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Does America Still Want Sprawl?

Increased awareness of sprawl’s negative effects has not led to a drop-off in its construction. Developers say they only build what the market demands.
March 2, 2015, 5am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Even though we know sprawl is bad, developers are still building it in a frenzy of post-recession construction. Alana Semuels examines why large-scale suburbia is still the default residential mode.

There is a chicken-or-egg question at play here. Does buyer demand for sprawl truly drive its construction? According to this line of thinking, "studies may show that the younger generation wants small, compact, transit-accessible housing […]. But once they decide to have kids and dogs, they’ll want the traditional suburban home with more space."

Alternatively, fewer people might settle in walkable communities simply because the construction industry doesn’t provide them. The article provides examples from Las Vegas and Atlanta supporting both sides.

The public attitude toward sprawl in the 21st century "points to a growing divide about how different people think Americans want to live in the future." Regardless, there are still tangible problems associated with sprawl, including strain on taxpayers to cover the infrastructure bills for far-flung subdivisions.

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Published on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 in The Atlantic
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