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“Suburban sprawl … may well be over in the United States”

April 27, 2012

Sprawl …. over?

It’s one thing for the Smart-Growth and Greenie crowd to be saying something like that.  But when it comes from someone like John K. McIlwain, writing in Urban Land, the magazine of the Urban Land Institute, then you know something serious has gone down:

Even if housing values bottom-out and stabilize this year or next year, there is little expectation that there will be a return to a strong housing market until the latter part of this decade, at the earliest. This means that these outer-ring developments will remain in a state of stasis for years to come.  …

In short, there is no large demographic group that can be expected to drive suburban housing demand for a number of years. There are those, in fact, who argue that there are already enough homes in suburban cul-de-sacs to meet the demand for these homes for years to come. The low rate of single-family home production of the past several years may be a reflection of more than just the housing crash.  …

Outer-ring counties are financially strapped; there are no funds for more roads or for other infrastructure development. …

It is increasingly clear that just as the past century was the century of suburbanization, this is the century of urbanization for the United States.

Of course life is different in Canada.  Here in the Lower Mainland we are spending billions to build new bridges and widen highways to facilitate sprawl in the Fraser Valley, while at the same time putting a hold on even the minimum transit improvements which would be necessary to offer people an alternative to car dependence: in particular, express buses over the new Port Mann Bridge and B-Line service on King George Boulevard.

This is because, apparently, we are insane.


One Comment leave one →
  1. permalink
    April 27, 2012 11:20 pm

    Insane, or overdue for a change in government.

    My personal favourite was the business case for the SFU Gondola which, despite some conservative assumptions (such as valuing the entire gondola (including right of way, environmental assessments, permits, planning, etc.) at 0 after 25 years), concluded it would save us money and bring us a number of other benefits. The response – we can’t afford to save ourselves money…

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