No, we end up with sprawl because living the American dream includes a home with a yard and not high density housing. And even when planners are forced to create HDH to reduce or slow sprawl, Americans would rather continue to spread out to get their piece of the dream than live in a 'Pass the Sugar' neighborhood or HDH communities.
My wife and I have lived for years in a apartment in the middle of the city. It's not high-rises block after block -- but it's dense enough to have some of the most frequent bus service in the region outside of downtown proper and everything is walking distance. (Light-rail exists here, but for whatever reason does not flow through the core of the city. Makes no damn sense since the entire neighborhood was built in the 1910s as a Streetcar suburb, but whatever. On-street light rail would probably conflict with parking, which is all the business interests that run the show in this neighborhood here care about.)
Where we live now, we walk to any restaurant we want and have a $10 cab ride to downtown to catch baseball game or whatever else. There is a small market walking distance and the grocery store is a 10 minute bike ride through a very comfortable grid-patterned streets with 25 MPH speed limits. It is basically paradise for the carless.
Unfortunately in the United States, people do not know how to live in apartments in a civilized manner. Growing up, I assumed I'd be living in dense developments forever -- never was a fan of long drives and I've had an environmental streak. I enjoy being able to walk to grab a latte and running into people randomly in the streets, etc. But to do that, I have to deal with noisy neighbors constantly. The place where I live is not cheap -- the people that I live with are mature adults who are wholly normal people. But they have no respect for the impact of what they do on people that live 5 feet above/below their head. My upstairs neighbor loves having friends over to play Xbox connect on their wood floors with shoes on. They also love to run laundry at 11 at night.
Neighbors downstairs a few nights ago started BBQ with friends with the pit 10 feet below my bedroom window. This -- in a town going through a heat wave where no one has A/C. So I'm having to close the window and keep the house at 80 degrees because he wants to BBQ.
None of these things are anti-social behaviors. These are thoroughly normal people and if I asked them to cut off the BBQ'ing and the X-Box Connect because I want some peace and quiet, they would probably do it -- but it's awkward to walk down and ask. People in the US just don't know how to live dense.
So...we are now ditching the apartment life in this great neighborhood a 10 minute walk to anything to move to the other side of the city where buying a single family home is affordable. We can walk to exactly 0 restauraunts, our only option for a stroll for coffee is 7-11 brewed black coffee a half-mile away, and the closest grocery store 2 miles away. The bus theoretically runs through the neighborhood, but we'd be looking at four connections to get me to work. However, I will have some peace and quiet.
We are just back from short trip through Europe -- staying in a hotel for half the trip and with a friend in another. The guy we stayed with lived in one of the major "brand name" cities in a 10-story apartment building that your average 20-something with a job lives in. I swear -- we didn't hear a peep from others that lived there unless we were on the elevator with them. Later, we were on the train running through Germany and everyone whispered to each other, even on phone calls. Some cultures know to be polite with the understanding that someone is always within earshot -- we just don't have that sensitivity in the US yet.
High gas prices will probably fix that.