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GWIPP Research: Planning, Growth Management, and Sprawl


Title: Using Market Analysis of Home Values to Measure the Economic and Fiscal Effects of Multi-Use Trails

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Researcher(s): Garry Young, Andrea Sarzynski, Joe Cordes, Hal Wolman, and Jeremy Larrieu

Start Date: January 2010

Status: Current

Category: Housing Policy,

Summary: Multi-use trails encourage and facilitate physical activity among all age groups. Their separation from motorized traffic makes them especially attractive for families with children.  One concrete way to evaluate the economic benefit of trails to a community is to measure their impact on housing values. Does the presence of a trail affect housing prices? Does ease of access to a trail affect housing prices? In this proposed study we will estimate the economic impact of trail presence and access on housing values in Montgomery County, Maryland.  In addition, the study will use its findings to calculate the impact of property tax revenues produced by the trails and compare those values with the construction and maintenance costs of the trails borne by the Montgomery County government.


Title: Promoting Bicycling in Three Metropolitan Washington Counties

Funding: Active Living Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Researcher(s): Royce Hanson and Garry Young

Start Date:

Status: Completed

Summary:
There is increasing evidence that the built environment of communities can inhibit or enhance activity levels among all age groups. A key aspect of the built environment is provision of facilities and opportunities for bicycling, which has long been recognized as an activity with important health benefits. Yet the quality of bicycling facilities varies dramatically from community to community as some communities have recently developed high quality bicycling assets while other communities demonstrate very little progress in this regard. The cause of this variance remains unstudied.

This project consists of comparative case studies of policy changes in three counties of Metropolitan Washington-Arlington (VA), Fairfax (VA), and Montgomery (MD)-that have resulted in significantly different levels of bicycling facilities in each county despite a common metropolitan environment and many shared characteristics among the three counties. The study will explain how significant differences in the county policies evolved, why different policy tools were chosen, and the consequences of those choices.


Title: Urban Sprawl: Causes, Consequences and Policy Responses

Funding: The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Researcher(s): Gregory D. Squires (GWIPP)

Start Date:

Status: Completed

Summary: This grant funded the production of an edited book, Urban Sprawl: Causes, Consequences and Policy Responses published by the Urban Institute Press.


Title: Ranking Areas by Dimensions of Sprawl

Researcher(s): Hal Wolman, Royce Hanson, George Galster (Wayne State), Michael Ratcliffe (US Census Bureau), and Jackie Cutsinger (Wayne State)

Funding: U.S. Geological Survey

Start Date:

Status: Completed

Summary: The project measured sprawl on seven dimensions for a sample of 50 of the largest US Extended Urban Areas. It then applied factor analysis to derive a set of factors combining the dimensions and calculated the “sprawl” scores for each of the 50 areas for each of the factors. A paper, “Verifying Sprawl’s Distinct Dimensions,” was presented at the 2004 meeting of the Urban Affairs Association, Washington, DC, on April 2, 2004.

Product:

"Verifying Sprawl’s Distinct Dimensions,” presented at the 2004 meeting of the Urban Affairs Association, Washington, DC, on April 2, 2004.


Title: Managing Growth and Workforce Housing in Edge Counties

Funding: Fannie Mae Foundation

Start Date: June 2002

Category: Planning, Growth Management, and Sprawl

Status: Completed

Summary: Researcher(s) completed detailed interviews with the primary policy officials responsible for growth management and affordable workforce housing in 37 of the fastest growing counties, including county managers, county executives, and chief county planners. Conversations with these officials show that much of their work continues to occur within planning tools and laws developed before rapid growth began, and that this situation increases their work load and reduces their capacity to respond in a comprehensive and strategic manner. These rapidly growing areas – with an onslaught of governance, fiscal and commercial decisions on land use – overtake the available community resources able to be devoted to handling growth and ensuring adequate housing supply. While factors such as sufficient amounts of developable land clearly deflate the immediate magnitude of growth and housing problems, the few counties with cohesive urban management plans better deploy resources and prepare for their fast-growth future.

Product:

Atkins, Patricia. Managing Growth and Workforce Housing in Edge Counties: Findings of Fannie Mae Foundation Edge County Interviews. Conducted by Patricia Atkins, Jessica Jordan. and Hal Wolman. November 11, 2003.


Title: Improving the Measurement of Sprawl

Funding: U.S. Geological Survey

Researcher(s): Hal Wolman, Royce Hanson, Kimberly Furdell, and Andrea Sarzynski, George Galster (Wayne State), and Mike Ratcliffe (Census Bureau).

Start Date:

Status: Completed

Summary: Current efforts to measure sprawl suffer from two serious problems. First, neither the Urbanized Area nor the Metropolitan Statistical Area are appropriate areas for assessing sprawl; the first underbounds the area over which sprawl might occur and the second overbounds it. The project developed and provided means of measuring an Extended Urban Area (EUA) as a more appropriate unit of geography for measuring sprawl. Second, most measures of sprawl include all land in the area (including bodies of water), regardless of whether the land is developable. Using satellite imagery from the USGS National land cover Data Base, the project calculated sprawl measures after excluding developable land and compared these measures for several EUAs to the same measures including all land. Important differences were found on some dimensions. An article based on this, “The Fundamental Should be Considered,” is forthcoming in Professional Geographer.


Title: Defining and Measuring Sprawl

Funding: Fannie Mae Foundation

Researcher(s): Hal Wolman, Royce Hanson, George Galster (Wayne State), and Michael Ratcliffe (US Census Bureau)

Start Date: January 2001

Status: Completed

Category: Planning, Growth Management, and Sprawl

Summary: This project reviewed the literature on sprawl and concluded that it was a poorly defined and ambiguous concept. It then defined sprawl conceptually and operationalized it as seven patterns of land use, each of which consisted of a continuum ranging from very sprawl-like to very unsprawl-like. Each of these dimensions was then operationalized so that it could be calculated for urbanized areas. As an illustration, calculations on each of the dimensions were made for 13 urbanized areas and a standardized sprawl score was calculated for each.

Product:

Galster, G., Hanson, R., Ratcliffe, M., Wolman, H. Published in Housing Policy Debate: “Wrestling Sprawl to the Ground: Defining and Measuring an Elusive Concept." 2001, v. 12 #4.