The Suburban Apartment Boom: A Case Study of a Land Use Problem

The Suburban Apartment Boom: A Case Study of a Land Use Problem

The Suburban Apartment Boom: A Case Study of a Land Use Problem

The Suburban Apartment Boom: A Case Study of a Land Use Problem

Excerpt

In recent years we have become accustomed, if not resigned, to a sequence of urban crises which stem not only from our numbers but also from our affluence. Rivers become sewers, atmospheres are transformed by chemistry into noxious fogs, landscapes are despoiled. The fact is that our numbers and our affluence have increasingly generated immense pressures on the natural environment which threaten to tax its innate resilience to man-made disturbances. Those elements of the environment which we have thought of as inexhaustible -- "pure" air and water, urban space, the radio spectrum, amenity resources -- are now relatively in short supply and their stringency grows with each year, with each increment to the population living in cities, with each advance of our prosperity.

To scholars and policy makers alike, these changes in the quality of the urban environment have disclosed the inadequacy of the conventional theories and concepts to predict the future states of degradation of the environment or to suggest feasible social strategies to deal with them. Our present conceptual equipment comes from an earlier age in response to other kinds of situations and policy issues; it has at best a limited usefulness in helping us to cope with the great problems of our own age. Fresh concepts and theories reflecting these newly crucial relationships between the intense life of the city and its natural setting will need to be formulated. Thus, it is becoming obvious to us now that every city is sensitively articulated with a resource base -- its physical environment. Shifts in function and in sources of resource value are pronounced enough to warrant our speaking of "new resources" in an urban, "post-industrial" age. Urban land, for example, might best be viewed as urban space, with value derived in large part from access characteristics -- access to the center, to the transportation network, and to all other points in the urban plane -- as well as from its physical properties and amenity characteristics. Transformation in modes of thought to match transformation of the environment is necessary if policy instruments are to be designed capable of dealing with environmental-quality issues.

Resources for the Future has responded to this challenge by sponsoring a series of studies on the resource base in the urban environment.

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