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Thread: Sprawl: how do you stop it?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Can sprawl be stopped? No.

    Should we try to stop it? Probably not. If people want to develop their land and are willing to pay the cost of doing so, mitigate impacts. and providing the necessary infrastructure, can we say "no?" Of course the problem is developers rarely really mitigate succesfully and almost never pay the costs. Residential development costs more than it brings in revenue.

    Should we as planners create incentives to develop near existing and planned infrastructure and provide disincentives to develop away from existing and planned infrastructure? Most definitely.

    What causes sprawl? There are so many things that help create sprawl. Cheap land. Cheap gas. People's desire to live where they can have a yard and a fresh clean house. And the list goes on. I don't ascribe to the theory that if we just make the inner cities more liveable, everyone will flock back. Not going to happen. Some people like living in cities. Some people like the suburbs. Some like their little piece of rural heaven. We have to accommodate everyone's dream as best we can.

    Me, I like living in a small city. That is my dream.

    There is a strong desire where I live and work to control sprawl. We are making the first tentative steps for zoning. We are working with a group of citizens, realtors and builders to develop standards for future development. Will it stop sprawl? Almost defintiely not. Will it control sprawl in a way the residents will be content about? We sure hope so.

    Bottom line is planners serve primarily as advisers to the governing body. We do not make policy. We can shape it, if the governing body listens. If the people want sprawl stopped, they must tell the governing body. We planners cannot stop sprawl. That requires the will of the people. I doubt the majority of the people are that worked up about it. Just planners and a super minority of citizens.

    At least that is my perspective.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  2. #27
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    At least that is my perspective.
    Otterpop, that was well put. Many good points were expressed. The idea of planners not being all powerful, regulated by larger powers, and the avenues planners can work within to effect change hits the spot.

    For what it is worth, I agree.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian
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    You do realize that suburbs are very harmful to people is a wasteful lifestyle, as well as it destroys the environment, wastes resources, etc... It is harmful to the health of citizens, and it is very harmful to cities. Sprawl must be stopped, to say it shouldn't be stopped is very wrong and is supporting the irresponsibility of our wasteful society.

    Sure this is America, but that doesn't mean people can do whatever they want with their land without consequence. We can have freedoms, but with those freedoms comes a great consequence. If we allow people to do whatever they want with land, and live however they want, then we will continue to kill our inner cities, we will continue to harm our environment, and we will continue to waste our resources.

  4. #29
    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Government is not evil and isn't always in favor of sprawl, you may want to take different point of views on the issue, because government again, is not evil or against urban growth.
    I didn't say it was evil, I said it was responsible.

    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    You do realize that suburbs are very harmful to people is a wasteful lifestyle, as well as it destroys the environment, wastes resources, etc... It is harmful to the health of citizens, and it is very harmful to cities. Sprawl must be stopped, to say it shouldn't be stopped is very wrong and is supporting the irresponsibility of our wasteful society.

    Sure this is America, but that doesn't mean people can do whatever they want with their land without consequence. We can have freedoms, but with those freedoms comes a great consequence. If we allow people to do whatever they want with land, and live however they want, then we will continue to kill our inner cities, we will continue to harm our environment, and we will continue to waste our resources.
    You are working off the assumption that some people (the government maybe?) are powerful enough to command sprawl to stop.

    It is more complicated than that. People avoid being controlled. That's the reason why sprawl exists in the first place.

  5. #30
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    You do realize that suburbs are very harmful to people is a wasteful lifestyle, as well as it destroys the environment, wastes resources, etc... It is harmful to the health of citizens, and it is very harmful to cities. Sprawl must be stopped, to say it shouldn't be stopped is very wrong and is supporting the irresponsibility of our wasteful society.

    Sure this is America, but that doesn't mean people can do whatever they want with their land without consequence. We can have freedoms, but with those freedoms comes a great consequence. If we allow people to do whatever they want with land, and live however they want, then we will continue to kill our inner cities, we will continue to harm our environment, and we will continue to waste our resources.
    Dude, you're borderline self-righteous, but passionate, which is good.

    The comments from many in this thread are from very capable, intelligent, and experienced people. They have shown that sprawl is not a single track specifically defined creature that can just be felled with one stone from a slingshot.

    It is a multi-faceted sociological and economic phenomenon that is very deeply ingrained.

