Measuring metropolitan form: remaking urban form for sustainability

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Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Architecture & Planning
Department City & Metropolitan Planning
Author Hamidi, Shima
Title Measuring metropolitan form: remaking urban form for sustainability
Date 2015-08
Description Sprawl versus compactness has been one of the biggest debates of our time in urban planning. Is sprawl good or bad for us? How does it affect people's quality of life, such as transportation, housing affordability, and access to healthy food? The first step to answer these questions is to develop a valid and reliable measure of urban sprawl and then relate it to several quality-of-life outcomes. This is one of the main contributions of this dissertation. I developed a multidimensional measure of urban sprawl for 221 medium and large metropolitan areas and divisions in the U.S. This index places metropolitan sprawl at one end of a continuous scale and compact development at the other end. Having compactness scores for 221 metropolitan areas and divisions, I examined the relationship between urban sprawl and the availability and/or affordability of the three major components in a typical household's budget: housing, transportation, and food. I found that, in agreement with more than 200 studies on travel and the built environment, metropolitan sprawl is associated with lower walk and transit shares of commute trips, longer drive times, and higher vehicle ownership rates. I also found that housing costs are higher in compact metropolitan areas, but these higher costs are more than offset by lower transportation costs, and the net effect is a just barely significant relationship between compactness and overall housing affordability. These findings are novel and interesting particularly because increasing housing affordability in sprawling areas has been one of the main arguments of pro-sprawl parties. Finally, I examined the relationship between metropolitan sprawl and the emergence of food deserts and found that urban sprawl, at both neighborhood and regional levels, increases the likelihood of a census tract being a food desert. Neighborhoods with a greater compactness index are likely to have population and potential customers to support grocery stores. At the regional level, more compact regions reduce racial and income segregation and do not allow older downtown neighborhoods to be filtered to lower socioeconomic status.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Compactness; Food deserts; Growth Management; housing Affordablity; Polycentricity; Sprawl
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Shima Hamidi 2015
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 27,451 bytes
Identifier etd3/id/3947
ARK ark:/87278/s60320t2
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2016-06-14
Date Modified 2017-08-17
ID 197498
Reference URL