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The Planet

Readers sound off on sprawl

The Planet, May 1997, Volume 4, number 4


  • High-Density or Low-Density -- Which Is It?
  • Grading Cities on Sprawl

High-Density or Low-Density -- Which Is It?

I was examining the first page of your sprawl feature in the April Planet when I noticed a major inconsistency between your picture [shown below] of a high-density housing development and the caption that referred to "low-density" development. You need to be accurate to be credible, otherwise you will lose supporters due to press sensationalism and propaganda. I typically look forward to your literature for information on protecting the environment, but there is no excuse for misrepresentation.
Todd S. Miller
Ithaca, N.Y.

The photo you refer to -- of a Pacifica, Calif., subdivision -- may show a highdensity suburb, but it is still far from representing a sustainable model of development. It is low-density compared to a city; there's not an apartment or a shopping district in walking distance of these detached, autodependent single family homes.

Your comment does show that we need to better explain density -- to our members and the public at large -- before we can make huge strides to combat sprawl.

Grading Cities on Sprawl

I enjoyed reading the April Planet concerning urban sprawl. I wonder if it would be worth-while to grade cities on their efforts to curb this environmental blight on the landscape? Grading criteria could include farmland/wildland preservation, resistance to freeways, promotion of the densification in cities, efficiency and convenience of public transit, among many others. I like to think that Vancouver, B.C., where I live, would get a favorable grade.
-- Thomas M. Nichols
Vancouver, B.C. CANADA

We aren't aware of any such efforts to grade cities, but as reported in the April Planet, in Prince George's County, Md., the Club has been giving report cards to elected officials for their votes on development-related issues -- with good results. For information about how to create your own environmental report card, contact Larry Bohlen at (301) 445-1548 or e-mail: <>.

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