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Thread: Methods to stop sprawl, and encourage urban growth?

  1. #1

    Methods to stop sprawl, and encourage urban growth?

    I'd like to know everyone's ideas on how to stop sprawl and encourage revitalization of urban neighborhoods and urban growth...

    Some I can think of...

    Stopping Sprawl:
    Urban Growth Boundaries: Artificial Boundaries set to restrict development in a certain area in a certain amount of time. Slows down and sometimes eliminates further sprawl. However it creates higher costs of living inside the UGB.

    Forest Rings: When the geography supports it, many cities surround themselves with, or are surrounded by forests. They seek to preserve those forests, which can also help stop sprawl on the outer edges of the city.

    Infrastructure Restrictions: The City refuses to provide infrastructure such as water, sewage and power outside of a certain boundary. Dramatically restricting further sprawl.

    Zoning Restrictions: Zoning can help keep sprawl from developing agricultural or natural land.

    Urban Growth:
    Improve Schools: This is a major problem in many urban cities keeping the medium and upper income families from moving there, and it holds back the families in poverty.

    Improve Crime/Fire: Often fire protection is not as bad as crime protection. Decreasing crime can really help generate more investment and development in urban areas.

    Parks: Urban parks and plazas are much more advantageous than those in sprawl, they are also easier to access. Because of the denser concentration of people, more parks would be needed, and they are more frequently used. Building more or improving current ones would be a great attraction.

    Removal of Public Housing Projects: These concentrate families in poverty, and isolates them from the rest of the neighborhoods. Neighborhoods need to be more integrated, and families in need ought to be put in with low, medium and upper income families instead of concentrated together.

    Mass Transit Improvements: This is a major factor, with sprawl, owning an automobile is a must, however that dependence is bad, it dramatically increases pollution, and causes many other problems. A good mass transit system in the inner city would save people a lot of money, would get people places faster, decrease traffic, and decrease pollution.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Where will the money come from wise old sage?

    Ever consider that transit really isn't cheap? Systems cost billions to build and billions to operate. The money has to come from somewhere.

    The same is true for police/fire.

    If you make your city attractive enough, you should not really need to worry about growtrh booundaries. Growth boundaries are inconsistent with transit as they push population further out, makes them drive further to jobs, and makes it nearly imposssible to get transit supportive land use or funding policies outside of the boundary.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Transit and police are easy to support with more people in a more concentrated area. Simply don't have the same police coverage in the sprawling areas as the urban areas.

    I was going to post this in the other thread but I'll post it here:

    These are examples of sprawl (which in every sense is wrong):
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...0302&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1593&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1

    However this is perfect and the only good alternatives to sprawl:
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...7710&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...4165&encType=1

  4. #4
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Heartland, how about this?

    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1113&encType=1

    17 units per acre - SFH - no abandoned urban core to revitalize in the area - 90% of the metro is transit-hostile and auto dependant.

    There is no "city" in this area of 2 million people. Your cure?

  5. #5
    That is Las Vegas, a completely different story. And I personally don't know much about Las Vegas.

    Also there is no single cure to sprawl... I'm asking for ideas here, as I said, there isn't a single cure.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    Heartland, how about this?

    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1113&encType=1

    17 units per acre - SFH - no abandoned urban core to revitalize in the area - 90% of the metro is transit-hostile and auto dependant.

    There is no "city" in this area of 2 million people. Your cure?
    CJC, there's no way that's 17 units per acre. Those lots are probably 5,000 square feet, so I'm guessing the density is about 10 units per acre (with a net of much less).

  7. #7
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    CJC, there's no way that's 17 units per acre. Those lots are probably 5,000 square feet, so I'm guessing the density is about 10 units per acre (with a net of much less).
    The development in the middle of the page (with the upper left hand corner of the square having the circular building) has average lot sizes of around 2350 sqft. With the rest of the infrastructure, the development has a density of 17 units/acre.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    The development in the middle of the page (with the upper left hand corner of the square having the circular building) has average lot sizes of around 2350 sqft. With the rest of the infrastructure, the development has a density of 17 units/acre.
    I'm still skeptical because I've never seen SF lots that small. However, it may be possible in Vegas where there are no standards for drainage or open space.

    You make a great point though. This is a dimension of sprawl that is often overlooked in the traditional urban core vs. suburbs debate. It is certainly much more insidious in terms of energy/sustainability.

    BTW, this trash actually makes S. Florida look well-planned.

