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Finally Sprawl defined?

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
Weight in on this! From:

www.smartgrowthamerica.org/sprawlindex/sprawlindex.html

Sprawl Defined
Beginning with an exhaustive review of the existing academic and popular literature, the researchers identified sprawl as the process in which the spread of development across the landscape far outpaces population growth. The landscape sprawl creates has four dimensions: a population that is widely dispersed in low density development; rigidly separated homes, shops, and workplaces; a network of roads marked by huge blocks and poor access; and a lack of well-defined, thriving activity centers, such as downtowns and town centers. Most of the other features usually associated with sprawl—the lack of transportation choices, relative uniformity of housing options or the difficulty of walking—are a result of these conditions.


Whaddya think folks?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
This definition is pretty vague and meaningless and exhibits the inherent biases of its authors (biases I may share, but still:

"Poor Access" Outer exurbs and sprawlvilles have great access, except during rush hour. Only commies and the poor walk or use mass transit, so what's wrong with the arterial and cul-de-sac pattern?

"Rigidly separated homes, shops, and workplaces": Define "rigid." Besides, that's what we as consumers and
public hearing attendees want, isn't it? Efficiency!

We can't even locate a church or school near the sacred single family pavillions, let alone commerce. Particularly since the corner store means the local branch of Seven Eleven, which in most communites is the locus for "hangin' out" ne'er do wells :)

And, since 50 years of suburban planning and business consolidation means that all our institutions, commerce, and social activities occur at a super scaled level, how could we intermix things? WalMart, Bluebell Consolidated High School, and the Rolling Acres Christian Center all need 15-50 acres, 500 parking spaces and their own arterial street to provide access.

"Lack of thriving activity centers." Come on, go to any small town-the WalMart parking lot is absolutely full. That's an activity center, isn't it? Its not cute, but the local mall or big box conglomeration is as "active" as any small neighborhood center. More so, because commerce for an entire region is consolidated into these locations.

I don't see why people spend all this time "defining" sprawl. Its just part of the 50 year old distaste by the chattering classes for suburbia.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
By jove, BKM has got it--spot on.

Its a definition driven by an anti-suburban bias.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Don't get me wrong, GKMO, I hate suburbia myself. (see the post below under the Saint Louis thread). My answer above was partially sarcastic-but I think accurate.

I am honest about my dislikes, and I don't couch my dislike of Patio Man culture in pseudo-scientific jargon. I also acknowledge that PatioMan and his politics are the wave of the futre (and the present).

Unlike you, I do think that current patterns of development, politics, and economics are destructive and over the long term unsustainable.

That is a minority opinion which reflects my own inability to fit into the Ford-Excursion-a-Golden-Retriever-Two Kids-and-a-Lawn lifestyle. I won't whine a la Mugbub, but I have never fit into suburbia (which is why I thought I was becoming a planner).

All this energy "defining" sprawl is silly.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
BKM, i know where you are coming fun and I respect and appreciate it.

I am not a complete right wing whack job, just tend to tilt a bit more to the individual's side as opposed to community's side.

I just think there should be choices, plain and simple.

Do I love suburbia? Maybe, maybe not. I believe its not as bad as in your words "the chattering class" tells us it is. I guess I do have a bit of patio man in me (why wouldn't I?, i read the weekly standard).

Remember, I live there with my wife and three kids. No SUV though--traded the Trooper in for a midsize to cut costs so my wife could stay home (almost there). (No dog either, we are trying to simplify our life.

I am intellectually honest enough to understand that the euclidian, separated land uses are not all that efficient, that commuting by myself in a car for an hour isn't all that great.

I am just not ready to tell somebody else that they CAN'T live that way.

I agree, no more defining sprawl. "It just doesn't matter" (Bill Murray, Meat Balls).

Talk to you....
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
I know that you are not that right-wing :) I like to spout off a bit.

I am a little more skeptical about the libertarian position-people "wanting" suburbia. Governments are heavily involved in defining the possibilities and the very existence of the "American Dream" (infrastructure investments, mortgage deductions, heavy defense spending to secure oil supplies :) ). Add heavy investment in marketing, financial industry focus on new single family homes as the preferred vehicle for investment, and the wholesale investment in the auto industry and all the accoutrements of auto-oriented culture.

