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Building America: Who should Control Urban Growth?

  • Public
By Brian December 11, 2013

0/5 stars (0 votes) James Howard Kunstler and Randal O'Toole

How should our cities grow? Who should control development: planners or markets?

If there is any one distinguishing physical feature of the North American metropolis it is the sprawl of the suburbs over the countryside. This sprawl is accentuated by the fact that control over zoning decisions is left in the hands of individual suburban municipalities. The multi-centered metropolis hinders any efforts to control metropolitan growth, to channel the growth into areas designed for it, and to preserve other areas for permanent productive and recreational green spaces. Urban sprawl is associated with total dependence on the automobile for transportation, segregation between the impoverished and the affluent, redundant infrastructure, and excessive negative environmental impacts. The urban sprawl debate engenders fundamental concerns about local government and 'the race to the bottom', the freedom of markets in land use and development, how to protect the environment, the government's role in promoting exclusion versus access, and the role of place-making in civic engagement.