Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Virtues of Sprawl

Great piece in the Oct. 2 edition of the Boston Globe on suburban growth vs. smart growth and New Urbanism, written by Anthony Flint. Flint is a Globe reporter and author of the forthcoming book, "This Land: The Battle Over Sprawl and the Future of America."

Flint really captures what I think is the essence of the issue: the suburbs are growing, fueled primarily by the relative wealth of people. That isn't going to stop. Our best options are to make the suburbs better (Kotkin's suburban villages concept), and provide more choices for people to live how and where they want, including some who will choose to live in older urban cores.

Flint quotes Kotkin, who says, "The problems of sprawl have to be solved within he context of sprawl. You're not going to stop it. You can't reengineer society by getting everyone to move back to Boston. Forget about it. It's not happening."

Robert Bruegmann, a professor of planning and architecture at the Univesity of Illinois at Chicago, predicts that as societies get ever moe affluent, more people want to come back to cities. But it's just a matter of understanding how wealth drives the popularity of different physical landscapes -- some opt for the urban life, others for the amenities of the suburbs. Each needs to be dealt with to produce the best environment possible.


At 3:36 PM, Blogger google_PEAK_OIL said...

Your Boston globe article mentions one of suburbia's harshest critics and his book:
Of course, a darker future is seen by others who look at the nation's spread-out landscape. James Howard Kunstler, a champion of New Urbanism and author of ''The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the 21st Century" (2005), argues that when cheap oil is no longer available, the suburban economy will collapse: The physical arrangement requiring long trips to get everywhere will become folly. Kunstler all but predicts tumbleweeds in front of Wal-Marts on long commercial strips.
and then the author says almost nothing to counter Kunstler's arguments.

Suburban sprawl is a side effect of a large portion of humanity having been Temporarily granted the power of hypermobility via the automobile. It appears that that power may be taken away from the masses a mere century after it was granted. Motorized man may soon find that rebuilding the world based on the assumption that the power would be permanent will prove to be one of humanity's most tragic mistakes.

By the way, did anyone catch James Howard Kuntsler's interview with Doug Fabrizio on Radio West the other day?


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