Wow, this thread took a...erm...Right turn.
Nonetheless, all the good planners I know don't take this stuff and their job personally, don't inject their fundie views into their job analysis, and don't get huffy if they find out what they learned in Uni doesn't always work out here in reality. But maybe there's a job in the ether sector for a planner in a bigbox for-profit church in Colorado Springs that would accommodate such views. Plenty of cheap housing there right now needing to be filled.
As a previous poster has said, your beliefs need to be separated from your professional responses. My boss (a conservative christian, an elder at his Non-Dom Church) does this very well and so do a some of the members of this website. If you can't separate your beliefs from your professional judgment, than well simply put:
"Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy, and your conclusions are highly questionable! You are a poor [planner], urban 19!"
I think I will be carded for this one.
Last edited by Raf; 15 Feb 2010 at 12:28 PM.
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God doesn't seem to be upset at Canada or many European countries for legalizing gay marriage.
God doesn't seem to be upset at European cities like Amsterdam (red light district, tolerance of marijuana, legal kiddie porn, etc). Also, He's not very mad at places like Fire Island and Key West, where the percentage of residents that are GLBT is off the charts related to San Francisco.
The percentage of regular churchgoers and those that believe in God in the US is much higher than in most European countries, yet the US has more natural disasters. The parts of the country that have more hurricanes are generally more religious than the more secular Northeast and Upper Midwest. Explain that. Maybe it's because North America has more active fault lines, the storm factory that is the Gulf of Mexico, and an overall climate that generally exhibits more extremes in temperature and precipitation than Europe.
Anyhow, what does this have to do with the enabling of urban sprawl by planners? NOTHING. Either take it to a new thread in the FAC, or stop it. Stop hijacking threads in the Planning and the Built Environment forums.
Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey
To solve the problems of urban sprawl this discussion thread should have been pursued in the early 1990's. Twenty years later (coming up on a quarter century) and the old school pundits who've grown up with their eyes in blinders -- still want to resolve this "planning" issue -- with eighty year-old brick and mortar and/or zoning solutions. I feel like I'm reliving a 1975 urban planning school project (is this groundhog day?).
The solution to urban sprawl "issues" is found in today's technologies. Retail sales and consumption "online" grew by 24% over Q4 2009. Broadband is extending everywhere, and for the first time the Federal Government is thinking about ridding the Washington Beltways of "sprawl issues" by formalizing telepresence and telecommuting capabilities.
Thus, true urban planners (planner "means forward-looking" -- should anyway) should be recognizing that social habits are changing -- and that within the next five years malls and strips will be driven to remake themselves because the shoppers aren't turning out like they used to. True urban planners should leave these arcane brick and mortar discussions to the financiers and academics -- and rather embrace how they can expand fiber and broadband (while lowering energy demands) and suggest that local governments and non-profits begin the same tele-processes that are becoming a part of the Federal policies this year.
As for putting a "cap" on how many people can live in suburbs, how is that any different from forcing people to live in cities? You've at least got the coercive nature of planning zealotry going for you. As Americans, we want to live where we want to live, not where somebody else thinks we ought to live to fulfill some grand design.
The American passion for moving is more than just trying to get away from bad weather. Otherwise, why has California suffered a noticeable outflow in the last couple of years? Much of American mobility has to do with seeking economic opportunity. Some of it has to do with "quality of life" issues, including but not limited to, weather. People aren't going to move to Eastern Montana or to Western New York unless there are lots of jobs there.
FTR, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the people who live out in the "wide open spaces" of West Texas and eastern Montana (or any other rural area) live there because there aren't a lot of people crowding into those places? Not everybody thinks moving a hundred thousand folks from LA, Atlanta, and NYC into their little corner of the world would be a good thing.
One of the exciting and growing areas of higher education is the growth of on-line education and distance learning. The technology is growing exponentially. I work at a community college that serves a primarily rural and impoverished area, and communications technology allows our students to participate in national and international events that they never could afford to do if they had to travel to NYC or Washington, DC. We also have students from all over the world taking our on-line courses.
