When Marc Heilson saw the Sierra Club's rankings of the cities most afflicted by suburban sprawl, the Salt Lake City member called the national office and demanded, "How could you do this to us?" reports the Salt Lake Tribune. He was upset because The Dark Side of the American Dream: The Costs and Consequences of Suburban Sprawl failed to include Salt Lake and many seemingly deserving Western cities. Only Seattle, Las Vegas and Denver made the list of cities most threatened by sprawl, while San Diego, Los Angeles and Phoenix come in for "dishonorable mentions." The report details how uncontrolled growth swallows up wild and rural land while draining resources from cities. It also suggests strategies for halting sprawl, from drawing urban growth boundaries to encouraging cluster developments and investing public money in older cities and towns. The Sierra Club's rankings snubbed Western cities because its calculations focused on people moving from a city's dense urban core to outer suburbs. But many of the West's worst sprawl offenders never developed a dense core, having sprawled since birth. Club officials say future editions of the report may use adjusted criteria or concentrate on all-sprawl cities.


For a free copy of the 29-page report, contact Larry Bohlen at the Sierra Club's Challenge to Sprawl Campaign, P.O. Box 1227, College Park, MD 20741 (301/445-1548), or www.sierraclub.org/transportation.


* Gabriel Ross