Friday, February 8, 2008

Sprawl: the ogre that wouldn't die …

  Sprawl is slowing down, right?  This has been the prediction for quite some time.  But here is a Census-derived map that appears to paint a different tale.  The map of county population growth over the first six years of the new century shows that the old trends have continued.  Where are the fastest growing areas of the east?  The answer continues to be the exurban counties of Atlanta, the outer suburbs of the Twin Cities, and the booming counties of northern Virginia –- despite the reputation of all three areas for hellish traffic and soulless planning –- and the amorphous developments of central Florida.  Locations in the West tell a similar story –- suburbs of Denver, exurbs of Salt Lake, counties outside Dallas and Fort Worth, Riverside County, Cal., as well as that colossal suburb they call Phoenix –- continue to be the fastest growing areas.

Suburbs2    Yes, such data can be misleading.  Nye County, Nevada, grew more quickly than Clark (Las Vegas) in part because its population is so small relative to its huge neighbor.  And the map fails to recognize the truth of the small but significant revitalization of many cities.  But as to the question of whether exurbs have continued to fill out in the new century, the answer clearly is yes.   

  Since 2006, of course, we’ve experienced the full burst of housing bubble, as well as record-high gas prices.  So experts will predict a significant slowdown in exurbanization over the next decade.  By 2018, they’ll finally be right, yes?  Surely.  Absolutely.  No doubt … Stay tuned …

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Tracked on Sep 21, 2009 9:25:32 AM


I think the timing of this information just missed the current state of things. Indeed, 2006 was when the housing market reached the precipice.

Since then, a remarkable thing has been happening: new subdivision applications before Planning Commissions across the country have plummeted based on our non-empirical review of Planning Commission agendas that are available electronically.

It would be a very interesting project to see if this anecdotal review is in accord with an empirical one.

Posted by: Chad Emerson | Feb 9, 2008 8:02:01 AM