Previously I rather hated urban sprawl personally and I didn’t get used to living in Houston when I just arrived the US: Hot long summer without trees, long distance to walk, not bicycle lanes, not convenient to take bus at all, etc…..I missed the living in Shenzhen, one of the most beautiful and most convenient cities in China, best place to living if we measured with Jane Jacobs’ idea.
However, I suddenly realized one thing I forgot: Housing is rather expensive in Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai… every city in China. When I worked in Shenzhen, my rent made up 1/3 of my income, the same percent as my family in Houston now, however, the space where I rent in Shenzhen was only 15 sq ft! Only a single bed and a desk for laptop. If I wanted to buy condominium with the area of 1000 sq ft in Shenzhen, at least RMB 1 million was required, which equaled to $150, 000! No mention buying a single family house! Look back in Houston, or other sprawl cities in America, we might see, how wonderful to have large space to enjoy big house, private garden, large yard to children running.
Another example in Houston, around Rice campus, it’s much more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists than average level in Houston. The price is expensive too, both apartments and houses. But if I chose the place just 3 miles farther, it’s much cheaper.
So here is the balance, if someone enjoy mix-use, transit oriented development (TOD) community, which convenient for them to work, shop, entertainment within 10-min walking or cycling, the housing might not be cheap, because developer needs profit, because mix-use, TOD or complete street increase the land value and make the community attractive. Along with the agglomerate effect, the developer is more and more to prefer high-rise as the land value increase continuously. With the high rise, the land value will further increase. Then we might find, only middle class and up class can afford it, even middle class will feel burden. Then residents might find, why not move into suburban, using times of commuter to change cost of housing living?
Also in the article the author mentioned sprawl is an artificial system supported by federal funding. I can’t help to ask, where is the federal funding from? It came from all the tax payer. While in the past several decades, most people, except poor people and people who can not drive, enjoyed the suburban housing and highway. While in American, can poor people, elderly, disabilities get more refund from their tax file?
Maybe along the technology of automobile, we’ll have more efficient electronic car to decrease burden to environment. We will have more mini car to decrease traffic…
The above is just what I think needs to supplement to the sprawl analyzed in the article, but I’m personally still suppose anti-sprawl development at large, because public housing policy and other political or social approach might help to prevent housing price increase beyond affordability.