Smart growth is an issue I have been looking to comment about almost from the start of this blog. Smart growth was an idea floated in the 90’s that sought to curb urban sprawl, traffic congestion, disconnected neighborhoods, and urban decay. In theory, it was a way to manage the growth of urban neighborhoods so economic development would not get out of hand. It would sometimes entail the use of mixed-use development, affordable housing, restrictions on urban design and parks or recreational areas.
The best example of this idea gone mad is Portland, Oregon that implemented the use of onerous land use planning controls that are the result of urban growth boundaries enacted statewide in the early 70’s. As a result of the city’s rules, it has restricted city large-scale development that has resulted not only in limited access to utilities such as schools, sewage, water and telecommunications, but also huge increases in the cost of housing making it extremely difficult to live within city limits.
San Diego County, California recently decided to postpone a major housing development of an undeveloped part of their municipality known as the backcountry. As KPBS points out, the county would first have to amend its growth plan before allowing this project to go forward. One environmentalist group, Cleveland National Forest Foundation, fired a letter off the County Board of Supervisors accusing them of back peddling on the county’s general plan which seeks to manage growth in unincorporated areas.
Smart growth is nothing more than another feel good euphemism that environmentalists used to give credence to the idea of restricting not only development but property rights in general. The Portland, Oregon model is the best example as to what environmentalists want using the battle cry of combating urban sprawl. So-called smart growth policies only result in making areas unlivable due to restrictions on development and land use. This drives up the cost of housing and makes it unaffordable for people to live in cities and other areas that implement it.