    Here's the best thing you can do right now:

    Move to the inner city, rebuild a dilapidated house, organize a community association, get rid of your car (or at least buy a small gas sipper), talk to your pbulic officals and show them how not sprawling will benefit them and their constituents, and stop trying to change the world at once and change your life before you try to show others how your way of living is better than theirs.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by mendelman; 14 Feb 2007 at 12:14 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  6. #31
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    as is typical around here, mendelman is the source of reason

    HCB, I was feeling bad for you watching jaws eat you up but you need to understand that planning is a very messy profession that is not black and white, there is no right or wrong, often it just is, and often just is is chaotic - we do our best to proclaim the good word but remember that you need a plan from which to deviate - and it's okay when deviations arise, the lights go on in town hall tomorrow regardless

    have fun and don't burn out!

  7. #32
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    You do realize that suburbs are very harmful to people is a wasteful lifestyle, as well as it destroys the environment, wastes resources, etc... It is harmful to the health of citizens, and it is very harmful to cities. Sprawl must be stopped, to say it shouldn't be stopped is very wrong and is supporting the irresponsibility of our wasteful society.
    My family moved from the city to the suburbs when I was 11. I am glad we did. It helped make me what I am today. By living in the suburbs I was able to wander the woods, swim in a lake every day during the summer, paddle the rivers, and I could travel on my bike or on foot without fear of violent crime. The city we left averaged a murder a day. That is what I call harmful to the health of citizens.

    Cities aren't exactly environment-friendly, either. How many adequately treat their wastewater, for example? A little treatment, then flush it into the river or lake. Dilution is the solution to pollution. I think not.

    I agree the burbs can be very wasteful, but to say cities are good and burbs are bad is naive.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  8. #33
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    as is typical around here, mendelman is the source of reason
    (blush)
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian
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    otterpop, the place you lived was not a healthy urban environment. What I'm saying is a healthy, vibrant, dense urban community will ALWAYS outperform a "perfect" suburban community.

    Don't forget, I live in the suburbs too, but I see a big difference between what a city CAN be, and what suburbs are and/or will be.

    I've lived in suburbs and rural areas for 100% of my life. Don't forget that.

    Read Jane Jacob's books, and check out cnu.org, as well as "City Talk" from Sydney's government.

    I want suburbs to be destroyed in their current form, however I believe suburbs can be reformed into vibrant urban communities, it will just take A LOT of time and money, and they have to be willing to make the change.

    Ideal urban areas are:
    New York City
    Barcelona
    Toronto
    Chicago (parts of it)
    Copenhagen
    and multiple other European cities

  10. #35
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    otterpop, the place you lived was not a healthy urban environment. What I'm saying is a healthy, vibrant, dense urban community will ALWAYS outperform a "perfect" suburban community.
    Whoo-boy, good luck with position/statement.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  11. #36
    Cyburbian
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    I suppose a lot of you disagree with Jacob's views, as well as New Urbanism views... I figured those views would have a hell of a lot of support on this site.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I suppose a lot of you disagree with Jacob's views, as well as New Urbanism views... I figured those views would have a hell of a lot of support on this site.
    You are wrong... both have support on this site as you can tell if you read past posts. However, New Urbanism is not the answer to all planning questions. It is based on design theory and offers some positves for the community. But you can not force everyone to live in, or even agree with it. And Jane was an insightful lady, but there is more out there than just her writings. And I would add that Jane and Kunsler have it easy; it is always easy to be critical, but it is much harder to be constructive.

  13. #38
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    like I said, we preach what's good planning but this is not a socialist country and we do not have a benevolent dictator (though I do have Councilors that ask me, so if you were Queen,, what would you do here in this situation)

    what we can do is make in-roads with people by respecting them, not judging them, and not issuing edicts and then when respect is earned, only then can we carefully insert what we would do if we were Queen/King...

    good luck, stay the course - and yes New Urbanism rocks - they even asked me to speak at the conference next month so I can't be half bad!

  14. #39
    Cyburbian
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    People can have a choice to live where they want, but it has to be within reason, IE: absolutely no sprawling.

    People should have only a couple choices:
    Urban Living
    Areas a little less dense than the city (front and back yards, but houses are very close and businesses/retail are still close to neighborhoods, still pedestrian oriented)
    Rural areas

    Current suburbs would be reconstructed to fit into the urban fabric, additional housing would be built between current houses, streets would be rerouted to be less auto-oriented, subdivision restrictions lifted (as in things like type of grass, color of house, type of trees, etc...), and much much more would be required.

    The suburbs would represent villages and towns that surround the urban city. Eventually those cities would become part of the urban area of the city, but the outward growth will only come after the areas closest to the city are filled in.

