Is Suburban Sprawl on its Way Back?

A recent article in The New York Times examines the complexities and contradictions of urban sprawl. We know that the density of cities can concentrate risk, but the inefficiencies of sprawl are far worse and they make response, recovery and rebound harder. Advocates of a more resilient society should watch this trend closely. Here’s an excerpt of the article:

Proponents of what is sometimes called “smart growth” point to market data as the ultimate proof that the mix of housing options is expanding.

Unlike in previous recessions, housing closer to the urban core retained more value in this bust than suburban homes. Large homebuilders like Toll Brothers have changed their product mix, building fewer large homes on large lots and more communities that promote walkability and efficiency as selling points. Cities like Dallas, Houston, Denver and Salt Lake have discovered that mass transit can spur high-end development. “The market isn’t all for smart growth, nor is it all for sprawl,” said Geoff Anderson, the president and chief executive of Smart Growth America. “The thing for the last 50, 60 years has been that we’ve done nothing but sprawl.”

Read the full article


Photo: Suburbia by David Shankbone