Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they're brushing you off.
I think I was brushed off, but if I got offended over something like that I'd need to expect people to hunt me down and kill me for my own posts. It's not the most diplomatic of critiques, a feat I rarely accomplish, and I kind of expected to be ignored after ripping on one third of the existing game play. On the off chance that city mechanics get slightly less fugly as a result, I went ahead and posted.
Beta testing doesn't appear to have done much for them either. Sure, we're having plenty of input in the game at large, but I don't remember any outcry that led to the over simplified economics. The threads on it were in favor of the more complicated version, and we're looking at one more simplified than the alternative was. I'm certain there wasn't any push here to make improvements all restricted to one per city. I know people were complaining about spamming lumber mills, workshops, gardens, and housing all over the place, but they didn't change building spam by having us spam one of each in our 51 population city. They just removed choice from what we spam.
The way farming works in the real world would have been quite sufficient for "limiting" city spam. It's real simple, before the plow, people starved if they didn't grow food. When they started spreading shit on the fields and leaving them fallow every so many years, food production went from something almost everyone did, to just something a good half the population did. Before concepts like irrigation and fertilization came about, you didn't farm productively anywhere but on a flood plain. The river belts were lush centers of power because those were the only places on Earth where ten thousand people could all live in one spot, and only those naturally fertilized fields would produce enough to get sufficiently above the poverty level to field an army.
His fertile land mechanic is perfect for it. Automate farming, dedicate most of the citizenry to it, and you can support your population, and dick else, with enough terrain. Get yourself some ground actually worth growing food in, and you can flourish in less area, with population available to produce something besides food. Research into agriculture could eventually turn all those non-productive farms into something nice, but late game tech advancements would be too late for someone to spam cities to take advantage of. They'd have a large empire and nothing to defend it with.
As tech advanced, you'd shift more and more of your population away from agriculture, taking production, and thus armies, from very small in the beginning, to massive in the end. A lot like the doesn't seem to be happening vision we were presented with earlier in the process.