Last edited by NHPlanner; 19 Feb 2010 at 1:36 PM. Reason: double reply
Sin is everywhere. But there is more in cities, and when you have sin condensed together it's harder to regulate because everyone is doing it.
Then I guess I am living in Sin, population 1
"This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
"M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."
About the only part of sprawl that I have been able to prove increases costs beyond a shadow of a doubt is in the area of school transportation. It is obvious that more spread out areas have higher pupil transportaton costs.
Many other costs, however, are either borne by individuals (i.e. commuting costs) or are subsumed into initial construction costs that are paid for by developers and passed on to homebuyers (roads, water system connections, etc). The expense incurred by utilities like telephone, cable, and electric for longer stretches of infrastructure between connections are also hidden (and may not add up to much in the long run).
Social costs, like the exclusion of lower-income people from suburban sprawl, are notoriously difficult to quantify. Society as a whole is harmed (economically as well as morally) by concentrating poverty into depressed urban areas, but suburban areas don't care because they get to have lower taxes by avoiding paying for social ills and instead pushing those costs on urban areas. Also, it's hard to quantify the damage done to the environment by habitat destruction, even though it is a real issue.
In past research, I have seen a general trend towards higher costs for urban residents vs. suburban residents, generally due to higher fire and police protection costs. Urban areas also generally have lots of costly older and poorly maintained infrastructure (though that problem is starting to affect suburbs, too). Plus, concentrated social problems tend to drive up the cost of education in urban areas. Add all of this together, and the tax receipts required to support cities are generally higher per capita than those needed to support suburbs.
In short, it's hard to demonstrate the "true cost" of sprawl, so it's almost impossible to price it and to make people pay. That's too bad, because I think it's there and it's substantial.
Habitat destruction as well as air and water pollution aren't just the result of sprawl, but of economic activity general. In Upstate New York most of the land was deforested either for agriculture or logging in the 19th century. In the Great Plains, the prairie ecosystem was destroyed not by "sprawl" but by agriculture. In the Appalachians and in the Rockies, mining and drilling for oil and natural gas seriously degraded the environment before 1900 -- and still continues to do so in many places.
Very nicely said, JimPlans!
The purpose of life is a life of purpose
Second, it was not kidnapping and they just got released. They were helping out children in need, and their parents gave them permission to take their kids. That is why they were released.
Dan-don't talk to me about hijacking a thread when you can't address the posters here who are giving me personal attacks.
Lastly I want to say suburban and urban both have problems. I just think suburban has less problems. Here is an article about why people are liking the burbs:
I am done with this thread now.
No one is talking about forcing anyone to do anything unless you are talking about forcing people to live in sprawl environments who would like not to. The only people who are forcing anyone into unwanted situation is the pro sprawl crowd. The pro sprawl people have dominated the country for 60 years. To make them out as victims of a small minority who are pointing out the destructiveness and massive failure of sprawl is disingenuous.
The costly older infrastructure is that way because it is left behind as new infrastructure is built further out. Highways are only needed because of sprawl. Utility costs per person are much higher in sprawl areas because it takes more infrastructure per person for delivery of service. Roads in general are greatly increased dues to sprawl. The maintenance and construction of new and wicedned bridges and roads is huge. Pollution mitigation costs are increased to to massively increased water runoff from pavement. Flooding and its associated costs are also increased because of this. Our economy is drained due to the huge cost of imported oil needed to make sprawl feasible. Businesses build in the cost of supplying "free" parking into their costs to customers. You could also insert the cost of military protection for our oil supplies.
Last edited by NHPlanner; 19 Feb 2010 at 1:35 PM. Reason: double reply
Moreover, an examination of the 1894 Buffalo City Atlas (Linky) shows that at least as early as the 1880s, Buffalo, NY demonstrated many of the very characteristics of "sprawl" that you complain about in the post-WW II era. Just because it took place within the city limits doesn't change what it is.
