What is sprawl?

Anthony Downs of the Brookings Institution lists ten characteristics that define sprawl development patterns:

  • Predominance of low-density residential and commercial settlements, especially in new growth areas.
  • Unlimited outward extension of new developments.
  • Leapfrog projects jumping beyond established settlements.
  • Single-use development that separates shopping, working and residential activities.
  • Low-density, single-use work places and strip retail development typically located at the periphery of metropolitan areas.
  • Reliance on auto transportation for virtually all trips.
  • Fiscal disparities among localities.
  • Lack of adequate housing choices located close to work opportunities, thus forcing long commutes.
  • Reliance mainly on trickle-down to provide housing to low-income households.
  • Fragmented land use decisions by local governments.

What is smart growth?

The Smart Growth Network, a national organization of diverse partners coordinated by U.S. EPA, has defined the following principles to help define "smart growth:"

  • Mix land uses (housing, shopping, workplaces, civic uses).
  • Take advantage of compact building design.
  • Create a range of housing opportunities and choices.
  • Create walkable neighborhoods.
  • Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
  • Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas.
  • Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities.
  • Provide a variety of transportation choices.
  • Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost-effective.
  • Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.

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Copyright 2002-2003

Where are we now?
What is sprawl? smart growth?
Race and regionalism

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