Category Archives: week7-urban

Jailyn Williams Week 7

As Canada and the United States increase in population, additional space is necessary for the construction of residences and businesses to meet the needs of a larger populace. Moreover, the days when most people lived in cities are gone. Now, most people prefer to have their own home on their own plot of land in suburbia. The development of vacant land is a necessity, but it becomes problematic when a lack of regional planning leads to an inefficient impact on the environment and increases costs for everyone. Sprawl is a term referring to spread out or low-density residential development beyond the edge of service and employment areas. It separates where people live from where they work, shop, and seek leisure activities or an education, requiring them to use cars to move between these zones. Sprawl identifies the cumulative effects of development that are automobile dependent, inefficient, and wasteful of natural resources. Sprawl is a  regional problem, and solving the problem requires convincing people that comprehensive, rational planning and strategies to combat it are in their self-interest.

Those seeking to curb sprawl often base their concerns around its impact on the environment, the traffic problems it creates, its harm to cities, and the financial burden it poses to everyone.As new construction emerges in a scattered fashion across the countryside, it often disrupts wildlife habitats and fragments rural regions once abounding in farmland, fields, forests, lakes, and ponds. An example of the latter is the runoff from the streets, parking lots, lawns, and farms that empty pollutants and sediment into waterways, degrading water quality and smothering habitat. Sprawl has disastrous consequences involving the destruction of wetlands and building on floodplains. The consequence of sprawl is too little water, not too much. Cars zipping along highways, or worse, cars stuck in traffic jams spew millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into our atmosphere each year.

The alternative is sprawl is Smart Growth, comprehensive land-use planning to revitalize and build compact, environmentally sensitive communities, ones that are a transit and pedestrian-oriented and contain a mix of residential, commercial, and retail spaces. Its focus is on regional growth within already urbanized areas as well as on newly urbanizing land. Smart Growth public policies seek ways to stop the bulldozing of forests and farms and instead encourage reinvestment in cities and urbanized towns through sustainability, denser development, mass transit, and pedestrian-friendly areas.

A.C Spectorsky coined the term exurb to describe the appearance of new residential areas developing on the metropolitan fringe. This was observational, but a not-too-systematic account of prosperous residential communities on the fringes of the New York City metropolitan area. He noted that the lifestyle of these exurbanites was an intriguing mix of high tech, high culture, and rustic charm. Although they lived in a rural locale, they commuted to jobs in the central business district, combined their love for old things with attraction to new electronic gadgets, and maintained a strong interest in books, theater, and art.

Edge cities or new cities fall into one of three major categories. Uptowns, built on top of pre-automobile settlements, boomers, the typical new city located at the intersection of two major highways and almost always centered on a mall, and lastly, greenfields, a master-planned city by one developer on thousands of farmland acres. Boomers are the most common new city type and the ones least likely to have a political organization.

Gated communities in the U.S trace back to the first planned gated community in 1853. Beginning in the 1980’s, gated communities increased rapidly not only in retirement villages but also in resort and country club developments and then in middle-class suburban subdivisions. People live in gated communities because they are in fear of crime and attempts to establish economic and physical security free from the problems of traffic and noise. They also enjoy their own pay as you go services. Types of gated communities are lifestyle communities, prestige communities, and security zone communities.

The model city is Portland, Oregon. It successfully controls its growth and development. All cities in western North America have undergone boom periods that gobbled up the land, strained the infrastructure, and resulted in congestion, dirty air, and tax-strained school systems. Yet, Portland is a healthy, vibrant city displaying few of the problems found in other urban places. The city planned its future, an effort that reflected portlands long history of concern for the urban quality of life and commitment to the common good. By the end of the twentieth century, four patterns of land development sprawl, new cities, gated communities, and CID’s became so widespread that they will most likely affect both urban and suburban lifestyles for at least several generations.