superficial political wangling that heralds
fall elections in Virginia
is heating up. During
this period you will note an order-of-magnitude
jump in the propagation of statements
supporting the common myths that lead to
dysfunctional human settlement patterns.
Like pathogens which mutate and become
drug resistant, the fragments of thought that
support, reinforce and maintain debilitating
myths continue to evolve.
This is why it is essential to treat
the generation of sound bites and silly
statements that perpetuate myths just as the
medical profession attacks contagious viruses.
(See End Note
viruses that support debilitating myths
related to transport and land use are directly
responsible for individual and collective
(See End Note
Two.) These viruses infect informed
discussion of transport/land use relationships
and must be identified, labeled
and quarantined for what they are: bad
who can use them to avoid hard choices
speculators who hope to bail out of bad
who profit from scatteration of urban land
is a complex class of “entrepreneurs” (as
well as some institutions and agencies) who
profit or benefit in the short term
from myths that create dysfunctional human
settlement patterns and Geographic Illiteracy.
net result of continued propagation of
viruses that support spacial myths is that
citizens make bad location decisions.
That is because citizens do not yet
understand (nor do they directly pay for)
the individual and collective impact of
human settlement patterns is not rocket
science; It is much more complex.
Many factors complicate attempts by
citizens to achieve a working knowledge of the
causes and impacts of dysfunctional patterns
and densities of land use that impact their
of those factors are outlined in End
Lunacy–The Front Hook Issue
most common myths and the most virulent
viruses relate to transportation
infrastructure and the relationship between
human settlement patterns and transport
is because many citizens are feeling the pain
of dysfunctional transport as election time
most debilitating myth is: “Building more
roads without fundamental change is human
settlement patterns will improve mobility.”
While this myth in its pure form was at
one time widespread and pervasive, it is now
waning and that is why new strains of roadway
viruses are being propagated.
Rejection of the sales tax in the
northern part of
and in Hampton Roads two years ago suggest
that a majority of the voters “get it.”
one now hears from responsible
transportation practitioners is “we cannot
build our way out of congestion.”
See quotations from senior
Commonwealth transport officials in “The
transport professions have, however, not yet
been willing to state the reality of transport
facility/ congestion relationships publicly in
terms simple enough to destroy pandering
Without exception, those running for
reelection and most of those running for the
first time continue to say or imply that it is
possible to solve traffic congestion by just
building roadways (or railways).
confronted by someone who says “building
roadways will solve the mobility problem”
just ask them to provide data on one
prosperous New Urban Region in the United
States where building a new roadway (or
roadways) without fundamental change in
settlement patterns has, on a regional
basis, lowered total (or even average)
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), average trip
length, total hours of delay or average
travel time much less decreased the distance
between homes/workers and jobs/services.
these measures of dysfunction are going up
faster than the number of drivers or the
number of vehicles in every region for which
comprehensive data has been published.
The only thing that has reduced any of
these measures of congestion in large,
prosperous regions in the Untied States is a
change in settlement patterns or the impact of
congestion which forces single-occupant,
private-vehicle drivers to change their
you doubt this, check the data on urban
congestion in the 68 largest New Urban Regions
in the sources cited in “Spinning
Data, Spinning Wheels,” Sept 20, 2004.
affliction closely related to More Roadways
Virus is: “Raising money for transport
facilities without commitment for functional
and transportable patterns of land use will
can use Antidote One above for the More Money
is Enough Virus as well at the More Roadways
information on the taxonomy of these and
related transport/land use myths see the
material cited in End Note 3 of “Gimme
Shelter,” April 25, 2005.
The Propagation of New Roadway Viruses
including those deluded by fantasies such as
making money by scattering “affordable”
housing on farmettes across the Countryside,
have developed related stains of the More
Roadways and More Money is Enough viruses.
sample virus reads like this: Travel
congestion occurs in built up areas where
new roadways are hard and/or very expensive
to construct, so it would be wise to build
roads in areas where there is vacant land.
is really just a rehash of the More Roadways
theme song of roadway advocates but when it
comes from earnest bloggers and
letter-to-the-editor writers it sounds less
like propaganda and more like an idea worth
the most dangerous sort of virus; a Trojan
simplistic foolishness of “radial expansion
makes regional mobility less expensive” (or
even possible) in any large or
prosperous region flies in the face of both
the market and physics.
