Monday, November 28, 2011

Negative Impact of Urban Spawl

As sprawl has continued its current pace in the nation, these observable phenomena have correspondingly occurred:

  • Conversion of significant amounts of forests, crop land and pasture land into developed land
  • Decrease in the amount of farmland acreage
  • Depression in farm economies and increased strain on agricultural productivity
  • Increased concentration of livestock animals in their grazing/feeding range, which increases disease and sanitation problems
  • Degradation of natural wildlife habitats, and reduction of food sources for wildlife
  • Increase of occurrences of wildlife invading human spaces, being nuisances in neighborhoods, and being hazards on highways
  • Increase in the costs of public services in towns and villages (e.g. public transportation, municipal water and sewage systems, landscaping, maintenance), as these services are required to extend to a much wider geographical radius
  • Increased local tax rates in sprawled areas, and increased strains on local budgets
  • Increase in the number of low-density, automobile-dependent communities Increase in automobile pollution, particularly in formerly unpolluted areas.
satellite image of Johor and its surrounding area in 1988.1997, and 2005 ( left to right )
reference : Cornell University, Department of Development Sociology

Monday, November 21, 2011


The topic our group (the 6 of us) got was Planning Syllabus Should Focus More on 

Technical Matters. And we were on the opposition side. An interesting topic I 

must say. So we divided ourselves into speakers doing the Introduction, the 4 

points and the Conclusion. We decided our strong points to be:

-Focusing on other matters in our studies helps to improve ones soft skills 

Improve thinking and analysing skills. Research based will give us first-hand 

-experience on ground/site and actually understand the issues and problems 

being faced

-Innovation and creativity in planning and coming up with concepts through 

research that would help solve the site issues 

-Understanding and implementing the relevant guidelines and policies that would 

come in handy in the working world 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The factors that cause urban sprawl

There is a wide variety of potential causes of sprawl, both direct and indirect, and it can be challenging to identify all of the factors that drive the phenomenon. Such factors generally revolve around choices made by home buyersbusinesses and entrepreneurial enterprises, and local, regional, and state governments.
Although all of these constituents believe they are making smart choices in the short term, ones that are beneficial (financially or otherwise) to their respective parties, all of these choices can inevitably lead to community disadvantage in the long term, via the consequence of sprawl.
Choices made by Home Buyers
Households looking to purchase new homes often seek to find packages or bundles of features that accompany their prospective new home. These packages represent benefits or amenities that do not merely relate to the interior or exterior of their new home. Such benefits and amenities include:
  • Proximity to public parks, playgrounds, walking/biking trails, or other natural environments
  • Proximity to a better or more reputable school district, if children are in the household
  • Friendlier neighborhoods and communities, with less crime
  • Lower property taxes
  • More property acreage, and less cost per acre
  • Newer homes with more modern appliances, conveniences and interior styles
  • Newer homes that have implemented more modern construction techniques, therefore requiring less maintenance and upkeep
  • Larger houses, with more bedrooms & bathrooms per house
  • More distance between neighbors
  • Distance from crowded urban centers
  • Distance from pollution
  • A more natural environment
  • Easy access to highways, easy commuter routes
  • Proximity to bus routes for school-age children
  • Waterfront property
  • Private water supply
While one can see how many or all of these features are understandably valuable to prospective home buyers, one can also see how the demand for these same features by an increasing number of people would cause home builders to supply homes and residential developments in more rural regions, thus contributing to sprawl.

examples of urban sprawl in Melbourne,ustralia
Choices of Businesses and Developers
Whether businesses are large or small, all business owners will naturally seek to minimize costs, maximize profits, and find the best and most convenient ways of selling their products or services. With this in mind, businesses often make shrewd short-term decisions based on these continuing trends in the U.S.:
  • Manufacturing has decreased, and the economy has moved to a more service-oriented and technology-related culture. This enables storefronts and businesses to be in less centralized locations, and provide their goods and services in more suburban and rural settings.
  • It is often far more expensive—and sometimes cost-prohibitive—for businesses to redevelop unused or dilapidated urban business locations. In other words, it is often to expensive to a) purchase land that was formerly used for manufacturing or production (which, being in urban areas, will have higher property taxes), b) demolish pre-existing buildings and structures, (often contending with challenging demolition logistics if the property is in an urban and high-traffic area), and c) build new structures in its place (again contending with traffic patterns during construction).
  • It is generally much less expensive and less complex to build new construction on virgin land—forests or former farms that have no former construction.
  • As the agricultural industry continues to struggle in rural areas, more farmers are selling their land and consolidating their work on less and less acreage. Therefore farmland is inexpensive.
  • Smaller towns and villages are eager to invite businesses into their regions in order to spark economic growth. These municipalities often provide tax incentives to businesses that are willing to enter, and accommodate such infusions of commercial expansion in whatever ways they can.
  • Federal and state financial support for the maintenance and care of urban infrastructures such as water and sewer systems has declined. This requires businesses that are redeveloping urban spaces to invest more capital in fixing such problems themselves.
  • Conversely, private septic systems and wells have decreased in price and increased in quality/efficiency, therefore making it less expensive for businesses to establish and operate water and septic systems in more rural and decentralized regions, and equally less expensive for developers to build residential communities outside of city limits.
  • Greater demand among home buyers for larger homes and more distance between homes continues to inspire developers to build more houses, apartment complexes, condominiums and other residential communities in suburban, rural and previously undeveloped regions.
While one can see how these factors lead businesses to make the decisions that are wisest from their own perspective, it is also quite recognizable that this leads to extensive sprawl on a larger scale.
Choices made by Local, Regional, and State Governments
Zoning and tax policies at the town, village, county or state level can play a large part in either suppressing or inspiring sprawl. These are the factors:
  • Smaller towns and villages are often eager to grant tax incentives to incoming businesses, as an attempt to bolster their own regional economy. The tax breaks therefore are often attached to larger formerly unspoiled rural land.
  • Metropolitan areas that are comprised of multiple local governing bodies tend to encourage sprawl, because the local regions are competing against each other for the influx of both commerce and new homeowners. They therefore compete for businesses and home buyers via lower property taxes.
  • Areas that rely on property taxes for their revenue are often the ones to sprawl the most. Conversely, areas where revenue is raised through fees and charges reduce the incentives for bigger businesses to set up camp in rural locations, thus reducing the tendency toward sprawl. [(Pendall, 1999; Carruthers & Ulfarsson, 2003; Fischel, 2001)]
  • Municipalities that establish zoning regulations with large-lot principles and with single-use restrictions also inspire sprawl, because they discourage businesses from developing in previously developed areas. These businesses are zoned out of the more centralized regions, and shift their search for property that is farther away.
  • Regions that do not regulate or mitigate the impacts of new growth on municipal infrastructure (water, sewer, roads, traffic, commuter services) are soon forced to raise property taxes on all property owners (rather than on the businesses and developers most responsible for the strain on public services).
  • Towns and villages that inspire so much commercial growth, to the extent that the environment itself is degraded, will find that property values will decrease, causing a greater strain on the tax base, and a greater challenge in providing standard municipal services.
  • Some local governments have begun to use federal or state subsidies to construct new suburban schools as conditions in urban schools decline. This inspires more sprawl as well as a greater strain on roads and traffic patterns leading to outlying areas. [(Ferguson et al, 2004)]
  • Similarly, some local governments use federal or state dollars for the purpose of extending fire and/or police services, and water & sewer lines to further outlying areas. [(Ferguson et al, 2004)]
Changes in these policies and standards at local, regional, or state levels could reduce the perpetuation of sprawl.

