In Tom Condon’s opinion piece in the May 24, 2009, issue of the Hartford Courant (http://bit.ly/9fs0h), he points out that from 1970 to 2000, the population of the State of Connecticut increased by 12% while the amount of urbanized land increased by 102 percent. Across the USA during the 1990s, population increased by 17 percent and urbanized land increased by 47 percent.
While the Great Recession has slowed development dramatically, Condon notes that we are going to need substantial new development between 2010 and 2050 to accomodate a population that is likely to grow from about 310 to around 440 million, maybe more. So, we are looking at something on the order of a forty percent increase in population over forty years.
Dispersing ourselves at the rate we did in the 1990s, would cause a doubling of urbanized land between 2010 and 2050. If we want to reduce land consumed for development, we must live more densely or compactly. And while density scares many people, some of the most desirable neighborhoods in the country are quite dense–often three to six times the density of typical current suburban residential densities which typically work out to about three dwellings per acre–often less.
Condon recommends a book that helps to distinguish between good density and bad density. The authors are planner Julie Campoli and photographer Alex MacLean. The tile of the book is a logical one–Visualizing Density. It was published in 2007 by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, based in Cambridge, MA.