The nice people at WABE asked me to appear in a short segment for their City Cafe radio series recently. It aired this week and you can stream it online here:
Clearing Up Where Atlanta Stands on Sprawl. No, Really.
The talk is based on a post I wrote about the confusing reports we’ve seen regarding Atlanta’s sprawl this year. In a nutshell: though metro Atlanta is the king of existing low-density sprawl among large US metros due to past expansion, it is no longer sprawling like it did. It is, in fact, doing quite a good job at urban infill these days, thanks very much.
The post on WABE’s site contains an interesting graphic that they found. It shows how metro Atlanta’s land mass, which contains 5.5 million people, could easily house eight world cities with a combined population of well over 100 million.
This is not to say that metro Atlanta needs to shoot for that level of density, but it’s interesting to note what an inefficient use we’re making of this sprawled-out area — and to think about how this low density figures into our public transportation struggles. More on that in an upcoming post.
"There’s a reason every Downtown resident I’ve spoken to is more excited about the proposed Walgreens than any museum opening. The Walgreens improves their everyday lives without adding to our “world-class” Downtown attraction zone."
I give a big “Amen” to the opinion piece by Matt Garbett in Creative Loafing from which the above quote is lifted; read it here:
Atlanta’s not a world-class city : City leaders need to focus on building vibrant neighborhoods, not megaprojects
Similarly, my own vision for Atlanta is for it to become a city filled with strong neighborhoods, each with a diversity of residents and successful local businesses. Large-scale legacy projects have their place, but they should always take second place to urban livability.
City leaders too often focus on big, headline-grabbing developments. They may contribute to added bragging rights for the powerful, but they seldom make Atlanta a more livable place for average residents — not the way that more incremental, sustainable urban improvements can.