economy will have taken huge hits, which will make people even less likely to buy.

Driving through Arizona last September to Utah on back roads, we went through a little town, I forget the name, that had about dried up and blown away. Will the ongoing foreclosure crisis be creating more towns like that? And how do we help those who lost homes and how do the cities and towns in those areas start to recover?

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