Alarmist scenarios of "peak oil" and long-term energy shortages have excited the hopes of many academics and civic activists for the mass urban densification and attrition of sprawl of which they have long dreamed. If or when the prospects for high energy prices do come to pass, they will have been more the product of political intervention in a massively government-overseen and -directed commodity than of any physical necessity — the same sort of wished-for control of housing that has eluded the academics and activists so far. But, according to Joel Kotkin, the long-held hopes for a wholesale retreat of suburbanites burdened by high gas and electricity prices into the teeming densities of activist imaginations isn't very likely at all. Kotkin argues that a much more likely outcome is that the development market will respond to resources to build better, more economically diverse suburbs — at least until people's desires for home ownership, detached dwellings and space of their own are regulated out of existence, which will have to remain the holy grail of activism. I would add to Kotkin's analysis that employers will also likely continue to respond to expansive development the way that they have already been doing, by moving jobs out to the suburbs.
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[A] simple test to apply to any purported definition of sprawl: Apply it to Central Park in Manhattan. In most cases, you will find that it implies that Central Park should be developed. For fun, you can point this out to the definer, who will quickly assure you that he or she didn't mean it that way.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Posted by MapMaster on Friday, December 22, 2006