Ten Most Sprawl-Threatened Medium Cities
Number Three: Las Vegas
Las Vegas is the fastest growing city in
the United States.
Between 1990 and 1996, the population of the
region increased by almost 190 percent. While other city cores are losing people, Las
Vegas runs aggressively counter to that trend. Every nine minutes someone moves to Las
Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. The population is expected to double by
In the first six years of the 1990s, the size of the Las Vegas urbanized area
increased by 238 percent, according to the U.S. Highway Administration. In addition, the
amount of the region's open space consumed by development increased by 50 percent between
1982 and 1992. In Clark County, open space development increased by almost 99 percent in
that same period.
The city has extremely serious air and water pollution and overuse problems as a result
of its rampant expansion. Growth is starting to put strains on the ecologically fragile
Mojave Desert. The wildlife habitat and water quality and quantity of the Colorado River,
named one of the nation's most endangered rivers in 1997 and 1998, have been damaged by
diversions to serve the exploding population of this southwestern urban area. Exhaust from
greater numbers of cars on the roads is unable to escape over the mountains and
accumulates in the valley.
As the city grows, the water
supply for this arid expanse also comes under rising pressure. Pollutants, an ever-present
consequence of development, flow into water supply sources at increasing levels. The
higher the rate of development, the more difficult the purification process.
of the regions residents believe strongly that growth should be contained immediately,
according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
The proposed Ring Around the Valley plan which was rejected by the legislature in 1997
would have halted growth beyond a boundary. While state Sen. Dina Titus of Las Vegas plans
to introduce it again next year, the Southern Nevada Strategic Planning Authority will
counter with a plan of its own, a 20-year blueprint for the future of urban Las Vegas
which will tout growth.
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