Is New Urbanism really important in the development of our society or community? This question may come across to each individual who pays attention and concern to the progress of our society. According to a website name Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia it stated that “new urbanism” is an urban design movement whose popularity increased in the 1980s and early 1990s. Its goal is to bring change in all aspects of real estate development and urban planning.
There are many reasons why new urbanism is significant. According to Jacky Grimshaw on his website, it advocates the importance of new urbanism. It stated that new urbanism is important because it gives real choices for people just like transportation, location where to live and access to opportunity.
New urbanist shows support to regional planning for open space, appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing. As we all know that United States was developed in the form of compact, mixed-used neighborhoods in the first quarter of the 20th century. A new system of development was imposed through out the nation, replacing neighborhoods with a rigorous separation of uses which was popularly known as suburban development or sprawl and was happened after the World War II. Most of the US citizens adopted the suburban or sprawl.
Suburban development carries a significant price even though for a fact that it has been known. In spite of the slow population growth of the countryside, the conventional suburban development spreads out to consume large areas of countryside (See New Urbanism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_urbanism#Background).
*Sprawl and its Related Problems*
Urban renewal has played a significant role in cities worldwide such as Saint John, New Brunswick, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Glasgow, Scotland and Bilbao, Spain, Canary Wharf, in London and Cardiff Bay in Cardiff. It has had a great impact on the urban landscape and still present until to this very day. Urban renewal or new urbanism is controversial because it suggests the use of eminent domain law force reclaiming private property for civic projects (See Urban Renewal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_renewal).
New urbanism is a reaction to sprawl (Wikipedia, free encyclopedia). Sprawl was defined as the process in which the spread of development across the landscape far outpaces population growth. The landscape sprawl makes four dimensions and these are:
* A population that is widely dispersed in low density development
* Rigidly separated homes, shops, and workplaces
* A network of roads marked by huge blocks and poor access
* And a lack of well-defined, thriving activity centers, such as town centers and downtowns.1
People live in more sprawl regions tend to drive greater distances, breathe more polluted air, own more cars, face greater risk of traffic fatalities and walk and use transit less.2
In United States, most of the Americans who live in the metropolitan live in a mono-detached homes and commute to work by automobile.3 But there is one state in United States which is considered as America’s sole urban center where important fraction of the population lives in apartment, works downtown and commutes by public transit and this state is New York.4
Even new urbanism has helped in developing our way of life; new urbanism has drawn criticism from all quarters of the political spectrum. Some environmentalists criticize new urbanism as nothing more than sprawl dressed up with superficial stylistic cues.5 These critics of new urbanism often charge it of elevating aesthetic over practicality, subordinating good city planning principles to urban design dogma.6
In addition, according to Matthew E. Khan (March 2006) that sprawl’s critiques often argue that suburbanization may offer private benefits but that it imposes social costs. This “cost of sprawl” literature posits that there are many unintended consequences of the pursuit of the “American Dream” that range from increased traffic congestion, urban air pollution, greenhouse gas revenues, and denying the urban poor access to employment opportunities (See The Benefits of Sprawl. http://greeneconomics.blogspot.com/2006/03/benefits-of-sprawl.html).
In a research made by Anthony Downs (August 1999), he mentioned that many urban economists think these growth-related problems as caused mainly by “market failures” which means failing to charge people who benefit from sprawl the true costs of the decisions they make that contribute to sprawl. He also added that it “under-prices” those decisions and encourages over-expansion into low-density settlements. He sets three examples and these are:
* failing to charge commuters a money toll for driving during peak hours to offset the time-loss burdens they impose on others in the form of congestion.
* failing to charge residents of low-density suburbs the full social costs of removing land from open space and agricultural uses.
* failing to charge high enough land costs for new low-density peripheral subdivisions to take account of the real costs of adding the infrastructures required to service those subdivisions (See Some Realities About Sprawl and Urban Decline. www.anthonydowns.com/sprawlrealities.PDF).
But the economists were able to make a proposal how to solve the “market failures” and these are:
* Peak-hour road tolls on major commuting arteries.
* A development tax on land converted from agricultural to urban uses.
* Impact fees on all new developments. (See www.anthonydowns.com/sprawlrealities.PDF).
Below is the most sprawling, residential density made by Reid Ewing, Rolf Pendall and Don Chen (See http://www.smartgrowthamerica.com/sprawlindex/MeasuringSprawl.PDF).
Centeredness Score Rank
Vallejo-Fairfield-Napa, CA PMSA 40.9 1
Riverside-San Bernardino, CA PMSA 41.4 2
Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA 51.9 3
West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach- FL MSA 53.9 4
Oxnard-Ventura, CA PMSA 55.5 5
Oakland, CA PMSA 57.6 6
Gary-Hammond, IN PMSA 61.2 7
Detroit, MI PMSA 63.0 8
Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, NC MSA 69.1 9
Anaheim-Santa Ana, CA PMSA 72.1 10
I think there is nothing wrong if we embrace sprawl or new urbanism concept because it helps to develop our country especially when it comes to our country’s facilities even there are related-problems arise. But taking those steps goes with responsibilities. Each individual and our government must know how to handle related-problems and find its remedies related to sprawl.
1. Reid Ewing, Rolf Pendall, and Don Chen. Measuring Sprawl and its impact. http://www.smartgrowthamerica.com/sprawlindex/MeasuringSprawl.PDF.
2. New Urbanism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_urbanism
3. Matthew Khan. The Benefits of Sprawl. Tufts University, March 2006. http://greeneconomics.blogspot.com/2006/03/benefits-of-sprawl.html.
4. Anthony Downs. Some Realities about Sprawl and Urban Decline. http://www.anthonydowns.com/sprawlrealities.PDF.