Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reflections on the 1949 Housing Act...

Salon.com has posted an analysis piece on how the 1949 Housing Act instigated sprawl growth and the negative impacts that have resulted from sprawl development patterns:

In 1949, President Harry Truman convinced Congress to break with the past and inject the federal government into process of developing cities and financing housing. The 1949 Housing Act expanded the availability of federal insurance for home mortgages, igniting the growth of new suburbs farther and farther from the centers of our cities.

Together with federal highway funds that came a few years later, the 1949 law started what we now describe as “suburban sprawl.” The two initiatives put Americans on the path of long commutes, heavy traffic, air pollution, water shortages, and a long-term increase in carbon dioxide emissions, which fuel global warming.

The short article goes on to describe how the "'General Motors' model of urban planning is officially bankrupt" and must be replaced with a more sustainable land use regulatory system:

Federal money and policy leadership help a lot. But the federal government has limited power to change local decisions governing land use and real estate development. A reversal of the ill effects of sprawl will take committed local officials who are willing to change land use policy and zoning even in the face of resistance. Architects, real estate developers, bankers, and city planners must collaborate to create vibrant urban spaces that meet consumers’ needs.

If this topic interests you and you'd like to know more about it, I recently published an article related to it with the Tennessee Law Review called "All Sprawled Out"--you can read it here.

Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/land_use/2009/11/reflections-on-the-1949-housing-act.html

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