Archives: Sprawl (general)


Marshall 2005 - "Inhalation of Motor Vehicles Emissions: Effects of Urban Population and Land Area"

Marshall, Julian D; McKone, Thomas E; et al
"Inhalation of Motor Vehicles Emissions: Effects of Urban Population and Land Area"
Atmospheric Environment
January 2005; v.39, n.2; pp.283-295
On the Web
Relevance: low

The authors developed a preliminary, theoretical model of how air quality is affected by different development patters: sprawl, infill, and constant-density growth. Their conclusions depend on the elasticity of emissions: how big a change in emissions is cause by a change in density. If emissions decrease greatly from increased density, then infill is best.  If emissions decrease by only a little, then constant density growth is best.

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Lopez 200? - "Thirty Years of Urban Sprawl in Metropolitan America: 1970-2000"

Lopez, Russ
"Thirty Years of Urban Sprawl in Metropolitan America: 1970-2000"
A report to the Fannie Mae Foundation
publication date unknown
Not on the web (received from author)
Relevance: high

The author constructed a sprawl index primarily measuring density for 330 metropolitan areas. The index ranged from 0-100 with the score roughly correlating to the percentage of residents who live in low-density census tracts, so a higher score means more sprawl. In this report the author lists his sprawl scores, compares his index to Ewing's index, and discusses changes in sprawl from 1970 to 2000. Lopez's index correlates roughly 50% to Ewing's index, and 92% to Ewing's density factor. Also see Lopez's sprawl-obesity article using this index.


McCann 2003 - "Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl"

McCann, Barbara; Ewing, Reid
"Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl: A National Analysis of Physical Activity, Obesity, and Chronic Disease."
Smart Growth America and Surface Transportation Policy Project
September 2003
On the Web
Relevance: high

This report is based on Ewing et al's earlier article (2003) and is longer with more details and sidebars. The conclusions, of course, are the same, but the report includes sprawl scores for all 448 counties and the web page has fact sheets for counties in most states.


Schilling 2005 - “The Public Health Roots of Zoning: In Search of Active Living’s Legal Genealogy”

Schilling, Joseph;  Linton , Leslie S.
“The Public Health Roots of Zoning: In Search of Active Living’s Legal Genealogy”
American Journal of Preventive Medicine
February 2005; v.28, n.2, Supplement 2; pp.96-104.
On the Web
Relevance: low

Schilling and Linton give a good overview of zoning, its origin in public health, and how to adapt zoning to today's public health problems.

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Gordon 1999 - “Are Compact Cities a Desirable Planning Goal?”

Gordon, Peter; Richardson Harry W.
“Are Compact Cities a Desirable Planning Goal?”
Journal of the American Planning Association.
Winter 1997: v.63, n.1; pp.95-105.
On the Web
Relevance: low

Gordon and Richardson dispute the need for promoting compact development (see Ewing (1997) for a rebuttal).  They claim that standard suburban development:

  • does not encroach on prime agricultural land,
  • is preferred by consumers,
  • is not less efficient for travel than compact development,
  • does not consume more energy (and energy is not scarce),
  • does not increase congestion (an may, in fact, reduce it), and
  • does not increase infrastructure and public service costs.

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Ewing 1997 - “Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable?”

Ewing, Reid
“Is Los Angeles-Style Sprawl Desirable?”
Journal of American Planning Association.
Winter 1997; v.63, n.1; pp.107-126.
On the Web
Relevance: medium

In a literature review Ewing discusses the characteristics, causes, and costs of sprawl, refuting pro-sprawl arguments by Gordon and Richardson.  Causes include land market failure and housing and transportation subsidies.  Costs include longer commutes, energy consumption, air pollution, and loss of open space, among other things.  This article is a good introduction to the subject.

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Burchell 2003 - "Conventional Development Versus Managed Growth: The Costs of Sprawl"

Burchell RW and Mukherji S.
“Conventional Development Versus Managed Growth: The Costs of Sprawl.”  American Journal of Public Health.
December 2003; v.91, n.9; pp1534-1540.1
On the Web
relevance: medium

Using a mathematical model to compare the effects of sprawl versus compact development, the authors find that sprawl requires converting more undeveloped land and building more roads and water/sewer infrastructure.  Sprawl also leads to higher pubic service costs and housing costs.

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Frank 2004 - "Obesity Relationships with Community Design, Physical Activity, and Time Spent in Cars"

Lawrence D. Frank, Martin A. Anderson, Thomas L. Schmid
"Obesity Relationships with Community Design, Physical Activity, and Time Spent in Cars"
American Journal of Preventative Medicine
2004; 27(2), pp87-96

Based on a survey of 10,878 Atlanta residents taken in 2000-2002, Frank and colleagues investigated the relationships among body mass index (BMI), time spent in cars, distance walked, and built environment measures (including residential density, street connectivity, and land use mix) within a 1-km walk or drive of respondents' homes.

Adjusting for demographics, each quartile increase in land use mix was associated with a 12.2 percent reduction in the odds of being obese.  More time spent in cars increased the risk of obesity:  an additional 60 minutes per day in the car translated into an additonal 6 percent odds of being obese.  Each kilometer walked translated into a 4.8 percent reduction in the odds of being obese.

However, connectivity and residential density were not significantly related to obesity; though they were closely correlated with land use mix.

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Sturm 2004 - "Suburban sprawl and physical and mental health"

R. Sturm, D.A. Cohen
“Suburban sprawl and physical and mental health”
Public Health
2004; 118; pp488-496
Relevance: high

Sturm and Cohen analyzed Healthcare for Communities phone survey data from 1998 and 2000/2001 that assessed 16 chronic physical health conditions or symptom clusters (e.g., asthma, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, etc.) and health-related quality of life, as well as depression and anxiety.

They correlated these findings with Reid Ewing/Smart Growth America's ranking of sprawl in major US metropolitan areas.  This ranking considered residential density, land use mix, degree of centering, and street accessibility. 

The result:  an increase in sprawl from one standard deviation less to one standard deviation more than average led to 96 more chronic medical problems per 1000 residents, which is approximately similar to an aging of the population of 4 years.  No correlation was found between sprawl and mental health.

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Frank 2000 - "Linking land use with household vehicle emissions in the central Puget Sound"

Frank, Lawrence, Brian Stone Jr., and William Bachman. 2000.
"Linking Land Use with Household Vehicle Emissions in the Central Puget Sound: Methodological Framework and Findings."
2000, Transportation Research Part D 5, 3: 173-96.
On the web
Relevance: high

Frank and colleagues used data from the Puget Sound Transportation Panel (a survey of 1,700 households taken every 2 years) to estimate the total amount of vehicle pollution (carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds) generated by households in different kinds of neighborhoods.

They concluded that households in higher-density neighborhoods, with more interconnected street grids, and with greater mixes of land use, produced lower total emissions than households in more sprawling neighborhoods.  Also, as might be expected, long-distance commutes increased total household vehicle emissions.  Perhaps more surprisingly, commutes to places with very high employment density (e.g., downtowns) were associated with lower total household vehicle emissions -- though this effect that was seen mostly for the places with the densest employment.

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