newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
Volume 1, Number 9 - September 16, 1999

= = =State and Local News = = =
According to a study released September 14 by the Silicon Valley
Manufacturing Group and the Association of Bay Area Governments, the
success of the Silicon Valley's economy may prove its downfall.  The
region has experienced unprecedented growth, generating more than
250,000 jobs since 1992. An estimated 60,000 jobs were created in 1997
alone.  The report suggests that regional planning decisions made in the
next few years must address the region's infrastructure needs.
Housing, education, transportation and environmental concerns top the
list.  (Alan Saracevic, San Francisco Examiner, 9/15/99)
SVMG website:

Most of California's future population and income growth will occur in
the state's existing large regions according to new 2010 projections
released by the Palo Alto-based Center for Continuing Study of the
California Economy (CCSCE).  "Riverside and San Bernardino counties
alone will add more households in the next ten years than all of
California's major agricultural counties combined," according to CCSCE's
Director, Stephen Levy.  More than 80% of California's growth will occur
in counties within the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and
Sacramento regions. "The quality of life for most Californians will be
determined by how these large regions handle the growth pressures," Levy
continued. "This is where new jobs are going and where people want to
live."  CCSCE website:

For the second time in two years, Adams County, Colorado, commissioners
have placed an open-space tax on the ballot, hoping voters will finally
agree to pay for a preserved view. The one-fifth-cent sales tax on every
dollar is expected to raise $5.5 million each year for seven years if
passed and the money would be used "solely to preserve open space in
order to limit sprawl, to preserve farmland, to protect wildlife areas,
wetlands, rivers and streams and for creating, improving and maintaining
parks and recreation facilities,'' according to the ballot. (9/12/99,
Beth DeFalco, The Denver Post)

Celebration, USA by New York Times writer Douglas Frantz and his wife
Catherine Collins and The Celebration Chronicles by Andrew Ross,
Director of the American studies program at New York University, two
recently published books about Disney's planned community in Florida.
On the upside, Celebration has provided a safe place for single mothers,
a tolerant home for gays and lesbians. The neighborhoods are safe and
clean and residents walk to some stores and restaurants.  On the
downside, few African Americans live there. Many of the families that
live in Celebration expected an excellent elementary school but were
peeved by the school's experimental, progressive teaching style.
Another drawback of Celebration: front porches that are aesthetically
pleasing but not appropriate in mosquito country.

EPA Administrator Browner Carol M. Browner signed an unprecedented
agreement for a new multi-use, urban revitalization development at the
former Atlantic Steel site in downtown Atlanta on September 7. This is
the first major urban redevelopment project in the nation to be approved
under Project XL, part of the Clinton/Gore Administration's programs for
regulatory reinvention and improved livability.  It is expected to help
reduce future problems associated with growing urban sprawl and air
pollution.  (BusinessWire, 9/7/99)

Traffic congestion was ranked the worst problem across most of suburbia
in a new Tribune poll of the Chicago suburbs. The survey of 930 randomly
selected residents was taken this summer and indicates that traffic is
particularly troublesome in Lake, DuPage and northwest Cook Counties.
Property taxes outranked traffic as the worst problem in south and
southwest Cook and Will Counties.  Over the years, at hundreds of
community hearings on traffic congestion, suburban residents have
typically blamed the problem on bad planning and rapacious developers.
Market Shares Corp. of Mt. Prospect conducted the poll between July 15
and July 26.,1575,SAV-9909130040,00.html

Maryland/Virginia/District of Columbia
The Washington Post  Food section looks at the impacts of "metropolitan
sprawl" on agriculture and other food sources.  In addition to impacting
agricultural produce, development also "takes its toll" on the
Chesapeake Bay and the oysters, crabs and fish it produces, according to
Lee Epstein of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  Approximately 90,000
acres of the bay's watershed are converted from farmland, forests or
wetlands every year, reducing the watershed's ability to filter out
contaminants before they run into the bay. (Greenwire/The Washington
Post, Martha M. Hamilton, Sept. 15).

On behalf of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Department of Environmental
Protection Secretary James M. Seif  announced more than $538,000 in grants to 34
communities and local governments to restore watersheds.  Watershed
organizations and other nonprofit groups, conservation districts and
local governments were eligible for the watershed restoration and
assistance program grants to address urban, suburban and rural nonpoint
source pollution on a watershed-by-watershed basis.,234,nscp-58281189,00.html

= = =Nationwide= = =
The Amarillo Globe-News looks at Bush and Gore's positions on the
economy and urban sprawl issues. Gore and the Democratic Party are in
favor of federal guidelines for issues such as controlling traffic flow
and disallowing travel with high-pollution vehicles. Gore has emphasized
the availability of federal grant money (administered with federal
control) for urban centers. Bush says he believes the management of
urban growth falls  under the purview of local governments. The federal
government's role is to provide funding assistance; city planning should
be left to city governments.  Article:

