Manual Suburban Sprawl

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In established, denser neighbourhoods, service delivery is more affordable and some infrastructure already exists, so new developments entail lower municipal spending. Denser growth patterns can save cities, and their taxpayers, billions in capital costs and city services:. Growing awareness of the full costs of sprawling suburbs has led a number of Canadian cities to restructure taxes and charges, correcting the inadvertent incentives that lead to sprawling development.

These tools include:. Living and working closer together also has labour benefits.

With more potential workers to choose from, businesses get better choice of employees and higher labour productivity, and employees benefit from more choices of work. Urban density also makes it easier for firms to access suppliers, customers, and specialized knowledge. And we all benefit from knowledge spill overs that happen within sectors and between sectors when businesses and people work closely together.

Urban Sprawl: Which U.S. City Sprawls the Most?

Using pricing to better reflect the true costs of sprawl will result in new municipal revenue. Some of this revenue can be used to support transit, build truly affordable, well-located housing, and support social services.

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Reducing further sprawl also further reduces the smog emissions from vehicle use that disproportionately harm lower-income people. Existing provincial legislation prevents some of the reforms that municipalities could take to change the prices and create incentives for denser development. All of these tools intrinsically deal with population growth by rendering areas, especially environmentally fragile places, off-limits to new development and instead channeling growth into areas that can handle it.

Though smart growth solutions have proven effective, tactics that attempt to discourage population growth by reducing density can back-fire and lead to more sprawl and more growth. Professor Pendall surveyed the use of growth management tools by planners and engineers in counties that gained population between and He performed a regression analysis on the impact of these tools on sprawl-based land consumption.

Pendall convincingly sketches out a "chain of exclusion" whereby low-density-only-zoning leads to exclusion of racial minorities either directly or by spurring a shift to lower housing production and single-family unit housing, leading to a lower percentage of renters and lower rental affordability.

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Sprawl is driven by myopic public policies, irresponsible private practices, outdated cultural norms and population growth. The mix of these factors is different in every metropolitan area, and varies widely from region to region. Poor planning and population growth interact with each and exacerbate their negative impacts.

The solutions must, similarly, be crafted on the basis of local circumstances and needs. Though population is one of the factors that creates sprawl, not all solutions that appear to focus on population actually work.


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Solutions that focus on low density in particular can backfire. Not only can these "solutions" actually increase the amount of suburban sprawl, but also they are often unfair and exclusionary. The good news is that smart growth solutions - like cutting the subsidies to both development and job relocation that feed sprawl and using greenbelts to protect fragile areas - can actually restrain population growth while curbing suburban sprawl. In short, whatever the mix of population growth and poor land use practices that cause sprawl in a given region, smart growth solutions are still the most effective and equitable way to combat suburban sprawl.

How Suburban Sprawl is Killing Us

Environmental news, green living tips, and ways to take action: Subscribe to the Sierra Club Insider! New Research on Population, Suburban Sprawl and Smart Growth Factsheet: Population Growth and Suburban Sprawl: A Complex Relationship Suburban sprawl -- defined as irresponsible, often poorly-planned development that destroys green space, increases traffic and air pollution, crowds schools and drives up taxes -- is a major concern for Americans across the country.

Solutions That Work: Grow Smarter Professor Rolf Pendall's recent study 16 found that smart-growth tools like Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances APFOs , which require that infrastructure like roads and sewer lines be fully paid for before new development moves forward, are very effective. Ineffective and Inequitable Ideas: Reducing Density Though smart growth solutions have proven effective, tactics that attempt to discourage population growth by reducing density can back-fire and lead to more sprawl and more growth.

For more information see the Sierra Club's fact sheet on the relationship between population and suburban sprawl. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Marlon G. Boarnet and Andrew F. Haughwout, "Do Highways Matter? Borosage and Roger Hickey, Eds. Rolf Pendall, "Do land-use controls cause sprawl?

Suburban sprawl - definition of Suburban sprawl by The Free Dictionary

Arthur C. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson, and Angel O. Torres, Island Press By the late s this figure had increased to about 49 percent. In developed countries this fraction was much higher. In the United States, for example, the urban population rose from roughly 64 percent in to about 81 percent in In contrast, less-affluent developing countries contain fewer urban residents.


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In India, for example, the urban population increased from 17 percent in to about 29 percent in There are many factors that contribute to urban sprawl. In many cases, urban sprawl has occurred in areas experiencing population declines, and some areas with rising populations experience little urban sprawl, especially in developing countries. Economic growth and globalization are often cited as the principal macroeconomic drivers of urban sprawl; however, increased affluence, attractive land and housing prices, and the desire for larger homes with more amenities such as yards, household appliances, storage space, and privacy play significant roles at the level of the individual.

Many experts also believe that weak planning laws and single-use zoning also contribute to urban sprawl. The construction of houses, utilities, and roads in the suburbs, along with the delivery of resources to suburban residents and workers, are integral components of the gross national product of developed countries. Because much of the growth in a metropolitan area occurs at the fringes, large amounts of resources and services are directed there. Many suburban housing tracts contain similar or identical models that sit on parcels with identical or nearly identical specifications.

Standardization reduces costs, since materials which often come from sources overseas can be ordered in bulk, and quickens the pace of construction. Some urban planners and social scientists have linked this trend toward design standardization to the rising influence of globalization.

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Many urban planners maintain that modern suburban zoning laws have done much to promote urban sprawl. After the U. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of zoning regulations in Village of Euclid v.