The “Luxury Product” a Result of ‘Smart Growth’

The inconsistency of claiming to want one thing while acting in a manner that gets the opposite result always fascinates me. That certainly applies to that relative or friend with the perplexing dissonant behavior, but in this post I’m talking about the entire community.

What got me focused on this (again) was a recent monograph from Trends eMagazine titled “Opportunity Urbanism.” In it the editors highlight ideas by urban thinker and demographer Joel Kotkin about communities that engage in so-called ‘smart growth’ and those that don’t.

The editors opine that the entire world is engaged in jurisdictional competition with all communities competing with others using two broad approaches. One, which Kotkin calls ‘opportunity urbanism,’ focuses on providing a policy environment that lets businesses and individuals pursue their own aspirations without undue government intervention. The other approach – ‘smart growth’ – uses government power to shift development policies away from what consumers prefer towards government mandates. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg refers to these as kinds of communities as “a luxury product.”

Kotkin found that the ‘opportunity urbanism’ model creates lower income disparities, faster economic growth, less poverty and more high-paying middle-skilled jobs than the ‘smart growth’ model.

The urban containment model of ‘smart growth’ works to constrain sprawl by putting a firm growth management boundary in place, ringing the community with open space and forcing higher densities. These manmade land shortages in turn lead to “obscenely high housing prices.” This is obviously an impediment to future homeowners, like young people i.e. the work force.

So, obviously, Fort Collins selected the ‘smart growth’ model years ago. And tying this all back to the opening paragraph of this post, we have public officials who are shocked – SHOCKED! – by the homelessness situation, the rapid acceleration in housing costs and stagnant wages. Disingenuous, or just uninformed? Probably some of both.

The Chamber is focused on mitigating the worst of these policies and avoiding new ‘solutions’ from being imposed in response to the symptoms created by past policy over-reaches.

Its a subscription service, but you can find a link to Trends Magazine here.