ONTARIO — The lure of open space and more privacy prompted Muksit Saboor, 57, to relocate five years ago from his modest home not far from the beach to inland San Bernardino County.
“You have so much space out here, sometimes I go for days without seeing my neighbors, and I love that,” Saboor said.
Saboor has been part of a migration trend over the past two decades that has seen residents move from Pacific coastal communities to more affordable homes in the Riverside-San Bernardino area.
The population growth and its concomitant expansion of business has made the area the most sprawling metro region in the country, according to a study released Thursday by Smart Growth America. The group promotes the protection of open space, neighborhood revitalization, affordable housing and more transportation options.
The next two areas on the list are both in North Carolina: Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point and Raleigh-Durham. Another southern metropolis — Atlanta — is the hub of the fourth most sprawling area.
The rankings were based on analysis of federal data for 83 metropolitan areas around the country.
More sprawling metro areas tend to have higher traffic fatality rates and worse pollution, in large part because of an increased reliance on cars to get to work and do errands, the report said. People drive more miles and mass transit options are often limited.
“People define sprawl and smart growth in a lot of different ways and we want to bring rigor to the debate,” said Don Chen, Smart Growth’s executive director. “What we hope people will gain is a better understanding of how sprawl affects people’s quality of life.”
The report ranked areas by population and housing density; the mix of homes, jobs and services; the availability and use of town centers or downtowns; and the street network.
Saboor, who lives in Upland near the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, said he’s made some sacrifices since he and his wife moved from Culver City.
“It’s nice living out here, but obviously there are trade-offs,” he said. “I miss the diversity of Los Angeles. It’s hard to find a jazz club or soul food restaurant out here.”
Stewart Pritikin, 65, of Ontario, has lived in the inland area for 21 years and said not enough has been done to upgrade schools, transportation, utilities and fire and police services to accommodate the growth.
“This is one of the last few places where you can buy an affordable and attractive new home. People who move here know they will have to make certain sacrifices,” said Pritikin.