Sustainable Sprawl

Sprawl seems to be the opposite of sustainability, but having a house with a white picket fence has become a major part of our ideal of the American dream. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that suburbs will remain the way it is in America. Our cities will not and we as a people will not adapt quickly enough to face the problems associated with energy shortage. What if I told you that you can keep your “suburb” but it can be a whole lot more sustainable? I have a way and it is a new theory that I call the “sustainable sprawl”.

It goes something a little like this.

Take an average square mile bound by suburban parkways. These roads will be three lanes wide at the smallest and will include dedicated bike lanes, large sidewalks, and turn lanes into the neighborhoods. Inside these “square miles”, there will be two greenbelts going across diagonally. Inside the square will be an “X” of bike lanes, walking lanes, and parks. In the middle will be an elementary school, daycare, and community center. At each of the corners will be certain types of businesses or services and each intersection in the city will have four of these things, one at each corner, with different services. These will be serviced by the sidewalks that will service each corner from the neighborhoods and the intersection itself. The sidewalks and the roads will meet one another at the same intersections in different directions and the sidewalks will be bound by an additional “X” in the middle of the neighborhoods.

At each of the intersections of roads and sidewalks that come in eight directions, there are spaces for four different types of services and businesses and it will be built at every single intersection. Only four will be built at each intersection, but there are 27 different conditions, making each intersection unique because of the services offered. Here are the conditions:

  1. Shopping Center – Typical strip mall anchored by one or two major stores and many smaller shops
  2. Big Box Center – Typical strip mall or group of big-box stores with fewer smaller shops
  3. Business Center – Group of commercial buildings specializing in white collar work
  4. Individual Centers – Group of smaller shops that are not connected in a large strip mall
  5. Fun Centers – Buildings that are built for ‘fun’ stuff like amusement parks, mini-golf, bowling, or other activities
  6. Regional Park – Large park with many services and open spaces
  7. Sports Center – Park or indoor arena for the purposes of informal and pre-professional sports activities
  8. Recreation Complex – Complex with recreation centers, ice rinks, and community centers in some combination
  9. Middle/High School – Middle and High School building complex, with some school administrative structures and maintenance as well
  10. Emergency Complex – Fire station, police station, hospital, and other emergency services as needed
  11. Church Centers – Locations for places of worship (mostly churches)
  12. Senior Center – Location for housing for seniors and assisted living centers
  13. Car Center – Locations for car lots
  14. Mall – Location for large indoor or indoor-outdoor mall
  15. Private School Centers – Location for private schools or charter schools
  16. Civic Centers – Places for city hall, government services, and judicial services
  17. Park N Ride – Place for a monorail station, bus station, and associated maintenance and parking lots for using these services
  18. Mixed Use Center – Place for a mixed-use ‘downtown’ center
  19. Outlet Center- Location for an outlet mall
  20. Open Space Park – Place for a trail head and parking lot to access large open space parks
  21. Utility Center – Place for water plants, gas plants, water storage, and substations
  22. Golf Course – Place for a golf course and country club
  23. Hite Corp Center – Place for Hite Corporation operations in branch locations, which will also provide other services directly controlled by the Hite Corporation
  24. Government Businesses – Place for Government Owned entities like contractors, post offices, and other services
  25. Travel Center – Place for a truck stop, hotels, restaurants, and gas stations for travel purposes
  26. Downtown – Existing or new ‘dowtown’ area that encompasses a historic district
  27. None – Nothing there, vacant space

Only four will be used, but there are endless combinations depending on the needs of the city and location. These will be used in most of the city. Houses will be in the middle of many different density types. The hope is that more people will decide to walk because it is so easy to get around the town with all the opportunities for alternate modes of transportation.