CKCs: How to Fight Sprawl Without Disneyland Development

Is ”New Urbanism” the cure for urban sprawl? These places are architect-designed copies of 100-year-old city neighborhoods for the upscale buyer.

They feature small lots, gridiron streets, alleys, front porches, town squares, and Victorian architecture, creating a sort of Main Street Disneyland look.

A Third Choice

But our choice, says John Gann, is not between New Urbanism and sprawl. There’s a third choice with the advantages of the older neighborhoods New Urbanists slavishly copy but without the high costs and other drawbacks their concept involves.

Sprawl, he explains, just made everything--lots, streets, parking areas, and ornamental open spaces--bigger. But New Urbanist plans err by being steeped in an often unworkable aesthetic nostalgia.

A better bet than either, John says, is Close-Knit Community Planning, development that shrinks the present instead of trying to revive the past. It’s not style but scale.

Problems With "New Urban"

He illustrates the difficulties with New Urbanism with a real-world case study. He shows CKCs worked in the past and still work today.

As a remedy for sprawl, John judges New Urbanist trophy subdivisions too elite and inflexible to have much effect. The more democratized CKCs, he says, are more likely to make a difference.

John L. Gann, Jr., was trained and credentialled as and has practiced as a city planner. A consultant and trainer, he’s been the source of multiple new ideas on development.

Builders, planners, or home buyers will be challenged by and enjoy this colorful talk.

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