It is a sure sign of advanced
the radial expansion advocate take a trip to
large, or prosperous New Urban Region in the
Untied States where a version of “spreading
out” to solve the urban mobility dysfunction
has been attempted has experienced
scatteration of urban land uses (especially
dysfunctional distribution of urban dwellings)
and rapidly escalation of mobility
favorite sub-theme is to pretend that
congestion in lower density areas is somehow
different because it is “sub”urban or even
Houston New Urban Region is a good example
where the measures of congestion noted in
Antidote One are worsening at a robust rate in
spite of 40 years of massive roadway
End Note Four.)
in oil-rich, road-happy Texas, road boosters have no idea where the money
will come from to build promised
Texas politicians are now seeking cover provided by
touting “Big Ideas”– like starting over
with a whole new super roadway system.
Crime,” Feb. 28, 2005. They are now building a shared-vehicle
(“light rail”) system in the Houston New
Urban Region but the settlement pattern is
already so disaggregated by roadways and the
promise of even more future roadways that it
is hard to make any form of shared-vehicle
are two basic realities about matching travel
demand with transport facility capacity that
can be used as Geographic Illiteracy virus
Antidotes if the roadway advocates are willing
to pay careful attention to the fundamentals
of trip generation:
Improving Mobility and Access Inside The Clear Edge. The
reason mobility improvements inside the Clear
Edge are expensive is that they have been
focused on trying to increase capacity instead
of cutting demand.
As documented in “Self
Delusion and Fraud,”
June 7, 2004, huge new roadway projects inside the Clear
Edge are self-defeating.
for transport facility capacity is reduced not
by building bigger roadways.
It is not done by
eliminating the need or desire for
is done by eliminating the need for vehicle
and by shifting vehicle trips from private
vehicles to shared vehicles.
one eliminates the ability to make a trip
(there is no way to access a place, good or
service) then the quality of life is lowered.
If a place, good or service is
available without a vehicle trip, then
the quality of life is improved.
This is not a abstract planning theory,
it is exactly what the market demonstrates to
be the preference of the vast majority of
settlement patterns that facilitate access
and mobility with a minimum of vehicle
trips and are served by efficient
shared-vehicle services are the most highly
valued in the marketplace.
More on this reality later.
Why Shared-Vehicle Systems Work. Shared-vehicle
system “work” not because all those who
live, work or seek services in the
shared-vehicle system station area use the
system for all their trip needs.
systems work because citizens in the
station-area use the system for some
high-value trips, but the majority of their
trips do not require any vehicle.
This is made possible by the pattern
and intensity of land uses in the station
further insight into shared-vehicle systems
see backgrounder “It
is Time to Fundamentally Rethink METRO and
Mobility in the National Capital Subregion,”
Realities,” Jan. 5 2004.)
this reality quashes the virus that well
designed station-area development increases
balanced station-area land uses and a balance
between shared-vehicle system capacity and
station area trip generation, intelligent
development creates more trips but reduces
vehicle trips, both shared-vehicle trips and
That is what Fundamental Change to
functional human settlement patterns is all
noted above, the market establishes a much
higher value for accessible places than places
where every trip must be a vehicle
disaggregated origins and destinations of
travel demand, every trip is a private vehicle
trip–-usually a single-occupant, private
cheap fuel this mode of travel is possible but
With fuel prices going up it will not
be possible for the majority to afford to
overcome locational dysfunction.
Commuting Problem,” Jan. 17, 2005.”
locational distribution of travel demand and
spacial reality is why a “small town” like
Greater Warrenton is so “convenient” if
one does not choose to commute to work or
travel long distances for goods or services.
This is why the vehicle trip demand in
a Balanced Community is greatly reduced.
The total vehicle travel reduction in
Balanced Communities as opposed to region-wide
scatteration is not 20, 40 or 60 percent, it
is far greater.
If the total cost of urban services
varies by a factor of 10 times and if
transport is a major cost, the creation of
Balanced Communities will have a profound
impact on travel demand.
The level of mobility improvement will
vary from community to community.
The Imperative of a Long-Term Strategy
is important to eradicate viruses concerning
land use and transportation relationships,
especially during the run-up to elections.
There is an even more critical reality.
