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Thread: Is Urban Sprawl Really A Problem?

  1. #26
    Member Bucky alum's avatar
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    fences

    My mother who lives in Madison Wi just got a new neighbor with 3 young children. The new neighbor came out introduced himself to my mother and said "Well, I don't like all these open yards without fences, where my kids could play in and get hurt" I'm going to have a fence built next week. My mother was surprised that the best thing about the neighborhood, the neighbors, are what he was shutting out. Well, the new owner has already pissed off all of his new neighbors and guess where they moved from. Sacramento!! You are right, out west they know how to build suburbs...

  2. #27

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    Yep. Pretty soon, she can expect that neighbor to agitate for the public works department to build wider streets, too. I mean, if you can't bake in the sun, how do you know you have "arrived" to suburbia. After all, trees are "messy" and we can't have "messy" can we? And, they might hide my collection of lawn flamingos and plastic fawns!

    God, I am a snob! No more nasty suburban rants, I promise. My suburb is more like the evil redneck neighbor's hood, though.

  3. #28

    Re: And the point of what you are showing in all those pictures is?

    Originally posted by Streck
    It seems like those houses are too close together. Needs more "sprawl" space between houses don't you think?


    There's lots of space between the "built-up" areas. Anyway, I wouldn't want to consider this "urban" . . .
    http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/ima...rials1/63.JPEG
    http://tigger.uic.edu/depts/ahaa/ima...rials1/80.JPEG





    A map I found in one of the Planetizen articles:
    http://landcover.usgs.gov/urban/umap...s_wma/fig1.gif
    The extent of urban or built-up areas for 1975 and 1995.
    The 1995 data is derived from a dataset of city lights assembled by NOAA using 231 nighttime orbits of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP)
    Operational Linescan System (Elvidge et al.,in press).
    The 1975 data is from Digital Chart of the World, a dataset derived by the Defense Mapping Agency from the Operational Navigation Chart (ONC) map series.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 31 Jul 2006 at 2:38 PM.

  4. #29
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    Don't worry, after all the hospitable places are concreted over in California and Florida we'll still have the swamps, mountains, deserts and the dakotas left. We once left unhospitable land to the indians, now we leave it to nature.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Measuring Sprawl and Its Impact

    Good stuff!

    http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/sp...rawlindex.html

    Much as Justice Potter Stewart said of pornography, most people would be hard pressed to define urban sprawl, but they know it when they see it.

    Increasingly, however, that is not good enough. As more and more metropolitan areas debate the costs and consequences of poorly managed expansion there is an increasing need to be clear about the terms of the discussion. Politicians and planners aiming to contain sprawl also must have an agreed-upon way to define and measure it in order to track their progress. Beyond that, it is important for policy makers to be able to demonstrate how, and to what degree, sprawl has real implications for real people.

    The study underlying this report, the product of three years of research by Reid Ewing of Rutgers University and Rolf Pendall of Cornell University, represents the most comprehensive effort yet undertaken to define, measure and evaluate metropolitan sprawl and its impacts. This report is the first in a series of findings to be issued based on the ongoing analysis of that work.


    ...also...

    The researchers created a matrix that uses 22 variables to rate 83 metropolitan areas on four different aspects of their development: residential density; neighborhood mixes of homes; jobs and services; strength of 'activity centers' such as entertainment or shopping and downtown areas; and street network accessibility.

    According to the report, the most sprawling city is Riverside-San Bernardino, California while the least sprawling is New York City. Although many people will be interested in simply the ranking of their city, the co-authors of the study hope that the findings will help cities or regions focus on the areas that are hurting them the most.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Re: Re: And the point of what you are showing in all those pictures is?

    Originally posted by SouthSideSlayer
    The 1975 data is from Digital Chart of the World, a dataset derived by the Defense Mapping Agency from the Operational Navigation Chart (ONC) map series.
    That map is not really indicative of sprawl, but indicative of urbanization. Lights are not a good indication of sprwal.
    Around these parts, the areas I would classify as "sprawl" do not have an abundance of City lights. The town I work for is 2 townships west of, and in a direct flight path of MKE's General Mitchel International. Flying into Milwaukee by night you can not pick out my community by its lights, yet our immediate neighbor to the east looks like a "light bright" set - it is highly recognizeable in its illuminated street patterns and commercial nodes.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Having grown up in a few suburban sprawl areas, I am more comfortable with sprawl than what I consider the evils of the inner city.

    It seems that, given the choice of the two cities previously mentioned, (Riverside-San Bernadino and New York City) I'd take Riverside over New York City anytime, and I've never even seen Riverside (but I know it can't be all bad if it has "sprawl")!

