America Loves Suburban Sprawl

Scholar aruges that Americans have embraced sprawl and the lifestyle that accompanies it.
February 7, 2005, 7am PST | Peter Buryk
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As planner and policymakers continue to argue over whether sprawl or compact development will dominate in the future, Joel Kotkin thinks he has the definitie answer - "the winner is, yes, sprawl." He points to the explosion of new development since 1950 in suburban areas as one piece of evidence. He thinks suburbs offer a better opportunity to achieve the American Dream, because they give us more "space, quality of life, safety and privacy" than cities can offer. Kotkin hypothesizes that in the future, cities will serve "niche lifestyle, preferred mostly by the young, the childless and the rich." He does admit that as baby boomers retire, they will look increasingly for places to live that are walkable and compact. "They don't want to move to Florida and they want to stay close to the kids," says Jeff Lee, CEO of a prominent D.C. real estate, architecture and planning firm. "What they are looking for is a funky suburban development -- funky but safe." In the end, Kotkin implores Americans to stop complaining about sprawl, embrace this quintissential American lifestyle, and work towards improving it for future generations.

Thanks to Peter Buryk

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Published on Sunday, February 6, 2005 in The Washington Post
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