The counterproductive “build roadways
in vacant land” and similar viruses do not
More important, they help perpetuate
the abandonment of places where it is feasible
to provide mobility and access at relatively
low cost. (See
Abandonment,” Sept. 8, 2003.)
More Roadways, More Money is Enough, and
Radial Expansion viruses give those who
crave simplistic solutions and short term
profit the excuse to not understand or even
give serious attention to real solutions.
is important to continue to fight the
propagation of viruses but so long as citizens
have fundamental misconceptions about the
nature of human settlement patterns they will
be vulnerable to new generations of viruses.
There is a need to fight fires but
citizens must build a fireproof (aka, virus
proof) understanding of the function of human
That requires an understanding of the
Understanding the Big Picture
“Big Picture” is not easy to convey.
Most citizens are stuck on the current
trajectory that leads to widening economic
disparity and eventual economic stagnation as
well as social conflict and environmental
very good demonstration of the ramifications
of the “Big Picture” can be understood
after a careful reading of Doug Koelemay’s
April 25, 2005
Bacon's Rebellion column “Competing
for the Creative Class.” There are many
important perspectives presented in the
completed, the reader is likely to say:
“Florida and Fuller are on the right on track.
Global, national and interregional
competition make it imperative to understand
the importance of these factors.
These ideas are important not just to
the northern part of Virginia
and to the Washington-Baltimore New Urban
Region but to the future of the
is a thoughtful reaction to what Koelemay
offers but it is not the whole story.
Let us go behind the numbers and see
what is really at play here.
We will use a number Koelemay quotes
from Professor Steve Fuller so everyone starts
on the same page.
It would be even more instructive to
use the entire Radius=20 Miles area in
(270,000 +/- acres that includes the City of Alexandria
and Arlington County). However, Koelemay cited numbers for
(250,000 acres), so we will go from there.
key number is one from Professor Fuller’s
model which shows a potential for 1,400,000
“More, Better Jobs” in
by 2030. We
might call this “Fuller’s Golden Future”
on Professor Richard Florida’s recent books,
Koelemay spells out why attracting these jobs
and the members of the Creative Class who will
fill many of them is important to the County,
the Subregion and the Commonwealth.
the numbers: Based
on 1,400,000 jobs, 1.5 jobs per dwelling, 2.5
persons per dwelling and Balanced Communities,
that means by 2030 there would be 930,000
dwellings and 2,300,000 residents in Fairfax
2000 there were 359,411 dwellings and 969,749
residents in Fairfax County. (See End
we talk about Fundamental Change, that
is what we are talking about.
These numbers may be startling but lets
see where they lead.
In the words of the Verizon
camera-phone pitchman, this is a “Mother’s
Day Miracle” because at 250,000 acres, the minimum
density of urban land uses in Balanced
Communities in Fairfax County is a population
we can have “Fuller’s Golden Future”
with great jobs and also get the density of
up to the point that will be attractive to the Creative Class,
as well as provide functional transport and
have space left over if Balanced
Communities evolve in the County. (See End
are 10 Beta Communities that fall within, or
largely within, Fairfax
the 5%/95% rule for intensive urban area
within the Clear Edge around the core of the
National Capital Subregion, this means there
is a need for 12,500 acres for the core
villages of the 10 Balanced Communities.
urban areas in Fairfax County totaling 12,500
acres passes the sniff test because there are
1,500 to 1,700 acres in the core of Greater
Tysons Corners (depending on where the lines
are drawn) with four planned METRO station
other Balanced Communities would be smaller so
12,500 acres is a good place to start.
A thumbnail sketch of greater Baileys
Cross Roads, Greater Reston and Greater
Fairfax Center confirm this estimate is
Balanced Communities would range from 150,000
to 300,000 citizens per community.
the good news does not end here.
It turns out that some of Fairfax
is already developed at higher
intensity than the minimum yard stick of 10
persons per acre at the community scale.
Higher intensity in some parts of 10
Balanced Communities means that perhaps one
can be reserved for open space–parks, real
farms and real forests. [See End
is now in dedicated open space but not nearly
a quarter of the County.
By creating open space, we are not
talking about Great Falls Fragment Farms (aka,
large urban lots) or Occoquan Fragment Forests
(aka, large urban lots).
