Governing the Fragmented Metropolis





Governing the Fragmented Metropolis

The article highlights the fragmented nature of the metropolitan areas in the country. This feature differentiates the American urban pattern with the rest of the developed westernized countries. The article notes that other countries have fewer suburbs, and they focus more on the cities. Practice of land control is prevalent in such countries. In addition, there is regional and national control in the urban areas of other westernized countries. This differs from the situation in the US, where there are many suburbs, which are controlled by local governments. The people value their autonomy, and they have resisted regional and national control. The local governments provide many services needed in the urban areas. Such governments include municipalities and special districts. The article points out that the extreme fragmentation in American urban areas has made it more challenging to find regional solutions as people are more concerned about solving their local problems.

The article notes that the sprawled metropolis has caused many problems, which include reduction of farmland, traffic congestion, increase in transport prices, air and water pollution, and loss of open space. It notes that, despite the challenges, sprawl is likely to remain due to the fixed nature of the geographic structures and the local government’s decision to guard their powers. The suburbs have ceased to be sole residential areas, and they now consist of different activities and this has led to the development of new urban patterns. The article notes that some suburbs have grown more than their anchor cities. Some have increased populations, and their population exceeds 100,000. They have a mixture of retail activities including residential, retail, commercial, and recreational. Such areas are characterized by their diverse populations, lack of tall buildings, and presence of office parks. In addition, they favor cars over pedestrian, which is evident by their transport infrastructure, and people do their shopping in mall clusters and strip malls.

Sprawl is rare in areas where there is land scarcity such as Europe and Asia. The US continues experiencing sprawl even in areas where there is slow growth. This is because of the increasing number of smaller families who require more dwellings, more interest in large homes, and more movement towards lower-density neighborhoods. Since the 1970s, communities have taken different initiatives to control growth in their neighborhoods in an attempt to control sprawl. Sprawl is a local issue and it rarely receives national attention. The article notes that over the years, people have tried to control sprawl in different ways, and this has led to the development of movements such as the new regionalism, metropolitan government, the new urbanism, and smart growth.

The metropolitan government highlights the importance of having one governing body in a jurisdiction, which will provide the services, facilities, controls, and guidance. Many people have rejected the idea of a metropolitan government because they want to assume local control. People see themselves as part of a city or town, instead of considering the wider region. However, some urban areas use the county governments in the provision of some of the most vital services that the local municipalities are not able to provide. Other local areas have made agreements to share services as a way of reducing costs.

The new regionalism focuses on finding ways to enable the prosperity of the metropolitan regions. It calls for the reduction of inequalities, which exist between local governments within the suburban jurisdiction. It highlights the importance of tax sharing, good effective land use, and the cooperation of local governments in the provision of services as a way of reducing competition. The adoption of new regionalism in many areas is hindered by the fact that most people love the independence they have when making decisions, and incorporating some of the proposed measures would take away some of that autonomy.

Many groups support the idea of smart growth as a way of controlling growth. Planned development allows for growth yet at the same time ensures the protection of other identified areas. This movement adopts strategies such as improved transportation, local growth controls, improved design and architecture, preservation of open spaces, and environmental planning. Some of the people who support the smart growth movement see it as a way of controlling sprawl and preventing development in their regions. This has led to cases of segregation, where some communities are using it as a way of preventing poor people from moving in their neighborhoods.

Better urban design and architecture are necessary for reducing the worst effects of sprawl by building healthy neighborhoods and communities. Advocates of new urbanism propose that such measures will reduce people’s movements from one suburb to the next as they look for the best place to live. The current design favors automobiles in place of human beings. Thus, people spend more time on the highways instead of spending it with others and building their communities. Proponents of the movement favor diversity in house and building design and land uses that accounts for the different cultures, incomes and family sizes.


1. How do you convince the other members to adopt the initiatives that you support?

2. What do you do when you face opposition from the other council members concerning a proposal, yet you believe that it is the only practical way of solving the existing problem?

3. What do you do where there is a standoff among the council members concerning certain proposals?

4. How do you maintain your principles and ethics in light of political influence that would require you to compromise your beliefs?

5. What do you do when the council does not have enough money in its budget?

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