Eric Jaffe shares the details of a new report by Reid Ewing and Shima Hamidi of the University of Utah that tracks the rate of sprawl for the largest 162 urbanized areas in the United States. According to Jaffe's telling, "Ewing and Hamidi scored the largest 162 U.S. urbanized areas on the Sprawl Index — or, if you're feeling optimistic, the Compactness Index — for 2010. (Urbanized areas reflect development better than fixed metro area boundaries do.) Then they applied the index to the same cities in 2000 to show the change over time."
Jaffe's coverage of the study includes maps and, most helpfully, graphs, which quantifies the rate of sprawl for urban areas around the country. The data reveals for instance, that the country's most compact area, San Francisco-Oakland, actually became less compact between 2000 and 2010. At the other end of the spectrum, the least compact city, Atlanta, became less compact still.
The article concludes by describing the possible policy implications of the study.