Between 1982 and 1997, Pennsylvania’s population grew by 2.5% while its urbanized footprint grew by 47%. Sprawl causes the state’s cities, towns, and older suburbs to decline as the locus of the state’s growth shifts toward outlying newer communities. Sprawl burdens taxpayers because providing infrastructure is more expensive for sprawling communities and urban decay depresses property values, it undercuts the state’s economic competitiveness and it creates economic isolation for minorities and low-income residents.
This extensive report provides background information on sprawl, examines the public and personal costs of sprawl, including on the quality of life and the livability of cities, and discusses the benefits and negative impacts of sprawl. In a study of nationwide growth patterns which projected out 25 years starting in 2000, researchers found that under sprawl vs. compact development, sprawl will consume 4.7 million more acres, 11.8% more will be spent on local road construction, personal travel costs would be 4% higher, it will cost four billion a year more to provide local public-services, average residential housing cost would be 7.8% higher, and developers and local governments will expend $12.6 billion more to provide necessary water and sewer infrastructure.
Sprawling patterns of development create heavy economic burdens -- problems, costs and liabilities far in excess of the benefits. Conversely, smart growth strategies can enhance economic vitality.
Conservation subdivision design offers a way to design land development so that some green space is preserved, property values are increased and the same amount of buildings are constructed as would be without it. The conservation subdivision identifies natural and cultural resources that should be preserved and ways to situate houses in ways that both preserve that land and place houses close enough to it so residents can fully enjoy it. The article provides a basic example of how a partially wooded lot could be converted into a conservation subdivision and examples of how this tool has been used to save significant amounts of money on actual development projects.
This study presents the key findings of an assessment of budget and fiscal trends for Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. It shows that the following perceptions about development and its relationship to the county’s fiscal position are not true: A lack of residential development has hurt the county’s fiscal health; agriculture and open space are unproductive land uses; increased residential development will lead to healthier fiscal conditions; and more commercial zoning can solve the county’s budget problems.
More often then not, home buyers are willing to pay a premium to live in smart growth developments and housing in smart growth developments often have a greater resale appreciation than their conventionally designed suburban counterparts. Studies cited in this article include a study of 18 smart growth and 18 conventional suburban developments where 56% of the smart growth developments had higher resale appreciation than their suburban counterparts, 33% had lower resale appreciation, and resale appreciation for the rest were roughly the same or were inconclusive. Another study showed that in Maryland, houses in two smart growth neighborhoods were valued at 16.1% and 9.5% higher than houses in the surrounding conventional subdivisions.
By choosing the path for smarter growth, in 2035, reductions in emissions could save California between $716 million and $1.66 billion in health costs from fewer pollution-related illnesses and deaths. There would be more than 132,000 tons of air pollution reduced and up to 140 premature deaths, 105,000 asthma attacks and other respiratory issues avoided.
This impact assessment compares two possible growth plans for New Jersey, one in which growth continues according to historical trends and one where is managed according to the State Development and Redevelopment Plan, in which development will be close-in, contained, somewhat denser and will be directed into existing and new centers. Although both development scenarios will accommodate the same level of population and job growth, the state plan saves appreciable amounts of developable land, will reduce fiscal deficits due to growth by $160 million a year and save $870 million in local road infrastructure costs.
Sprawl increases the costs of roads, housing, schools, and utilities; increases automobile use, makes public transit less cost efficient and effective; increases costs incurred due to car accidents; contributes to the concentration of poverty; contributes to the acceleration of socio-economic decline in cities, towns, and older suburb; and increases medical costs by increasing pollution and stress. Two examples given in this piece are, in 1995, Pennsylvanians could have saved $120 million in road, utility and school construction costs if sprawl development was avoided. In the Philadelphia area, 40% of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authorities (SEPTA) annual operating deficit is due to the longer suburban-city commutes, which comprise only 13.6% of the total number of transit trips.
The authors examined whether a price premium seen in conventional versus smart growth neighborhoods in Maryland would be sustained over time. They found that between 1997 and 2005, the houses in the smart growth neighborhoods sold for 16.1%, and 6.5% more than comparable houses in surrounding conventional developments. During this period, the price premium for both communities was sustained or increased, indicating a strong and sustained market acceptance of single-family housing units in smart growth communities.