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Thread: smart growth survey

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Floridays's avatar
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    smart growth survey

    This just popped up via email:
    From the Overview: The 2004 American Communities survey covers many opinions that Americans hold about where they live, where they would like to live, and the policies for getting there. The survey reveals three main points:

    1. Americans favor smart growth communities with shorter commute times, sidewalks, and places to walk more than sprawling communities.
    2. The length of their commute to work holds a dominant place in Americans’ decisions about where to live. Americans place a high value on limiting their commute times and they are more likely to see improved public transportation and changing patterns of housing development as the solutions to longer commutes than increasing road capacities. This unambiguous finding suggests that, while public policies are going in one direction, public opinion is running down another path.
    3. Americans want government and business to be investing in existing communities before putting resources into newer communities farther out from cities and older suburbs. The public’s priorities for development include more housing for people with moderate and low incomes and slowing the rate of development of open space. Many Americans also express the desire for more places to walk or bike in their communities.


    Do these concepts "jive" with your desires or those of your community? You can read the entire report here.

    Speaking for this south FL metro area, the commute times don't seem to faze anyone here. So obviously that strikes #1 out, also. Some cities are focusing on #3 with redevelopment efforts but basically that sprawl to the west will continue until the land runs out.

  2. #2
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    [Texas perspective]

    I don't give a lot of weight to these surveys. People will say they favor smart growth without knowing what it really is. The public (in general) does not really understand what smart growth is. They want a shorter commute, but they don't want commercial uses and offices in/near their neighborhoods. They want better environmental regulations in cities, but don't tell them what to do with their property. They want parks & recreation facilities, but don't want to pay the taxes to keep them up.

    In terms of your discussion of Florida, Texas is pretty much in the same boat. Actually, Texas probably moreso because of land availability & value.

    [/Texas perspective]

    As to my personal opinion of the criteria:
    1. of course people don't like to commute. I can't think of many people that would sign up for a 45 minute drive each direction everyday with a smile on their face.

    2. I do believe that people are making the turn toward embracing smart growth based on the resale prices for homes in neo-traditional neighborhoods. For example, a neighborhood in a nearby town had a TND with houses ranging from 90K to 200K. A couple of years later the 90K is commanding resale prices of 110K to 120K. The market is beginning to embrace alternative development forms, but public policy by its nature is slow to react.

    3. Of course people want reinvestment in existing areas. That is where they live! In the case of many suburbs, people tend to say "I am here, now close the gate". They don't want to see cities pandering to the people that have only been there for three months while ignoring the ones that have been there 10 years.

    As with any survey, it's all in how you ask the question. The only item I tend to agree with is number 2, and it's no surprise. Historically public policy has lagged behind the free market.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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