SPRAWL CITY: RACE, POLITICS, AND PLANNING IN ATLANTA (Island Press, May 2000, ISBN: 1559637900) by Robert D. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson,
and Angel O. Torres
A serious but often overlooked impact of the random, unplanned growth --commonly known as "sprawl" -- that has come to dominate the American landscape is its effect on economic and racial polarization. Sprawl-fueled growth pushes people further apart geographically, politically, economically, and socially. Atlanta, Georgia is experiencing one of the most severe cases of sprawl in the country, and offers a striking example of sprawl-induced stratification.
SPRAWL CITY uses a multi-disciplinary approach to analyze and critique the emerging crisis resulting from urban sprawl in the ten-county Atlanta metropolitan region. Local experts including sociologists, lawyers, urban planners, economists, educators, and health care professionals consider sprawl-related concerns as core environmental justice and civil rights issues. All of the contributors examine institutional constraint issues that are embedded in urban sprawl, considering how government policies, including housing, education, and transportation policies, have aided and in some cases subsidized separate but unequal economic development, segregated neighborhoods, and spatial layout of central cities and suburbs.
Contributors offer analysis of the causes and consequences of urban sprawl, and outline policy recommendations and an action agenda for coping with sprawl-related problems, both in Atlanta and around the country.
The book illuminates the rising class and racial divisions underlying uneven growth and development, and provides an important source of information for anyone concerned with these issues, including the growing environmental justice movement as well as planners, policy analysts, public officials, community leaders, and students of public policy, geography, planning, and related disciplines.
Editors: Robert Bullard is the Ware Professor of Sociology and director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. He is author of eight books including DUMPING IN DIXIE (Westview Press, 2000) and JUST TRANSPORTATION (New Society Publishers, 1997). Glenn Johnson is assistant professor in the department of sociology, and research associate in the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. Angel Torres is a GIS specialist with the Environmental Justice Resource Center. To order from Island Press click here.
Why study urban sprawl? First, sprawl affects every aspect of our lives and daily routine. Sprawl affects the quality of life where people live, work, play, shop, and go to school. Second, sprawl affects our health---physical and mental health. Third, sprawl intensifies economic and racial polarization. The American society has never been classless or color blind. Both race and class have always mattered in shaping the complexion of our cities, suburbs, and rural areas.
Government policies, including housing, education and transportation policies, have aided and in some cases subsidized separate and unequal economic development, segregated neighborhoods, and spatial layout of the nation's central cities and suburbs. Sprawl-fueled growth is pushing people further and further apart geographically, politically, economically, and socially. African Americans and other people of color are largely resigned to economically depressed and deteriorating central cities not by choice or by chance. This is the case even as economic activity centers and jobs move away from cities.
Road, highways, freeways, mass transit systems, malls, and strip centers do not spring up out of thin air. They are planned. In some cases, the planning is not very good. Nevertheless, someone makes a conscious decision to locate these developments. Conversely, someone makes a conscious decision not to invest in or site a development in a specific location. Zoning and other exclusionary practices systematically limit the mobility of poor people and people of color who are concentrated in central cities. Pollution from automobiles clog more than highways. Air pollution from cars is contributing to the asthma epidemic in most urban areas.
Grassroots community groups all over the country are now banding together to address urban problems that are worsened by sprawl. Many of these grassroots groups do not work exclusively on sprawl issues. Some groups do not see themselves as environmentalists. This emerging new leadership base is defining urban transportation, air quality, health, economic investments, and sprawl-related concerns as core environmental justice and civil rights issues. They are not just talking, they are also taking action.
Urban sprawl cuts across political jurisdictions and has unintended consequences that are not randomly distributed. It will take a host of public players to arrest sprawl---including city, county, regional, state, and federal government players. Sprawl fuels urban disinvestment, depresses property values, stagnates business opportunities in central cities, and exacerbates environmental problems. Public tax dollars subsidize central city infrastructure decline, deterioration of services, limited home and business ownership opportunities, and out migration of middle-income residents and businesses. Since sprawl cuts across jurisdictional boundaries, everyone has a stake in seeing that this problem is favorably resolved.
This book uses a multi-disciplinary approach to analyze and critique the emerging crisis resulting from urban sprawl in the ten-county Atlanta metropolitan region. Our analysis illuminates the rising class and racial divisions underlying the uneven growth and development in the region. The Atlanta region has become the poster child for sprawl. Hardly a day passes without some reference to this problem. Local and national media have featured the region's sprawl problem. Even Atlanta business leaders' alarms were sounded when the region was tagged the "new Los Angeles." Nevertheless, most of the reports on the topic gloss over or minimize the social equity implications of Atlanta's sprawl problem. Atlanta's history is steeped in racial politics. Both race and class are intricately linked to the Atlanta's sprawl dilemma. Every public policy decision made in the region operated under this backdrop. It has been difficult to erase this legacy.
Some decisions in education, housing, lending, transportation, and environment actually exacerbated racial segregation, economic disinvestment, abandonment, uneven development, infrastructure decline, environmental degradation, and subsidized sprawl. Atlanta's regional growth policies are implicated in land-use patterns and unhealthy air that lowers everyone's quality of life. Clearly, addressing urban sprawl must be elevated to a top priority.
