19 January 2005
Just don't call it "sprawl"
Oklahoma City continues to grow, and our friendly urbanite/suburbanite explains the dynamics thereof:
Every ten years it seems that we add another chunk to our metro, about the size of Lawton, Oklahoma. We currently have 1.2 million proud residents, and excellent city leadership, that are not restricted to Oklahoma City.
I see growth lasting well through a while, simply because in matters of size, it is America's 3rd largest city. Enough land, that urbanities tend to dislike, that we are unrestricted by any boundaries. While other cities may not grow much more, this also dampers urban growth in Oklahoma City, and means the city must pay for unnecessary utility costs. But, think of it like this... if the main city in a metro grows, the rest of a metro benefits. The urban center benefits. The suburban centers grow. As long as we tend to provide our citizenry with an unmatched transportation infrastructure, we should have smooth sailing. If suburbs like Moore, inner suburbs, will grow, we can link outer suburbs like Norman, extreme suburbs like Newcastle to the urban center and see even more growth. Metropolitan growth starts from the center, and is sustained in the suburbs.
I'm not as impressed with the "transportation infrastructure" as he is, but otherwise this makes sense. Too many metropolitan areas are growing around the fringes and withering away at the center. It helps that Oklahoma City has filled up less than half of its available space; yes, extending city services halfway to Shawnee will run into some serious money, but most developers are working closer to the city center.
And there's one angle which is seldom discussed: school-district boundaries. Twenty-three different school districts cover the expanse of the city; this complicates figuring things like property taxes, but for those people who aren't waiting around for MAPS for Kids to transform Oklahoma City Public Schools into the promised "model urban district," it's possible to take advantage of whatever benefits are offered by suburban schools and still live in the city. (Nor are they paying the MAPS tax for nothing; 30 percent of the MAPS take goes to those suburban districts.)
Next census? Maybe 565,000, perhaps 1.25 million in the metro. Of course, nothing comes close to that first-day growth rate back in 1889: zero to ten thousand in twenty-four hours.
(Update, 12:30 pm: Dan Lovejoy talks about transportation issues.)