Study ranks Reno fourth densest metro area in nation
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Reno doesn’t have skyscrapers, but its cramped neighborhoods makes it the fourth densest metropolitan area in the country, according to a new report.
The report by the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute said spiraling population growth, tightly clustered neighborhoods and being surrounded by federal land make the Reno-Sparks area one of the most densest with 7.99 people per urbanized acre.
Reno trailed only Honolulu, Los Angeles and New York City.
”Although you don’t have tall buildings, you have houses packed together much more tightly than most urbanized areas,” William Fulton, the report’s co-author, said Thursday.
”In Reno, you get subdivisions right up to the range land. That’s what makes the difference.”
By contrast, massive metro areas including Las Vegas, the District of Columbia and Chicago are less dense in population when measuring the urban cores and outlying suburbs, according to the report.
The difference, Fulton said, is that while places like Chicago may have extremely dense urban centers, suburbs ”sprawl endlessly with extremely large lots like you’ll never see in Reno.”
The study tracks growth in U.S. cities between 1982 and 1997, when the amount of urbanized land increased by 47 percent, from approximately 51 million acres to 76 million acres, according to the report. During the same period, the nations population grew by 17 percent.
For purposes of the report, urbanized land is defined residential, commercial and such improvements as roads. It differs from the census method of calculating urban density because it includes suburban areas.
According to U.S. Census figures, Washoe County’s population in 2000 was 339,486. The city of Reno, 69.11 square miles in size, had a population of 180,480, giving the city a population density of 2,611 people per square mile.
Brookings researchers used census figures and estimates of the amount of urbanized land in each metropolitan area that are compiled every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Ten of the 15 densest metropolitan areas in the country were in Nevada, California and Arizona – in part because western cities are hemmed in by mountains, other topographical constraints or federal land ownership, the report concludes. Another factor is a heavy reliance by western cities on public water and sewer systems.
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