  9. #9
    I just measured them and most are on lots of 4,000 square feet... (about 10 units/acre)

    Yeah, I remembered the denser sprawl out west a few weeks ago, but really I have no idea how to stop it, other than the tactics/strategies that we already know.

  10. #10
    First you have to define sprawl. Is it the same as growth? If you have 2500, 4000 or even 5000 - 6000 square foot single family lots, is that sprawl? In many other metro areas, few new single houses were being built on less than half an acre. So are you against all new single family construction?

    From 1990 to 2000 about 30 (or 10%) of US metro areas increased their density, most of them still occupied more land because they grew so much. Most of these were in California, Oregon or South Florida. Some of the other metro areas just gobbled up land like monsters. Atlanta consumed about 2 square miles a week from 1970 to 2000. Part of that was its population growth, but a lot of that growth was at very low density.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I'm still skeptical because I've never seen SF lots that small. However, it may be possible in Vegas where there are no standards for drainage or open space.

    You make a great point though. This is a dimension of sprawl that is often overlooked in the traditional urban core vs. suburbs debate. It is certainly much more insidious in terms of energy/sustainability.

    BTW, this trash actually makes S. Florida look well-planned.
    Yeah, that was my point to HCB. The arguments of "people want space" or "people don't like the city" or whatever the other arguments may be are completely thrown out the window in Vegas, Phoenix, and much of California. Here's a brand new development - I don't know the exact density on this one, but it's got to be around 20 units per acre or more:

    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...2002&encType=1

    Sprawl like this is what drives me nuts. NONE of the benefits of typical suburban developments are realized here (except for possibly the "detached" home thing), yet almost all of the negative effects are - auto dependance, circuitous streets that discourage walking, etc. Some simple changes to design of the neighborhood, without even changing the design of the houses themselves or increasing density or any of the other things typically talked about, and this neighborhood is more walkable and transit-friendly than many streetcar suburbs.

  12. #12
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    • become a socialist country
    • buy up all the land you don't want developed to force your growth boundaries

  13. #13
    CJC, I agree, I hate that kind of development as well... The only kind of Single Family development I favor are those that are about 7 units/acre and up. And that SF development cannot start consuming land and cannot promote auto-dependence.

    luckless pedestrian, sprawl is more socialist/communist than anything else in planning. Each house is almost exactly the same, many communities are gated, residents cannot make major changes to their houses that don't fit in with everything else. (or make their house different/unique) There is also virtually no freedom to live in any other sort of housing. It's single family all the way. Whereas in cities, you have single family, townhomes, rowhouses, lofts, condos, apartments, studios, penthouses etc... Not to mention in cities, few buildings are so monotonous, and most can be modified as the resident wants.

    They (and public housing projects) are just less dense, American versions of the Russian/Chinese commieblocks... The American Communism if you will.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I don't think efforts should be made to stop "sprawl", which is simply a result of the ability of people to actually make choices about their housing/transportation situations. To me, increased choice is a good thing, provided the negative externalities are kept under control. That's one of the reasons the planning profession exists; create choice, while handling the externalities.

    I think efforts should be focused on increasing the desirability of urban areas as opposed to decreasing people's ability to make housing and transportation decisions. If urban areas are truly better places in terms of housing, education, community interaction, crime, etc., many people will make the choice to live there. That being said, there will always be people who prefer to live in the suburbs. No matter how much people may hate the suburbs, they are not going to go away, based on the population of this country. That is a fact.

    And as lp said, if that answer doesn't suit you, buy your own country.

  15. #15
    btrage, this is America, and while many people think my ideas may not be suited for a democracy/republic, mine actually are. It's just there are multiple interpretations of our constitution and government. So I'm not going to go to another country unless Kansas City never stops it's sprawl and is completely unwilling to stop it's sprawl.

    Various choices are great, I agree. However sprawl is NOT an option. Sprawl does multiple things to not only a city, but also to local land and habitats. It also encourages a lot more pollution than cities could ever muster. (unless they go back to having dirty industrial, which has been greatly reduced)

    Sprawl has:
    -Social effects, it has many effects on humans socially. Humans are meant to gather together, we were made to be in groups, and to commune together, not to isolate ourselves. Isolation leads to depression along with many other problems, sprawl encourages isolation, prejudice etc...
    -Environmental effecs, it encourages auto-dependence, which increases the pollution in a city dramatically. It also encourages the waste of energy to support more houses over a larger area.
    -Money/Economy, while stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Kohls, McDonalds etc... thrive, cities are hurt economically by sprawl. They get more residents paying taxes, however because of the lack of density, their infrastructure, police and fire protection, and education begins to cost a lot more to implement and keep up.
    -Urban Decay, it is one of the main causes of urban decay. People move away from the urban areas, and move farther out each time new developments are built. With this, only the poor are left in the inner cities, which contributes to a rise in crime. Also, some businesses move out to the suburbs, leaving their downtown offices, leaving buildings vacant. Many times, these buildings are demolished. Many buildings are destroyed for surface parking and parking garages to fit the mass of privately owned cars of people communiting to their work from their homes in the sprawl.

