Urban Sprawl Essay Research Paper Urban SprawlWhat

Urban Sprawl Essay, Research Paper Urban Sprawl What do abandoned buildings, clogged highways, and new mega-malls in farm fields have in common? According to a

Urban Sprawl Essay, Research Paper

Urban Sprawl

What do abandoned buildings, clogged highways, and new

mega-malls in farm fields have in common? According to a

growing list of national experts, all of these seemingly

unrelated phenomenon are the direct result of urban sprawl.

Webster s Dictionary says that to sprawl is to spread out

in an awkward or uneven way, especially so as to take up

more space than is necessary.

Although a clear meaning of sprawl remains

elusive, public debate over sprawl is driven

primarily by general concerns that low-density

residential development threatens farmland and

open space, increases public service costs,

encourages people and wealth to leave central

cities and degrades the environment.(NCPA)

One must understand that urban sprawl can not be completely

eliminated, but only contained in a manner that will help

the United States to function better as a country. Sprawl

is inevitable. We can t have a strong economy unless we

grow and allow new development (Beaumont 9).

Each morning, millions of Americans start their engines

and grind their way to work. They leave quiet settings for

the hustle and bustle of the nearby cities. When evening

approaches, these same people make their way back home.

Home, however, is no longer just across town. Many of these

people will commute miles and miles to their country homes.

Americans drive more than two trillion miles and consume

more than 150 billion gallons of motor fuel every

year (Beaumont 25). They are not alone in their commute

though, the entire rest of the subdivision is doing the

exact same thing, day in and day out. They endure the

traffic, lost time, and general inconvenience to be

surrounded by farmland and open space and a hundred or so

homes exactly identical to theirs.

Urban sprawl has always been a problem in a sense;

however not until the automobile was sprawl a serious issue.

With the arrival of the automobile, people could live

farther a way from work and not have to live in the city.

So the issue became a bigger issue with faster and better

cars. Many people were now able to live the American

Dream , rural life. A house of their own, out of town

enough to be quiet, but not too far from civilization. Then

something happened, the open space that they fell in love

with was slowly devoured by housing, shopping malls, and

believe it or not other people. Since 1970, 20 million

acres of farms and open spaces have been paved over and

developed (26).

The rolling fields that once marked freedom are now

browning and dotted with homes. This makes the original

homeowner unhappy. It is within our power to stop the

blight of ever more sprawl on the American landscape (Moe

35). They write editorials asking questions and demanding

answers. Both silently and aloud they fume: How dare the

farmer sell out his heritage, the land is more valuable as

farmland, right? How dare the developer exploit the land,

don t they care about our earth? How dare the politician

allow this activity, aren t we paying them to represent us?

And how dare the home buyer have the audacity to move there?

So sure are they in their quest for justice that they never

stop to consider one simple fact: they once were newcomers

too. And before them, the land was open space or farmland.

The developer exploited the land that they fell in love

with, the politician allowed the homes to be built, and they

were audacious enough to inhabit it.

So the circle begins. We as a country are facing an

epidemic of unknown proportions: age-old expansionist

attitudes. Urban sprawl has made a definite impact on

environment, agriculture, and economy. So, what exactly is

Urban Sprawl?

The terms urban sprawl, and suburbanization are

often used to describe the continuous outmigration

of the American economic and population base from

its central cities and major cities to the seas of

low density residential development highlighted by

edge cities or suburban megacenters, where

commercial, retail, office, and entertainment

development has occurred.(Bartlett 21)

This description describes the trend overtaking rural

America. The land that once fed the populace is being used

to house the masses. This phenomenon is being me with a

variety of opinions.

One of the strongest positions regarding urban sprawl

belongs to that of those concerned with the environment.

Growth has greatly affected the environment and quality of

life. Urban sprawl s environmental consequences often have

been overlooked by environmentalists amid concerns about

other problems. Yet conditions in metropolitan areas in the

United States may be the best indicator of the environmental

quality of our lives. Many U.S. residents believe that

those conditions are deteriorating in important respects,

including loss of green spaces, added runoff of pollutants

into water ways, increased traffic that causes congestion

and air pollution, and a less pleasing landscape.

Wildlife habitat is lost or fragmented to the

point that additional species are becoming

imperiled, as in southern California, where 90

percent of the coastal sage ecosystem has

disappeared.(Beaumont 22)

As a result, there has been a surge of actions aimed at

limiting sprawl.

Congestion and extra driving necessitated by sprawling

development contribute to air pollution. Vehicles are the

main source of air pollution, and vehicle exhaust remains a

serious problem. The biggest threat is from surface-level

ozone, the main ingredient of urban smog. Many U.S.

citizens are at high risk for adverse health effects such as

pneumonia and asthma attacks due to high levels of ozone.

Even healthy residents have been advised to jog in the early

morning on bad air days. Wildlife habitat has also been

eliminated or degraded.

Sprawl threatens our rural legacy, too. The American

Farmland Trust reports that we are losing 1 million acres of

farmland per year to sprawl. Since 1976, farmland

preservation laws have protected nearly 444,000 acres of

farmland. But we lose at least 16 acres of prime farmland

to urban development for every acre saved (Beaumont 15). If

acres upon acres of farmland is being devoured by

developers, how and where are we going to grow our food.

The AFT stated that agriculture is in too bad of a state

already, both economically and socially, to be biting the

hand that feeds us.

Another not so obvious point is that urban sprawl has

large economic effects on all Americans. More streets,

water lines, sewage services, schools, expanded police and

fire protections are all paid for by the American taxpayer.

So in other words, higher taxes. Another major issue being

created by this social problem is the breaking of the

traditional community structure. Our cities are not working

well. Issues such as these deserve our attention and

thought. However, there are more sides to this complex

story. Not everyone shares this same view.

For most Americans another example of the American

Dream , would be the perfect suburban life. Taking an

evening stroll through the neighborhood, children playing,

chatting with neighbors, it is safe to say that many

Americans aspire to these kinds of neighborhoods and living

conditions. However, policymakers and citizens need to look

beyond the architecture and into the soul of the suburb.

These people only enjoy how wonderful living in the suburbs

can be, but they fail to ever address any economic,

environmental, or agriculture issues. When presented,

proposals to reduce sprawl inevitably run into political

opposition. Customary opponents are development interests

and those who believe in the right to do whatever one

chooses with one s property. Developers have deep pockets

and can be politically influential.

Urban sprawl is an issue that affects every single

American, from the taxes we pay to where we live. As the

world population expands, the demand for housing increases.

Because of institutions such as the Federal Housing

Administration, Americans are finding it easier every day to

buy their own homes. We collectively have more money to

spend, and wish it on the living conditions we truly desire.

However, these aspects are offset by the fact that we

decrease our food supply and degrade our earth with every

foundation poured, nail pounded, and real estate deal

closed. We cannot know what our actions today will do to

our lives tomorrow. Unfortunately, only time will give us a

definitive answer.