These urban lots range from five to 100
acres and they could remain urban lots if the
owners pay their fair share of the full cost
of lawn-tractor farmettes and hedge-trimmer
So the bottom line is this:
only does Fairfax County have the space to
achieve Professor Fuller’s goal of
prosperity driven by “More, Better Jobs”
and have places for Professor Florida’s
Creative Class to live, shop and play but
there are many other benefits.
They include mobility, quality
services and affordable/accessible housing
in every Balanced Community and more open
space than now exists.
is still more good news.
There is no need for draconian controls
or high taxes to achieve these patterns and
densities of land use.
These settlement patterns can be
achieved by letting the market operate within
rational, democratically established
is because the Fuller and
ideal is what people want, contrary to what
you hear from the Business-As-Usual crowd who
who attended the recent Urban Land Institute
Real Estate Trends Conference heard
presentations by developers, academics and
researchers documenting that the patterns and
densities outlined above are just what from 70
to 80 percent of the market desires.
Some believe this is a recent shift in
market preference, others found the same
percentage distribution of housing types in
what citizens actually purchased from 1980 to
2000 in the National Capital Subregion if the
houses at unit and dooryard scale were
reconfigured into components of Balanced
Communities. (See End
Either way the mode of the market now
supports the direction suggested by Fuller and Florida.
there is growing recognition that functional
human settlement patterns and not scattered
urban houses are what citizens really dream
about as the place they want to live, work
and play, some will say that this form of
development is “too expensive.”
guessed it, that is another virus spread by
the Business-As-Usual crowd.
In a market economy when something is
"too expensive," the solution is to
build more of it.
It is clear that current examples of
functional settlement patterns are expensive
because buyers are willing to pay more, not
because it costs more to produce.
In fact it is cheaper per unit and per
square foot if costs were fairly allocated and
bureaucratic obstacles were removed.
This could be achieved if the evolution
of Balanced Communities were based on sound
regional, subregional, community, village and
Shape of Richmond’s Future,” Feb. 16,
The Right Strategy for the Region and the
is rational to conclude that the
Fuller/Florida strategy based on “More,
Better Jobs” and “Creative People” is
the best human settlement pattern rationale
for the Virginia
portion of the National Capital Subregion.
For that matter, it is probably the
best strategy to achieve economic prosperity
for the National Capital Subregion, the
Washington-Baltimore New Urban Region and for
distribution of land uses advocated by
necessary to accommodate Fuller’s “More,
Better Jobs” is consistent with the recent
Reality Check exercise and reflects the “Five
Critical Realities That Shape the Future,”
Dec. 15, 2003
key factor is that the majority of jobs are
now inside Radius=20 Miles.
That is where jobs are projected to be
in the future, based municipal projections and
the market for land and buildings in the core
of the National Capital Subregion and in the
cores of Greater Alexandria, Greater North
Arlington, Greater South Arlington, Greater
Baileys Crossroads, Greater Tysons Corner,
Greater Fairfax Center and Greater Reston.
the Jobs Are,” May 24, 2004
Fuller/Florida strategy is the only viable
road map on the table for the Subregion to
compete in the interregional, intracontinental
and global competition to attract and retain a
critical mass of members of the Creative
competition is with Boston NUR, New York NUR,
Puget Sound NUR, San Francisco Bay NUR and
Toronto NUR and, of course, the other
desirable places in the
. If the
National Capital Subregion loses this battle
then the subregion and the region starts a
long slide toward becoming Bangladesh
on the Potomac
(and on the James/Hampton Roads.)
strategies at the regional and subregional
scale are not just long term wishes, they are
what is needed to guide Fairfax
County’s current budget for economic development.
These plans would help those currently
looking at the shape of Greater Tysons
Corner’s future and at METRO station-area
land uses including those on the extension of
METRO to Washington
Dulles Airport. (See
to Dulles Realities,” Jan. 5, 2004.)
and the National Capital Subregion do not take
advantage of the opportunity to attract the
jobs and Creative Class workers to fill them,
this talent will move on.
They will continue to move on until
they run out of regions to try or run out of
gasoline to get there.
As noted in The Shape of the Future,
regions that want to prosper need to move
before they run out of resources to implement
Change is a far greater change from the
current trajectory than most assume.
