No. of Recommendations: 4
Where do you expect people to live? If there wasn't a demand the "developers" wouldn't be developing.

As people live longer, and more children survive, more land is going to be used for dwellings.


Besides the (slow) growth of US population, there are other reasons for urban- and suburban- sprawl. Land use is growing at a pace something like 3 times the rate of population growth.

One is the fact that household size is decreasing. Due to smaller family units, divorce, and fewer multi-generational households, there are fewer people living per house, therefore there are going to be more houses given the same population.

Another reason is the increasing width of residential streets and growing plat sizes. Think about the 50-, 80-, and 100-year-old neighborhoods in your town. Are the streets as wide as those currently being built? Are the yards as big? In my town, a standard city plat used to be 60X110; now average is 100X120, but moreover there are tons of nearby rural subdivisions with acre lots (regular houses...I'm not talking farms). Basically, a house on an acre lot is taking up the space that 6.6 houses used to take up, or the space that 3.7 houses on the smaller current lots take up. That doesn't include the extra land that is used by the streets through those subdivisions. The bigger the plats, the more street acreage you're going to have to get from one house to the next.

Buildings seem to take up way more space than they used to. My hometown built a 700-student capacity high school around 1975, and the whole complex including building and sports fields took up roughly 5 acres. The new high school, built in 2002, has double the capacity of the old school, but it is built on roughly 40 acres. I feel sorry for the kids who walk to that school; it'd take a person 10 minutes just to walk down the entrance drive and across the parking lot. When I walked to the old high school, it was maybe 30 seconds from the street into the building. We're using more and more concrete for the different turning lanes, parking, and such. The other day, I dropped off DH at Home Depot while I shopped at a store on JUST the other side of the freeway exit. It took me 10 minutes to DRIVE from one store to the other (which was the VERY NEXT store in line on the street). In the old-fashioned downtown business districts, you could walk from store to store in a minute.

I live in a house and I take up space and I breathe oxygen and I release CO2 (and I suppose methane once in a while), so I'm just as guilty as anyone else. I do think we'd be heading down a wiser path if we really tried harder to conserve land now, because land is going to get less and less plentiful as time goes on. It's not like old Kmart parking lots are being converted back to the wetlands, grasslands, or forestlands they used to be; unfortunately, the land-use-conversion process typically goes only one way. Recall that buffalo, whales, and old-growth timber were all plentiful at one time. Didn't we learn our lesson from wasting those?
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