Sprawl is as American as apple pie. Maybe more so.
Let's back up a bit. We are discussing sprawl, but I have yet to see a definition for it in this thread. That's not surprising, because I have yet to see a definition anywhere that I really agree with. PlannersWeb has a list of definitions that they solicited from the Internet, but none really satisfy me.
We also tried to define it in 2005, though we didn't get very far:
I think of sprawl as land waste. I don't think that any development on former farmland, forestland, or undeveloped land is sprawl, just development that disrespects natural processes and doesn't attempt to preserve land that is ecologically valuable.
An example of what I consider sprawl: A former client wanted to develop former agricultural land outside of, but next to, an urban growth boundary. This land was required to be developed at one unit per five acres due to its "rural" location, though it was located adjacent to the growth boundary to the east and also to an old non-conforming 2-units-per-acre development, also outside the growth boundary. It was also located near a river that had agricultural pollution runoff issues.
The client wanted to build a conservation-style development, conserving existing ecologically sensitive lands and protecting the nearby river from runoff by using natural buffers. All of the land still in its natural state would be placed in permanent protected status, and house lots would be one-half acre (or so) instead of 5 acres and clustered together. There would have been no more units under this plan than there could have been under one-for-five zoning.
The plan was denied, because the development was considered too dense for areas outside the growth boundary. So, instead of a "dense" development with its own sewage treatment package plant and water system, the area will have a bunch of 5-acre martini farms with septic systems and wells and no public open space.
In my opinion, the existing zoning on that particular parcel of rural land is the epitome of sprawl zoning, and the proposed conservation development was a responsible use of land and therefore not sprawl. However, according to many defintions, any development outside a growth boundary is sprawl and any development on farmland is sprawl.
So what is sprawl? And what are we trying to protect or prevent by stopping it?
Here are a few I like:
Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density, auto-dependent development on rural land, with associated design features that encourage car dependency. (wikipedia)
The decentralization of the urban core through the unlimited outward extension of dispersed development beyond the urban fringe where low density residential and commercial development exacerbates fragmentation of powers over land use; also, the consumption of resources and land in excess of what is necessary where development is costly and underutilizes existing infrastructure. (SMARTe)
I am not too bothered by the difficulty of identifying a completely accurate, foolproof definition, though I think wrestling with it is definitely helpful in thinking things through. There are many terms and concepts that are difficult to define but which are extremely important and widely used. "Culture" for example, is notoriously difficult to define (as an athro major, we read many treatises on how it should, shouldn't, could and couldn't be defined). But its still a powerful and valuable concept in our society.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose
To me, the definition of sprawl is auto dependency.
Any non-agricultural and non-rural place that has no viable transit or walkability is sprawl.
I'm afraid my view may be simplistic, but I'm going to put it out anyway because I think it represents the practical "fix" a lot of us are in all the time. Here goes...I don't hate the suburbs, so I can't really be said to be anti-sprawl. I live in the suburbs, albeit close to downtown. I believe that there ought to be varieties of places and neighborhoods for the population to choose. I advocate for higher densities, even in the redevelopment and infill of older suburbs, because I believe that type of development needs advocates and is needed generally. The suburbs will always have buyers. They'll always grow and exist, and they should not by any means be our only kind of growth. That's what I think anyway.
"...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister
I think what the last element of "fragmentation of powers over land use" speaks to this issue of sprawl across different municipalities. We have that same issue here in the Albuquerque metro area which encompasses up to 4 counties and several towns, cities and villages.
Since these municipalities have no real incentive to cooperate with one another (what? you don't want that Walmart? hey, we'll take it over here - and its sales tax revenue to boot!) you get conflicting zoning approaches that in many cases encourage leap frog development.
This is one reason I feel that statewide or regional planning authorities that have real legal teeth may be one of the only ways to effectively control and direct growth. Its why Portland and other Oregon cities are able to enforce Urban Growth Boundaries - its a state law to maintain one for cities over a certain size.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose