April 18, 2008 Boomburbs Forum
Did you know that Mesa, Arizona is now larger than Miami or St. Louis? Or another suburb of Phoenix, Peoria, is now larger than Peoria IL? The population growth in America throughout the last few decades has largely occurred in the suburbs, or the “Boomburbs” according to Dr. Robert Lang. Lang was in Salt Lake City yesterday to present his research regarding the trend of boomburbs across the nation and the population growth of the west. Recently Lang’s book Boomburbs: The Rise of America’s Accidential Citieswas published by Brookings (I blogged about the book a year ago: here). Lang’s afternoon lecture at the U of U and evening forum at the SLC Library raised a number of important questions related to our growth here in Utah. A few issues were especially relevant:
- How does a city transition from it’s “cowboy” or country heritage to an urbanized environment? Meaning if we are going to add 1 million more residents to the Wasatch Front (by 2060 Salt Lake County is projected to be over 2 million in population) how will this increased density reshape our notion of community in the suburbs? We are beginning to see this already with sleepy suburban communities now growing to over 100,000 in population.
- How can cities incentivize significant economic development? How important is transportation infrastructure? Or a walkable space that residents enjoy? These are few issues addressed by Lang.
In addition to the presentation from Dr. Lang the evening forum also included the perspective of three panelists: Soren Simonson (Salt Lake City councilman), Rick Horst (South Jordan city manager) and Mike Coulam (Sandy City community development director). These three officials all contributed to an interesting discussion. Thanks again to Dr. Lang and our panelists (and KCPW for broadcasting the forum).
You can listen to the KCPW podcast here: Dr. Robert Lang Forum