Chuck Marohn and Joe Minicozzi deserve praise for unlocking this wisdom about healthy cities and towns. Today, cities and towns are characterized in the center by surface parking lots and vacant or under-utilized buildings while big box malls sprout on the fringes where crops should be sprouting instead. We are wasting our town centers and despoiling the countryside. If we want to preserve rural areas for agriculture, conservation and recreation, we need to cure our cities.
But, if "smart growth" is so smart, why is there so much "dumb growth?" Are we stupid? No we're not. But there are powerful economic incentives that encourage sprawl. Fortunately, communities are coming up with remedies to harmonize economic incentives with public policy objectives for job creation, affordable housing and sustainable development. Of the many remedies being employed, some of the most important include:
* Performance-based parking pricing;
* Distance- and congestion-based roadway fees;
* Land value return and recycling; and
* Zoning reform.
Let's not simply be angry or sad about the environmental damage and expensive infrastructure costs associated with sprawl. Let's roll up our sleeves and implement reforms that have proven effective in preserving the environment, creating jobs, reducing housing costs and reducing infrastructure requirements (allowing for lower taxes)!
To have enduring prosperity, a community cannot squander its land; it must develop in ways that are financially productive.