Saturday, August 23, 2008

Stop the Sprawl

For years I've rejected the notion that it is good to continue seemingly endless housing construction farther and farther out from cities. Well, the housing bubble put a temporary, semi-stop to some of it, but not enough. If urban sprawl isn't paving over habitats and trees, then it's building where there's no water. In either case, the only way the overbuilding will stop is by regulation -- developers won't stop, land sellers won't stop, and people won't stop buying either.

There's a senate bill in California that would be one of the first to curb sprawl -- all in the name of saving the environment and cutting emissions. SB 375 requires better land growth -- smarter land growth -- that causes land development to place people closer to public transportation and incentives for mixing commercial development with residential so that there are jobs where people live. New transportation funding in California, if SB 275 passes, will only be given if new growth meets the designated smarter growth requirements.

The American Lung Association and American Farmland Trust have both endorsed SB 375, which if passed could become a model for other states -- not just for transportation and emission issues but also managing water and habitat conservation.

Some families may wonder, what happens if there aren't as many new homes and new neighborhoods being built? Then that means you look inward and clean up and rebuild neighborhoods that are closer to work and closer to the city. Turning redevelopment into smarter development is what would happen if new development were curtailed. This also means you work more closely with your local government and local redevelopment agency as a citizen to ask for better oversite, more focus on the environment, and neighborhoods and schools that are family focused.

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