And Rome wasn't built in a day.
Riding around town and country on my bike, I'm noticing some strip malls that weren't there last year. New ones along Pacific Highway in the outskirts of Ferndale, WA. for instance.
I don't mean to pick on those specifically. They are, after all, along the freeway, on a frontage road.
There have been businesses on that road in the past. Now there are more.
More ... or at least a few businesses and some empty storefronts.
The tail end of our local "early 2000s building boom?"
Sprawl seems to never be intentional. Few people say they want sprawl. It just happens one building at a time.
Like taking life one day at a time?
Life happens. It's not ideal, or at least that's what folks say. "Be realistic," they say.
One building is really not sprawl. Not sprawl until there's another one and another one and another one ...
One building is usually just some "business solution." A need for more space, convenient parking, highway access.
To a large extent, it's the convenience of the automobile and parking that "drives" this (pardon the pun).
I've often said, "if one could fold up the automobile and put it in a coat pocket for parking, the American landscape would evolve differently."
Sprawl isn't intentional, but it still happens, one place at a time.
Decisions by planners can feed sprawl, but often planners are kind of hamstrung by the political process.
Laws requiring parking space are part of this, but try changing the way it's been done and you get a world of worry.
Are people still going to shop there?
If there isn't enough parking, will there be overflow parking in nearby residential areas?
Worry, worry, worry.
Higher gas prices may help to break these patterns.