Urban Sprawl

Topics: Suburb, Urban sprawl, Land use Pages: 7 (2366 words) Published: February 8, 2006
Urban Sprawl, New Urbanism

A new revolution of thought has wage a war against low-density suburban growth or sprawl. But is sprawl really a problem? And could the proposed solutions do more harm than good? Sprawl typically conjures up images of strip malls and mega stores, traffic congestion, long commutes, lost open space, pollution, crowded schools, higher taxes, and the demise of downtown shopping areas. Activists throughout the country are fighting proposals to build new retail stores proposed by large chains like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and McDonald's. Control of suburban growth has emerged as a major issue in state and local governments. The war on sprawl is inspired by the New Urbanism or Smart Growth movement: the demand for better planning to achieve a vision of livable or sustainable communities. This new thought of New Urbanism was created, mostly by city regional planners, in order to respond to the quality of life in our inner cities deteriorate due to a wide range of inter-connected issues such as: Creating strip malls out of farmland in the suburbs pulls people away from central cities: Fewer people (especially families) in central cities leads to a smaller tax base for services including schools and parks and recreation; and deteriorating schools and public places leads the middle class families to leave cities, and results in the decay of inner cities. The goals of the new urbanism movement encourage governments to build social capital and address the problems of urban sprawl. New urbanism is a way to develop public space; it is about design, and recognizes that our built environment influences the way we enjoy life and how people use their community. Defining Sprawl

Sprawl can be defined as a pattern of urban and metropolitan growth that reflects low-density, automobile-dependent, exclusionary new development on the fringe of settled areas often surrounding a deteriorating city. Among the traits of metropolitan growth frequently associated with sprawl are unlimited development; leapfrog development, fragmentation of land use planning among multiple municipalities; reliance on private automobiles for transportation; large fiscal disparities among municipalities; segregation of types of land use, race and class based exclusionary housing and employment; congestion and environmental damage; and a declining sense of community among area residents.

The growth of suburbs was a reaction to the ills of industrial cities: dirt and grime, air pollution, high crime rates, and dilapidated housing owned by absentee landlords . Upwardly mobile city residents sought to become property owners, and they wanted single-family homes in clean, spacious suburbs among people with similar radical and ethnic backgrounds . The expansion of street-car and subway lines enables people to live outside the cities where they were employed. Thus, the Industrial Revolution that had originally brought house-holds into the cities now provided the means for them to leave it. Federal subsidies enable many returning World War II veterans to obtain inexpensive mortgages for single-family homes, as well as assistance in attending college. Workers' residential locations were no longer bound by rail and transit lines as increasing auto ownership provided unprecedented freedom in allowing people to easily commute to jobs from any given point in the surrounding suburbs. The automobile made possible the development of previously inaccessible land not served by mass transit. It became a commuting necessity and created commuter suburbs. Commuter suburbs were built at lower densities that earlier suburbs that were tied to fixed transit lines Causes of Sprawl

Families choose to live in those communities that offer the most attractive bundle of goods the families can afford. The quality of local schools, crime rates, access to retail shops, availability of parks and playground, fire and police protection, and transportation...
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