Term Paper: Urban and Suburban Planning

Pages: 10 (3469 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Urban Studies  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Large metropolitan areas are attractive to many due to the economic, educational and cultural opportunities available in these areas. During much of the 20th century and especially during economic downturns and recessions large amounts of people abandoned rural areas in search of opportunities that were available in large cities. They rarely took into account the discomforts and negative effects of urban sprawl, they were in a sense blinded and consumed by the promise of a better life that large cities offered. As certain members of the population become economically stable they seek to improve their quality of life, this is when they begin to notice the both the pros and cons associated with big city living. If they have a successful career and are economically successful they begin to imagine a different life for themselves, a life minus the inconveniences associated with urban sprawl.

Living in urban areas has become unappealing for many, they now gravitate more toward suburban areas that emphasize the quality of life they appreciate while at the same time meshing with their lifestyle. They want to avoid traffic, pollution, crime and stress so they pay large amounts of money to achieve this. Residents that have lived in urban areas, and have experienced urban sprawl, especially those that are educated and financially stable certainly pay attention the health benefits associated with living outside the city. They understand that health detriments such as asthma, obesity, cardiovascular disease and poor overall physical health have all been linked to urban sprawl. Residents that are of lower social and economic class often times are not educated or are simply not able to escape and improve their current adverse living situations and tend to suffer from the negative health effects of urban sprawl. Unlike their wealthier counterparts they are not able to escape the smog, they do have opportunities to exercise and they do not have the income to afford healthier foods. This creates a health disparity between economic classes that will affect minorities who tend to be residents who are economically challenged. This can sometimes create political debates and struggles as organizations which lookout for minorities and those that are economically challenge demand that smart planning be implemented in order to avoid further disparities between social and economic classes.

As mentioned before detriments associated with urban living and suburban sprawl do not go unnoticed because they clearly and directly affect people's quality of life. People are willing to pay money great amounts of money to improve their lives especially if there is health risks involved. Housing developers and construction moguls also take notice of the situation and they invest heavily in the development of new suburban communities. Builders of new suburban communities tend to build on land that is far enough to be separated from the inconveniences of the big city, but still close enough to remain accessible to the excitement and opportunities offered by it. This is where political conflicts many times arise. There are those who favor and want the economic benefits of building new suburban communities and there are those who uphold values that contradict these.

There have been many examples of conflicts between those that support the suburban sprawl and those who oppose it. Many call for what is known as smart growth which calls for the implementation of certain planning techniques that make better and more efficient use of land and of the resources available around these new developments. Some of the methods that are used in smart planning include: mixed land use, the creation of varied housing opportunities, using compact building designs and making communities walkable. One of the main objectives of smart growth is the preservation of land and environmental areas, and protection the quality of air and water. Air quality control has become a special concerned as the health detriments associated with Carbon monoxide pollution have become infamous. New innovate planners want to design communities where cars become obsolete. They are facing a tough challenging considering America's long lived romance with the automobile. According to statistics "In just over one generation, from 1960 to 2000 the average American's yearly driving has more than doubled, from 4,000 miles to 10,000 miles a year" (Frumkin 8). This has had considerable health effects for Americans living in areas of heavy traffic.

Smart growth is an innovative approach that was first used by the city of Portland Oregon during the 1970's. The goal of cities that took this approach was to create communities in which residents could work, shop, study and live without having to travel long distances by automobile. There are noticeable benefits associated with smart growth such as, fewer traffic accidents, reduction in air contamination, more physically fit and healthy residents, less pedestrian fatalities. Apart from all these very real and tangible benefits smart growth also holds aesthetics in high regards, that is to say it values the appearance and composition of neighborhoods, this is very appealing to those who seek to escape the sometimes chaotic and unorganized settings in the bigger cities.

This approach to suburban and urban planning has however caused political and civic turmoil according to David Resnik "smart growth has created considerable controversy because stake holders affected by suburban planning policies have conflicting political and moral points-of-view" (2). There are those who see only the economic opportunities associated with building a new community. There are those who oppose smart planning despite its long and proven track record. Many people like Author Randall O'Tool and adamant in their disapproval of smart planning. In his book titled The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: how smart growth will harm American cities O'tool argues that smart planning that urban sprawl is a desirable product of market forces and that attempting to control it will do more harm than good.

Older established and populous cities like Los Angeles who have had a long history with urban sprawl are now having problems with diminishing land supply. Builders are now being forced to plan and erect new communities in remote areas. When they do this planners and builders disrupt the environment by encroaching upon the surrounding wildlife. This is where deforestation and other significant environmental effects take place. There long been debates and political battles between conservationists and builders to determine the future of environment in remote lands. The public is now becoming more conscious of this, and if the voting public notices this so to must political and civic leaders of local governments. Stories of activists fighting to protect wildlife are no longer viewed as outrages or sensational they are now more common and they are more widely supported by the public. An example of a relating situation is presented in the book Suburban Sprawl: culture, theory and politics written by Matthew J. Lindstrohm.

Lindstrom tells relates a situation that occurred in 2002 an unincorporated section of northern Los Angeles County, where John Quigley an environmental educator took drastic measures in order to protect the environment. Quigley climbed atop a 400-year-old oak tree in an attempt to save it from being cut down. The tree known as "old Glory" by local residents is located on a property belonging to John Laing Homes. Homes plans to cut down the tree in order to widen and improve traffic in a road connected to a 270 home subdivision know as Stevenson Ranch. This improvement is important to homes because that same road will also used to accommodate the traffic that will be generated when a new 21,000 home community is built. John Quigley sits on the tree and wants to preserve it not only for the sake of saving the tree but also as way to express and voice his displeasure with the local government who is allowing the development of the these communities. According to Lindstrohm "for activists such as Quigley, the destruction of Old Glory, would represent the triumph of uncharted development, ecological despoilment, and the general denigration of the quality of life affecting metropolitan communities across the country" (5). It is obvious that both sides in this particular debate have a valid point, most people would agree that the preservation of wildlife is important. However, on the other side of the argument, a lot of people (if they were in the position of Homes), would support an individual's property rights especially when considering that it will benefit that individual economically. These are the kind of personal and political debates that are currently associated with urban and suburban planning. Many times both sides present valid and appealing arguments, therefore it is important to find methods which can lead to fair decisions or decisions that make the most sense in every particular case.

Tough political decision regarding urban and suburban planning are difficult to make because of the wide ranging and different kinds of people that will be affected. No matter what the outcome is or what decision is made, some people stand to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Urban and Suburban Planning.  (2011, January 27).  Retrieved April 25, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/urban-suburban-planning/6543238

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