The cost of America’s inefficient sprawl

American metropolises have sprawled outward for several decades now, and we all know the narrative. Cities lost population while their suburban counterparts grew. While many viewed these boom times as progress, it is now becoming evident that the decision to sprawl outward was a short-sighted policy decision, and is costing American taxpayers dearly. More from CNN:

Every time a new, spread-out subdivision is built far away from existing infrastructure, somebody has to pay for a bunch of roads that serve a small number of residents. And sewer and water lines too. And fire trucks that must travel farther to serve fewer people. And police cars. And ambulances. And school buses. And dial-a-ride buses. And – in many parts of the country – snowplows.

The cost is enormous…Cities can sometimes stay in the black temporarily by approving new development and getting new revenue to pay for the costs. But that’s really just a Ponzi scheme…Balanced budgets don’t just happen. They happen because someone took the time upfront to check the costs and to evaluate what we can afford and what will add the most value.

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  • Jason Bailey

    Anyone interested in further research should check out the Strong Towns blog, especially this:
    http://www.strongtowns.org/the-growth-ponzi-scheme/

  • This is all being acknowledged only now that so few have anything left to lose from doing so. The damage has already been done through hundreds of billions in lost property values. Once we’ve admitted the unsustainability of the old system of mortgages and local govn’t finance, we can begin to create a new one with things like 3cdc, port authorities, and more dense development that is less expensive to service, but brings in more property tax income. Every cloud does have a silver lining, I guess.