Ten Most Sprawl-Threatened Large Cities
Number Nine: Ft. Lauderdale
From 1990 to 1996, Ft. Lauderdale's metropolitan area boundary pushed
out 27 percent.
Population in the Ft. Lauderdale metropolitan area is soaring. In 1970, 614,000 people
lived there, and by 1990, this figure had doubled to 1.2 million. The period between 1990
and 1996 witnessed a continued population rise of almost 25 percent. The city's suburbs
have seen a great deal of that growth. In the 1970s, the number of people moving to the
outer reaches increased by 80 percent, another 27 percent in the 1980s, and 26 percent
from 1990 to 1996.
To accommodate this expansion, Ft. Lauderdale's urbanized land area has grown
dramatically: from 212 square miles in 1970 to 327 square miles in 1990. From 1990 to
1996, Ft. Lauderdale's metro area boundary pushed out another 27 percent.
Broward County, where Ft. Lauderdale is located, has failed to protect wetlands or open
space. Between 1982 and 1992, the number of developed acres in Broward county grew an
alarming 44.2 percent, from 129,000 acres to 186,000 acres. Of the three Southern Florida
counties, this is the highest rate of development.
Efforts to grapple with Ft. Lauderdale sprawl have increased in recent years. In May of
1997, concerned citizens, among them environmental activists, regulators, planners and a
few elected officials and land use attorneys, met in Fort Lauderdale to discuss
initiatives that would empower officials to combat the growing problem of sprawl. One
suggestion was to encourage a temporary building moratorium until federal engineers unveil
their plan in 1999 to revise South Florida's water control system.
While Ft. Lauderdale's sister city, Miami, has made modest strides in planning growth
to occur within certain limits, Ft. Lauderdale seems mired in old fashioned, poorly
managed development that poses a serious threat to the city and the nearby Everglades.
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