What does sprawl mean anymore to anyone? In one day President Obama discusses how important it is to build an interchange and how sprawl is dead. Are those two reconcilable? Only if we define what sprawl is and how it's created. Some on the other side consider streetcar suburbs from the end of the 19th century and early 20th century to be sprawl. They would consider the the Roman Empire to be sprawl.
But we seem to forget that those neighborhoods were made for walking, and recent studies have suggested that the interconnected road networks built by streetcars and before are safer than those built just for cars. This isn't just an issue of the environment, its an issue of public health and safety. But does that lead to a simple definition of the detrimental effects of sprawl?
So what is sprawl? Is it like Larry Flint's magazines? Do you know it when you see it? To my own understanding, sprawl is development that acts as a leach, taking tax base away from central cities and spending it sooner than it can be raised. It doesn't necessarily mean low density alone because that is a part of the market, just not 80% of it. The Fresno Bee also had a story about a study done on farmland preservation in California's central valley. We're losing land fast to endless unsustainable development. But how do we get to sustainable? What is the goal there? 0% net energy usage? Then there is this dependence on oil thing.
Sinn-Frei via Steven B.
But is it sprawl if your house is close to your job, even if you live out the suburbs? I've tried to think of what it is and what it isn't, but I can't seem to pin it down. So if we can't define it, how do we kill it?