    I could go on and on about why sprawl is bad.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    Transit and police are easy to support with more people in a more concentrated area. Simply don't have the same police coverage in the sprawling areas as the urban areas.

    I was going to post this in the other thread but I'll post it here:

    These are examples of sprawl (which in every sense is wrong):
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...0302&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1593&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1

    However this is perfect and the only good alternatives to sprawl:
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...1000&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...7710&encType=1
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...4165&encType=1
    Why is every one of your examples from Kansas City? There are examples of good and bad everywhere. I don't think your examples that you call sprawl are really that sprawling. Here are some examples of real sprawl, where no services are surrounding the developments and are nowhere near any highways or jobs.

    You want sprawl, here's sprawl.
    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...4627&encType=1
    @GigCityPlanner

  17. #17
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I'll just add one more bit to this conversation - in the west, the argument that the market is deciding is disingenuous at best. In many places, there is no central urban city that people are deciding not to live in. There is no choice as far as urban/suburban living. Requirements are in place to ONLY build suburban style developments and in places where more dense urban development or infill is proposed, it's met with resistance (which either kills the project, or drives the price WAY up). If it were truly a free market, that would be fine, but it isn't. There are a multitude of reasons why this has happened, but you simply can't use the "market is deciding" argument here.

  18. #18
    One thing CJC, is that while a downtown or urban core doesn't exist in those cities, they can build one. Downtowns don't just have to be pre-20th century. They can be new. But the new ones also have to be built like the downtowns were built before sprawl came. (as in, they can't be auto-oriented)

    Las Vegas not only has an industrial area near the strip, but also that massive airport. If they eventually relocate the airport farther out from the city, that frees up a lot of room, and thety could use that land for a more urban downtown. IMO I'd say Las Vegas would be much better off with a downtown of it's own next to the strip. Not only could it create a Downtown, but it could also start building a lot denser closer to it's downtown. Which would not only make it a lot more urban and give it a center, but it could also fill in a lot of the demand for new housing, and give people an additional option to living in just single-family homes.

    All my examples are in KC because that is where i'm going to focus my career in the coming years. I know much more about KC than any other place around the country.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Let's not forget that better outcomes can result from public-private partnerships. As long as land development is a tax-payer subsidized industry local governments should be negotiating with developers for better-designed communities IMO. In Florida, CRAs (Community Redevelopment Agencies, which are TIF-funded districts) have been instrumental in fostering better urban design. Here is a project in Port St. Lucie called East Lake Village:

    http://www.homesbykennedy.com/images.../elvsitesm.jpg

    I think it provides a good example of how dense SF development can be made more sustainable. Though without the city as a partner I wonder if this project would be feasible. Financing mixed-use projects is difficult because banks perceive them as high risk.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    One thing CJC, is that while a downtown or urban core doesn't exist in those cities, they can build one. Downtowns don't just have to be pre-20th century. They can be new. But the new ones also have to be built like the downtowns were built before sprawl came. (as in, they can't be auto-oriented)

    Las Vegas not only has an industrial area near the strip, but also that massive airport. If they eventually relocate the airport farther out from the city, that frees up a lot of room, and thety could use that land for a more urban downtown. IMO I'd say Las Vegas would be much better off with a downtown of it's own next to the strip.

    All my examples are in KC because that is where i'm going to focus my career in the coming years. I know much more about KC than any other place around the country.
    You're completely ignoring the political realities. The airport in Vegas isn't going anywhere. Closer to my neck of the woods, there are plenty of cities with downtowns and gridded streets and the like. In places where infill has been allowed, the Pultes and Toll Brothers of the world are building three to five story condo buildings, which sell for much more than detached housing on the fringe, but the process to get one of those developments approved takes years.

  21. #21
    Also it's wrong to argue for sprawl because people want choice... You can get single-family housing in urban areas as well as rural areas. It shouldn't come in the form of sprawl.

    In urban areas, you have the most choice of any other place. In rural areas, you get a house the size you want, and you get a lot of land. Not to mention some privacy and pretty low crime.

