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The “Development” of Land Often Means Destruction of the Environment by Tim Martin

Posted by: | May 10, 2014 Comments Off on The “Development” of Land Often Means Destruction of the Environment by Tim Martin |

Sprawl Repair

Urban planners, transportation planners, architects, sociologists, and environmental advocates have determined the features that generally improve the quality of life of a community and reduce the amount of driving. Making streets friendlier to walkers, improving town centers, and creating 20-minute neighborhoods contribute to a sense of community and reduce vehicle trips. Additionally, ending the city versus suburb debate, as Sarah Goodyear proposes, could reduce stigmatism in both directions and motivate new ideas. As evidence of the declining allure of the suburbs, she mentions their growing poverty rates and aging infrastructure and buildings. However, she acknowledges that successful suburban communities can exist, quoting from a Christopher Leinberger post at The New Republic in which he argues that the walkability of the built environment is the key to improving communities. His analysis, surprisingly, concludes that suburbs currently contain as many walkable urban areas as those inside major cities.

The key to fixing sprawl is not mass migration back into cities. This is neither practical nor necessary. As Leinberger’s analysis shows, improving the built environment, whether urban or suburban, can lead to successful outcomes. The Sprawl Repair Manual by Galina Tachieva prescribes methods for turning fragmented and inefficient sprawl into livable, complete communities. She proposes specific techniques to increase the densification of suburban and rural areas, focusing on improving walkability. For example, a suburban neighborhood center can become a town center, and a strip mall can be converted into a multiple use structure. Many ideas exist for the re-use of big box stores (see here, here, and here). The suburban design and lifestyle must be re-imagined to implement these ideas. However, the outcome of this process could improve the overall quality of suburban life.

The time has come to question America’s love of suburbia. Mounting evidence exposes the unsustainable nature of the suburban lifestyle, both environmentally and economically. Increasing awareness of the deleterious effects of sprawl makes sprawl curtailment and repair a viable option for many communities.

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under: Climate Change, Land Use
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