    Please enlighten me on the evils of suburban sprawl for those who might choose to live there.

    As for fences:

    We have a dog that prefers to be inside with us most of the time, but when he wants to go outside, it is good to have a fenced yard for him to roam yet not disturb neighbors. We have a leash law that prohibits animals from running loose scaring children at play or endangering themselves in traffic.

    It is also a pleasure to know that your younger kids are safe in your own back yard, and not playing in traffic.

    I notice an example of poor planning or zoning in that apparently residential units are backed right up to an incompatible commercial shopping center without a buffer of landscaping.

    There should be more "sprawl" between the residential units and commercial use. Who would want to live right next to a shopping center?

    What a view!

    What pleasant night lighting there must be!

    What a diminishment of property values and quality of life this must be - even if you have to live there temporarily!
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 31 Jul 2006 at 2:39 PM.

  8. #33
    DA Monkey's avatar
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    Re: Re: argue

    Originally posted by Tranplanner


    but the developers will oftentimes say that they can't or won't build that way because "that's not what the market wants"
    The issue of sprawl is very current in Queensland planning circles, with many people, both planners and politicians, supporting "densification" and often expounding its benefits.

    In spite of all the anti-sprwal rhetoric we still see vast tracts of rural land etc, lying on the very edges of city areas being carved up for "master planned communities".

    These communities push a lifestyle of self contained bliss and community dwelling, a mixture of housing styles, modern architecture and usually lakes or golf courses etc.

    I do not believe developers who say "its what the market wants" because they advertise heavily to create the market.

    Perhaps the answer to sprawl is to really let "the market" decide, afterall, without the pressure of consumerism and ideal lifestyles to push us (the market) would we rationally choose to live an hour or more (by car) from our workplaces, schools, shops etc.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    i invite anyone to travel US 1 from Petersburg, VA to Portland, ME and tell me or themselves that sprawl is not a problem. 600 miles of stripmalls, subdivisions, kwiki-marts, and gas stations is a ghastly problem.

    That "5% developed" line is just that - a line . . . of crap.
    First - that number includes Alaska. There's more people in a 5 mile radius of me than in all of Alaska.
    Second - that number refers only to developed lots. A 50x100 lot between two strip malls hardly counts as open or "undeveloped" space.
    Third - if you took every street, highway, parking lot, and driveway in the country and pushed it all into a corner it would cover, from end to end, all of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey - if you're from the midwest think of Iowa as a vast macadam desert with catastrophic floods everytime it rains.

    exclude Alaksa, Hawaii, PR, Guam and every other colony and add up all of the impermeable cover (lawns included) and i'd put the number at around 10%. Add to that all of the in between parcels and neighborhood parks that haven't been filled in yet and we're looking at more like 15%.

    like someone else said above 'Sure it's a big country but not all of it is arable and a lot more is marginal'

    on the other hand i don't think we'll have a problem if food production becomes an issue. The suburbs of the last 30 years, those that take up the most space on the best land, have few if any environmental issues and can be easily reverted to farming if the market demands it.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta
    on the other hand i don't think we'll have a problem if food production becomes an issue. The suburbs of the last 30 years, those that take up the most space on the best land, have few if any environmental issues and can be easily reverted to farming if the market demands it.
    Many suburbanites, in the quest for the perfect lawn, dump enough chemicals on their lawns to qualify them for superfund status. I think a lot of remediation will be needed to turn it all back into farmland.

    "Kids, you have to stay in side and play nintendo. Daddy just sprayed the lawn and the grass will eat the flesh off your bones if you play outside." :-0

  11. #36
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Jeresta, I am not sure if you are opposed to open space (what has been dirisively called sprawl") or not.

    If you are complaining about the endless commercial development along major thoroughfares, it may be that you have an architectural design problem.

    We require significant front yard set-backs, landscaping, and low (6 foot max) signage if not on the building. We require a generous amount of specific shurbs and trees both diciduous and evergreen. Landscaping is the cheapest way to enhance cityscapes. It also serves to provide visual space separation between non-compatible architectural styles (if any).

    All buildings over 5,000 sq ft are required to be designed and stamped by a registered architect. We have architectural guidelines. We have a very active Mayor and Board of Aldermen that get into enforcing and protecting those guidelines.

    We have not yet been successful in removing unsightly electrical and cable TV lines on thoroghfares, but they are underground in our residential subdivisions and must be underground on commercial property.

    We have active stormwater detention that also adds to the scenic beauty of our small town. We have preserved a small part of our city where a couple of buildings are too close together, and use that as examples of what could happen to the whole city if not controlled.

