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#269216 - 01/14/09 01:42 PM Suburban sprawl and new developments
RC21 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambr...
Hello all! I'm just curious what people's opinions are on new developments and the ever increasing suburban sprawl.
I am finding that more and more prime farmland in my area is now being converted into a suburban jungle. I wonder about the long-term planning and sustainability of such developments. It seems illogical to me to develop in the ways that we are. The future health and wellbeing of the population is clearly not a top priority. I've read that these suburban areas are growing at about twice the rate of the population. Why are we making this our number one choice for housing?

Suburban areas are generally poorly planned with areas for work, school and commerce all spread out. There is also less and less green spaces or areas for gardens. It makes people reliant on vehicles (and fossil fuels) to move about the community. Some studies have found that those living in suburban areas are more likely to report high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches and breathing difficulties than those living in less sprawling areas.

I grew up quite happily in a 1300 square feet home with 8 people. Now I am seeing 2000+ sq. ft homes with 2-3 people and it makes no sense to me at all. We seem to be developing larger and larger homes, while family size is shrinking. Why do we suddenly need more space then ever before? This is just more that we have to waste in energy and maintenance costs.
My main thinking is that we need more room to accomodate our stuff- the overwhelming amount of material goods we now seem to "need" to survive in the modern world. Why do you think we suddenly need more space? What other options have you seen or heard about for development planning?


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#269522 - 01/15/09 08:55 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: RC21]
SaltspringRE Offline
Member

Registered: 01/07/08
Posts: 213
Loc: Gulf Islands BC
Well don't you know that there is no end to development. Cheep oil and cars the get 20mpg make it all flow. Could you imagine how much land a city like Hong Kong would take up if everyone lived in a house.

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#269661 - 01/16/09 12:24 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: SaltspringRE]
RC21 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambr...
My big issue is with the WAY we are developing. It doesn't look to the future of where we are going. It doesn't think of the health of the population or the planet.
We are pretty greedy her ein North America. We all want the big property, the large house, the cars... an increasing amount of stuff.

Originally Posted By: Salty Agent
Could you imagine how much land a city like Hong Kong would take up if everyone lived in a house.


That's exactly the point! If we keep increasing in population-- the demands can't stay the same.

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#270000 - 01/18/09 03:47 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: RC21]
Darlene Bitner Offline
Darlene B
Veteran Member

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 1208
Loc: Texas Gulf Coast
Suburban Sprawl...very good thread. Hope it stays active.

Here in my area, we do not have the mass transit that other cities have...we have buses and taxis. Buses don't run much outside the urban area and definitely not out to the subdivisions. New subdivisions have as many as four to five cars per home. Yet builders keep making short driveways that only hold two cars. With milder winters and average rainfall, most people fill their garages with camping equipment, sports equipment, exercise equipment, ping pong tables, etc. Drive through most new builder subdivisions and see these very large two-story homes, with two cars in the driveway and three in the street. The streets look like parking lots. Offering the buyer a slightly smaller home with a longer drive for four cars would help the neighborhood be a safer and more pedestrian friendly place to live. Otherwise, in a few years, cars may be hanging out in the street and covering sidewalks, forcing the children, elderly and handicapped into the street if they choose to go visit a neighbor. I want my tax dollars back that are now being used to provide a bit of concrete for an indifferent homeowner to step on when exiting his or her car.

Greed on the part of the builders may contribute to these problems. Also, foolishness on the part of the buyers, purchasing far more home than they actually can afford to pay for or to heat/cool or to even furnish, may be another factor. Builders build what the public wants, I assume. And we certainly can't legislate what the buyer wants.

Hopefully builders will try to produce more reasonably sized homes, lower ceilings, longer driveways, community centers to keep kids in the neighborhood, and tougher deed restrictions to help people maintain their home's value. I do believe people may now be ready to pay for the energy efficient features that will reap them benefits for years to come.

RC21, we are a very materialistic society. I know it makes no sense to expect a corporate manager to downsize and entertain his junior execs or clients in a small room with the kid's ping pong table. It also makes no sense for a young couple, just married with basic job skills and no hope of an increase in income till they finish college, to bite off more than their pocketbooks can pay for. If they do, they may not be able to afford college because of the high house payment.

