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Old 06-23-2012, 12:30 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
6,458 posts, read 7,255,582 times
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Often we face people talking about Atlanta's sprawling metro of over 8,000 sq mi, but not much is said about the region's urban area. In many respects it is this cities physical footprint across the landscape, which sprawls across a big area for both better and worse. The urban area gets down to the more nitty-gritty details of what land area, and not just portions of counties, is actually attached to the urban growth. I thought it would be important to put something together to show what Atlanta's footprint currently is, but also look into how its changed.

Reference Maps:
Census 2000: http://www2.census.gov/geo/maps/urba...ua03817_00.pdf
Census 2010*: http://www2.census.gov/geo/maps/dc10...C10UA03817.pdf
*I'm not sure if this will be the official boundary; or if it is a reference draft to be finalized later.

Many of the changes seem small, but they are large totaling over 600 sq. mi. taking small bits around the periphery of the region. Small portions of Dawson county are not included in Atlanta's UA. Newnan urban cluster has now been consumed and added to Atlanta's UA The west corner of Newton Co., S. Rockdale, and McDonaugh are a step closer to growing together, something that is bound to continue with the recent announcement of a medical manufacturing plant near Covington (Baxter announces Covington manufacturing plant, 1,500 jobs - Atlanta Business Chronicle). Gwinnett and Dekalb are almost completely included, with the exception of just a few tracts of land each.

However, while we often just talk about the outward movement, there is still more interesting things for us to see here.

Lets see how the numbers have changed (http://www2.census.gov/geo/ua/PopAreaChngeUA.txt)

Census 2000:
  • Land Area: 1962.58 sq. mi.
  • Population: 3,499,840
  • Density: 1783 people per sq. mi.
Census 2010:

  • Land Area: 2,645.35
  • Population: 4,515,419
  • Density: 1,707 people per sq. mi.
2000-2010 Change:


  • Land Area: 682.77 (34.79% increase)
  • Population: 1,015,579 (29.02% increase)
  • Density: -76 people per sq. mi.
Atlanta's urban area faced the single largest absolute increase in land area (America's Growing Urban Footprint - Neighborhoods - The Atlantic Cities).


The rate of increase of land area is outpacing the increase in population growth. The aggregate density of the urban area is a bit lower.


This comes at a time when the many existing properties in ITP and OTP areas alike saw infill urban developments with increasing densities. Our central core saw a major urban redevelopment projects.


However, we also struggled through a recession just a few years before the Census data collection ever started. The fallout from the housing bubble has left the real estate market weak and many homes sitting empty.


Are exurban/new suburban fringe residential projects getting less dense?


Are new zoning policies in outer suburban areas causing more undeveloped tracts to dot our landscape inside the urban area?


Did the recession/real estate bubble cause us to temporarily lose some of our anticipated population + anticipated density increase from homes sitting empty (but still added to our urban footprint)?


Are exurban areas, included in Atlanta's urban area, increasingly not developing all of the land tracts? Are they so far out and the fringe border so long that developments were permanently spread themselves out?

Does the urban area contain too many undeveloped tracts of land (and therefore too large) in places?

These questions, and many like it, are things I can't answer without studying detailed aerial photography across the region to better compare whats included inside the urban borders and better data on on home vacancies.

What does everyone think? Should be concerned? Is this just a temporary byproduct of the recession and the housing crisis? Are the boundaries drawn correctly? (were they drawn correctly for 2000?) Are there areas that should have been included and weren't? Are there areas that were included and shouldn't have been?

One more thing to ponder... unlike many cities further away from the east coast. Georgia naturally has densely populated rural areas (as far as rural areas are concerned).

Often the boundary of development in cities further west are night and day, but along the east coast towns and rural development dot the landscape without the growth of a major city.
Phoneix: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Phoen...gl=us&t=h&z=14
Houston: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=houst...gl=us&t=h&z=14
Denver: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=denve...+Colorado&z=13

Our Fringe (near winder, Auburn, Commerce): https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Atlan...gl=us&t=h&z=13

Along some corridors little specs. of development never seem to stop, but are peppered across a rural landscape (ie 316, US 78 east, 985 through Gainesville)... In many ways it makes out city interesting to study, because things aren't always so clear-cut (pun not intended ).