The contributors to include sociologists, lawyers, urban planners, economists, educators, and health care professionals. All of the authors examined institutional constraint issues that are imbedded in urban sprawl. The chapters are written in a non-technical readable style that should be useful to policy analysts, government officials, community leaders, and other individuals working on urban and minority issues.
Among the topics examined include environmental consequences of sprawl, fair housing, residential patterns, racial polarization, economic opportunity, community development, transportation, energy consumption, public health, and schools. The book is directed at urban planners, practitioners, public officials, community leaders who are interested in understanding urban sprawl from a holistic perspective.
Robert D. Bullard
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Anatomy of Sprawl
Robert D. Bullard, Clark Atlanta University
Chapter 1. Environmental Costs and Consequences of Sprawl
Robert D. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson, and Angel O. Torres, Clark Atlanta University
Chapter 2. Dismantling Transportation Apartheid
Robert D. Bullard, Glenn S. Johnson, and Angel O. Torres, Clark Atlanta University
Chapter 3. Impact of Building Roads to Everywhere
James Chapman, Georgians for Transportation Alternatives
Chapter 4. Closed Doors: Persistent Barriers to Fair Housing
Angel O. Torres, Robert D. Bullard, and Chad G. Johnson, Clark Atlanta University
Chapter 5. The Legacy of Residential Segregation
Charles Jaret, Elizabeth P. Ruddiman, and Kurt Phillips, Georgia State University
Chapter 6. Widening Educational Gap
Russell W. Irvine, Georgia State University
Chapter 7. Urban Sprawl and Legal Reform
William W. Buzbee, Emory University
Chapter 8. Energy Use and Consumption Behavior
Dennis Creech and Natalie Brown, Southface Energy Institute
Chapter 9. Conclusion: Facing the Challenges Ahead
Robert D. Bullard, Clark Atlanta University
About the Book Contributors
Natalie Brown, is a research fellow at the Southface Energy Institute. Her primary areas of interest are sustainable community development, environmental quality, and public outreach. Prior to joining Southface, Ms. Brown attended Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs where she earned her M.P.H. in Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management.
Robert D. Bullard, is the Ware Professor of Sociology and Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. He is the author of nine books that address urban land use, transportation, housing, economic development, and environmental policy. His book, Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality (Westview Press, 2000), is a standard text in the environmental justice field. His most recent book, co-edited with Glenn S. Johnson, is entitled Just Transportation: Dismantling Race and Class Barriers to Mobility (New Society Publishers, 1997) addresses transportation and civil rights.
William W. Buzbee, is an associate professor of law at Emory University. Prior to joining the faculty at Emory, he practiced law in New York with the firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler doing environmental and litigation work. He teaches environmental law, administrative law, property, and seminars on advanced environmental law issues, urban environmental law, and regulatory reform. Professor Buzbee has published articles on environmental law and administrative law topics.
James Chapman, has been executive director of Georgians for Transportation Alternatives (GTA) since March of 1996. Prior to working for GTA, Chapman was transportation policy analyst for two years for Campaign for a Prosperous Georgia. Chapman has a M.S. in transportation engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Rochester, New York. Chapman is an Atlanta Bicycle Campaign board member, and a daily bicycle commuter.
Dennis Creech, is the founder of the Southface Energy Institute, a private nonprofit organization conducting education and research in energy, sustainable technologies, and applied building sciences. He has served as Executive Director for over 20 years. He is a nationally recognized leader in the fields of energy efficiency and sustainable buildings and serves on the board of directors of the Energy Efficient Building Association.
Russell W. Irvine, is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at Georgia State University. He holds a doctorate degree from Case Western Reserve University and his specialty is sociology of education. His areas of research have been public school desegregation, the Afrocentric movement in education, and post-modernism and post-structuralism and its implication for educational research and analysis.
Charles Jaret, is an associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University and specializes in race/ethnic relations and urban sociology. Recent publications and projects include Contemporary Racial and Ethnic Relations, articles on changing urban structure and economic inequality, homelessness, and the importance of ethnic identity among American Indians, whites, blacks, and multiracial, and attitudes towards racial/ethnic humor.
Chad G. Johnson, received his B.A. degree from Morehouse College. Currently, he is the Information Specialist and web site developer at the Environmental Justice Resource Center at Clark Atlanta University. His duties include creating, editing, and managing the EJRC website content and layout materials.
Glenn S. Johnson, is a research associate in the Environmental Justice Resource Center and Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Clark Atlanta University. He coordinates several major research activities including transportation, urban sprawl, public involvement, facility siting, and toxics. He has worked on environmental policy issues for eight years and assisted R.D. Bullard in the research for the book Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality (1994). He is the co-editor of a book entitled Just Transportation: Dismantling Race and Class Barriers to Mobility (1997).
Kurt Phillips, is a M.A. student in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University, with interests in urban affairs and housing. He has many years of experience teaching in DeKalb County public schools and is an avid bicycle rider.
Elizabeth P. Ruddiman, is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University, with interests in studying urban affairs and race relations. She is employed by the DeKalb County Board of Health, where she is in charge of information and volunteer service.
Angel O. Torres, is the Geographical Information Systems/TRI Training Specialist with the Environmental Justice Resource Center and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at Clark Atlanta University. He holds a Masters in City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He manages the Center's GIS and Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) activities and is primarily responsible for mapping, demographic analysis, environmental analysis, transportation planning, and location/site analysis.