Many of the authors' recommendations are familiar, partly because their planning principles have long since been incorporated into creative-class urban revitalization projects: mixed-use development, walkable streets, functional public transit, short blocks, narrow streets with buildings arranged by size, corner stores, and so on. And some of their recommendations reveal that New Urbanism is actually quite specific: neighborhoods should have corner stores, not Quik Marts; a neighborhood should be only a 10-minute walk across, with pocket parks in each of its corners and several elementary schools so that children can walk to school; the neighborhood center should focus on common activities; buildings should be low and close to the streets, with "semi-private attachments" that foster sociability;" bus stops should be dignified, so that public transit does not suffer from a "self-perpetuating underclass ridership;" parking should be hidden.
While some of these recommendations seem as though they are designed to foster community by keeping people in, many of them also seem designed to keep people out - particularly people who might go to a Quick Mart or ride the bus because they have to instead of because they want to, or even people who don't live close enough to the center of the neighborhood to be in the in-club of walkers. Further, the authors' emphasis on "traditional," combined with their acceptance that greenfield development can't be stopped, makes this book seem more like a way to market manufactured authenticity to city planners than a way to create truly inclusive, functional, democratic communities. This book is a clear statement of both the problem of sprawl and the solution of New Urbanism; I just don't think New Urbanism is the only or even the best solution.