Does this cause a problem for us in choosing whether or not to include Covington, Newnan, or perhaps Carrollton in the future? Are there populated rural areas mistakenly included in our urban area?
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Old 06-23-2012, 01:06 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
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Mapping the 2010 U.S. Census - NYTimes.com

Updated for 2010; zoom to Atlanta; choose "view more maps: Vacant housing units in 2010"
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Old 06-23-2012, 01:46 AM
 
Location: atlanta
3,962 posts, read 4,555,055 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwkimbro View Post

Does this cause a problem for us in choosing whether or not to include Covington, Newnan, or perhaps Carrollton in the future? Are there populated rural areas mistakenly included in our urban area?
it's kind of hard to calculate where "metro atlanta" really endsó are we going to base it by what is the farthest out area that is influenced by the city of atlanta in terms of population growth and development? if so, metro atlanta could potentially stretch into north carolina. or are we going to base it on the farthest out areas that people commute to work here? and if so, do we include exurbs where people commute to work in the suburbs?


i also think their "urban land area" definition is way too broad. for example, farmland in milton is included because it was recently incorporated into city limits.

"urban land area" should be restricted to something like multiple family housing and commercial buildings that take up over 50% of the size of the lot they are situated on, so a walmart with a huge parking lot would not count, but an urban walmart with little parking would be counted.
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:55 AM
 
7,687 posts, read 9,530,024 times
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How are they currently calculating what is considered part of the metro area?
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Old 06-23-2012, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Atlanta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
How are they currently calculating what is considered part of the metro area?
well the metro area vs urban area are two different ball games.

Keep in mind our urban area is 4,500,000 people in 2,600 sq mi and our metro area is 5,200,000 people in 8,000 sq mi (an extra 700,000 in the 5,400 sq mi.).

basically the census wants to classify everything as urban or rural. They have two different types of urban: an area and a cluster. Basically the only distinction is if the urban cluster/area has more than 50,000 people or not.

essentially they start with any census tract with 1,000 ppsm (people per square mile), then they will add any contiguous tract that has at least 500 ppsm.

Then, they will add contiguous census blocks that have at least 500ppsm or 1/3 of the surface is impervious (one way of measuring development).

Then there is an array of rules for other outcropping areas and "holes" inside the urban area.

-they make special inclusion of large airports
-any hole that is less than 5 sq. mi.
- a populated area connected by a roadway no more than 2.5 miles away
-then they have rules for "hops" and jumps of noncontinuous space at .5 mi and 2.5 away, respectively.


They actually can go into much more detail, but I think this gives the general gist.

metropolitan area is a new ball game. Everything is decided upon at the county level, so it is an all or nothing approach. Metro area includes core urban counties, but then tries to identify counties and areas that are tightly integrated, socially and economically, with the core counties.

You can have a county with few people, but if all the interaction is with the large city next door, then it is included.
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Old 06-23-2012, 05:16 PM
 
Location: Kirkwood
22,147 posts, read 16,147,338 times
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Its sad that the density dropped. I really think we need growth boundaries. Newton county has created a great plan.
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Old 06-23-2012, 07:10 PM
 
Location: atlanta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cqholt View Post
Its sad that the density dropped. I really think we need growth boundaries. Newton county has created a great plan.
the only reason the density dropped was because they increased the land area to include many exurbs and rural areas. i'm fairly certain that if they'd kept the 2000 boundaries the density would've gone up, as the city of atlanta density has gone up.
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:09 PM
 
Location: Atlanta
6,458 posts, read 7,255,582 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cqholt View Post
Its sad that the density dropped. I really think we need growth boundaries. Newton county has created a great plan.
What is Newton County's plan?

How are they trying to make it work, given we have have a large degree of land owners rights in Georgia?

Gwinnett has been toying with the idea of exchanging increase development density in one part of the county to prevent development on land in the extreme north eastern part of the county, but I haven't seen too much solid results from that yet.

Chattahoochee Hills is doing something similar. They are trading the idea of dense towns if the development preserves land with a rural character (and leaves that visible) around the town.

Does anyone know of anything else going on around town that influences growth in exurban areas? Has there been any success? failures?
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Old 06-24-2012, 12:25 AM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
7,794 posts, read 11,727,152 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryantm3 View Post
the only reason the density dropped was because they increased the land area to include many exurbs and rural areas. i'm fairly certain that if they'd kept the 2000 boundaries the density would've gone up, as the city of atlanta density has gone up.
Certainly. If one were to take the time to calculate the population change based on the 2000 urban area definition, they would see something on the order of 95% of the population growth in the old boundaries (rough estimate).

I do know that if you calculate the population growth for the Metro as a whole, it is around 90% for the core 5 counties.
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Old 06-24-2012, 08:06 AM
 
1,250 posts, read 1,487,365 times
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So the metro only has 4 million people?
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