Understanding Exurban Growth in California
Michael Reilly, Columbia University
Exurban population expansion is one of the major sources of recent landscape degradation in California because exurban homes are often located on large lots far from traditional suburbs. The location of such growth is influenced by both employment accessibility (the traditional driver in suburban expansion) and natural amenity. The work here combines remotely sensed imagery, census data, and other geographic information to model the incidence of exurban growth in three regions of the state. Initial investigation indicates that accessibility to traditional urban centers and roads remain important in predicting the location of exurban development but that aesthetics and access to recreation are also drivers. Spatial scale and non-linear relationships are important considerations as the desire for exurban residents is to find their ideal tradeoff between urban and natural amenities. While more complex than traditional suburban development, exurban expansion exhibits regularities that can be useful in mitigating its negative environmental impacts.