Sprawl Case Studies
the past 50 years, American cities have been experiencing an
accelerated urbanization and sub-urbanization process resulting from
rapid technological advancement and steady economic growth. The
concentration of population in urban areas has generated a growing
need for urban settlements as well as public services to support it.
In addition, the decentralization of job centers to the suburbs, the
availability of automobiles coupled with excellent highways, and the
pursuit of single-family houses have drawn people to outlying areas
for housing. These forces have been driving suburban development
into what once were agricultural and rural areas.
Newsweek magazine in May of 1995 reported "the city of Phoenix
sprawls into the desert at the rate of an acre an hour" (Adler,
1995). It is happening not only in Arizona, but also in Texas,
Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and other states. The costs and
crisis resulting from urban sprawl have been examined extensively
(Henry, 1997; Freilich and Peshoff, 1997; Chakrabarty, 1991).
Burchell (1997) summarizes the costs of urban sprawl as
"capital and operating costs" (infrastructure and services
costs for the public section and housing costs for the private
section), "transportation and travel dependency costs",
"social costs" of undermining older cities, "land and
natural habitat costs" and "quality of life costs". A
variety of strategies, either concerning planning and development
(Rodgers, 1976; Grant, 1994; Miller, 1996; Burchell, 1997) or
concerning legislation (Moe, 1997; Gallion, 1980), have been adopted
to control urban sprawl.
has been argued that urban sprawl leads to inefficient land use
patterns with leapfrogging and low-density development in the urban
fringe. Communities can implement a number of growth management
programs to encourage more efficient and environmentally sound
development patterns. However, a long time period is needed to
monitor the progress of growth management techniques and to
determine if they have achieved the intended effects. Unfortunately,
urban development is mostly an irreversible process that leaves no
room for experiment. As a result, we use a geographic information
system (GIS) to simulate the impact of various growth management
policies on future land development patterns in Portage County,
Ohio. A comprehensive database and population growth forecasts are
compiled to support the GIS analyses that generate a set of
alternative residential growth scenarios. As a spatial decision
support system, the GIS is found to be an efficient tool to simulate
the form and process of development for detailed assessment and
planning. As an educational tool, development simulation with GIS
allows the generation of alternative scenarios to help citizens and
local officials make sound planning decisions today, define future
policies, and plan for new growth.
in this web site and the linked pages are two case studies drawn
from projects completed for Northeast Ohio, both funded by the U.S.
first project is a regional project that is essentially a
sustainability study for the 7-county area carried out by
Cleveland Ecocity and the NODIS at Cleveland State
second project is a sub-regional study that examines urban
sprawl and its impact on farm lands and environmentally critical
areas at a county level. The sub-regional study was carried out
by the KSU Applied Geography Laboratory and the Portage County
Regional Planning Commission.
visit the two case studies, please click the respective buttons on
the left of this page.
John C., 1997, An Honest to Goodness Town, Documentation on New
Urbanism: selected from presentations at the International Making
Cities Livable Conferences, Carmel, California: IMCL Council.
Robert H. and Bruce G. Peshoff, 1997, the Social Costs of Sprawl,
the Urban Lawyer, Vol.29, pp183-198.
B. K., 1991, Optimization in Residential Land Subdivision, Journal
of Urban Planning and Development, Vol.117, pp1-14.
Robert W., 1997, Economic and Fiscal Costs (and Benefits) of Sprawl,
the Urban Lawyer, Vol.29, pp159-181.
Jill, 1994, Rhetoric and Response: Sustainable Development in
Residential Environments, Environment, Vol.22, pp3-12.
Thomas I., 1996, Must Growth Restrictions Eliminate Moderate Priced
Housing, Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol.52,
Arthur B. and Simon Eisner, 1980, The Urban Pattern (fourth
edition), New York: D. Van Nostrand Company.