AUG 06, 2012
Reviewing it later, one of the things that struck me is that the development protruding onto the landscape in the photo is actually relatively high-density, as single-family residential development goes. Those are small lots, and my very wild guess is that we could be looking at 15-20 homes per acre, enough to pass the density prerequisite of LEED for Neighborhood Development and maybe even earn a density point or two.
But everything else about that development looks so wrong - leapfrogging across opportunities for contiguous development, fragmenting the landscape, extending the footprint of the region, lacking connectivity, in an area that looks seriously short of water supplies. It's not really low-density, but it's definitely sprawl. I'm sure its transportation characteristics are horrible.
Photo by Daniel Lobo/Flickr
Likewise for the photo above, of development somewhere in the vicinity of Tucson.
Search for almost any definition of suburban sprawl and you will likely find a reference to low-density development. For a lot of people, the terms are synonymous: if it's sprawl, it's low-density and, if it's low-density, it's sprawl. Among many urban advocates, the corollary is that, if low density is bad, then high density is good, the higher the better.
But, for quite a while now, I've been thinking that it's much more complicated than that. Higher densities by themselves don't cure sprawl, and sometimes even create new problems that muct be dealt with. Density is important, but it isn't enough and must be approached with sensitivity.
NRDC's Switchboard blog / Kaid Benfield’s Blog
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