This is why it is important to
understand the implications of the jobs
projection example outlined in Koelemay’s
column on Fairfax County. Business
As Usual will not get citizens to a functional
is not just “jobs” that are needed, it is
not just jobs for members of the Creative
Class that are necessary, it is Balanced
is not just the 10 Beta Communities that fall
mainly in Fairfax County that must evolve into
Balanced (Alpha) Communities but all 13 that
fall within Radius=20 Miles, including the
City of Alexandria
and Arlington County.
evolution of Balanced Communities cannot be a
beggar-thy-neighbor program that seeks jobs
for “our” jurisdiction and lets the
workers, especially those at the bottom of the
food chain, look for a place to live
is what Alexandria, Arlington
County have done for years.
That is why those jurisdictions have
far more jobs than housing units.
For nearly 40 years, Fairfax
has pursued a policy of recruiting jobs but
not seeking to evolve Balanced Communities
even when Balanced Communities (Reston and Fairfax
Center) were part of the County’s comprehensive
services for 21st century urban
citizens costs money.
Governments must capitalize on the efficiencies
of Balanced Communities to off set the costs
of providing urban services including
assurance that there is affordable and
accessible housing for the full range of
citizens holding the jobs in the Balanced
Lessons from Fairfax
facts about Fairfax
County’s future illustrate a number of important
The need for an overarching regional perspective.
If citizens do not have an overarching
conceptual framework with which to understand
human settlement patterns, then silliness like
“Fairfax County is all built out” and
“the reason for a lack of affordable housing
in Prince William County is the 10-acre urban
lot area (aka, “Rural (sic) Crescent”)
become established as debilitating viruses.
The need to provide for the evolution of functional urban fabric.
This is the way we stated it in Chapter
of The Shape of the Future:
New Urban Regions are thought of as an organic
system, ‘sub’urban areas are the cambium
layer, the zone of new growth and change.
Something, however, has gone haywire.
Instead of a thin ‘growth’ ring, the
‘sub’urban ring takes up most of the area
which has been converted from extensive
(agricultural, forest, etc.) uses to
intensive(urban) uses over the past 100 years.
The new growth has not matured with a density
and pattern necessary to sustain urban
systems. In addition, the older urban areas
are not continuing to renew and revitalize.
the entire New Urban Region is organic and
logically should grow and renew, the
new growth (expansion) area has not
matured to an urban form. It is, in fact, a
Most important, the disbursed
‘sub’urban form has stopped changing at an
early stage in the process toward maturity.
Instead of evolving into a sustainable
human settlement with rational patterns and
densities of land use, the ‘sub’urban form
has been replicated over an ever larger area
at an ever lower intensity. It is now clear
that this form is not sustainable.
is an analogous relationship between
‘sub’urban growth in New Urban Regions
and cancerous cell growth within
The ‘sub’urban portion is by far the
largest part of any New Urban Region (NUR).
Between 70 percent and 80 percent of
the urbanized land in a NUR is, at the
neighborhood scale, ‘sub’urban in
density. Of this land, between 80 percent
and 90 percent is residential.
Edge Cities may each occupy from 300
to 1,500 acres, but they are located within
50,000- to 100,000-acre subregions composed
of ‘sub’urban development. These
subregions are by far the largest component
of the urbanized area within any NUR. This
is not a sustainable human settlement
popularity (and the premium price citizens are
willing to pay) for “new urbanism” is
because these projects almost always attempt
to provide a
fragment of mature, functional human
The problem is that the project is only
a fragment and, all too frequently, in a
dysfunctional location from a regional
Too much land. The most
important lesson from the Fairfax
case is that the amount of land set aside for
urban land uses far exceeds the amount needed.
The numbers on Fairfax County
above demonstrate that too much land has been
set aside for urban development on the
regional and subregional scales.
An oversupply of land yields urban land
use scatteration which generates short-term
profit for a few and disaster for the many.
It is worst for
commercial/non-residential land uses, but far
too much land is “planned” for low density
residential land uses as well.
much urban land results in short term problems
like traffic congestion and the lack of
affordable and accessible housing and the long
term problems of regional economic stagnation,
social conflict and environmental
In The Shape of the Future, we
phrased the problem of scatteration of urban
land uses over too much land with this
is as if we took a good recipe for cookies
to the store and brought home all the
ingredients. However, instead of going to
the kitchen to prepare the cookies, we left
the eggs in the front hall, put the flour on
the back porch, the butter on the roof and
the chocolate chips in the basement. We then
went to the kitchen and turned the oven up
to the maximum heat and retired to watch TV.
