• Winning the Presidency … in the Suburbs

    NPR’s Morning Edition reports that presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a substantial lead over President Barack Obama.  We already know that President Obama will win by a sizable margin in major cities.  That leaves the suburbs, which urban historian Joel Kotkin calls America’s last politically contested territory.

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  • Where Growth Management Is … and Is Not

    According to the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, “Northern Virginia has been outperforming suburban Maryland in the generation of jobs.”

    “On a population base they’re relatively equal, on a jobs base they’re very unequal,” says CRA director Stephen Fuller.

    “Northern Virginia is just way out there. It has over 30,000 new jobs in the last year, where suburban Maryland is running about 1,500.”

    Among the attributes for Virginia are a better transportation system, lower regulatory hurdles, and fewer coercive environmental regulations.  One notable distinction between these states is that Maryland is a growth management state and Virginia is not.  Maryland practices Smart Growth and Virginia does not (though some of its local governments have adopted elements of Smart Growth).  Maryland’s embrace of Smart Growth has depressed its job market.

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  • Control Freaks Won’t Give Up

    As I write this, the Florida chapter of the American Planning Association is meeting to discuss, among other things, … spprrraaaawwwwwwllllllllllllll.

    Many are upset that Florida’s governor and legislature de-fanged the onerous Department of Community Affairs that oversaw growth management in the state.  The bright side to this conference, however, is that they have Samuel Staley as a featured speaker.  Staley is the managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University and also a member of the ADC and a fellow at the Reason Foundation.  He commands respect within the planning community, and our cities and places would be a lot better off if they would follow his advice more often.

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  • Central Cities Are NOT Growing Faster Than the ‘Burbs

    The Antiplanner has a good piece refuting one of the key articles of faith among urban planners – that is, that people are “coming back” to the city.  Recently, a burst of news stories came out saying that city growth was outpacing suburban growth.  Planners and Smart Growth politicians see this as validation of their command-and-control doctrine: through regulatory overkill they have made the urban core more attractive and people are voting with their feet.

    Except they’re not.  The Antiplanner shows the glowing news reports look at percentage of growth rather than actual population growth.  This is perhaps significant as a long term change if this pattern holds, but as it stands it is rather insignificant.  For the 51 largest metropolitan areas, there was a 1.03 percent increase in central cities versus 0.93 percent in the suburbs from 2010 to 2011.  In terms of actual growth, ten times as many people moved into the suburbs (757,078) than into the central cities (69,289).  Further, only 8 of the 51 metros actually saw urban cores grow more, in real terms, than the ‘burbs.

    Wendell Cox also provides a detailed breakdown of the data here.  The bottom line is, more people prefer lower density places away from the center of things.

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  • More Smart Growth Claims Refuted

    The indispensable Wendell Cox is out with another excellent piece questioning the messianic conception of Smart Growth.  Cox details a new study in the Journal of the American Planning Association that either refutes or diminishes the most significant assumptions of Smart Growth.  A major conclusion of the study found that “Smart growth principles should not unquestioningly promote increasing levels of compaction on the basis of reducing energy consumption without also considering its potential negative consequences. In many cases, the potential socioeconomic consequences of less housing choice, crowding, and congestion may outweigh its very modest CO2 reduction benefits.”

    In Wendell’s review of the study, he uses loaded words like “messianic” and “sacred foundations” when referring to the key assumptions of Smart Growth.  For those of us who follow closely this urban planning doctrine, we recognize that Wendell is a lot closer to being literal instead of figurative.  Smart Growth acolytes have elevated this planning doctrine to the status of a clique religion.  Smart Growth principles were cast in stone and are articles of faith that simply need not be challenged, so any effort to challenge them must be derived from ill motives.  Contrarians – even outstanding researchers like Wendell – are heretics.  Evidence (to the contrary) is ignored because evidence is unnecessary.

    Smart Growth is a faith … a pretty pathetic faith.

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  • Are small towns weirder than cities?

    So asks Matt Lewis, writing in the Daily Caller.

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  • Another Shot at Single Family Homes

    Add this to the list of criticisms Smart Growthers cite in waging their war on single family homes:

    “Believe it or not, single family homes are the most wasteful ‘industry’ in the state. How much water is pulled from our aquifer, our springs and rivers to irrigate over 4 million residential lawns in Florida? What do those lawns provide our children, our health, our community? What do they put on our table? The effects of irrigated and fertilized lawns are far greater to our rivers and springs than industry making headlines.”

    Never mind that single family homes are the preference of 80 percent of the population.

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  • Family Friendly Cities?

    Forbes is out with it’s list of the best cities for raising a family

    1. Grand Rapids, Michigan
    2. Boise, Idaho
    3. Provo, Utah
    4. Youngstown, Ohio
    5. Raleigh, North Carolina
    6. Poughkeepsie, New York
    7. Omaha, Nebraska
    8. Ogden, Utah
    9. Cincinnati, Ohio
    10. Worcester, Massachusetts

    Where’s Portland?  Where’s Charlotte?  Where’s Seattle?  And all of the other hip, Smart Growth Cities?

    The writers at Forbes thought that measures such as median income, cost of living, housing affordability, crime rate, education quality, commuting delays and percentage of families owning homes matter in determining if an urban area is hospitable to people trying to raise children.  As Wendell Cox has said, “Families want to raise children in backyards, not condo balconies.”

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  • What They Think About You

    “A lot of people live in the suburbs and they have a few cars and they live in houses that they probably bought in the 1980s.  We need to morally exclude those who don’t recognize the problem, and let them know that they have no place in a future America.”

    Scenes from the Madison Square Park rally by Occupiers on May Day.

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  • Smart Growth and the Maryland Example

    New Geography published the second of my two pieces on the so-called preference for Smart Growth.  Here, I dig into Maryland’s growth management plans and how they are not consistent with what people want.

    Part I is here.

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