    CJC, In KCMO it hasn't taken years to approve projects. For some, yes it takes a long time, but usually it is dependent on the developers. (right now things are stalled because developers are unsure about the new mayor and city council)

    Not to mention that while the Las Vegas airport isn't going anywhere soon, that doesn't mean it may not move in the coming decades. I don't know how old it is, but I'm sure in the environment it is in, that it could last a shorter tiime that most. Which is just my guess, alongwith that it serves as a gigantic heat magnet for housing nearby.
    Here in KC there is talk about replacing KCI with a one-terminal building, even though in the past few years we have renovated it, and we keep getting high ratings for it. Of course, it was also built in 1951 so it is actually kind of old compared to newer airports.

    Replacing the Las Vegas airport with an airport farther out from the city would actually be a good idea, since it would remove that heat magnet from the center of the city, not to mention free up 2,800 acres for development. That is just bigger than KC's downtown and most downtowns.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HeartlandCityBoy View post
    I could go on and on about why sprawl is bad.
    {sarcasm hat on} Really? I'm not sure you can. {sarcasm hat off}.

    I don't need a list of why you think sprawl is bad. I've been doing this long enough and could probably add another two dozens reasons to your list.

    Try telling the millions of people who live in sprawled communities that its bad. Are you trying to tell me that you know something they don't? You can't change peoples attitudes by beating them over the head and telling them that the way they've lived for two decades is horribly wrong. You need to educate them on why living in urban areas is better.

    I would love to go point by point on your ideas of how to stop sprawl. Many of them are valid considerations. But it's very easy to say we need better urban schools and more mass transit. The hard part is how do we make that happen.

    This forum would be better served by more detailed discussions of the points you raised in your thread starter in terms of their practicability and likelihood of long-term success.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Warning

    HCB in case you missed you have been warned in this thread http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...t=30691&page=3

    Moderator note:


    HeartlandCityBoy the community that is Cyburbia has been telling you in increasingly less subtle ways that you are being seen as a one trick pony and thus marginalized along with any ideas you may have good or bad. You are not helping your case with your hyper focused passionate hate for suburbs.

    A few clues that will serve you well if you have any hope of a meaningful career in land use planning
    - Not everyone will agree with you, get over it or you will be a miserable person and out of a job
    - Not everyone wants the same living environment you want, this is America and people do have choices
    - Some college professors will tolerate your single minded hate for suburbs but employers and government bodies will not
    - Learn to compromise, stand in other folks shoes and temper your message
    - If it is your goal to persuade others to your way of thinking, give some serious thought as to HOW you might present arguments in a manner most likely convince others. This is an important skill any planner would do well to cultivate.

    Cyburbia is a great place to learn and grow but if you continue to refuse to do that you will be shown the door.

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  24. #24
    I think it'd be somewhat easy to convince some people about urban areas. As many older people remember the days when the urban areas were great places to be. I know I've talked with relatives and friends that are older who all remember the days when they or family lived in KC's urban area, and have great memories of Downtown.

    It's just many people are afraid of the modern urban areas. As well as many are afraid of integration and being next to other cultures.

    We also have the problems in our urban areas to solve as well... Crime, Education, Parks, Vacancies etc...

    In Kansas City, our urban core west of Troost is mostly improved, and is pretty much full of development of some kind. However, east of Troost, the crime rate rises, the number of abandoned homes/lots rises, education drops, etc... All around our urban core, the mass transit is poor. We have buses and our city calls it BRT, yet it is nothing more than vastly overrated buses running routes.

    Many see KC's places like Westport and the Plaza as being good areas, and many are started to see Downtown in a better light than they did 5-10 years ago. Yet other areas are still looked down upon.

    One problem I'm afraid we may not be able to overcome is racism (in the suburbs and inner city)

  25. #25
    Cyburbian ludes98's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CJC View post
    I'll just add one more bit to this conversation - in the west, the argument that the market is deciding is disingenuous at best. In many places, there is no central urban city that people are deciding not to live in. There is no choice as far as urban/suburban living. Requirements are in place to ONLY build suburban style developments and in places where more dense urban development or infill is proposed, it's met with resistance (which either kills the project, or drives the price WAY up). If it were truly a free market, that would be fine, but it isn't. There are a multitude of reasons why this has happened, but you simply can't use the "market is deciding" argument here.
    Agreed. Most of the west developed in the era of the automobile and as the accepted norm (reality) the land use regulations and pattern of development reinforced auto dependency. Undoing this in any amount of time will be increasingly difficult. The very people you want to buy into the urban idea hate it. And even munis that are trying to grow urban cores still develop around the automobile.

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