State and local government officials across the country increasingly
point to 'livability' issues such as education, suburban sprawl, and
traffic congestion as the most important political issues they face,
according to a study released by The American Institute of Architects
(AIA) entitled Survey of State and Local Officials on Livable
Communities.  The study surveyed executives from state legislators,
county and municipal governments, and other executive agencies and

U.S. News & World Report features an article entitled "Sprawl from here
to eternity."  The focus of the article is an analysis of the difficulty
in determining what can be accomplished at the federal level to slow
sprawling development patterns, with an emphasis on Vice President Al
Gore's "Livable Communities Initiative."  The article also makes the
point that criticizing suburban development is a hazardous
endeavor for political candidates, as more and more U.S. citizens choose
to live in those very places.

One recent Zogby International poll of GOP voters in five important
primary states — New Hampshire, Iowa, New York, California, and South
Carolina — indicates that the desire for landscape protection transcends
party lines.  Environmental concerns were ranked as high in importance
as family values, and were deemed by Republican voters to be more
important than restricting abortion and cutting taxes.  Using public
money to acquire dwindling open space and to purchase development rights
is a tool embraced by the public, says Jane Danowitz, executive director
of  Americans For Our Heritage, citing other recent surveys.  “Look at
Salt Lake City, Boise, [Idaho], Denver, Albuquerque, [N.M.], Portland,
[Ore.], and Seattle,” she says. “Elected leaders in all of those cities
have identified urban sprawl as one of the greatest threats to their

The World's Monuments Fund, a New York-based nonprofit group, whose
founder helped save Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, says it is working to
preserve historic and modern treasures, as well as man-made landscapes
ruined by ''war, neglect, natural   phenomena, sprawl, misguided
government policies, or lack of vision.''  Urban sprawl threatens
Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, a fertile agricultural region that
embodies William Penn's 17th-century vision of religious tolerance, and
home to the Amish and Mennonite communities. A proposed superhighway
would cut through one of America's most scenic landscapes.

The increased demand for off-highway driving is forcing land management
organizations to update aging land use policies and wilderness agencies
to negotiate a balance between man and nature.  Celia Boddington of the
Bureau of Land Management says the agency has seen a “dramatic increase”
in the past five years in off-highway driving. “With urban sprawl you
have people who haven’t grown up in the West who are living closer in
proximity to public lands,” and don’t understand the limitations of the
land. Engine oil and brake fluid can poison streams, soil erosion
destroys nutrients for plant life and noise can upset the ecological
balance of nature by making some animals more susceptible to

A recent article in the American Bar Association Journal entitled "How
Safe is Your 'Burb?" cites statistics that indicate that violent crime
is on the upswing in suburban neighborhoods, even as it is declining in
core cities.  You will be able to view the article soon at:   Other useful sites on
(Minnesota Land Use 9/14/99)

= = =New Releases= = =
New addition to the Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse website:  Research on
Pro-Sprawl Players and Messages:  As sprawl becomes a national issue, a
small number of vocal critics are attacking the efforts of citizens,
public officials, public transportation advocates and
environmentalists who support smart growth.

Zero Population Growth released last month a report that ranks cities
according to "kid-friendliness."  The report "ZPG's Kid-Friendly Cities
Report Card" hopes to inspire families, individuals, activists and
officials to work together to create better communities, instead of just
moving to "better" places. Teen pregnancy rates, crime by kids and
against kids and poverty rates were factors in ranking the cities.  Zero
Growth Population President Peter Kostmayer says,  “To move into the
suburbs didn’t work. The problems have followed us. Now we have suburban
communities which have high levels of children living in poverty, high
levels of teenage pregnancy, high levels of crime and violence.”  Report

A new Brookings Institution book, Laws of the Landscape: How Policies
Shape Cities in Europe and America, shows how European policies can
inform U.S. initiatives to combat sprawl.  The book compares government
programs in Europe to U.S. approaches, and outlines initiatives that
could improve the pattern of urban development in this country. The
evolution of European cities demonstrates that if Americans want to slow
the exodus of households and businesses from cities to suburbia they
will need to reform public housing systems, check unnecessary highway
construction, and tax the use of automobiles.

Part manifesto and part how-to manual, Slam-Dunking Wal-Mart! by Al
Norman, certainly contains its share of  horror: namely, the aesthetic,
economic, and ethical nightmares a sprawl-mart can bring to a host
community. But the book has a happy ending in the form of proven
sprawl-busting strategies.

= = = In the Loop= = =
Hank Dittmar, Executive Director of the Surface Transportation Policy
Project, will soon be joining the Great American Station Foundation as
President and CEO. The Great American Station Foundation, is a small
non-profit formed by Amtrak, the National Trust for Historic
Preservation, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and others.  Their goal is to
fix up old train stations and use them to anchor economic development in
communities across the country.