Friday, July 30, 2010

Suburban Living II

Following up on yesterday’s post, here is a quote from one of the books I mentioned—Sprawl, A Compact History—regarding one of the major stated objections against expanding suburbs.

“Agriculture aside, some observers, particularly those in the largest and fastest growing cities, believe that sprawl is consuming an excessive amount of land and is well on the way to paving over the entire American countryside. The use of the prejudicial term “consuming,” even in supposedly dispassionate analysis, is symptomatic. It suggests that farmers or agricultural companies do not “consume” land but that any developer or suburban homeowner does even though the farmland is just as much a product of human action as the subdivision. In any event, by even the most generous estimates, the total amount of developed land today is probably no more than about 5 percent of the total of nearly 2 billion acres in the continental United States. Looked at another way, it would be possible to accommodate the entire population of the United States, nearly 300 million people, at suburban densities within the slightly over 65,000 square miles of the state of Wisconsin. It is also important to note that the amount of land added to the country’s supply of permanent open space, including public parks, national forests, and other areas set aside from development, has been increasing faster that the amount of urbanized land.” (p. 143)