"There is overwhelming evidence that urban sprawl has been beneficial for many people."

So starts Robert Bruegmann in his lively, and far reaching, defense of sprawl.

He starts by telling us all the good that sprawl brings (better material standard of living, lower crime, decrease in pollution and traffic) and then goes on to deconstruct that ire directed towards "the 'burbs".

When asked, most Americans declare themselves to be against sprawl, just as they say they are against pollution or the destruction of historic buildings. But the very development that one individual targets as sprawl is often another family's much-loved community. Very few people believe that they themselves live in sprawl, or contribute to sprawl. Sprawl is where other people live, particularly people with less good taste. Much anti-sprawl activism is based on a desire to reform these other people's lives.

At the core of anti-sprawl sentiment is overriding snobbiness that is as much a reflection of our aspirations as our accomplishments.

Class-based aesthetic objections to sprawl have always been the most important force motivating critics. It seems that as society becomes richer and the resources devoted to securing basics like food and shelter diminish, aesthetic issues loom larger.

So while some battles against sprawl wrap themselves in warm and fuzzy environmentalist language, Bruegmann argues it's really little more than an adverse aesthetic reaction to "the others"