While you wouldn't know it from rush hour traffic on the Palmetto and Dolphin Expressways, Miami is apparently one of the least sprawled out metro areas in America. According to a new study by Smart Growth America and the Metropolitan Research Center, Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall is the eighth most compact metro in the country. It's also the third most compact major metro area, behind only New York City and the San Francisco Bay area.
The study looked at four major factors, and areas were ranked on a scale on which a score of 100 represents the average. So areas that score more than 100 are more compact than those below 100.
Here's how Miami did:
Development Density: That includes six factors: "1) total density of the urban and suburban census tracts; 2) percent of the population living in low-density suburban areas; 3) percent of the population living in medium- to high-density areas; 4) urban density within total built-upon land; 5) the relative concentration of density around the center of the MSA; and 6) employment density."
Miami scored 160.18.
Land Use Mix: "The balance of jobs to total population and mix of job types within one mile of census block groups, plus the WalkScore of the center of each census tract."
Miami scored 136.41.
Activity centering:"The proportion of people and businesses located near each other is also a key variable to define an area."
Miami scored 117.91.
Street Accessibility: "Measured by combining a number of factors regarding the MSA's street network. The factors are average length of street block; average block size; percent of blocks that are urban in size; density of street intersections; and percent of four-way or more intersections, which serves as a measure of street connectivity."
Miami scored 166.90.
Averaging those scores together, Miami got a final score of 144.12.
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That was best for eight overall behind Trenton, New Jersey; Santa Cruz, California; Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; Santa Barbra, California; Atlantic City, New Jersey; San Francisco; and New York.
In case you're wondering, other Florida metros didn't do as well. Ft. Lauderdale came in 38th with a score of 121.41. Gainesville was 76th with a score of 111.36. Tampa was 124th with a score of 98.49. West Palm Beach was 125th with a score of 98.81. Orlando was 156th with a score of 83.97. Jacksonville was 165th with a score of 80.85.
So Florida's reputation for unchecked suburban sprawl is well deserved overall, it's just that Miami isn't contributing to the problem.