    Developers and Owners have considerable influence over what architects are able to do. There is no accounting for bad taste. We have been very successful in "enlightening" absentee commercial developers and owners about our concerns for the people who will continue to live here after they are gone.

    We have a reputation for good planning in our city. Good planning has been an asset for us, and the citizens heartily support it. They expect us to enforce its provisions in order to preserve what we have and protect property values for all.

    I am not a planner, but I recognize what can be done. It may be too late for some.

    I am on the Planning Commission and appreciate the knowledge, skill, and personal conflict resolution that Professional Planners must have. We have been fortunate. Thank you.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck
    They expect us to enforce its provisions in order to preserve what we have and protect property values for all.
    Since when has it been a function of government to "protect property values?"

  13. #38
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Sprawl is a problem when your population in the MSA continues to decline, yet continue to migrate outward, as is the case in the northeast.

    As for the southeast and southwest, it is a problem as massive areas are turned into low density development because of a population influx, when really the city centers should be increasing their density. Infrastructure suffers because of sprawl because of the distances it must go to serve a spread out population.

    I'll throw this in here to spark a debate (may be true or not).

    Central Park may be more regularly used than all of the backyards of suburbia combined (in terms of area and users). Not saying its true, but it seems like a lot of space is wasted for that victorious green lawn. Plus parents yell at the kids when they go on the grass. "Play in the streets you little bastardians!!!"
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  14. #39
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    I cannot believe no one has tackled Streck's comments.

    Streck some people prefer suburban sprawl over more urban areas. You'll find here that 90 percent of educated planners are strictly against suburban sprawl. Maybe we here can convert you before its too late for your small town

    BTW you mentioned that a apartment complex was built right next to a shopping center. First of all, never in my life will i approve a shopping center ANYWHERE to be constructed, i plan to fight suburban sprawl til i die. And also i'd never allow a suburban apartment complex built either. First you are right, who would want to live near the shopping center, but also, who wants to live in a suburban apartment complex?

  15. #40
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Kobayashi
    I cannot believe no one has tackled Streck's comments.

    Streck some people prefer suburban sprawl over more urban areas. You'll find here that 90 percent of educated planners are strictly against suburban sprawl. Maybe we here can convert you before its too late for your small town
    Then I shudder for our educational system.

    . . . who wants to live in a suburban apartment complex?
    Well, Yuppies love 'em! Especially if there is a pool, so you can meet others with like interests. And young people while they save for their dream house in the Burbs.

    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Since when has it been a function of government to "protect property values?"
    I take this as a well intended Conservative comment.

    And as a Conservative, I must report that there is a need for government by the people. A government that will assure the domestic tranquility and the national defense. As a natural consequence of the law and order principles that Conservatives love, enforcement of the laws and regulations created and agreed upon by the people tend to protect and serve the common interests, and perhaps as an unintended consequence, they protect our property values.

    I hope as a fellow Conservative, you will accept that.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 25 Jun 2004 at 7:18 AM.

  16. #41
    Kobayashi's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck
    Then I shudder for our educational system.



    Well, Yuppies love 'em! Especially if there is a pool, so you can meet others with like interests. And young people while they save for their dream house in the Burbs.
    I am a yuppie and i have NO aspirations of living in a apartment dullplex.

    The only reason why the innercity schools are worse than the suburban schools is due to the fact that all the fat rich white folk, got scared and to the burbs 50 years ago, once the school in considered "bad" it will NEVER go to being a "good" school. What middle-upper class white people would send their kids to a urban school?

    BTW i'm strongly against public schools, but thats another dicussion for another day. I don't plan on having kids until i have enough money saved for a quality education in a private prep school.

  17. #42
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Kobayashi
    IFirst of all, never in my life will i approve a shopping center ANYWHERE to be constructed, i plan to fight suburban sprawl til i die. And also i'd never allow a suburban apartment complex built either. First you are right, who would want to live near the shopping center, but also, who wants to live in a suburban apartment complex?
    You have a lot to still learn.....

    You will not be approving or denying anything. A planner's role is advisory to a commission or board. They make the decisions.

    Also, these boards will likely at some point find themselves required by law to approve that apartment complex as a way to provide affordable or workforce housing. Many states are forcing communities to provide their fair share of the regional affordable housing stock.

    People who work retail and make minimum wage need places to live too.....
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  18. #43
    Kobayashi's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    You have a lot to still learn.....

    You will not be approving or denying anything. A planner's role is advisory to a commission or board. They make the decisions.

    Also, these boards will likely at some point find themselves required by law to approve that apartment complex as a way to provide affordable or workforce housing. Many states are forcing communities to provide their fair share of the regional affordable housing stock.