Just as our efforts to produce cookies for a
snack would be a failure, citizens in the
long term may find they have not assembled
the necessary ingredients to provide them
with a quality life.” (See
End Note Nine.)
is not the recipe for functional human
Municipal governments acting in
response to citizens afflicted by Geographic
Illiteracy have prevented the evolution of
functional human settlement patterns.
Role of Municipal Planning in Creating
Dysfunctional Human Settlement Patterns,”
opponents of Fundamental Change to do the
numbers and provide specific parameters for
functional patterns and densities of land
use at the community scale.
A broad citizen understanding of
human settlement patterns really matters.
Citizens must get a grip on the
“Big Picture” before cooperative efforts
patterned after Reality Check can be applied
to work out the details.
Three is obviously harder to apply than
Antidotes One or Two, but citizens must be
able to apply functional parameters as well as
they can count calories, balance a check book,
play an advanced computer game or keep track
of their children’s grade point averages if
there is to be and functional and sustainable
conclaves such as the Rockfish Gap Workshop
and the recent Reality Check show that this
can be done.
and BANANA’S will scream about the
“negative impact” of “high density.”
That is why quantification at the
community and subregional scale such as that
outlined in the Fairfax County
example above is so critical.
There is an order of magnitude
difference between “Manhattan” (which is what NiMBYs often call any
alternative to a “sub”urban pattern of
one-acre lots) and the 10 person-per-acre
guideline for a Balanced (Alpha) Communities
which has for 40 years been much more highly
valued in the market place than the scattered
one-acre lot “ideal.”
would be little or no conflict if the
and the rest of Virginia
were handled in a rational, democratic, market-driven process supported by
citizens who understand the need for
functional human settlement patterns. (See
End Note Ten.)
about opposition from Congressman Tom Davis to
rational METRO station area development?
Tom has not understood human settlement
pattern issues beyond his short-term political
calculus since he was a junior county
supervisor from Mason District. The
calls he has gotten recently from heavyweight
Republican donors will get him to back off
soon, especially if there is demonstrated
citizens support to counter the NIMBYs.
Balanced (Alpha) Communities in New Urban
Regions will not be simple and it is not
It is, however, hard for anyone
afflicted with Geographic Illiteracy to
grasp the importance of this effort thanks
to the drumbeat of the Business As Usual
advocates aided by viruses.
Does the Application of Antidote Three
application of Antidote Three requires
different strategies in three distinct areas
of the Virginia portion of the National Capital Subregion.
Radius=20 Miles, Antidote Three means the
evolution of 13 Balanced Communities based on
the parameters discussed concerning Fairfax
Radius=20 Mile, there are two distinct areas:
Radius Band between Radius=20 Miles and
Radius=30 Miles is about 330,000 acres in Virginia. This
area is mostly in eastern Loudoun
County and includes the majority of
County. It is
the territory through which a logical
alignment for the Clear Edge would run.
There are five Beta Communities in this
are in eastern Loudoun (Greater Leesburg,
Greater Ashburn and Greater Sterling/Cascades)
and two in Prince William (Dale City/East
Prince William and Greater Manassas/West
One set of goals and conditions need to
be pursued in this Radius Band.
next Radius Band, between Radius=30 and
Radius=60 miles, is composed mainly of
Countryside with from two to four
Disaggregated, Balanced Communities within the
second set of goals and conditions need to be
pursued in this Radius Band.
ramifications of the application of Antidote
Three within the later two zones will be
explored in future columns and the forthcoming
book The Shape of Warrenton-Fauquier's
On the topic of myths in general
Myths That Blind Us,” Oct 20, 2003
Myth to Law,”
Nov 29, 2004
. In order to address a recent rash of
Geographic Illiteracy viruses, we have
interrupted the three-column series addressing
residential property price escalation (“Gimme
Shelter,” April 25, 2005
, Property Tax Reform (Forthcoming) and
Affordable and Accessible Housing
For a definition of Geographic
Illiteracy and a list of tools to overcome the
Geographic Illiteracy see our backgrounder
on the topic.
