What really is sprawl?

By Jim Karlock

We all know that Portland planners just hate sprawl. But just what is sprawl and what does it look like?
An online search turned up several definitions of sprawl, all centered around the idea that if it is low density or you have to have a car, it is sprawl. Additional criteria included: located away from employment zones, lack of centralized planning, lack of centralized land use control, not within walking distance of retail.
The problem with most of these definitions are that they do not stand up to the fact that sprawl started as early as ancient Rome according to Bruegmann’s “Sprawl, A Compact History”. The common characteristics seem to be low density, large lots, away from the high density core.
Armed with this definition, I went in search of sprawl. Surprisingly, I didn’t even have to go to Hillsboro or Beaverton – I found that the dreaded sprawl exists right here in Portland! Where? Dunthorpe!
See if you agree – pictures posted at
http://www.debunkingportland.com/Smart/sprawl/sprawl.htm

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