    I believe there are two roads that we can go down, either urban or suburban.
    If we go down the urban road, we will succeed and life will go on, even better than it is today.
    If we go down the suburban road, we won't succeed, our urban areas will continue to decay, our environment will continue to decline, and eventually (over hundreds of years of sprawling) civilization will collapse.

    We have to get our cities right, and if that means giving up a little room on personal freedoms (such as housing types and lifestyle) then so be it, we cannot continue on the path we are going down without dooming our decendants to paying for the consequences of our choices.

    Also, personally, I believe suburbs are much closer to communism than requiring people live in either an urban area, or a rural area.

    My views constantly change, but I will always be pro-urban areas, but I will never be pro-suburban. I've lived in it my whole life, and I still do not like it.

    Also, for the record, i'm not against people living in suburban areas, I like people in suburban areas, but I HATE the suburbs themselves.

    I also am not a libertarian, I apparently have been called someone who just doesn't get along with libertarians, I believe I closely resemble communitarianism.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 14 Feb 2007 at 3:50 PM. Reason: double reply

  15. #40
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    My views constantly change, but I will always be pro-urban areas, but I will never be pro-suburban. I've lived in it my whole life, and I still do not like it.
    So you're either a hypocrite or still living with your parents. I'm going to guess the latter.

    I don't disagree with your views on sprawl but I'm not sure what it would take to convince you that your approach to the issue is naive and unrealistic. I think only time and experience will do that.

  16. #41
    Cyburbian
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    I know my view is correct, but I'm sure my approach isn't the most rational... But I do want to see a lot of change in my area in my lifetime. I want to be able to see more than 400,000 people in KCMO's urban area in my lifetime, and see that number grow even more... (right now it's about 100,000-200,000 in the urban area, with about 450,000 in the whole city)

    Right now I'm getting ready for 5 years of college, which will be at a college that isn't in our metropolitan area. After those 5 years, i'm coming back, then I will move to Downtown, work as an architect, then eventually get a master's in urban planning, then work on trying to get other people to help me change the city government and the city so that our inner city neighborhoods will become very healthy and vibrant.

  17. #42
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    otterpop, the place you lived was not a healthy urban environment. What I'm saying is a healthy, vibrant, dense urban community will ALWAYS outperform a "perfect" suburban community.

    Don't forget, I live in the suburbs too, but I see a big difference between what a city CAN be, and what suburbs are and/or will be.

    I've lived in suburbs and rural areas for 100% of my life. Don't forget that.

    Read Jane Jacob's books, and check out cnu.org, as well as "City Talk" from Sydney's government.

    I want suburbs to be destroyed in their current form, however I believe suburbs can be reformed into vibrant urban communities, it will just take A LOT of time and money, and they have to be willing to make the change.

    Ideal urban areas are:
    New York City
    Barcelona
    Toronto
    Chicago (parts of it)
    Copenhagen
    and multiple other European cities
    Ah, dude, you have no idea where I lived. What it was like. What city I lived in before. You know nothing. You are only assuming. But maybe you are right. Maybe there isn't much violent crime in New York and Chicago and no problems with drug abuse in, say, Copenhagen.

    As far as urban areas out-performing suburbs, who gives a damn? These are places to live, not a competition. If a family likes the suburb, that is where they should live. If they want to live in the city, then there they should live.

    I've read Jane Jacobs. I believe she is over-rated. Her views don't play out here. She is irrelevant when discussing development in most of the West.

    I would rather be smeared with suet and set upon by wolverines than live in a big city. That is just how Otterpop rolls. But if you love it, more power to you. Just don't expect everyone to drink the Kool-Aid.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  18. #43
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by otterpop View post
    I would rather be smeared with suet and set upon by wolverines than live in a big city. That is just how Otterpop rolls.
    Quote of the day right there - that gets the official Bubba Seal of Approval™.


    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy
    I know my view is correct
    And any different view automatically isn't? Good luck in planning with that outlook.
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  19. #44
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Defined....

    I found this definition of sprawl in the Arizona State Statutes:

    37-101

    20. "Urban sprawl" means the development of lands in a manner requiring the extension of public facilities and services on the periphery of an existing urbanized area where such extension is not provided for in the existing plans of the local governing body having the responsibility for the provision of these facilities and services to the lands in question.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  20. #45
    Cyburbian
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    It's a form of living that will lead to the destruction of our civilization and our environment/resources. If someone isn't for urban development and urban living, they have no place in city development.

