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October 27, 2004

Smart Growth's Misunderstood Message (washingtonpost.com)

Washington State has long been among our leader on promoting smart growth policies, thanks in no small part to the work of 1000 Friends of Washington and many others. (Although our friends over at Northwest Environment Watch have pointed out that regionally, both Portland and Vancouver BC are doing even better than Seattle.)

An op-ed in last weekend's Washington Post by Roger K. Lewis caught my eye. In Smart Growth's Misunderstood Message, Lewis nicely summarizes the fundmanetal arguments for and against "smart growth" policies:

[Arguments against smart growth] all rest on the belief that smart growth is utopian and unrealistic. Moreover, they imply that there is a hidden agenda: Limit use of cars; stop building roads; force commuters onto buses or trains; raze suburbs; demolish shopping centers; make families live in apartments or rowhouses; put home builders out of business.

In reality, smart growth is a broad term encompassing a broad public policy goal: to wisely plan, distribute and manage physical growth to achieve objectives on which most citizens agree.

These objectives include: easing traffic congestion and increasing mobility; conserving energy; reducing pollution; providing adequate infrastructure and optimizing its use; expanding housing choices as well as affordable housing opportunities; improving regulatory effectiveness; matching public service expenses with public sector revenues; and, not incidentally, protecting and enhancing the cultural, aesthetic and natural assets of communities.

Locally, we just got some good news on the smart growth front. The King County passed a strong Critical Areas Ordinance that protects vital wildlife habitat and groundwater recharge zones.

Posted by Jon Stahl on October 27, 2004 at 08:50 PM in Policy | Permalink


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