Californian Matt Jalbert has taken a stunning set of panoramic photos of California sprawl. My favorite is of this residential development in San Ramon. I cropped a tiny patch for the photo to the right, but it does not begin to do justice to Jalbert's photo.
People use "sprawl" to mean lots of different things. I suggest readers use the panoramic photo to self-administer a Rorschach test, a test to clarify your own definition: What makes this sprawl? (Or is it not?)
If you want to do it right, you have to assume you know nothing other than what's depicted within the four corners of the photo. That is, you don't know how far the development is from the nearest major employment center, or whether it's two miles or ten miles outside a major city. (Most Northern Californians know where San Ramon is, I imagine.)
So what makes it sprawl? Note it's not vulnerable to the "sprawl is sparse" criticism -- i.e., that suburban large-lot homes chew up excessive amounts of open space. This development is as dense, structurally, as an old Italian village. The houses take up almost all of the space of their lots, leaving tiny yards at best.
My take below the jump.
This is obviously a greenfield development at the fringe of an urban area. And although it might have bus service, I don't see any evidence it has access to transit. Some might call it sprawl for either of these reasons.
But I consider sprawl to be "pod" development, in which single-family is strictly separated from multi-family, and both are strictly separated from commercial and office space. Sprawl is the dis-integration of uses. It is the opposite of urbanism.
This development fits my definition. Single-family homes every where the eye can see . . . except at the far right edge, where you can see some apartment complexes under construction, suitably buffered from the single-family homes. And, of course, there does not appear to be a single store, shop or commercial establishment anywhere nearby. This is the quintessential pod. (I must say, though, it is more interesting visually than most pods built today.)