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  • On this page: Internet sites, E-mags 05.25.01

    Previous focus topics

    Suburban Sprawl

    From Colorado and Arizona to New Jersey, cities and suburban areas are expanding. The population is growing and the strong economy has triggered a boom in commercial and residential development. But along with this growth has come congested roads and highways, overcrowded schools, overloaded water and sewage systems and continuing air and water pollution. Environmental and community groups and individual citizens are becoming increasingly concerned that new shopping malls, housing developments and office parks are consuming our open spaces and threatening the environment and the quality of life. In the recent presidential election, ballot initiatives showed up from coast to coast proposing low-density zoning, limits on building permits and growth boundaries. Growth proponents include Habitat for Humanity, which has formed an alliance with business groups; they are fearful that limits on growth will reduce the availability of affordable housing and increase already rising land costs and housing pices. "We shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us," Winston Churchill said. How we build our communities will continue to shape our society.

    Researched by Joan Levinstein

    Internet sites

    Government Sites - Policy Analysis and Advocacy

    Government Sites

    Regional Review. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston publication analyzes the growth of U.S. cities and suburbs, urban sprawl and its promoters and detractors.

    U.S. Census Bureau. Official statistics and projections for the nation's population, housing, growth and other demographic information.

    State of the Cities. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development annual report on economic, fiscal and structural growth and/or decline of cities and suburbs.

    President's Council on Sustainable Development. Established by President Clinton as federal advisory committee, promotes innovative economic, social and environmental policies and strategies to encourage economic growth while preserving communities and the environment. Publications, task force reports and town meetings are available.

    Proposition 202. Arizona ballot proposition from 2000 election limiting growth in suburban areas and requiring growth boundaries. Defeated.

    Amendment 24. Colorado ballot proposal limiting suburban growth from 2000 election. Defeated.

    Policy Analysis and Advocacy

    Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. Brookings Institution reports on development, land use policies, ballot initiatives and property taxes and their impact on the social and economic infrastructure.

    Smart Growth Network. Coalition of developers, city planners, government officials, architects, environmentalists and lending institutions provides case studies, state-by-state news and programs to encourage growth policies that are environmentally safe, fiscally responsible and responsive to community needs.

    The Brawl over Sprawl.  American Bar Association Journal article on land use policies and zoning and development laws around the country.

    National Association of Home Builders. Trade association for home builders and developers; offers research, surveys and reports on affordable housing and responsible development of cities and suburban areas, with examples of successful developments around the country.

    Reason Online. Libertarian e-zine examines the controversy over urban sprawl.

    Sierra Club. This environmental organization explores the impact of urban/suburban growth and development on the environment.

    State Resource Strategies. Research organization that advises governments, private groups and businesses on promoting economic growth while preserving natural and cultural resources; offers reports, testimony, analysis and strategies on development initiatives, finance and land conservation.

    Joint Center for Housing Studies. Harvard University research center analyzes housing policies and their role in shaping communities. Their annual report, "The State of the Nation's Housing," analyzes trends in home sales, home ownership rates, the construction industry and mortgage rates and the demographics of home ownership.

    American Planning Association. Nonprofit, public policy research organization offers research, info on federal, state and local legislative initiatives, and policy guides on urban planning, zoning and other land use issues.

    Urban Land Institute. Research institute originally founded by real estate developers, provides information on land use and development, including studies on development, housing, brownfields, financing, urban parks and planned communities.

    Land Trust Alliance. Promotes land conservation and preservation of open spaces. Provides training to local private land trust organizations, tracks legislation, ballot initiatives and land conservation initiatives around the country, and offers surveys and reports on all aspects of land conservation.


    "Asphalt Jungle," by Dick Thompson, Time, Spring 2000.

    "Saving Suburbia," by Tim Padgett, Time, August 16, 1999.

    "The Sultans of Sprawl," by Ed Brown, Fortune, June 21, 1999.

    "The Laboratory of Urbanism," by Alberto Vourvoulais, Time International, May 24, 1999.

    "The Brawl Over Sprawl," by Richard Lacayo, Time, March 22, 1999.

    "Bursting at the Seams," by Nisid Hajari, Time International, November 1997.

    Researched by Joan Levinstein

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