REFERENCES: Cornell University, Department of Development Sociology

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Three main types of urban sprawl

Urban sprawl refers to the outgrowth of urban areas caused by uncontrolled, uncoordinated and unplanned growth.  According to research which has done on urban sprawl /land use expansionby UTM, there are three types of urban sprawl in Malaysia which are

Different types of sprawl

  • Low-density Sprawl

Low-density continuous sprawl is a phenomenon caused by outward spreading of low-density suburban land use as currently being experienced by many of cities like America as their population becoming bigger and bigger and there is no lack of land supply. this highly consumptive use of land for urban purposes is supported by piecemeal extensions of basic urban infrastructure such as water, sewer, power and roads. 

  • Ribbon Sprawl
Ribbon sprawl is a type of sprawl characterized by concentration of development along major transportation arteries, primarily roads. while development occurs on land adjacent to the major roads, areas without accessibility to the roads tend to remain as greenareas, waiting for conversion into urban land uses when land values increase and infrastructure is extended from the major roads.
  • Leapfrog Development Sprawl
Leapfrog development sprawl is a scattered form of urbanization with disjointed patched of urban land uses, interspersed with green areas. Leapfrog development may be caused by obvious physical limitations such as prohibitive topography, water bodies and wetlands or by more subtle reasons such as differences in development policies between political jurisdictions. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Urban sprawl - making problems or providing solutions ?

the KL city, the CBD
source from
was inspired by the posts on planetizen while I was searching for a topic. The Urban Sprawl was one of the top 10 planning issues in 2002 according to Planetizen. In many countries in the world, urban sprawl has always been a problem especially for countries with rapid growth of the city and many poor migrant from the countryside to the city. Effects to be able to live in cities, migrants have to work even as informal workers, and on the other hand, the need for enforcement of regulations  for the city manager, the urban sprawl that should be organized in accordance with the plan. The question is whether urban sprawl is currently running with good management or not? Does the plan will be sustainable and benefit the future generation? Does urban sprawling become a way to solve the problems of the increasing population, the development needs of a city etc. or it is making more problems ? In this blog, I'm going to discussing and sharing about these questions above on urban sprawl with taking cases of cities in Malaysia. 

  • How to define Urban Sprawl ? 

One of the earliest uses of the word "sprawl" in terms of land use was in a 1937 speech by Earle Draper, then director of planning for the Tennessee Valley Authority: "Perhaps diffusion is too kind of word ... In bursting its bounds, the city actually sprawled and made the countryside ugly ..., uneconomic in terms of services and doubtful social value."

 "Urban sprawl, also known as suburban sprawl, is a multifaceted concept, which includes the spreading outwards of a city and its suburbs to its outskirts to low-density and auto-dependent development on rural land, high segregation of uses (e.g. stores and residential), and various design features that encourage car dependency."

"Urban sprawl is generally defined as the increased development of land in suburban and rural areas outside of their respective urban centers. This increased development of real estate in the outskirts of towns, villages and metropolitan areas is quite often accompanied by a lack of development, redevelopment or reuse of land within the urban centers themselves."  definition of sprawl

"The unplanned, uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas adjoining the edge of a city." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. 

Noted policy analyst Anthony Downs, at a May 1998 Transportation Research Conference, identified ten "traits" associated with sprawl:

  • unlimited outward extension
  • low-density residential and commercial settlements
  • leapfrog development
  • fragmentation of powers over land use among many small localities
  • dominance of transportation by private automotive vehicles
  • no centralized planning or control of land-uses
  • widespread strip commercial development
  • great fiscal disparities among localities
  • segregation of types of land uses in different zones
  • reliance mainly on the trickle-down or filtering process to provide housing to low-income households 

source from youtube