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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Servicing cost consequences of several residential development patterns and their implications for municipal goals and policies Pearson, Norman

Abstract

Metropolitan fringe communities throughout North America are today facing a multitude of major problems precipitated by their recent rapid development. The leapfrog chaos of urban sprawl has left thousands of acres of disrupted land in its wake, and basic municipal policy considerations are essential to solve these problems and prevent new ones. Much of the responsibility for this chaos lies with Municipal Councils that, instead of recognizing the delicate interrelationship of municipal development goals, policies, patterns, and costs, are concerned only with attracting new development. On the other hand, there are few factual cost data available in a form readily applicable to practical problems, and there have been few attempts to secure such data. Hence, the objective is to investigate the servicing cost consequences of different development patterns and to thereby establish policies fostering an efficient residential development pattern. Using the household as the cost unit, six pattern-cost hypotheses are formulated, incorporating six pattern variables, namely: lot area; lot width to depth ratio; distance to available trunk services; area of a subdivision at a distance from trunk services; the proportion of lots developed; and servicing level. Seven to-the-lot services, namely roads, curbs, sidewalks, street lights, water distribution, sanitary sewers, and storm sewers, are considered with each pattern variable. Utilizing an abstract model, twelve 160-acre model subdivisions incorporating the six pattern variables are designed, serviced, and costed for each of the seven services to establish pattern-cost relationships. To assure consistency, specific subdivision design requirements, servicing requirements, and costing procedures are followed. The study results clearly uphold the following six pattern-cost hypotheses: Hypothesis A: That per household costs for the specified municipal services will decrease as lot area is decreased. Hypothesis B: That per household costs for the specified municipal services will decrease as the lot width to depth ratio is decreased. Hypothesis C: That per household costs for the affected trunk and related municipal services and for total per household servicing costs will decrease as the distance between the subdivision and the available trunk services is decreased. Hypothesis D: That per household costs for the affected trunk and related municipal services and for total per household servicing costs will decrease as the area of the subdivision is increased when the subdivision is at a distance from available trunk services. Hypothesis E: That per household costs for the specified municipal services will decrease as the proportion of lots developed is increased. Hypothesis F: That per household costs for the specified municipal services will decrease as the servicing level is decreased. From these basic statements it is apparent that if the need for servicing urban and suburban development is accepted, and if the economical provision of these services is desired, then a "concentration" approach to community building must be accepted. From the results, basic municipal policies for residential development can be formulated. Development should be staged to take in new areas only as they are needed and only as they can be serviced. Areas already started should be completed first. Development at a distance from established areas should be considered only if it is complete and extensive. In outlying areas for deferred development, services and subdivision activity should be minimized. Urban development involving lots of over 7,000 square feet should be discouraged, while the small narrow lot should be reconsidered because it is most economical. In conclusion, the economies of concentration are clearly demonstrated by the study results. The decision makers, if they are protecting the community interest, must avoid the waste of a "scatteration" policy.

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