Sprawl and Smart Growth

A Guide for State Policymakers

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By Jane S. Shaw

To the Reader

A house in the suburbs away from the noise and congestion of the city has long been considered an integral part of the American Dream. Yet, in pursuit of that dream, people may have taken some of the problems of the big city to the suburbs with them. Expanding subdivisions, crowded roads, and long commutes have been lumped together under the banner of urban sprawl.To address these concerns, states and local communities have increasingly turned to the idea of smart growth. Intended to guide suburban growth in a coherent and rational way, smart growth programs risk being used by special interest groups to achieve narrow purposes with little real improvement in quality of life. Worse, as Jane S. Shaw points out in this booklet, such decisions are often based on myths and misunderstandings about the problems economic growth and suburban expansion pose.

Jane S. Shaw is a senior associate at PERC (the Political Economy Research Center). Her most recent book, A Guide to Smart Growth: Shattering Myths, Providing Solutions, co-edited with Ronald D. Utt, is one of the first major efforts to explain the shortcomings of traditional smart growth initiatives and provide realistic alternative policies that respect private property rights.

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Before joining PERC, Jane Shaw was a journalist who had developed an uneasy feeling that much of the commentary about environmental policy that she read--and even some that she wrote--was tilted in the wrong direction. The usual solution to an environmental problem was to turn it over to the government. She had become uncomfortable with this...
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