At some point over the past year, the American population surpassed 300 million, and if we continue as expected, we’re going to have another 92 million people over the next 34 years. That’s a lot of people and they’ll need places to live. Over that period of time, it’s real important that we get planning right. The problem is, however, planning decisions are made by thousands of different people with thousands of conflicting interests. The gist, though, is that sprawl isn’t green. Here are ten good reasons to back that up.
- Sprawl development contributes to a loss of support for public facilities and public amenities.
- Sprawl undermines effective maintenance of existing infrastructure.
- Sprawl increases societal costs for transportation.
- Sprawl consumes more resources than other development patterns.
- Sprawl separates urban poor people from jobs.
- Sprawl imposes a tax on time.
- Sprawl degrades water and air quality.
- Sprawl results in the permanent alteration and destruction of habitats.
- Sprawl creates difficulty in maintaining community.
- Sprawl offers the promise of choice while only delivering more of the same.
I’m a child of sprawl. I’ve seen the effects of it. I’ve personally experienced #3, #4, #6, #9, and #10. Every smart person in this country needs to realize the effect of various policy and regulatory decisions and find a way to dig out of the mess we’re in. If not, sprawl will continue to hamper us more and more in the future.
Is there a silver bullet to fixing the problem? That’s tough. There is a temporary solution for some people: live near your work, church, and family. It will make your life more abundant when the places you go are close. Just find a way to live near the places you frequently go.
This list was created by James M. McElfish, Jr., Director, Sustainable Use of Land Program, Environmental Law Institute.