Top Ten Problems with Urban Sprawl and Suburbia

Sep 2009
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Urban sprawl creates many problems for the future of this country, and here are many of the reasons why. As reasoned by Dr. Jeffrey Roth.

1. Sprawl development contributes to the loss of support for public facilities and public amenities.

Residents of sprawl communities have access to public facilities that they do not support with their tax dollars. Suburban citizens can enjoy city facilities while benefiting from lower suburban tax rates.

2. Sprawl undermines effective maintenance of existing infrastructure.

Existing developed areas - cities, and older suburbs - have sewers, water systems, city streets, bridges, schools, transit systems and other hard infrastructure to maintain. What happens if population sprawls from the urban core?

3. Sprawl increases societal costs for transportation.

Typical scenarios include the conversion, after sprawl has occured, of exurban two lane roads to four lanes or six lanes, adding signals, construction of grade separations for intersections, and building county or inner-county connector highways and metropolitan belt roads. This causes great expense and disruption.

4. Sprawl consumes more resources than other development patterns.

Homes, offices, utilities and other features are farther apart, requiring more asphalt, more lengths of pipe, more conduits, and more wires. Each commercial and institutional structure requires its own acres of parking. Much of the utility infrastructure is duplicative. Society's overall consumption of metal, concrete, asphalt, and energy is higher.

5. Sprawl separates urban poor from jobs.

An automobile and the resources to maintain are essential for work in suburbs. Where are most new jobs in the modern economy? Sprawl reduces the availability of jobs in urban areas unless you own a car.

6. Sprawl imposes a tax on time.

Sprawl development requires that we spend more time on the road. We have separate residential housing, food stores, other retail establishments, warehouse and transfer facilities, industry, schools, and office buildings. This leads to more automobile travel.

7. Sprawl degrades water and air quality.

Sprawl development is hard on streams, wetlands, and runoff quality. Sprawl increases the area of impervious surface, rapid erosion and structural degradation of streams and rivers. It increases the frequency and intensity of flooding, and air pollution can be worse over a larger area.

8. Sprawl results in the permanent alteration or destrution of habitats.

Sprawl development converts large areas of land to asphalt, concrete, and structures. There is loss of productive farmland near metropolitan areas. Habitat Fragmentation.

9. Sprawl creates difficulty in maintaining community.

Sprawl communites require more driving, and more complicated arrangements to maintain social connections. Children are at the mercy of scheduled activities and "play dates."
Planner William Fulton: "a constant caravan between the residential cocoon, where citizenship is exercised only in narrow, self-interested ways, and the spending and working cocoons, where citizenship is totally surrendered to the commercial forces that run the place."

10. Sprawl offers the promise of choice while delivering more of the same.

If you want a new house, you can have one on a half-acre in the suburbs with no retail around. If you want to locate a store or an office, the arterial strip or highway interchange is for you. If you want transportation, you can use your car. If you are poor, you can live in substandard housing in the inner city, or manufactured housing on the farthest fringes of the metropolitan area. This lack of choice is why every part of exurban America resembles every other part.
 
Sep 2009
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So the solution is what? We should all live in metropolitan areas?
Fuck that.
Please. Do not jump to conclusions so quickly.

Sprawl is inherently doomed. It cannot last as it is unsustainable. I would wager that no one could reason in any rational way that urban sprawl is anywhere close to being sustainable.

The cure to this, is to explore and create development that is sustainable. This will require work, and there is no panacea for our troubles, like you seem to have wanted to think was my response.
 

sparsely

Former Staff
Jan 2011
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Cow, TX
Please. Do not jump to conclusions so quickly.

Sprawl is inherently doomed. It cannot last as it is unsustainable. I would wager that no one could reason in any rational way that urban sprawl is anywhere close to being sustainable.

The cure to this, is to explore and create development that is sustainable. This will require work, and there is no panacea for our troubles, like you seem to have wanted to think was my response.
I was just wondering where you were going with this.
I'm basically committed to the notion that if we wish to become sustainable with our current levels of technology and consumption, we must go back to a more agrarian society while embracing the benefits of modern technologies which reduce our collective resource usage.
 
Jul 2011
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Tennessee
i like living where is live. i have a large yard that i can go out into and enjoy it and feel that my neighbors are not right on top of me. i have never lived in a an apartment and would never do so. i like my space. it's great.
 
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Sep 2009
8,021
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I was just wondering where you were going with this.
I'm basically committed to the notion that if we wish to become sustainable with our current levels of technology and consumption, we must go back to a more agrarian society while embracing the benefits of modern technologies which reduce our collective resource usage.
In a way yes, but we do not have to be agrarian to ensure a better future. There's a few terms and concepts that will help understand the direction I support, which include things like New Urbanism, Vancouverism, Smart Growth, Eco-cities, and the such.

With technological development into things like hydroponics, we can create vast amounts of crops within a city for half the price of conventional farming, and without any of the harmful chemicals that go into conventional farming.

All of these have yet to be put into any sort of reginal planning initiative.
 
Sep 2009
8,021
766
i like living where is live. i have a large yard that i can go out and enjoy it and feel that my neighbors are not right on top of me. i have never lived in a an apartment and would never do so. i like my space. it's great.
What about when gasoline is $7.00 a gallon?

What about when large scale disasters cut off the food sources for your city 1000 miles away?

Great book that I'd like to suggest. Collapse, by Jared Diamond.

More over, I want to ask the question...What are you dependent on in your day to day life?
 
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Jul 2011
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Who Asked??
So what Morgan and the rest of the Liberals are saying is we should abandon the idea of private property and space and all get crammed into apartment complexes. Sorry but the housing project failure is the key reason why it will never work.