George Chapman's op-ed piece, "Stop destroying single-family neighborhoods," takes issue with my letter to the editor supporting the proposed upzoning of land along the Sugar House streetcar line. Let me say first that infill development and redevelopment around transit stations must be done sensitively. On this Mr. Chapman and I agree. I think the proposed upzoning meets that test. I also think there are bigger issues that Mr. Chapman ignores in his op-ed.
We at the University of Utah recently measured the degree of urban sprawl for metropolitan areas in the U.S., as well some of its unintended consequences such as automobile dependence, high traffic fatality rates, high rates of physical inactivity and obesity, poor air quality, lack of upward social mobility, and high transportation costs ("Cutting urban sprawl could help residents' health, wealth," Salt Lake Tribune, April 3). Our region isn't the worst, but it is far from the best in its efforts to contain sprawl.
One thing we are doing in this region to combat sprawl is investing in high-quality transit. I am talking about the light rail lines, the existing and proposed streetcar lines, and the new and proposed bus rapid transit lines. Another thing we are doing is planning for a future that concentrates development in dense mixed-use centers connected by high-quality transit. This plan is known as the Wasatch Choice for 2040, adopted by the Wasatch Front Regional Council. Under this plan, West Valley City, Sandy, West Jordan, Draper, and other suburban communities would develop town centers near transit stations.