Monday, May 7, 2007

A decade of “Smart Growth” …

    It’s been about a decade since state and local governments picked up the terminology of “smart growth” and began passing laws to discourage suburban sprawl in favor of “smarter” ways of accommodating new demand for housing, commerce, and industry.  The newest edition of HUD’s publication Cityscape includes an essay studying this movement.  The article by HUD’s Regina Gray is entitled “Ten Years of Smart Growth: A Nod to Policies Past and a Prospective Glimpse Into the Future.”  A link to a pdf version of the article is here.   

Kentlands    Gray focuses special attention on state “smart growth” efforts, including those of former Maryland governor Parris Glendening.  Although I haven’t yet read the entire piece, I was struck by Gray’s comment that is it is difficult to assess the effectiveness or value of “smart growth” laws as a whole because the term has been used, in effect, as a “catch-all” to cover a variety of restrictions.  Some of these have been well-thought-out rules to encourage infill and high-density developments.  Others, in my view, have been examples of local NIMBY, without greater public benefit, that simply have used the smiley mask of “smart growth.”

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