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White Houston's Love Affair with the Suburbs Officially Over

Rice's annual Kinder Houston-Area Survey is out, and as usual there's a wide range of stuff to ponder in it.

One thing we noticed: You can officially pronounce dead white Houston's love affair with the suburbs.

"In 1999, 52 percent of Anglos living in the city of Houston said they would someday like to move to suburbs, compared with 26 percent of those in the suburbs who were interested in moving to the city," the survey found. "This year, the figures are reversed: Just 28 percent of city residents said they want to live in the suburbs, but 33 percent of suburbanites are now interested in someday moving to the city."

Inside the Loop over Cinco Ranch? Heresy.

"The romance with the automobile, which has been the essence of Houston for most of its modern history, is clearly fading," Rice's Stephen Klineberg said. "The suburbs are more crowded, gas prices and traffic congestion are soaring, fewer households have children at home, and the lure of urban amenities, both in downtown Houston and in suburban 'town centers,' is generating a sea-change in area residents' living preferences."

But what about all those minorities white people have to live with in the city?

"Houston is now the most ethnically and culturally diverse metropolitan area in the nation," Klineberg said. "The surveys indicate a growing acceptance of this remarkable new reality. Moreover, the animosity toward undocumented immigrants seems to be fading, and the achievement of comprehensive immigration reform may be more politically feasible today than it has been in many years."

The Kinder survey usually produces a rosy spin on things, so it may be that Houston will not turn into an idyllic urban paradise anytime soon. But maybe there's hope.


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