When it comes to American development over the past half century, suburban sprawl is the issue. Unlike the efficiency that comes with urban construction, suburban planning to date is an expansive practice that spreads habitation out across virgin, natural land to carve it up with fences, utilities and roads. It is easy to lose sight of how much land we occupy in the United States vs. how much there is vs. how much we really need. Suburban development has lead us to stretch across the country covering vastly more space than we need to.
There are an estimated 115 million households in the United States. Let us assume that we gave every person a detached single-family home on a full acre of land all to themselves–most people in America cannot make such a boast. Without any multi-family buildings, no apartment complexes, no project housing; all of the homes in America would take up 179,688 square miles. The state of California is 163,696 square miles, nearly able to fit all of them taking up less than 5% of the total 3.8 million square miles in the country. While this does not include numerous amounts of other program and transportation, it also is granting most of the country more land than we have. After all, in New York City the average resident density is 42.8 people per acre and that is with one of the highest concentrations of commercial space in the world.
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