Debate about sprawl development has shifted over the years. What was once a discussion heavily about aesthetics, sign pollution and traffic has grown into an examination of long-term costs and sustainability. The past two generations' worth of building patterns have markedly changed the shape of both urban and rural areas. Air and water quality, greenhouse gases, the availability of workforce housing, the vitality of Main Street businesses, our cultural and historic resources, even public health have been affected by dispersed patterns of development. The issue demands more public attention. We offer this compilation of various outside resources to promote greater dialogue about the costs of sprawl.
ThePriceofSprawl.com, an interactive tool, was developed as a taxpayer guide to the cost of residential sprawl in Florida. This website was developed for the Florida Hometown Democracy/Amendment 4 initiative. (Questions regarding the report methodology and data should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org)
"A candid talk about the future of America's cities, towns and
The report is by Strong Towns, a non-profit organization based in Minneapolis. It covers causes and impacts of the economic crisis, examines case studies on the finances of development patterns and proposes strategies for adjusting to new realities.
This study was prepared for the Queen Anne's Conservation Association by AKRF, Inc. in January 2011. It presented an assessment of budget and fiscal trends for Queen Anne's County, MD and examined perceptions about development and its relationship to the County's fiscal position. The findings stressed the importance of pursuing smart growth policies to manage the inevitable rebound in residential demand, and to create opportunities to enhance commercial demand in a manner consistent with maximizing the efficient use of existing commercial and industrial properties.
The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index was developed by CNT and the Center for Transit Oriented Development as a project of The Brookings Institute's Urban Markets Initiative. Americans traditionally consider housing affordable if it costs no more than 30 percent of their income. The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index offers the true cost of housing based on location by measuring transportation costs associated with place for 337 metro regions.
A guide to CNT's H+T Index, that includes H&T profiles for Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV. The report highlights the financial impact of two approaches to development - compact, mixed-use with access to stores, jobs and transit and dispersed, single-use development apart from job centers and public transportation. It concludes that the compact approach produces greater affordability, lower greenhouse gas emissions and more sustainable regional growth.
Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program by the Brookings Institute, (May 2010) portrays demographic and social trends shaping the nation’s large metropolitan areas-and discusses what they imply for public policies to secure prosperity for these places and their populations.
The Costs of Sprawl Reconsidered: What the data really show." The Heritage Foundation
Wendell Cox and Joshua Utt. (2004)
In this paper, Wendell Cox and Joshua Utt attempt to debunk the notion that sprawl costs more than smart growth. The report uses an econometric analysis for more than 700 municipalities to attempt to determine the portion of municipal costs related to the impact of sprawl. The authors also critique the results of the "The Costs of Sprawl-2000" report, saying that the additional cost of $227 billion is minimal over the 25-year period, amounting to $29 per capita per year.
Understanding Smart Growth Savings: What we know about public infrastructure and service cost savings, and how they are misrepresented by critics"
Victoria Transport Policy Institute. Todd Litman. (2004)
Litman presents a detailed critique of the Cox and Utt study. This report summarizes various studies comparing the costs of alternative development patterns and finds that Smart Growth could provide savings of between $5,000 and $75,000 annually per unit for publicly borne development costs (roads and utility lines) and $500 to $10,000 annually per unit for incremental operations, maintenance and service costs.
The Costs of Sprawl 1974 : Environmental and Economic Costs of Alternative Residential Development Patterns at the Urban Fringe
Real Estate Research Corporation. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1974
The Costs of Sprawl is widely cited as a seminal piece of work in its isolation of density and location as key variables in the cost of development. Although it was later criticized for its methodology, the report was quite influential, stimulating additional studies and critiques through the 1970s and beyond. It compared the costs of six hypothetical communities with 10,000 dwelling units each and concluded that high density development was less costly, based on environmental impact, energy, capital and operating costs. The study was criticized for, among other things, being based on theoretical analysis, not on actual experience.