- Damages from sprawl include breaking up stretches of pristine habitats, wildlife impacts, and reductions in the abundance and diversity of bird species. Ground-level ozone is responsible $1 to $2 billion in reduced crop production per year.
- Exclusionary zoning (and rezoning) has been a subtle form of using government authority and power to foster and perpetuate discriminatory practices—including environmental planning. Exclusionary zoning has been used to zone against people rather than for something. However, expulsive zoning has pushed out residential uses and allowed dirty industries to invade communities.
- Students of color comprise a majority of the students enrolled in fifteen of the sixteen Sierra Club (1998) most sprawled-threatened large cities. These cities include Atlanta (93.2 percent), Saint Louis (81.6 percent), Washington, DC (95.5 percent), Cincinnati (74.3percent), Kansas City (83.1percent), Denver (78percent), Seattle (60percent), Minneapolis (67.9percent), Saint Paul (64.7percent), Fort Lauderdale (58.8percent), Chicago (90.4percent), Detroit (96.3percent), Baltimore (89.2percent), Cleveland (80.7percent), Tampa (48.2percent), and Dallas (92.2percent). The minority enrollment ranges from a low of 48.2 percent in Tampa-Hillsborough schools to 95.5 percent in Washington, DC, schools.
- Affluent and predominately white exurban communities attract most of the economic growth. Suburban communities with large black populations attract less growth and heavier social service burdens, which drives taxes higher. Black communities are discriminated against in the market for commercial investments and isolated from favored commercial markets.
- Sprawl development seems to be inefficient. For example, energy obtained from district networks of heat, cooling, and cogeneration are better served by clustered or more densely populated urban development than other forms such as sprawling, low-density development. Sprawling development patterns require expensive investments in sewer, water, and road extensions. Reduced travel times and improved jobs-to-housing balance are other benefits of smart growth for depressed urban communities.
Smart Growth & Equitable Development
Smart growth is linked to affordable housing shortages by critics because it increases housing values for minorities by restricting the available land, which does not account for discriminatory housing policies. On the other hand, sprawl development exacerbates school crowding, heightens the disparities between urban and suburban schools, accelerates urban infrastructure decline, concentrates poverty, creates a spatial mismatch between urban workers and suburban job centers, intensifies racial disparities, and negatively impacts public health. Other factors of noting are:
- People of color make up a sizable share of the population in sprawl threatened cities. For example, the percent people of color in the Sierra Club’s (1998) “top fifteen” sprawled-threatened large cities include: Atlanta (68.9%), St. Louis (49.0%), Washington, DC (70.4%), Cincinnati (39.5%), Kansas City (33.1%), Denver (27.8%), Seattle (24.6%), Minneapolis (21.5%), St. Paul (17.6%), Ft. Lauderdale (30.4%), Chicago (54.5%), Detroit (78.4%), Baltimore (60.9%), Cleveland (50.4%), Tampa (29.0%), and Dallas (44.6%).