Urban development is the planning and process by which metropolitan areas grow. Problems in urban development usually address topics such as city planning, urban decay, the effect of urban development on ecosystems, the sociological consequences of urban development and economic problems relating to all of these factors. By studying these issues, researchers seek to better understand the conditions under which cities prosper and suggests policies by which positive urban development can occur.
As population growth occurs, the need for housing increases. This can have a variety of effects on developing urban communities. In particular, it can result in urban sprawl, which occurs when urban areas begin to spread out and overrun undeveloped or rural communities. Additionally, if population grows in a city that has a large disparity in wealth, unequal living conditions tend to arise and as a result, poorer individuals are often forced to move into slums or other areas where housing conditions are substandard.
Urban sprawl occurs when urban or suburban areas with lower population densities overrun rural areas. Urban planners point out that areas characterized by sprawl make minimal use of land and are usually lacking in public transportation. Urban sprawl also tends to result in troubling environmental issues because those who live in suburbs tend to produce more pollution. Also, urban sprawl can threaten or virtually destroy natural ecosystems.
Urban Decay and Gentrification
Urban decay is when an urban area falls into disorder and disrepair, and is usually accompanied by growing levels of unemployment, poverty, crime and political marginalization. It is also usually characterized by depopulation, abandoned or condemned buildings, and poor access to social services. Urban planners usually seek to offset urban decay through gentrification, whereby wealthier citizens are urged to buy property and invest in poorer neighborhoods under the assumption that it will help improve conditions for all in the area. However, some gentrification efforts have been criticized for running poorer people out of the area.
As cities grow and gaps in wealth disparity widen, economic problems arise. One such issue is the separation of the wealthy and the poor in urban areas as a result of unequal access to economic opportunities, resulting in the creation of slums. Slums are usually characterized by slack economic activity and a lack of opportunity for residents. When wealthier people and business move out of such areas because of declining property values, it exacerbates the problems within slums, often trapping residents in a cycle of poverty. Policies that promote commercial development within slums can help to alleviate these problems.
Safety and Sanitation
Sanitation is a big issue for all urban areas because having lots of people living in close proximity can lead to the spread of disease. Additionally, crime levels can rise along with population density. To combat these, public services such as street sweeping or garbage collection are the most common and basic things implemented, along with heightened police presence. Steps that are often taken include improving education throughout urban areas, which helps push down crime levels and promotes simple personal sanitation measures.
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