What Is Sprawl? Why Is It So Bad?

Sprawl consists of commercial and residential development in areas not contiguous with existing urban areas. Sprawl causes a variety of harmful effects.

Loss of valuable agricultural lands.

Conversion of agricultural and rural lands to uses inconsistent with their current designation drives out traditional land uses. Rising tax assessments force farmers and ranchers to give up their lands even if they would prefer to continue using them for traditional uses.

Loss of crucial wildlife habitats. Commercial and residential uses cause blockage and fragmentation of crucial habitats and corridors for our endangered wildlife. *See images of road encroachment

The EPA has identified urban runoff as the principal source of contamination to inland and coastal waters in most urban areas. Paving over ever more watersheds will exacerbate the problem by adding new sources of pollution, and removing natural filtration mechanisms. Already, we suffer beach closures due to contamination everytime it rains.

Sprawling development causes increased automotive traffic and air pollution.

Sprawling development drains public infrastructure resources from our urban centers, harming services in our cities.

Residents of far-flung bedroom communities commute to the urban centers and use these services, but don't pay for them.

Sprawl doesn't provide affordable housing. Our region is projected to grow by several million inhabitants in the next thirty years. Projections by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) indicate that even under conditions of total buildout in our rural areas, these lands would not support more than 100,000 additional people, due to current subdivision sizes in these outlying areas and the expense of building there. Such sprawl would lead only to very expensive housing for the privileged few, while all of us would suffer the ill effects described.

We are still far from exhausting space for commercial and residential developments in areas already designated for such uses. We don't need to sacrifice our valuable rural resources.

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