Sprawling cities like Las Vegas must rein in unchecked growth and promote infill development and more sustainable transportation modes.
Cities like Las Vegas were largely built around the automobile in the optimistic mid-century era of massive urban expansion and highway construction. But according to an opinion piece by Linda Stout, “The solution to Las Vegas’ growing pains are sustainable urban planning and rapid decarbonization, not more suburbs and parking lots. In the age of climate change, our best options are smart growth and infill development.”
Stout argues that the Southern Nevada Economic Development and Conservation Act (SNEDCA), which state legislators passed last year and which could extend urban growth boundaries and encourage more single-family home construction, “reinforces patterns of car dependence and sprawl, jeopardizing Nevada’s mandated climate goals to reduce emissions 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, 45% by 2030, and net zero by 2050.”
Stout points out that the increasingly frequent climate disasters facing Nevada “do not impact communities equally,” aggravating public health threats in some of the most vulnerable communities. “People impacted most by discriminatory housing practices often have the fewest resources to deal with heatwaves.”
To reverse decades of sprawl, reduce emissions, and save money, Nevada needs zoning regulations and public infrastructure investments that favor high density and mixed use land development along with well designed public transit.
To promote more sustainable and equitable development, Stout suggests prioritizing infill development and “phasing out high emission vehicles and incentivizing a rapid deployment of energy efficient public transit, trucking, and light rail.”
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