Find 15 minutes. Watch this:
That's Charles Marohn from Strong Towns Blog. His words should strike a chord, especially for those of us here in Little Rock who just passed a $500 million sales tax package in order to pay for critical services and infrastructure that have to cover a city that's physically bigger than the land areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn combined. We only have about 5% of the two boroughs' population though to share the load.
For comparison's sake, Groningen (the "World Cycling City") in the Netherlands has about the same population as Little Rock but only takes up about 1/4 of the land.
I definitely don't want to oversimplify things by saying density is the answer to all of our problems. I lived in the middle of Brooklyn for three years and much prefer the layout of things in the old part of Little Rock, thank you very much. But, it's ludicrous to think that we'll some how be able to keep spreading our roads, water pipes, fire stations, schools, hospitals, parks, etc, etc, etc. further and further afield and then expect to be able to afford to maintain them when they inevitably start crumbling some time in the not-too-distant future. We listened to the sprawl-boosters just 15 years ago and didn't charge any meaningful impact fees on Deltic Timber's Shinall houses because that type of growth was "going to pay for itself"... and now we see that those promises simply weren't true. Just imagine what the bill is going to be when all that infrastructure out there starts reaching the end of its life expectancy and we have something like 2 people per acre citywide to shoulder the load.