25 October 2008

When this Crisis Ends, Will Sprawl Continue?

When housing starts begin again, should we continue on the same model?

...For a half-century we've watched the suburban sprawl machine ... with little regard for aesthetics, for the rising cost of energy or, for that matter, the cost of leaving the region's have-nots behind in older, have-not communities.

We convinced ourselves that nothing could be done about this process because, after all, it's a free country. It's what people want. And the business model—buying up land by the quarter section and selling it by the square foot—was surefire...

....maybe, it's time to revisit the inevitability of suburban sprawl.

...If the federal government can use our tax dollars to bolster private banks, why can't states, counties and towns require private developers to include some energy efficiency, transit access, walkways and just plain common sense?

Over the last half-century our metropolitan region has roughly doubled in size—as measured by the amount of land we sprawl across—while our population has grown barely 20 percent. Where's the sense in that?

...main growth sectors will be: 1) senior citizens and 2) immigrants of limited means. Seniors will want to live closer to shops and services. Immigrants will want to live affordably and near their jobs. Neither will have much use for drywall palaces along the suburban fringe.

"It's time...to start planning what the future should be."

5 comments:

anthrocinci said...

suburban sprawl machine vs. the urban growth boundary, a la portland. buy your tickets.

i think a focus of any kind of post-bailout urban political will should be lobbying for a urban growth boundary, esp with legislation to centralize control (in cinci) of utilities and infrastructure development. that's the only way i can see to reign in mason et al. otherwise, we might get "smart growth" but maybe it'll still be disjointed and atomistic?

anthrocinci said...

or, better said: if still disjointed development, efforts to coordinate things like bike paths will still take forever

DP said...

I went to the Oct 3/4 conference (?) that ULI and Roxanne Qualls put on regarding form-based codes. They had a developer there from Nashville who was claiming that the "drive 'til you qualify" approach is dead, because driving has become too expensive. According to him, people are demanding closer in, more ped-friendly housing.

I fall into what I assume is a small minority of people who was moderately excited about $4/gallon gas and the potential for a shift in national development trends.

But now that gas prices have dropped back down (I saw $2.25/gal today), are we going to go back to the same-old-same-old? Is there any indication that our brief brush with high gas prices will make a lasting impression on Americans preferences?

CityKin said...

I don't think we hang the success or failure of urban living on the price of oil. It needs to be a positive argument about what kind of places we want to live in.

I also went to that conference, at least the Friday part of it, and I have met the Nashville Planning Director, who is making all of that possible as well as Dave McGowan, who is the developer you mention. He is making money with smart growth developments, and he is successful because he is building what people really want irregardless of the price of gas.

I think smart development can be done and I am so glad that Roxanne is trying to make Cincy a leader in this regard.

5chw4r7z said...

There are so many things interconnected in sprawl, another little piece of the puzzle are the huge funds, retirement, investment etc. They have so much cash that human scale projects do not have big enough returns on investment. hence huge malls and lifestyle centers.