Skip to comments.America's drive for acreage (Smart Growth not wanted)
Posted on 04/24/2002 5:17:09 AM PDT by Phantom Lord
America's drive for acreage
By RICK MARTINEZ
RALEIGH - The problem with "Smart Growth" is that it's almost always smart for someone else.
Given a choice, most folks want what Smart Growth denies -- a big house with a big yard and at a bargain price. If they have to drive to a former cow pasture to get their piece of the American dream, so be it.
Espousing this position has earned me the title of urban neanderthal, but it appears I'm not the only member of this new species.
The National Family Opinion organization recently conducted a survey for the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors. It would be shortsighted to dismiss this poll as providing the industry with preordained answers: the builders and real estate agents I know will build and sell anything anywhere, so long as there's a market.
The survey, conducted in January and released Monday, never mentioned Smart Growth. It simply asked 2,000 respondents who had bought their primary residence in the past four years what they considered important in a home and community.
In nearly every instance, big, roomy and cheap homes -- the upside of urban sprawl -- generally won out over the small, crowded and expensive housing that tends to be the end result of Smart Growth polices.
When asked to rate the importance of 16 aspects of a home and its location, "houses spread out" received top billing from 62 percent of the respondents. Highway access was selected as the top community amenity by 44 percent of the respondents. When asked what single factor they would change in their present home and community, lower taxes was the top choice.
Somebody get this survey down to the General Assembly.
Density lost out big time among these homeowners. Forty seven percent said they looked for a bigger home, and 45 percent wanted a bigger lot. Only a measly 10 percent wanted a smaller house, and 9 percent a smaller lot.
The open space most of these homeowners preferred was out in the country, not in the city. Living in a less-developed area and living away from the city were deemed significant quality of life issues for 40 and 39 percent of the respondents, respectively.
The most damaging survey result for Smart Growth came when respondents were asked to select their favored housing lifestyle option. The anti-sprawl notion of a small single-family home in the city, close to work, public transportation and shopping, was the choice of only 18 percent. Ouch.
Forty percent said they wanted a smaller home in a suburb closer to the city. Forty two percent said housing utopia for them was a large single-family home in an outlying suburban area with longer distances to work, public transportation and shopping. Urban neanderthals unite!
If this consumer survey isn't enough to make our civic leaders and planners take a second look at Smart Growth, I suggest they read a sobering scholarly study by Matthew E. Kahn of Tufts University, published in the Fannie Mae Foundation journal "Housing Policy Debate" (Volume 12, Issue 1).
Kahn's article, "Does Sprawl Reduce the Black/White Housing Consumption Gap?", warns that Smart Growth has the potential to squeeze minorities out of the housing market at a time when they are making their most dramatic gains.
"Affordability is likely to decrease in the presence of more anti-sprawl legislation. Such rules reduce the supply of new housing, which in turn raise the price of homes. This article has documented that such policies will have distributional consequences by limiting progress in minority housing consumption."
In other words, Smart Growth legislation tends to jack up the price of housing, which tends to lock minorities out of housing choices.
Civic leaders and planners need to confront a chilling question -- Is resegregation an ugly, unintended consequence of Smart Growth communities? There is a growing amount of evidence that it is.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Smart Growth. Southern Village in Chapel Hill is a good example of a such development done well. But as the housing survey and Kahn's study demonstrate, Smart Growth works best for everyone when it's a free market option instead of government policy.
Rick Martinez can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com
Walter Williams has explained better than anyone I have heard why "smart growth" and other government tactics to reduce development and control where people live is a horrible idea that actually produces the opposite of its intended purpose.
It is often promoted as a way to "reduce sprawl" and provide more "affordable housing." And as we all know, the immediate and direct result of "Smart growth" policies is a drastic increase in housing expenses.
As with most things the left pushes, they give it a nice name that lures people in. How could you be against "smart growth"? And who would support "dumb growth"?
The entire worlds population could live in Texas. Broken up into families of 4, each family would get nearly and acre of land.
Stick to shrinking government and not populations.
Absolutely! Once you begin with restricting people growth, you enter into all kinds of sticky issues. Who can reproduce? Who do we eliminate? What about personal freedom to make decisions? Not only is this a slippery slope, it leads to the end of all freedom!
While the points raised in this article were good ones, it should be noted that in most parts of the U.S. a "big, roomy, and cheap" home is an oxymoron. In fact, if you do some research you'll find that people who live in suburbs are one of the most heavily-subsidized groups in the U.S. Homes can only be big and cheap if someone beside the buyer is picking up the cost of providing road and utility access, etc.
Future slums coming to your town soon! Many communities think packing in high density mixed use housing/commercial near freeways and rail transportation is going to solve their congestion problem while raising revenues. After the sheen dies away these "projects" will be filled by renters on AFDC and the merchants will have been put out of business.
The Sierra Club and the National Resource Defense Council are where the 1970's Boston racists that were viciously against minorities flocked to in order to circumvent racial integration.
This is no joke. Northeasterners are the biggest racists on the planet- they just use "environmental concern" as their cover. It's appalling, but definitely exactly what they tried to do.
They indeed coined the phrase "smart growth" and there are countless examples of the environmentalists policies on "growth" being cover for racicial discrimination by real estate agents and city planners to keep the minorotoes out of certain areas.
that's becoming harder to do in the Northeast, so the environmentalists are going crazy trying to stop growth to continue a sort of economic segregation they originally envisioned.
Don't discount this motive in the least. That is exactly why the NRDC and the Sierra Club was founded after the busing cases. It's appaling, but a insidious move.
The environmentalist donations industry is horribly racist.
ROTFL....as if city planners give a rats ass about what the people want.
You're assuming two things:
The objective of "planning" is not an improved existance for the regular people -- it is (and has always been) to get more power for the "planners".
216914 square miles, 640 acres per square mile, 168 million acres or 670 million people in families of 4 per acre. World population: 6.2 billion (40 people per acre).
Not too bad until they all get into their cars.
If this were true, the quality of life would have been deteriorating for a long time as population has continued to grow. It hasn't. Quality of life continues to improve for most.
Quality of life in countries that are poor and often refered to as "3rd world" is not low because of population. It is low because of a lack of FREEDOM. Tyranny and government oppression reduces quality of life, not population growth.