Zoning and Sprawl – Cause and Effect?

Regular readers know by now that I am an aficionado of the Smart City radio program, and listen religiously to the podcast.

As a sidebar, the host, Carol Coletta, will be in Portland on March 15th, as the next speaker in Metro’s regional economic development series. I haven’t seen the official notice yet, but I believe it’s 7pm at the Liberty Center building in the Lloyd District.

Last week’s show has a great segment on the causes of sprawl. The guest argues that current thinking about sprawl is that the market produces it, and we need government intervention to produce alternatives. He flips this around and suggests that the market will produce lots of land use types, and sprawl actually results from some of our government decisions:

  • Zoning that forces separations between uses
  • Roads over-engineered for speeds faster that needed

The segment starts about 8 minutes into the show (MP3, 21MB). There’s also a great segment on designing ‘better’ taxes to accomplish policy goals (even in Portland, that one might not go down well, but the theory is interesting).

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