Economists Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson point out that most job growth, regardless of economic sector, is in the outer suburbs far away from downtowns and transit stations, even in the more transit-oriented metropolitan areas. A home in the country is often perceived as a better investment than one in the city or suburbs.
And the rural environment may be more pleasant. There is less traffic and crime and more open space, fresh air, and privacy. But as more people move to the countryside, these amenities begin to disappear. Much of the new housing and commercial developments in the countryside comes in one of two forms: 1 a wave of urban or suburban expansion that sweeps into the countryside; or 2 scattered housing, offices, and stores outside of established cities and towns.
Both of these forms of development are called sprawl, and sprawl presents a complex and serious challenge to local, county and regional governments seeking to manage their growth. Growth management describes how people and their governments deal with change. The purpose of growth management is to provide greater certainty and predictability about where, when, and how much development will occur in a community, region, or entire state; how it will be serviced, and the type and style of development.
Lack of predictability about the future growth and development of a community leads to costly struggles that may pit governments, developers, and concerned citizens against each other. Together these growth management techniques influence the location, amount, type, timing, appearance, quality, and cost of new private development. Growth management must encourage attractive, well-sited, and cost-effective development as much as discourage sprawling, rapid development that can be unsettling and costly to residents. The challenge to local governments is how to accommodate economic and population growth without sacrificing manageable local finances and a sense of place.
The search for solutions to growth problems takes time, thoughtful debate, trial and error, and a long-term commitment of both public and private money and personnel. Community, county, and regional land-use planning is essential for effective growth management. Planning involves the careful study and analysis of current land-use needs and the anticipation of future needs based on population projections.
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A comprehensive plan provides a sense of direction and goals and objectives to work toward. Planning helps create more predictable, efficient, and sustainable patterns of development. But the more planned and predictable development becomes, the clearer it is that not every landowner is going to be able to cash in big from selling land for development. Also, some developers may want to build in the wrong place, and some communities within a region may have to accept more development than they want to.
Successful growth management programs have produced community consensus, political strength, creative development, manageable public finances, and effective land protection. Managing growth can soften the collision between urban and rural people and how they use the land. Moreover, protecting the environment while carefully placing new development is emerging as a wise and sustainable economic development strategy. Nearly four out of five Americans live within metropolitan regions see figure 1. These regions include a central city of at least fifty thousand people, suburbs around the central city, suburbs that have grown into edge cities, and a fringe of countryside see figure 1.
In the fringe, a vast war zone has erupted. The outer reaches of the metropolitan landscape still display much of the traditional pattern of small towns set amid woods, streams, mountains, and working farms or ranches. But new single-family homes, office complexes, and shopping malls are changing the rural and small town landscape to a patchwork of city, suburb, and open space.
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Housing subdivisions and commercial strips are sprouting along highways, at the edge of reluctant towns, and far from existing settlements in farm fields and forests. Metropolitan areas are measured in part on the basis of commuting patterns between counties; so the more spread out the population, the greater the metro area tends to be.
There is no standard geographic size for a metropolitan area. For example, the Los Angeles metro area is much larger than the Burlington, Vermont, metro area. Moreover, using a county as a unit of measurement can be misleading. Metropolitan counties in the West are often much larger than those in the East or the Midwest.
This tends to exaggerate the size of urbanized areas because many western metro counties contain substantial areas of rural and fringe land. Two indications of the dispersion of population in a metro region are the percentage of metro population in the core city, and the percentage of metro land area comprised by the core city. Several central cities, such as Baltimore and Boston, continue to lose residents even as the populations of their metro regions grow.
The newer suburbs and the fringe areas both attract new inhabitants, but the low-density settlement patterns in the fringe mean that the land area covered by the fringe increases dramatically and the amount of open space declines in tandem. A prime example of metro fringe growth is the booming Greater Washington, D. The rate of population increase has been most rapid in the outlying metro counties of Virginia and Maryland, and the region is expected to lose over , acres of open land between and , a rate of 28 acres a day.
Table 1. Within many metropolitan regions, particularly in western states, there are large areas of farms, ranches, forests, or open space. Greater Phoenix, Arizona, is well known for its spread-out development pattern. Figures 1. As mentioned previously metro counties have a core city of at least fifty thousand inhabitants.
