What is Urban Sprawl?

by Dakota Goldberg

What is Urban Sprawl?

Urban sprawl is the expansion of low-density, poorly-planned, car-dependent development, usually in the form of single-family homes, and it often arises from planning efforts to accommodate a growing population and meet families’ demands for larger living spaces.

The unrestricted growth characteristic of urban sprawl spreads structures out across large distances, resulting in increased automobile dependency, inefficient water and energy use, and less community cohesiveness.

The negative effects of urban sprawl include:

To solve the problem of urban sprawl, cities must implement better planning policies that concentrate growth and prevent sprawling into rural areas. An example of this is “Smart Growth,” which advocates for compact building designs, walkable neighborhoods, accessible transportation options, and other sustainable planning improvements. Sprawl-prevention policies may include land development measures, such as zoning and subdivision regulation, permit limits, and urban growth boundaries.

Local governments can also reward individuals and businesses for greater development density with bonuses and special tax cuts in compliant districts, and we can engage other community members to vote against local projects that threaten to worsen the effects of urban sprawl. This means supporting local government efforts to acquire and protect ecologically critical areas, and help educate others on the negative effects of urban sprawl and mitigation techniques.

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Posted on March 2, 2021 in ECOVOTE BLOG.

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