Monday, November 12, 2007

Dense Living vs. Sprawl & Recent Fires

Over the last few weeks many stories and opinions have been written on whether the recent firestorm conditions in regions of Southern California are the product of the sprawling types of housing developments that make up L.A.’s outlying areas. Since this blog considers the experience of living in a dense community (as opposed to living in a sprawling community), I’ve been thinking about the consequences of dense living vs. wide-open living. By now we all know that sprawl is inherently a flawed endeavor and is not sustainable. I could write a thesis on this, and in fact, I sort of did; but I’ll just make note of a couple statistics, and link some good stories.

In Park LaBrea 11,000 residents live within a one-quarter square mile area (176 acres).
In 4S Ranch near San Diego – where homes were evacuated last month, but none were lost thankfully – 12,259 residents (2.6 per household – same as PLB’s average) live in 4,715 single family homes within a four and a half square mile (2900 acre) subdivision.

In other words, 4S Ranch takes-up approximately 2,165 more acres of open land (3.4 square miles - the size of two and a half central parks*), than Park LaBrea does, to house the same amount of people. Is it time to rethink the American dream yet?

Sprawl and fires links:
For numbers on
acres-to-homes-to residents ratios --

Opinions on fires and sprawl

And more density is coming to the greater L.A. area if not the sprawling suburbs of Southern Cal:
LAWeekly story about how L.A. is going to get denser

And an LA city proposal to offer bonuses to developers for denser building find the link under "proposed ordinances."

*this is also the same amount of land needed to harvest solar energy for 100,000 people (since it takes a little under 4 square miles of solar panels to generate a gigawatt, the same amount of electricity provided by two power plants).
*this is also half of Griffith park
*this is also the size of the city of Concord, Alabama
*this is also the size of 7 Disneylands

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