Growth Management doesn’t allow for growth

by Steve Marble

The ‘urban sprawl’ crisis has spawned ‘growth management’ which, in turn, is implemented by ‘smart growth’. Never mind that ‘urban sprawl’ is free people freely choosing where they want to live. Central, top-down, bureaucratic planning hatched at state and federal levels of government is the way to go.

Market solutions are not allowed for reckoning with this ‘crisis’. No, what’s needed is to bestow more authority to unaccountable public servants. Marching orders come from on high. Bevies of ‘facilitators’ fan out across the nation bringing the ‘visioning process’ to towns and cities. ‘Citizens’, oftentimes actually employees of the very agencies advised, are ‘chosen’ to serve on committees. ‘Consensus’ is reached.

‘Urban Growth’ boundaries are drawn around communities all over the country. If people, of their own volition, refuse to live in demographic patterns envisioned by the planners, why rules and regulations must be promulgated to force compliance. Individual freedom must be curtailed. Property rights must be redefined.

Resulting high density development predictably brings in sky high housing costs and insufferable traffic congestion. Look at Seattle with its housing affordability index flying off the dial. Look at the Washington State Department of Transportation’s inability to build roads because they are so mired in red tape and ‘planning’. Add to this mix the massive budget overruns in the latest rapid transit scheme, which, if completed, similar projects in other areas indicate will be expensive, inefficient, and go unused by a vast majority of commuters.

The latest census shows over a million people added to the population of the State of Washington in the last decade. Yet only a few miles of new roads were built. Transportation infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate. No new power generation sources provide energy for this growth. Natural gas pipelines have been stopped. Only one house has been built for every four jobs created in the I-5 corridor over this time period. Welcome to ‘growth management’!

Elite planners actually think that limiting economic expansion will control population growth. ‘Smart growth’ is really no growth and that’s not smart. Statist economics doesn’t work. Land use planning is best accomplished at the local level in a manner held accountable to the citizens impacted.

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