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urban study guid

urban study guid

First Midterm Exam Study Guide


You must answer each of the following by drawing on examples and concepts from the readings and lectures to support your answers. Purely hypothetical discussions will NOT be accepted.


  1. Anthony Downs presents ten traits of suburban sprawl.  Discuss the positive and negative impacts of each trait.


  1. Downs argues that building new highly visible infrastructures is more desirable by public agencies rather than renovating the older ones. Why this is the case?



  1. Downs writes, “The second set of problems affects mainly big cities, inner-ring suburbs, and a few outer-ring suburbs. These problems arise because suburban sprawl concentrates poor households, especially poor minority households, in certain high-poverty neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods then suffer from high crime rates, poor-quality public schools, other poor-quality public services, and fiscal resources that are inadequate for the services needed…”. Why are fiscal resources inadequate for these particular urban centers, and what should be done to resolve the issue?


  1. “And many outer-ring suburbs with low commercial tax bases but a lot of relatively low-cost housing have inadequate taxable resources to pay for decent schools and other services, so they have high tax rates and poor services.” Why does having a low commercial rate impact the viability of services in mainly low-cost housing areas?



  1. Downs discusses specific anti-sprawl tactics. What are these tactics? Do you think is it possible for us to implement the first tactic in a market oriented society such as ours?
    1. Does our political system allow for unilateral decisions by bureaucrats, technocrats and career politicians?
    2. If politically feasible, can planning agencies limit growth/sprawl through zoning ordinances?


6.      The third tactic recommended by Anthony Downs is, “The third tactic is some form of regional tax-base sharing, with all additions to commercial and industrial tax bases shared among all communities in the region, not just captured by the places where those developments are built. Such tax-base sharing would reduce fiscal disparities among local governments and thereby provide more equal opportunities for citizens across the entire area.” What is California’s current tax base structure?


7.      Coughlin starts his article with the depiction of an economic model where individuals in the process of maximizing their own self-interest undermine the overall economic benefits of the rest of the society.  Do you think this is a good depiction of our society today?  What steps should be taken in order to resolve some of these issues?  By using Harding’s model of the tragedy of the commons, how do you explain our traffic congestion today?


8.      Coughlin discusses two models of policy strategies for managing traffic congestion – supply-side management versus demand-side management.  Describe each model as they apply to this topic.


9.      Proponents of demand-side management seek to change individual behavior.  Discuss the various tools or strategies for changing individual behavior when it comes to traffic.


10.  Wildavsky discusses that “planning is the attempt to control the consequences of our actions. The more consequences we control, the more we have succeeded in planning. To use somewhat different language, planning is the ability to control the future by current acts” Do you think can we control the future of our cities through planning? Why planning is so complicated and difficult to control city design?


11.  What were some of the major technological and organizational factors that contributed to the development of cities in the United States? Why did so little world urbanization occur before 1800? What were some of the major functions of the early cities? Why did they often appear in river valleys?


12.  What were some of the major technological and organizational factors that produced the urban-industrial city? Why did creation of specialization or the factory system was crucial to the massive urbanization that began to occur?


13.  During the lectures, I described some of the major ways that urbanization in the United States has changed in the past 200 years. In other words, some of the major changes in the nature of urban settlement were described. What are some of these changes, and when did they begin to occur on a major basis? Be able to define what is meant by the various changes.


14.  In class we discussed 6 factors behind urban growth in the United States. Describe each and provide examples. What role did industrial revolution play in development of the cities?


15.  Three major issues dominate the history of urban housing: tenure, cost and quality. Describe each.


16.  The Great Depression lead to the creation of the New Deal policies. Describe how the creation of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in 1935 and the National Defense Highway Act in 1956 played a role in the expansion of cities and creation of suburbs.


17.  Describe Levy’s five styles of planning.



18.  Describe Levy’s eight goals of comprehensive planning. 

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