Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Population Vacuum

The Population Vacuum is a method by which major metro areas maintain affordability, efficiency at high population, and high living standards to “vacuum” up surrounding population growth. This limits urban sprawl and confines greater and greater numbers into as small an area as is feasible.


• Living must be affordable. A frequent reason for urban sprawl is the availability of large housing at prices that are in line with the average person OUTSIDE of already developed areas. Thus, people either in search of starter mansions or those merely in need of expanded housing for a new family have great incentives to look into virgin land. By ensuring large amounts of affordable, large housing in cities, and then making those cities eminently attractive, a metro area can act as a vacuum and attract those people and even cause a reduction in extant areas of sprawl.

• A city must be eminently attractive. It must match non-urban areas in as many aspects of attractiveness as it can. This will result in fewer people being driven to small towns. A drop in overall property taxes would result, but that should be offset with room to spare by taxes from the increased economic activity resulting from such population density. Areas to match as follows.

o Crime: A city must work hard to keep crime rates low. This does not mean more cops, it means better efficiency overall and finely targeted laws to reduce inefficiencies.

o Availability of nature: A city must not just have parks, it must be tightly integrated with parks. Gardens must be built into the overall design of buildings, blocks, and sections of the city. A 5/1 ratio of urban area to garden area is a target.

o Lack of pollution: Pollution must be a primary concern for city leaders. It must be kept under control at almost any cost.

o Elbow room: The design of the city must allow for “movement space,” or space in which an individual can move about without bumping into other people. This obviously applies to house size, but it must also be integrated into the side of streets, sidewalks, and general city layout. Sidewalks need not be actual sidewalks, but merely walkways that traverse the city. In a city of 10 million, walkways of 100 feet wide or more would be ideal.

o Noise: Perhaps the hardest area to match, noise must be kept under control without squelching the vibrancy of the city throughout the day and night. This could be achieved through heavy construction of underground roadways, walkways, and buildings. Separate the living areas from the noise-generating aspects of the city, the major perpetrator being traffic.

o Ease of automotive movement: Complex integration of major roadways and smaller transit lines to reduce the stop & go of city driving. Eliminate stop lights and intersections in favor of ramps and rotaries.
The city must also highlight, expand, and nurture the many aspects of a city that rural areas cannot match. These are as follows.

o 24/7: A city of sufficient population can remain active 24 hours per day. This allows for restaurants, entertainment, and destinations at any time. A city must foment this sort of behavior and stimulate activity at all times.

o Variety: A city is a complex mess of things. A city must encourage this variety and diversity through aggressive immigration campaigns from other cultures, encouragement of small business, and facilitation of mixing between areas of the city and different groups.

o Support: A strong system of governmental support is possible within a condensed population. Transportation, medicine, education, and economic support are all superior to rural areas.

Ideal Sufficiency: A city must strive to be self sufficient in as many ways as possible. This increases efficiency by streamlining supply routes and reducing travel times. Prime candidates for self-sufficient industry are agriculture through gardens and hydroponics, and power through solar, wind, and if coastal, tidal power generation. Nuclear power is also a viable option but less ideal than the totally non-polluting forms.

Over-stimulation: A city must have areas of quiet rest. Less-populated areas of the city without major structures with a substantially smaller degree of stimulation.

Under-capacity: A city must always keep its population under the capacity of the city’s infrastructure. If it doesn’t the vacuum will suck up surrounding populations, pressurize them, and then eject them back into rural areas and actually encourage urban sprawl. If the population exceeds capacity *cough*LONDON*cough*, all of the previously listed things that make rural areas attractive will deteriorate within the city and efficiency will dive.

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