Sunday, October 02, 2005

Evolving sprawl

While researching my new book I must confess I came away from several far-flung subdivisions thinking the development pattern wasn't my cup of tea, but wasn't so bad. I saw African-American families unloading cars in the driveways. The homes started at $120,000 (closer to the cost of a parking space than a studio in Boston). The houses were close together, and there were schools and community centers that were at least for some in walking distance, or skateboarding or scooting distance. In today's Ideas section of The Sunday Boston Globe I analyze Robert Bruegmann's new book and the general defense of sprawl -- and how the argument for it doesn't hold up for very long. Sprawl giveth, but ultimately it taketh away: separation of uses, long everyday trips and commutes, total car dependence, high gasoline prices, fiscal strains to extend the infrastructure, and inevitably, all the social and economic fragmentation that comes with the relentless abandonment of established urban areas. I point out that the smartest smart growth activists aren't spending a lot of time hammering sprawl these days anyway -- they just want the barriers removed to allow some alternatives to flourish. Then the market can decide. Here's the link to the piece: