urban final - Anthony Milne-800628757-Urban Politics...

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Anthony Milne-800628757-Urban Politics Final-Sprawl and Segregation The two most important issues that face a major US city are those of urban sprawl and segregation. The first of these issues with sprawl, can be explained as the horizontal movement of a city and its suburbs over rural land on the outskirts of the urban area. Sprawl is characterized by the increased land use for urban purposes as well as the use of more space per person. Sprawl becomes an issue for cities because it is a process that is generally inevitable with growth but usually progresses at a much faster than necessary pace and with a few serious consequences. As city populations grow it is obvious that some sprawl may be needed, but in most cases, the percentage of land used with new growth and sprawl tends to be much higher than the growth of the population (Rusk, 68). The graphs below from the 1970 to 1990 Census Bureau show that only about half of sprawl is related to population growth while about half of the area used for sprawl is related to land use per person. A few arguments can be made in support of sprawl such as cheaper housing prices with new development as well as with the suburban lifestyle being preferred to the faster more hectic city life (ibid 86). And although these may be very substantial arguments, the negative affects that spatial growth carries are commonly greater than these possible
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benefits. The two obvious consequences of sprawl are those of an increased encroachment on valuable rural and agricultural land as well as an increase in impervious surfaces (ibid 155). Also, consequences rooted in automobile dependency with increased pollution and reliance on fossil fuels, increased transportation costs and increased traffic congestion and traffic related fatalities are commonplace with urban sprawl (ibid 91). Increased costs of infrastructure also become an issue with the necessary provision of public services such as roads and highways as well as electricity, sewage, and water needed for new growth areas (ibid 140). Another less measurable group of consequences are those related to quality of life and social capital. These are the notions that an increase in the space used per person may result in neighborhood resources being widely spread and inconvenient, a possible lack of diversity with common homogenous movement, as well as a decrease in social capital with less interactions and a theme of privacy (ibid 32).
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