SOC: Re: Urban Sprawl

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Mon Jun 05 2000 - 13:10:14 MDT


>The term "urban sprawl" is being tested by the Gore campaign as
>one of its buzz-terms. Central-planner-types are increasingly
>using this term as a stalking horse for re-entry into centers of
>power throughout the US. And it seems there's a chance they'll
>have at least some success in this campaign, as dissatisfaction
>with the state of America's cities DOES seem to be growing. As
>the current longest period of economic growth in US history
>continues, places like Silicon Valley and Atlanta are coming to
>join the ranks of the previous sprawl-queens, LA and Houston.
>Commute times are growing at an increasing pace, as is the air
>pollution load caused by internal combustion engines. Growing
>cities ARE having an increasing negative impact on surrounding
>ecosystems (although not nearly the level of damage that the
>planners maintain).

Imagining Al Gore trying to fix "urban sprawl" is enough to give me

>I wonder what developments extropians would support as an
>alternative to central planning to address this issue. These are
>some I see:

><> Natural "Edge City Densification". Here in Houston, we're
>seeing a pattern of commercial real estate development at the
>nodes of the main highway system on the outskirts of town.

Joel Garreau wrote the book on this subject. (literally, "Edge
City") Want to build a Town/City? All you have to do is build a
first rate school, and stand back....POOF! instant town. I also
like the work being done by the "New Urbanists", small planned

><> Telecommuting. Talked about as a tonic to commuter gridlock
>for a decade, we OUGHT to be seeing an effect right about now as
>more and more people have sufficient bandwidth in their homes to
>work from there.

I unfortunately don't have a job that translates to telecommuting
well. (I'm one of the guys that build/maintains networks). But I
agree this is increasing and will continue to.

><> Electric/Hybrid Cars. Long an electro-skeptic, I'm seeing
>electrics and especially hybrids coming closer and closer to
>competitiveness. Especially with smarter and smarter
>power-management systems and lighter and lighter materials, I'd
>look for the significant impact of electro-hybrids on urban
>hydrocarbon pollution within the next ten years.

I'm a big fan of hypercars. The new Popular Science has an article
on recent advances. They will increase in popularity as gas prices
continue to increase. Of course I expect petroleum exporters to act
to try to prevent them becoming popular.

><> Smart Cars. Although Gore supports "smart highways", I think
>anyone with much sense knows that this is a stalking horse for a
>major tax-and-spend orgy for the central planners.

My car (mint 91 Buick Riveria) is already smarter than Al Gore. I'm
just trying to imagine a highway system that runs on Windows......
Think I'll walk instead.

>I'm sure there are other trends and developments I'm overlooking.

Another great post Greg.


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