In the ever-lasting debate over sprawl, the most enduring argument centers on the definition of sprawl itself. The latest entrant is, perhaps, the oldest entrant: density.
As reported by Richard Florida in his CityLab column this week, NYU doctoral student Thomas Laidley has introduced a new method to measure sprawl. Laidley's "Sprawl Index" uses the following methodology:
"Laidley uses these aerial images to estimate sprawl at the Census block level, the smallest level available, estimating the share of metro population in those blocks below three key thresholds: 3,500, 8,500, and 20,000 persons per square mile. His index is based on the average of these three values, with higher scores reflecting higher levels of sprawl."
Over the past few weeks, issues concerning the Central Valley's future growth and development plans have gained widespread attention throughout the state – even causing Governor Brown to intervene in the Valley's deliberation processes. With the Central Valley region growing at a faster rate than any other region in California, the policy outcomes of the region's "growth wars" will provide the context in which the Valley's cities and counties will be able to accommodate its growing population.
So, yet again Wendell Cox – a leader of the anti-anti-sprawl crowd -- has trotted out an impressive-looking quantitative report that purports to prove that certain metropolitan regions have high home prices because of "more restrictive land use regulation". In his New Geography piece last week, which linked to a report on his web site, Cox seemed to attribute virtually all the variation in home price around the country to land use regulations – just as he has done in the past.