    Suburbs are fantasy worlds where the automobile is king and where resources are wasted. They are places to live, and I have acknowledged that, but they are also places where their residents do not care what their decendants will have to deal with. And out decendents will have to deal with limited resources, sprawling cities and global climate change, hell we are dealing with it now, but it will be a lot worse in the future.

    If you aren't for Jane Jacobs, or urban renewal and living, then you have no place in development.

    Sprawl will have to be stopped, otherwise our decendents will have to deal with the consequences.

    Also, I am an enemy of sprawl, but suburbs themselves are ok, as long as they don't continue to sprawl out, and as long as they become more urban.

  21. #46
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post

    If you aren't for Jane Jacobs, or urban renewal and living, then you have no place in development.

    Sprawl will have to be stopped, otherwise our decendents will have to deal with the consequences.
    If I go along with all of this... must I also goose step?

    You WILL NOT be taken serious if you can not tone it down. Have an open mind. And check your facts. I understand your concern for future generations. And I understand your concern about the impending doom of our civilization.

    But the truth is that the doom of our civilization has more to do with our society and the level of competition we live in. You can save all the resources you want, but as long as we are in a competition for those resources, there will be winners and losers.

    Sh*t... now I have waxed philosophical.

  22. #47
    Cyburbian
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    If Kansas City cannot defeat it's suburbs, and if it cannot improve it's inner city to the point where it is very dense in my lifetime, and where the suburbs stop sprawling, then, while I do love this area very much, I will leave for another city, possibly outside of the United States, because I wouldn't want any part of a wasteful, uncaring, reckless way of life, that doesn't even care about it's urban areas or even care about other people.

    I aim to make my area more like NYC, Chicago, Sydney, Copenhagen, Barcelona, and other European cities. Hopefully we don't go down the road of Los Angeles, otherwise KC will be headed for destruction.

    Unfortunately the easy part would be convincing the city to improve it's inner city, the hard part would be to get ignorant suburbs like Overland Park and Olathe to stop sprawling.

    Flying Monkey, I do not believe in evolution, if that is what you are getting at... (as in competition, survival of the fittest, strongest survives etc...)

    Hopefully there will be some covert way to do these things so the suburbs will have no choice but to stop sprawling, without having to confront them directly.

    Urban areas will always be more important than the suburbs, that is, unless the suburbs become urban, then of course they are the same as the inner city. A sprawling lifestyle is not a realistic choice, and I plan on spending my entire life fighting sprawl, and trying to get our urban areas to become as healthy as possible, and to grow as much as possible.

    I know I don't sound very rational, but how else am I supposed to act when the people that support sprawl act in an equally irrational way?
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 14 Feb 2007 at 3:50 PM. Reason: double reply

  23. #48
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Right now I'm getting ready for 5 years of college, which will be at a college that isn't in our metropolitan area. After those 5 years, i'm coming back, then I will move to Downtown, work as an architect, then eventually get a master's in urban planning, then work on trying to get other people to help me change the city government and the city so that our inner city neighborhoods will become very healthy and vibrant.
    If you want to help your metro you should really find a program within your City to go to. You sound like a frustrated planner more than an architect. Look for a geography program and learn the internal structure of your city as an undergrad. You will be better off. A degree in architecture will make you no better qualified to be a planner than someone with an undergrad in geography, economics, or public adminstration.

  24. #49
    Cyburbian
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    Well i've already been approved to a college for architecture and have scholarships... I love architecture, and I also love urban planning, I want to be able to design buildings as well as cities.

    My idea of a city is generally the same as European cities, and to some degree, like NYC...

    Cities aren't meant to sprawl out, they are meant to fill in, then go up before they go out even slightly. Farms and small towns/villages are for people who want a rural lifestyle, but even those cannot sprawl out.


    A lot of people do not realize the drastic effects sprawl has on inner cities, and they are a bad thing because of what they do to inner cities.

    I also feel very helpless, because at my age, I'm not able to do anything about things like this. Yet what goes on now, greatly effects my future, and no one cares about the effects they have even on my own generation.

    It's really sad how many cities are winning against sprawl, yet my own hometown thinks of itself as a western town, and regional people think of it as being a western town, and it is beginning to model itself after cities like LA... I really wouldn't want to have to move, but if this city becomes a Los Angeles, I would leave in a second.
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 14 Feb 2007 at 3:51 PM. Reason: double reply

  25. #50
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Heartland,

    I am a municipal planner in an exurban town in the northeast with some historic village areas. Tell me what I must do to fulfill your agenda. How should I deal with areas of town that have already sprawled?

    Thank you,
    Seabishop

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