That's some of my opinion on suburban sprawl.

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#270167 - 01/19/09 03:49 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: Darlene Bitner]
RC21 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambr...
You make some great points Darlene.
We design our systems to be decentralized, with little pedestrian or bicycle access to schools, offices, shopping and recreation. There have been links between obesity and suburban sprawl, as well as many other health conditions, because the car is the most convenient transportation choice in our day-to-day actions.
They should make public transportation more sustainable-- and more accessible to different areas. Some areas are starting to make a change. K-W region has been introducing hybrid buses into their fleets. slowly, but surely. but it still doesn't reach those in all the suburbs. and definitely not those in the rural areas.
My grandparents lived through the depression, and never wasted a thing. We need to think more about what we're throwing out and what we're buying-- because there is no need to be so wasteful. Every body can cut down or cut back, without sacrificing their entire lifestyle.
I'm interested to see what the next generation will do, because they have been bombarded with the "green" message all their lives.
Four to five cars per home! How many people live there! Cars are one of the biggest contributors to the problem and current designs of subdivisions require them. That's why subdivisions need to rethought. Why not make more user-friendly areas that promote physical activity over driving everywhere?
90% of all urban trips in the US are by car (only 6% by foot or bike). Only 18% of school children in the US walk or ride bicycles to school compared to more than 70% of their parents. I realise there are safety concerns for some parents contributing here as well. But it is good for all of us to have more accessible living spaces. Who likes taking a long commute every day?
Here's a link to the David Suzuki organization who is trying to fight suburban sprawl. There is a great report in there and tons of suggestions for change. Check it out if this topic interests you!
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/Climate_Change/Sprawl.asp

This is a link to Ontario Smart Growth Network which is interested in re-designing living spaces and development strategies.
http://www.smartgrowth.on.ca/

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#270195 - 01/19/09 06:40 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: RC21]
SaltspringRE Offline
Member

Registered: 01/07/08
Posts: 213
Loc: Gulf Islands BC
Unfortunately suburban sprawl is in our DNA. Just look back 150 years. The railroad companies where the main land developers(in Canada not sure about US) they had lots of land and needed customers. They looked at Europe with it's packed cities and thought how can we offer them something better. That was the start of the suburbs as we know them. They sold the ideal of everyone having there own yard, fence, garden and home. Then add to that the development of the car and cheep gas.

I really do not know if urban sprawl can be stopped.

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#270257 - 01/20/09 07:08 AM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: SaltspringRE]
Bigtoe Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 2238
Loc: Outer Banks
As long as people keep having babies and those babies want to mow grass we will have suburban sprawl.
_________________________
Your Outer Banks real estate agent. Helping people buy and sell OBX real estate since 1989.

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#270277 - 01/20/09 08:58 AM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: Bigtoe]
Kevin Curtis Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/08
Posts: 139
Loc: Minnesota, USA
I think in this current real estate market and economy people are looking to move back to the city to be closer to jobs, shopping and city amenities. Many baby boomers here in the Twin Cities are moving back to the City for association living and to take advantage of city dining and entertainment. The outlying areas of the Twin Cities will have a much longer road to recovery in this housing lead recession and the demand for “City Living” will continue to rise in my opinion over the next several years.
_________________________
Minneapolis Real Estate - Ongoing look at the Minnesota & Minneapolis real estate market
MN MLS
– Search MLS Listings

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#270311 - 01/20/09 11:58 AM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: Kevin Curtis]
Pikes Peak Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 12/15/04
Posts: 2799
Loc: FL
If commodities and suburbian real estate remains cheap, so will the desire to raise families there.
As gas, property values, taxes and the general cost of living in suburbia increases, so will the desire to simplify ones life.

Moving more people into less sq ft (high rise), providing mass transit to and from work (saving gas, insurance and parking spaces), having shopping within walking distance of home, are all things that will provide for a smaller carbon footprint in our society.
I just moved into a townhouse complex making my tiny contribution to downsizing my/our lifestyle.

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#270325 - 01/20/09 01:39 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: Pikes Peak]
Darlene Bitner Offline
Darlene B
Veteran Member

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 1208
Loc: Texas Gulf Coast
This is turning into a great thread. I am rearranging my office in my travel trailer, so I'll have to post later.