Here are seven factors directly related
to the propagation of myths and the
reinforcement of Geographic Illiteracy:
The Fallacy of Composition: What is
“good” (e.g., profitable in the short
term) for one is very often not “good”
(e.g., contributes to the general welfare)
for the community or for an informed market
The cumulative impacts of individual
actions are often counterintuitive.
Some of the most clear-cut examples
of the Law of Unintended Consequences are
dramatically demonstrated by actions that
result in dysfunctional human settlement
Frequently those who will benefit
from taking an individual action impacting
human settlement patterns spin and distort
the discussion so that it seems to be
“what everyone really wants” or supports
a lofty sounding ideal like “property
Speculators 2, Citizens 0,” March 14,
Information of human settlement
patters is valuable to those who make a
living from the provision and maintenance of
the built environment.
Much of the information and the basis
for understanding the interrelationships
between actions and impacts that are needed
to comprehend human settlement pattern
issues are proprietary.
Information is also intentionally
distorted or withheld to gain economic
The thirst of those who have made bad
location decisions to have their past
actions validated and justified or their bad
Many are predisposed to believe there
is a “villain” who can be blamed for
what are in fact the cumulative results of
The ease with which myths and viruses
leading to Geographic Illiteracy can be
spread and reinforced by those who profit in
the belief of myths.
This is because those afflicted by
Geographic Illiteracy want desperately to
believe there is a simple solution that will
allow them to live with their illusions,
continue to win elections and accrue
short-term economic rewards.
Shape of the Future addresses the
obstacles to citizens understanding the causes
and impacts of dysfunctional human settlement
pattern and is the topic of Chapter 2 of that
E M. The Shape of the Future: (Vol
I) The Critical, Overarching Impact of Human
Settlement Pattern on Citizens' Economic,
Social and Environmental Well-Being and (Vol
II) Prospering in 21st Century New Urban
VA: SYNERGY/Resources, 2000.
Some roadways like “Route
288" in the Richmond New Urban Region are
in such bad location that they are still
underutilized years after construction.
That does not mean the measures of
congestion region-wide have improved.
Just give the roadway time and enough
citizens and organizations will make bad
location decisions base on its existence to
fill it up. See
Shape of Richmond’s Future,” Feb. 15,
and the material cited therein for measures of
the Region’s growth of congestion caused by
creation of too many roadways, providing
subsidized access to too many acres of
Countryside which is being transformed by
scattered urban land uses.
There is something not quite right with
the numbers in the Koelemay column because he
quotes Fuller as saying there are now 847,900
jobs in Fairfax County while the Northern
Virginia Regional Commission (nee, Northern
Virginia Planning District Commission) reports
that the census found only 568,936 in April
Fuller says there could be 1,400,000 jobs in
2030 but Fairfax County projects only 578,900
according to NVRC.
We will use the Koelemay number because
it illustrates the point well and lower
employment numbers would mean less than a
critical mass of Creative Class citizens.
This total is arrived at by applying
Regional Metrics including Cost of Services
Curve and the 10 Person Rule.
This reflects the reality derived from
developments actually built over the past 40
years to have a balance of
paying for the cost of basic infrastructure
and meeting a regional market for residential
and commercial demand.
This is the density of the original
plan for Reston
and for Fairfax
Center as well as Planned New Communities in the
anyone would like to suggest an alternative
minimum density for Fairfax
County they need to develop criteria for balance at
the community scale.
The percentage of open land could be
much larger if
had followed the regional and subregional
plans developed during the 1960s.
However, the County’s
“comprehensive” plans and regulations
during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s have spread
urban development across much of the County.
This urbanized area will need to be
retrofitted to sustainable densities or
converted back to non-urban land uses.
This is the 87½ % Rule, the fifth of
the Natural Laws of human settlement patterns
introduced in The
Shape of the Future.
Page 484 of
Shape of the Future.
Recall that 20 percent of the
population believes that the earth is flat.
If someone could make a lot of money
from widespread belief in this myth, they
would create a think tank.
The think tank/lobby group would
organize the flat-earth true believers into an
If the citizens in the group thought
they could improve their economic/power
position in society and they thought they
would not be laughed off the streets, they
would be out parading, blogging
and writing letters to the editor about
how their rights were being infringed upon by