Sprawl City

Discusses Los Angeles as an example of a sprawl city and a model of “smart growth” objectives.

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City sprawl throughout the world led to the idea of “smart growth”, which is the increase in density of urbanized areas. In a recent list of 100 of the largest urbanized areas in the U.S. (1970-1990), Los Angeles ranked only sixth, but it is considered the champion of “smart growth”. This paper shows that those behind the principle of “smart growth” believe that the denser an urbanized area, the better. Their policies draw from the concept that a city’s population can grow indefinitely without causing a lot of sprawl by confining more and more people into already existing urbanized areas. This paper discusses whether Los Angeles is indeed the sultan of sprawl and a smart growth model.
As to air quality, that of LA has reportedly improved dramatically year after year, even during the rapid growth phase in the 80s. Also, more compact development has insignificant impact on air quality because of more frequent but shorter automobile trips. Meanwhile, markets continue to allocate resources, including farmland, feeding millions more on less land on account of better farming methods (Gordon and Richardson). It should also be observed that the telecommunications evolution has followed people where they live, not people following the jobs, whereby job growth is focused on the rural areas. This refutes the conclusion that people today prefer to live in more compact environments, like downtown.

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