By: Rand Campbell
A common objective behind modern zoning laws is to increase density within cities. Density provides urban perks like mass transit, diverse businesses, an array of cultures, and endless options for food and entertainment. However, the novel coronavirus outbreak is shedding light on a downside to densely packed urban areas. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York recently tweeted “[t]here is a density level in NYC that is destructive.”
As reported by the New York Times in a recent article, the very thing that makes cities so remarkable — the proximately of so same many people to one another — is now making them susceptible to a pandemic.
The risk of spreading the virus has forced people around the world to stay home from work, forgo social events, and limit their contact with others as much as possible. The pandemic may cause a rethinking of urban density, its good sides and bad. Density makes public services like affordable housing and efficient transportation possible. It also enables us to support large public hospitals and stronger safety nets. However, in light of the pandemic, many people may fear density. How, then, will we balance the benefits of density with the increased risk of harm from a pandemic?
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