Government Planning and Sprawl: One View
The American Conservative has an interesting blog post up by Austin Bramwell about the role of government in promoting sprawl. It seems that his claim that “government planning makes sprawl ubiquitous” was challenged by libertarian Randal O’Toole, who claims that “developers generally have no trouble getting zones reclassified…Euclidean zoning operates in practice as a licensing regime rather than a flat prohibition on varying land uses.” In other words, O’Toole is arguing that one method of government planning – Euclidean zoning, which segregates by residential, commerical, and industrial uses – is not actually prohibitive, but merely limiting.
Let’s concede the Euclidean zoning does not cause sprawl; let’s even concede (as seems unlikely) that it has no actual effect on land use whatsoever. Euclidean zoning is still just one set of strands in the vast network of laws mandating sprawl. To produce the opposite of sprawl — that is, the walkable neighborhood — the government needs to let developers do a lot more than just mix uses.
Bramwell concludes that his position against sprawl comes to the simple matter of providing choices for people.
Check out the full post here for the in-depth back and forth in this debate. Post your thoughts below.