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Sprawl Costs: Economic Impacts of Unchecked Development 3rd Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1559635301
ISBN-10: 1559635304
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A mix of art and science, Sprawl Costs carefully spells out the implications of two futures—sprawl-as-usual vs. compact growth—and the results are sobering. The authors provide convincing evidence that governments, businesses and families can save money and avoid headaches if our leaders pursue smarter growth strategies."
(Don Chen Executive Director of Smart Growth America)

"In a dozen concise and readable chapters, they discuss sprawl's definition and measurement; its effects on natural resources, infrastructure, real estate, fiscal soundness, travel, quality of life, and urbanity; its benefits; and the appropriate policies to deal with it."
(Planning)

About the Author

Robert Burchell is distinguished professor and co-director of the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University.

Anthony Downs is senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Barbara McCann is a former CNN journalist who has written extensively about transportation and land use policy issues for Smart Growth America and other organizations.

Sahan Mukherji is a research associate at the Center for Urban Policy Research.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 3rd edition (June 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559635304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559635301
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,719,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a rural resident trying to help my town control predatory developers and manage issues of growth and land use, this book is a potent tool, a fact that is clearly disturbing to some who stand to profit handsomely from sprawl, like the automobile and oil companies, the large-scale construction industries, millionaire developers, automobile manufacturers, and big-box national retailers.

It's interesting that Diane Bast has written a negative review without mentioning, either here or in her Amazon.com profile, that she holds the title of Vice President of Internal Affairs for the benign-sounding (and Richard Mellon Schiafe-funded) "Heartland Institute," whose work she cites here.

She also fails to mention that her husband Joseph L. Bast is also founder, president and CEO of the Institute, whose board of directors includes representatives from General Motors, Exxon-Mobil, and Philip Morris, along with various banks and insurance companies. The Institute has also over the years received substantial funding from the tobacco industry, among other large multinational companies. Of course, none of these board members mention these affiliations on Heartland's flowers-and-little-kids adorned official website, because that would be giving the real purpose of the organization away.

I doubt that such an organization would subsidize any research which would support public transportation or de-emphasize converting far-flung farmland or open space into cookie-cutter subdivisions, so Ms. Bast's citations are unsurprising given her unmentioned affiliation to that organization.

As for Mr.
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Format: Paperback
I just heard one of the authors on talk radio out here and must say that I was blown away by the amount of money sprawl costs every year. Just making a list of the items that tap into our tax dollars is staggering: schools, highways, sewers, electricity, water. And if you watch a new housing development going into the desert, this fact is so obvious---much of the bill must be paid by all the rest of us, how else could they afford all those big costs. So I know the argument for sprawl is that if we didn't have it, housing prices would go through the roof. But one sensible point this author made is that with a very limited change in the way we live, would result in a massive savings to our government spending. So I hope people will listen to this message cause it seems to make sense to me. Looking forward to reading the book, and I hope government officials will as well.
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Format: Paperback
I was hoping that this book would offer insights into the fiscal impact of development on municipalities. It doesn't. This book uses national level data to estimate the costs associated with urban expansion versus urban containment. This is an important aspect of regional sprawl, but it ignores the financial cost implications of different types of development forms. There is no discussion of how municipal costs vary with different residential densities or by land use category.
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By greg on September 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
good price and fast delivery
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Format: Paperback
According to an article by Wendell Cox, senior fellow for The Heartland Institute, this book rehashes the tired claims about suburbanization (pejoratively called "urban sprawl") being unnecessarily costly. In fact, however, Sprawl Costs: Economic Impacts of Unchecked Development (by Robert Burchell, Anthony Downs, Barbara McCann, and Sahan Mukheri) relies on prospective data that is soundly refuted by reality.

The book is an outgrowth of a study led by Burchell, which concluded that more compact (less suburban) development could save $225,000,000,000 in government spending over 25 years. The study made the all-too-common error of concluding that many zeros after a number make it significant. They do not. It will probably take the average reader at least 225,000,000,000 nanoseconds to read this article. $225 billion over 25 years is less than $30 per capita each year. This is a pittance in comparison with overall government expenditures, which have risen more than 100 times that fast over the past 25 years after adjustment for inflation.

Aside from the shock value, the validity of the numbers is questionable. In fact, the suburbs are not more expensive. Joshua Utt and I published research analyzing Bureau of the Census data for more than 700 municipalities concluding that actual (not theoretical) per-capita public expenditures are lowest in the newer suburbs. Even sewer costs were found to be lowest in the newer suburbs. The principal reasons are that politics, congestion, and labor costs drive costs higher in more compact development.

Sprawl Costs' weakest assertion may be that more compact development would reduce the cost of an average new house $16,000, a conjecture that ignores economic reality. To accomplish the more compact development Burchell et al.
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