I've been working landscape and restoration for over 5 years now and while I love bamboo for contained gardens, I absolutely agree with you on it's invasive qualities.
I would avoid using any very tall or running varieties altogether as they have a tendency to take over everything with their super invasive root systems (I know that's kind of your point but we don't want to go breaking any drainage pipes or water mains do we?)
I would also avoid planting them anywhere near any watersheds or other areas where they can invade our natural areas. Invasive plants have destroyed thousands of acres of habitat across California by pushing out native plants thereby removing necessary food and shelter for the creatures that depend on them.
Watersheds and lagoons especially are habitats where restoration efforts to remove bamboo and invasive grasses are contant, expensive, and necessary to restore breeding habitat for native birds. The LA River and San Elijo lagoon are only two such watersheds where these efforts are taking place.
I hate lawns also but there are thousands of alternatives. Bamboo is great for super contained urban areas. Areas that are more natural or where invasive plants could cause problems (like near a watershed, under freeway overpasses that aren't in the middle of downtown, or near any natural spaces) are great places for things like native plants that will not only be suitable to our environment but will provide food and habitat for our native birds and butterflies that are being displaced by development as well as being drought tolerant!
Here are some cool websites:
California Invasive Plant Council - www.cal-ipc.org
Wiser Earth - www.wiserearth.org
Good luck in your efforts!!