Sprawl: Learn How To Deal With It

The Brookings Institute features a policy brief by Anthony Downs on how local cities can effectively deal with fast growth.

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October 26, 2000, 8:00 AM PDT

By Chris Steins @urbaninsight


Resentment against rapid population growth, aggravated by nine years of prosperity, has attained such a groundswell of support that citizens in two fast-growing states—Arizona and Colorado—are being asked to vote on ballot initiatives that appear to be partly aimed at slowing the overall population growth rates in those states. These initiatives require every locality to:Designate specific areas for future growth; Have those designations approved by local voters; Receive future voter approval for subsequent changes in the initially-approved growth areas.Neither initiative provides a formal agency to reconcile conflicts among the plans adopted by individual localities, although the Colorado initiative calls for voluntary plan coordination by each locality with its adjoining neighbors. It is understandable that citizens of these and other fast-growth states are concerned about the adverse impacts of recent rapid growth. But, as I argue in this policy brief, passage of these initiatives is unlikely to slow growth, and would likely generate undesirable economic and social conditions. A better citizen response to growth-related problems would be to adopt regionwide strategies based upon statewide planning goals.

Thanks to Chris Steins

Wednesday, November 1, 2000 in The Brookings Institution

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