I think this issue is a very important one and am definitely happy to see all these comments in the forum. One big problem and no easy answers.


Edited by Darlene B (01/20/09 01:47 PM)

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#270526 - 01/21/09 11:20 AM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: Darlene Bitner]
Pikes Peak Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 12/15/04
Posts: 2799
Loc: FL
With the disappearance of suburbia, just imagine how much money cities can save in their cost of services, from not having to maintain miles of streets to infrastructure such as drainage and flood controls.
States and cities are hurting financially today because of urban sprawl.
This is what a REALTOR friend said in todays newspaper letter to the editor:
Letters

Not-so-smart growth
Gazette repeats economic fallacy that growth means prosperity
Just what we need in Colorado Springs is for The Gazette to be touting the fallacious old junk economic theories about how important rampant growth is to our local economy (“California’s loss is Colorado’s gain,” Our View, Jan. 14).

What we need is not more people, but more money; not more jobs, but better jobs; not more companies, but more stable companies. What we certainly don’t need to do is to hand out more goodies to the likes of Intel, Apple, Digital, Compaq, IBM, WesPac, MCI, etc. You know, those who come with tremendous hype and fanfare and with the Economic Development Corp.’s trumpets blaring, only to sneak out in the middle of the night when the goodies are gone and it no longer behooves them to hang around.

Rather than mindlessly buying into the bogus propaganda of the Chamber of Commerce, do some research. There is abundant material available on the Internet to put to rest the theory that increased population automatically assures a healthier economy. Read the abundant factual materials (such as the book “Better, not Bigger”) from legitimate economists; not just the unsubstantiated opinions of local hacks employed by the fat cats to make a case for more growth at tremendous future expense.

I love a quote Dave Gardner of Save the Springs recently gave me, which I believe sums up the motives of those who so desperately want growth; “Privatize the profits — socialize the costs. Just ask yourselves, when the financially elite” rave about how important growth is for the economy, ask, “whose economy”?
Terry Shattuck
ReMax Properties Inc. Colorado Springs

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#270591 - 01/21/09 04:36 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: Pikes Peak]
RC21 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambr...
great postings so far... I'm really happy to see some interest in this!

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#270689 - 01/22/09 05:40 AM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: RC21]
Darlene Bitner Offline
Darlene B
Veteran Member

Registered: 03/10/05
Posts: 1208
Loc: Texas Gulf Coast
Texas A & M's Real Estate Center produces, among other great benefits, a weekly online newsletter called RECON. This week the newsletter discussed hot topics at the International Builders Show being held in Las Vegas.

Of particular interest was the issue of buyers wanting to downsize from the very large homes now being built. According to RECON, who was quoting Gayle Butler, editor-in-chief of Better Homes and Gardens, many consumers are beginning to rethink these supersized homes due to economic realities. She would certainly know what she is talking about. Better Homes & Gardens has a massive circulation and stays in touch with what their readers want and need.

Their recent survey indicated consumers want less luxuries and more green. According to the article, buyers are moving away from the luxury kitchen and bath finishes, upgraded landscaping, and luxurious master suites and moving toward energy efficient heating and cooling, no wasted space and more storage.

Hopefully the builders will be tapped into this new way of thinking and slowly begin to produce these more conservative homes. I think most of us in this forum would like to see that.

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#271828 - 01/27/09 05:06 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: Darlene Bitner]
RC21 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 84
Loc: Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambr...
There are some options springing up now. I think we will see more of this type of thinking in the future.
The United Arab Emirates has a project for a zero-carbon sustainable city, and alternative to suburban sprawl. The city is called Masdar.

You can check it out at:
http://www.masdaruae.com/en/Menu/index.aspx?MenuID=48&CatID=27&mnu=Cat&fst=pd&pd=ag

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#272293 - 01/29/09 02:37 PM Re: Suburban sprawl and new developments [Re: RC21]
Pikes Peak Offline
Major Contributor

Registered: 12/15/04
Posts: 2799
Loc: FL
Masdar, very interesting. Must keep an eye on it and follow it's progress.

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