The costs of sprawl
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.
The Price of Sprawl
Florida Hometown Democracy/Amendment 4 initiative (2010)
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 email@example.com)
"A candid talk about the future of America's cities, towns and neighborhoods"
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.
Impacts of Land Use on County Finances
A Fiscal Study of Queen Anne's County, MD (2011)
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.
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Projecting Future Road Developments
Fiscal Impact Analysis - Analyzing the Effects of Smart Growth on Projected Road Development in 2030
Ken (Kiman) Choi, Maryland Department of Planning, August 2010
Smart Growth Planning Topics
Documents & Reports
Housing Transportation Index
Center for Neighborhood Transportation (2010)
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.
Terwilliger Housing + Transportation Calculator
CNT and ULI (2010)
An online tool designed to calculate combined housing and transportation costs in the greater Washington, D.C. region.
Penny Wise Pound Fuelish
Center for Neighborhood Transportation (2010)
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.
The State of Metropolitan America
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 Hidden Health Costs of Transportation
American Public Health Association (February 2010)
Beltway Burden : The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area
CNT, the Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing of the Urban Land Institute and the Center for Housing Policy, 2009. Updated Housing and Transportation analyses for the Washington, DC area
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"The Benefits of Location Efficiency and Location Efficient Mortgages"
Scott Bernstein, CNT testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, hearing on the Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act: June 11, 2008
Fiscal Impact of Sprawl In South Carolina
Presents four fiscal impact studies that have been done in South Carolina and general discussion about fiscal impacts in Rhode Island, Florida, California.
Driven to Spend Report: Pumping Dollars out of Our Households and Communities
Surface Transportation Policy Project, (September,2006)
The study ranks 28 metropolitan areas on their combined transportation and housing costs and recommends specific actions that governments – federal, state and local – can take to reduce the burden of transportation costs for families by investing in more transportation options.
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.
Investing in a Better Future: A review of the fiscal and competitive advantages of smarter growth development patterns
Mark Muro and Robert Puentes. Brookings Institution. (2004)
This report argues that compact development patterns and investing in urban centers can save taxpayers money and improve overall regional economic performance.
The Fiscal Cost of Sprawl: How Sprawl Contributes to Local Governments' Budget Woes. A Report By The Research And Policy Center
William Coyne Land Use Advocate Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center(December 2003)
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.
Summary of Prevailing Arguments in Defense of Sprawl and the Counterarguments
This page was added 2010-08-16, last updated: 2012-01-04