Where I agree with you is that this "system" is pretty ingrained. And, it does meet some pretty basic American aspirations and life goals for most people. However, I have no problem with criticizing this "system," even though it pays my salary. :)

I have a problem with pseudo-scientific definitions and word games like this definition was trying.

I think rather than wasting time defining an "enemy," sprawl-busters should spend more time defining and advocating for the type of infill, mixed use, and higher quality high density housing that the country does need.

I mean, I don't want ALL my vegetables grown in Mexico. That's what'll happen if the Central Valley goes suburban. Not to mention (since I am asthmatic) the horrible air quality that will result from every man is his own stucco castle commuting 45 miles each way. Oh well, there's my rant for the day.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
No, I hear you.


I did catch some of the segments on the central valley argricultural issues on NPR this week. Alarming--development pressures AND environmental regulations threatening what I think the reported termed the greatest food producing area in the history of the world.

Surprised I was listening to NPR?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Does anyone like the definition? I promise I won't rant too badly.
 

mugbub

BANNED
Messages
67
Points
4
SUV's are wonderful

BKM, don't call me a whiner because you're probably the biggest bitch on here. Before you get pissy, I agree with you re: the definition of sprawl. However, you said it yourself- your lifestyle doesn't fit in the 'burbs.
Mine does and I don't care for your leftist thoughts on how we should all live in a frickin walkup apartment, ride the bus, and shop for food at the hippy co-op. I want a detached home, a yard, and yes, a big ole SUV. For the vast majority of Americans that will not change during our lifetime. Time to get real.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Re: SUV's are wonderful

mugbub1 said:
BKM, don't call me a whiner because you're probably the biggest bitch on here. Before you get pissy, I agree with you re: the definition of sprawl. However, you said it yourself- your lifestyle doesn't fit in the 'burbs.
Mine does and I don't care for your leftist thoughts on how we should all live in a frickin walkup apartment, ride the bus, and shop for food at the hippy co-op. I want a detached home, a yard, and yes, a big ole SUV. For the vast majority of Americans that will not change during our lifetime. Time to get real.
dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn-
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Re: SUV's are wonderful

mugbub1 said:
BKM, don't call me a whiner because you're probably the biggest bitch on here. Before you get pissy, I agree with you re: the definition of sprawl. However, you said it yourself- your lifestyle doesn't fit in the 'burbs.
Mine does and I don't care for your leftist thoughts on how we should all live in a frickin walkup apartment, ride the bus, and shop for food at the hippy co-op. I want a detached home, a yard, and yes, a big ole SUV. For the vast majority of Americans that will not change during our lifetime. Time to get real.
I like the quinoa salad at the hippy co-op. I like the neighborhood. Still, I don't want to live there. I don't care to live in the 'burbs either, though. Give me the countryside. I guess what ol' Muggy is suggesting here is the idea of diversity (sorry to have to match you to this liberal term, but it fits). I can buy that. I hope that if more viable urban or new urban options come available, more of the market will go that way, but not me.

On another note, does this fit the definition of sprawl?

Town Site

Here is a another site especially for Dan.

Dan's Site
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Ooh, Mugbub. Did I hurt your feelings?

I like to bitch. So what.

I am not saying that everyone is like me. I was very upfront that my dislike of subidvisions is personal. Heck, I was agreeing with gkmo62 that trying to define "sprawl" was silly and reflects

You can have your SUV, if it makes you feel more manly :). I'll take my Subaru which, unlike the average Ford Expedition, can actually avoid accidents because it has good handling, accelaration, and brakes. My main worry: being run over by those stupid tanks driving 90 miles per hour with the cell phones in their drivers' ears.

Nothing wrong with the house and the yard, either. Heck, if I was more responsible and lived in a cheaper metro area, I'd have a nice yard too. Just not in a subdivision. Traditional towns have houses and yards. I don't like monocultural subdivisions where all the houses look the same. Or where the only place to walk is a traffic-clogged six lane "arterial" lined with fast food joints.

Most people don't care. Thats fine. As planners, though, isn't it our role to suggest improvements? Even when we recognize that most people are fully into the suburban dream? And even when we realize that our more pie-in-the-sky ideas are not going to happen overnight.

Or, do you see your role, (as I believe you've said) as rubber stamping plans. And, the engineering departments can do that. If you see no role for planning at all, why even bother?
 
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