In many American cities, exclusionary zoning laws that favor single-family homes dictate what kinds of housing can be built. Wesolowski argues that these laws cause “cities to sprawl out and to grow, which means a typical American city like Nashville — although a similar population to Barcelona — is 13 times the size. Think 13 times the length of roads, powerlines, sewer lines, and without agricultural output to go along with it.”
He says all this suburban infrastructure is “bankrupting cities.” In fact, in 2015 Vox reported that suburban sprawl was costing the US $1 trillion every year.
Even worse, struggling cities continue to build more new suburban developments for quick hits of cash, a habit Wesolowski likens to a Ponzi scheme.