Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Halting Urban Sprawl: Smart Growth in Vancouver and Seattle

by David Fox

Haphazard and unorganized land-use planning in United States cities has resulted in endless sprawl that is straining infrastructure, polluting the atmosphere, and negatively affecting quality of life. This Note compares efforts of two similarly situated North American cities— Seattle and Vancouver—in enacting Smart Growth policies to combat sprawl and argues that Seattle, and American cities in general, should look to Vancouver’s example to limit urban sprawl and comprehensively plan at local and regional levels for sustainable growth and more livable spaces over the coming decades.

The most pressing land use problem facing North American cities is the containment of urban sprawl.1 Sprawl is low-density, land-consuming, non-contiguous development on the fringe of settled areas, often near a decaying central city that invades undeveloped areas.2 It is haphazard development that expands without limits or order from the core of a metropolitan area.3 In areas characterized by sprawl, residential development consists primarily of single-family housing, with a significant number of them scattered in distant areas.4 Examples of non-residential development include shopping malls, strip malls along arterial roads, isolated industrial and office parks, and freestanding schools or other public buildings.5 Sprawl usually results in infrastructure problems.6 Ei-ther the infrastructure (sewage and water distribution systems are examples)
is unavailable in the outer areas where development is taking place, or an entirely separate system must be developed, which is economically wasteful and inefficient.7 By concentrating poverty in urbanized areas, sprawl re-segregates society and drains public investment in vital urban services.8

A bird-eye view of Vancouver, by ecstaticist
Urban sprawl in Vancouver, photo by Aphex Twin

similar posts about urban and suburban sprawl:

New Austin blueprint envisions new direction for growth

Is `new urbanism' truly a step in right direction?

Iraq's urban sprawl, not looting, threatens Ninevah antiquities

A Libertarian View of Urban Sprawl

Study Shows Urban Sprawl Continues To Gobble Up Land

SHRINKING CITIES—Growing Domain for Urban Planning?

Cleanliness from a car


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