    People who work retail and make minimum wage need places to live too.....
    Obviously i used the wrong terminology, but what i basically meant is i will do everything in my power to fight suburban sprawl.

  19. #44
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Kobayashi
    Obviously i used the wrong terminology, but what i basically meant is i will do everything in my power to fight suburban sprawl.
    And how is allowing higher density not fighting sprawl?
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  20. #45
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Kobayashi
    You'll find here that 90 percent of educated planners are strictly against suburban sprawl.
    That is the single most idiotic statement I've seen posted on this board in a long, long time.

  21. #46
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Kobayashi

    BTW i'm strongly against public schools, but thats another dicussion for another day. I don't plan on having kids until i have enough money saved for a quality education in a private prep school.
    Perhaps you shouldn't have them at all.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  22. #47
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    90% of urban planners say they don't like sprawl but their day job involves inforcing it. :d:

  23. #48
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck
    Jeresta, I am not sure if you are opposed to open space (what has been dirisively called sprawl") or not.
    was this an attempt to segue? I have no idea what you're getting at but i'm a big fan of open space . . . which is why i'm not fond of driving for 12 hours in what is, esentially, bumper to bumper traffic through the largest, uninterrupted "city" in the world.

    If you are complaining about the endless commercial development along major thoroughfares, it may be that you have an architectural design problem.
    sure i have a problem with design but if that were all there was to it i might be able to overlook it. The problem is that subdivisions sprawl for miles behind those commercial developments.

    We require significant front yard set-backs, landscaping, and low (6 foot max) signage if not on the building. We require a generous amount of specific shurbs and trees both diciduous and evergreen. Landscaping is the cheapest way to enhance cityscapes. It also serves to provide visual space separation between non-compatible architectural styles (if any).

    All buildings over 5,000 sq ft are required to be designed and stamped by a registered architect. We have architectural guidelines. We have a very active Mayor and Board of Aldermen that get into enforcing and protecting those guidelines.

    We have not yet been successful in removing unsightly electrical and cable TV lines on thoroghfares, but they are underground in our residential subdivisions and must be underground on commercial property.

    We have active stormwater detention that also adds to the scenic beauty of our small town. We have preserved a small part of our city where a couple of buildings are too close together, and use that as examples of what could happen to the whole city if not controlled.

    Developers and Owners have considerable influence over what architects are able to do. There is no accounting for bad taste. We have been very successful in "enlightening" absentee commercial developers and owners about our concerns for the people who will continue to live here after they are gone.

    We have a reputation for good planning in our city. Good planning has been an asset for us, and the citizens heartily support it. They expect us to enforce its provisions in order to preserve what we have and protect property values for all.

    I am not a planner, but I recognize what can be done. It may be too late for some.

    I am on the Planning Commission and appreciate the knowledge, skill, and personal conflict resolution that Professional Planners must have. We have been fortunate. Thank you.
    thanks. i've been in plenty of suburban towns with strict design standards and yes, they're all pleasant. Unfortunately, aesthetics doesn't help me with protecting open space.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  24. #49
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jresta

    thanks. i've been in plenty of suburban towns with strict design standards and yes, they're all pleasant. Unfortunately, aesthetics doesn't help me with protecting open space.
    Yes, I agree. These comments were primarily aimed at preserving open space on a small scale (yards).

    I find that the federal Floodplain (shouldn't that be Floodplane?) regulations help preserve a lot of open space. It is real good when you can place a major thoroughfare along side some of it (scenic routes) so it can be seen and enjoyed by more people more of the time.

    Is it appropriate to designate some portion of some owner's agricultural land that he is holding as a valid business investment, having the ultimate purpose of developing it into commercial use at the appropriate (economic) time?

    Is it right for the city to designate someone's land for open space preservation?

    Shouldn't the city have to compete and buy the land?

    Doesn't the city have to pay fair value of the land if confiscated under Emminent Domain? (Of course the answer to this one is yes, the city has to pay. Does the city have the right to claim a need for "open space"?)

  25. #50
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck
    Is it appropriate to designate some portion of some owner's agricultural land that he is holding as a valid business investment, having the ultimate purpose of developing it into commercial use at the appropriate (economic) time?

    Is it right for the city to designate someone's land for open space preservation?

    Shouldn't the city have to compete and buy the land?

    Doesn't the city have to pay fair value of the land if confiscated under Emminent Domain? (Of course the answer to this one is yes, the city has to pay. Does the city have the right to claim a need for "open space"?)
    Maybe you should look into agricultural preservation districts the next time you update your master plan.
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

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