The census tracts cover a smaller area and are a more accurate measure of the location of population; they indicate a much larger fringe area the striped area showing at least 2 percent of the residents commuting to the urban core than urban core or outlying suburbs. According to the Bureau of the Census, more than half of all Americans reside in the fifty largest metropolitan areas. In , the historian Frederick Jackson Turner announced the end of the American frontier, meaning that America had reached the limit of its geographic expansion and population growth would result in less available space per person.
The Census Bureau estimates that America will add 34 million people between and the year Most of this growth will occur in the outer fringes of metropolitan areas, as Americans search for space to live. While the population growth of the urban core lags behind that of the rest of the metro region, Americans moving to the fringe are using up more land per person than urban dwellers by purchasing large residential lots and working in campus-style office and industrial parks.
Real estate consultant Christopher Leinberger predicts that geometric increases in urbanized land will continue at a rate of at least 8 to 12 times faster than the underlying employment and population growth.
This continued sprawling development has a powerful impact on the cost of the necessary public services. According to a study by the Urban Land Institute, Studies conducted over the last 30 years have concluded that when development is spread out at low densities, the per-unit cost of constructing and maintaining public facilities increases. Figure 1. The semirural area beyond suburbia yet within its shadow has been given several names: the countrified city Doherty , the ex-urbs Spectorsky , semisuburbs Louv , technoburbs Fishman , the galactic city Lewis , postsuburbs Garreau , the urban fringe, and the rural-urban interface.
I prefer to describe this region as the metropolitan fringe or the rural-urban fringe, a hybrid region no longer remote and yet with a lower density of population and development than a city or suburb.
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Like a fringe, strips of urban and suburban fabric have extended into the countryside, creating a ragged settlement pattern of subdivisions, single-family housing on five- to acre lots, shopping centers, retail strips, schools, and churches all separated by farms, forests, or other open spaces.
These decentralized patterns blur the distinction between rural, urban, and suburban. Photo 1. Some people may see the fringe as the suburbs of the suburbs and an area for future suburban growth. Others may see the need to oppose the forces of suburbanization that threaten to turn a community into Anywhere U.
The juxtaposition of opposite ideas in the term rural-urban fringe also suggests the social, economic, and political tensions that accompany change or the threat of change. The rural-urban fringe is best thought of not just as a geographic area within a metropolitan region, but also as a step in the development hierarchy between rural areas and a central city.
The fringe is a region of middle ground between wide-open rural lands that are beyond commuting distance to a metro area, and expanding suburban residential and commercial development.
As fringe areas gained population and economic activity, they became suburbs. As the suburbs expanded, even more rural lands became accessible, within the orbit of the metro fringe. And in the s, some fringe areas at ten to thirty miles from the core city actually bypassed the suburb stage and burgeoned into edge cities with major office and retail complexes. The obvious question arises: When does a fringe area become a suburb or edge city, and when is it just a fringe area?
The answer is not clear-cut but depends on the amount of open land more open land means more rural character , population per square mile, and the make-up of the local economy, especially the relative importance of the traditional rural industries of farming, ranching, forestry, or mining.
It is not easy to say exactly where the suburbs end and the fringe begins, partly because many sections of fringe are in the process of turning into suburbs. The landscape is being fragmented into residential and commercial lots, and more and more of the people who live there make a long commute to jobs in the suburbs or the central city. But from GIS geographic information system parcel maps and aerial photos, it is possible to identify where smaller, suburban-type parcels give way to the larger tracts of fringe. The fringe includes the less developed regions of metropolitan counties and sections of many nonmetropolitan counties that border metro counties.
Population density in the fringe is less than one thousand people per square mile and often less than five hundred per square mile. Fringe areas vary in size, extending from a few miles beyond small cities to forty miles or more outside of major urban centers. Agriculture is found in most fringe areas and perhaps some forestry and mineral extraction, but these land uses and industries are yielding to housing subdivisions, office complexes, and retail development, along with employment in the growing service economy In fact, the new high-tech information economy means that businesses and workers can settle in just about anywhere they please.
For instance, as of , there may be as many as 10 million telecommuters, loosely defined as someone who works at home rather than in the office at least one day a week. It ends with a discussion of possible futures for fringe areas. When City and Country Collide is an important guide for planners and students of planning, policymakers, elected officials, and citizens working to minimize sprawl. Tom Daniels. Pub Date:. November Add to Cart. E-book Format. Request this item to view in the Library's reading rooms using your library card. To learn more about how to request items watch this short online video.
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