The auto-centric development patterns of American cities are a result of decades of misguided, but reversible, policy decisions.
The sprawl that characterizes many modern cities doesn’t have to continue to define them, argues Jocelyn Timperley. “As the world struggles to undo unsustainable systems, as well as the growing inequality between the rich and the poor, cities are making their way back into the spotlight as potential solutions—and missteps.”
Sprawl, as defined in the article by “low-density housing, segregated land uses (meaning housing is separated from shops, workplaces, schools and leisure activities), a lack of local town centers, and limited street connectivity,” increases carbon emissions from transportation and large, single-family homes with bigger carbon footprints. Reid Ewing, professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah, estimates that “more compact development in the US would lead to a 7 to 10 percent reduction in total transportation carbon dioxide emissions (the largest source of emissions by sector in the US) by 2050, compared to continuing urban sprawl.” Meanwhile, “As of 2015, a single-family detached home in the US used around three times as much energy as an apartment in a building of five or more different units.”
Timperley outlines the history of sprawl in the United States, from its beginnings in early 20th century zoning codes to the suburban boom of the post-World War II era, and how infrastructure spending perpetuates car-centric development.
The article goes on to offer a range of solutions, from relatively inexpensive fixes like crosswalks and bike lanes to major public transit projects and zoning reforms.
Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think
Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.
New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives
The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.
‘Mega-Landlords’ Threaten Housing Stability for Renters
As institutional investors buy up a larger share of single-family homes, the families renting them are increasingly vulnerable to rent increases and eviction.
More Funds to Transform the Puente Hills Landfill into a Regional Park
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors just approved an additional $28 million to support the development of the Puente Hills Regional Park at the landfill site.
Denver Freeway Widening Plans on Hold
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s plan to widen the Interstate 25 freeway through Denver is one of a few plans to widen urban freeways under consideration in the United States.
Public Perceptions of Sprawl and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Urban density has a bad reputation.
City of Redwood City
City of Rohnert Park
City of Hot Springs
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