Planned growth vs. sprawl: the best and worst cities
In a sprawling area, families drive 40 miles more daily than those who live in cities with less sprawl
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To avoid sprawl while providing the affordable housing that homebuyers want, Garczynski advocates comprehensive planning. And that requires participation and compromise by community members with diverse interests and views.Skip to next paragraph
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His company is a charter member of a Washington, D.C.-area planning coalition that brings together builders, activists, and environmentalists. "We agree on things we can support, and that establishes a level of trust and respect," Garczynski says. "We build on common interests before tackling the tough development issues. That's what has to be done, but it doesn't happen overnight; it's long-term."
Officials in Omaha, Neb., realize that keeping the city's high ranking could be a challenge. Steve Jensen, the city's assistant planning director, told the Omaha World-Herald that "we could slip in the future unless we are careful."
Still, the big question might not be what Omaha does, but what planners in neighboring jurisdictions and the region decide to do.
Which region of the US needs to do the most planning? According to the report, it's the South. After Riverside-San Bernardino, the next most sprawling metropolitan areas are Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Atlanta; and Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.
Authors of the report chalk up the South's sprawl tendencies to two factors: the absence, in many cases, of topographic restraints, such as mountains, lakes, and rivers, which naturally contain growth; and the lack of planning and zoning that encourage denser development.
In Atlanta's case, part of the challenge has been a preexisting network of country roads. "Developers find it pretty easy, quick, and cheap to go out to where the next road is rather than to build a denser street pattern closer to the existing metro area," says Rolf Pendall, a third author of the sprawl report.
In future studies, the team intends to look at the impact of sprawl on racial segregation, the decline of central cities, the loss of open space, and public health.
For now, in the interest of encouraging more compact, but not high-rise neighborhoods, they offer these policy recommendations:
1. Reinvest in neglected communities and promote more housing opportunities.
2. Rehabilitate abandoned properties.
3. Encourage new development and redevelopment within the existing urban area.
4. Create and nurture mixed-use centers of activity, in some cases rezoning to permit multifamily housing in and around jobs-rich mini-cities on the edge of larger cities.
5. Support growth-management strategies, including preservation of prime farmland and sensitive environmental lands, forests, and other green spaces, in conjunction with careful planning for development in designated areas.
6. Craft policies that favor nonautomotive forms of transportation and maintain existing streets and highways in preference to building new ones.
Areas with the most sprawl
1. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.
2. Greensboro-Winston-Salem- High Point, N.C.
3. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
5. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.
6. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-
Delray Beach, Fla.
7. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk Danbury, Conn.
8. Knoxville, Tenn.
9. Oxnard-Ventura, Calif.
10. Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
Cities with the least sprawl
1. New York
2. Jersey City, N.J.
4. San Francisco
6. Omaha, Neb.
8. Portland, Ore.
10. New Orleans
Source: Smart Growth America