Who doesn’t love placemaking? Well, a growing band of conservatives who are getting all bent out of shape about the smart-growth movement.
They’re getting so worked up about it that the Heritage Foundation even pulled together an event on the subject featuring public policy consultant Wendell Cox (best known for fighting public transit and promoting America’s highway system) and Ron Utt (the guy who lead Reagan’s privatization efforts). The title of the summit: “War on the Dream: How Anti-Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life.”
Ben Adler has a good piece over at The American Prospect on the conservative battle against “anti-sprawl policy.” An excerpt:
The new right-wing bogeyman that Utt and Cox devote considerable energy to destroying is the smart growth movement. Smart growth advocates seek to present an alternative to the suburban-sprawl model of development. They suggest that local governments undo restrictions that require separation of residential and commercial property and requirements that every business be surrounded by a massive parking lot. Simultaneously, they seek to redress the severe imbalance of public funding that currently favors highways over mass transit. The desired result is a walkable, transit-accessible, mixed-use community that is more integrated and has less environmental impact than its suburban counterparts.
But commentators like Utt and Cox counter that sprawl enables home-buying by constructing cheap new houses in cornfields, and cuts down on congestion by dispersing traffic into ever-expanding networks of new highways. Of course, there are elements of truth in both propositions, but Utt and Cox never address whether their preferred pattern is environmentally sustainable or culturally desirable.
Really, just read the entire article for a sense of how counterintuitive their entire argument is.