At the outset, suburban sprawl should be defined clearly. Sprawl is not any form of suburban growth, but a particular form. In our study The Costs of Sprawl – Revisited, we did not create the definition deductively from some internally coherent concept of “sprawlness.” Rather, we looked inductively at all the criticisms of sprawl in the literature, and derived traits that would cause them. The ten such traits are: (1) unlimited outward extension of develop ment, (2) low-density residential and commercial settlements, (3) leapfrog development, (4) fragmentation of powers over land use among many small localities, (5) dominance of transportation by private automotive vehicles, (6) no centralized planning or control of land- uses, (7) widespread strip commercial development, (8) great fiscal disparities among localities, (9) segregation of types of land uses in different zones, and (10) reliance mainly on the trickle- down or filtering process to provide housing to low-income households. These traits have dominated American metropolitan growth for 50 years. Most analyses of sprawl focus on only one or a few of these traits, thereby adopting an oversimplified approach.
In theory, the American metropolitan growth and development process is not identical to sprawl, which is a particular form of that process. However, sprawl has been so dominant in United States metropolitan areas that most people think the growth process is the same as sprawl. I will try to distinguish between them in this analysis.
|Pheonix, Arizona, the downtown and the periphery of the city are seen, photo by TAYLOR149|
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