Sensible Ideas from the Right on How Smart Growth and New Urbanism Save Taxpayers Money
Examples such as Reconnecting America's Conservatives and Public Transit by Robert Weyrich and Bill Lind aside, there's been a long wait for thoughtful conservatives to acknowledge some painful truths about way sprawl violates many of their basic tenets.
Conservatives tend to equate sprawl with broader individual property rights (though in fact it depends on highly restrictive separate-use zoning and lots of top-down federal and state control over road spending) so sprawl gets their tacit support. So it's refreshing to see Stewart Schwartz in the Washington Examiner arguing persuasively for smart growth and New Urbanism on the grounds that it results in more efficient and tax-saving infrastructure spending and boosts quality of life while saving American households money on their monthly transportation costs.
Writes Schwartz, a retired Navy Officer and the executive director of the DC-based Coalition for Smart Growth, in the Examiner:
Scattered, speculative development approved by local governments is creating unaffordable transportation infrastructure costs and demands from business that the General Assembly increase taxes. To address the problem, Republican state delegates spearheaded designated growth areas to support more compact, walkable communities that will reduce the costs of infrastructure.
How compact? Equivalent to our highly valued pre-World War II suburbs.
What type of communities? Places with main streets and town greens where children can walk or bicycle to school, parks and stores on safely designed streets and sidewalks without fear of being run over by cars crossing the extra-wide roads that characterize suburbia today. Smart growth, traditional neighborhood development, and "new urbanism" seek better-designed suburbs, rural areas that retain their rural and small town character, and greener, vibrant cities.
The recent gas crisis with prices reaching $4.00 per gallon proved the need for smart growth policies. Family budgets were strained by long costly commutes and no transit options.
Commuter buses, VRE, MARC and Metrorail were packed, and we lacked enough service to support the new demand. After housing, transportation is the second highest cost in family budgets -- $9,369 per year to own a car driven 15,000 miles per year according to AAA. Living in a community where you only need one car or can drive less, means more money saved for your children's college education or to invest in a business.
Read the rest of Schwartz' op-ed.
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