Smart Growth a “Flop?”

Smart Growth a “Flop?”

Scary headline on the first page of today’s Washington Post Metro section: “Study calls Md. smart growth a flop.”

But it was a bit deceptive. What the researchers at the University of Maryland’s National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education,, actually found was that “smart growth” was a good policy, but the implementation was too weak to make it effective. “Pioneering law lacks teeth to put development near transit” read the sub-sub-headline. As a result, sprawl continues in Maryland.

The idea behind Maryland’s celebrated smart-growth program seemed sound: To ease traffic jams and air and water pollution and preserve farmland, development would be focused into dense, urban settlements near train and bus stations. The state would stop subsidizing sprawl and instead direct money for roads, sewer lines and other investments to urban areas.

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government called the idea one of the country’s 10 “most innovative” public policies after [former Maryland Gov. Parris] Glendening muscled it through the General Assembly in 1997. Other states followed suit with similar programs.

But scholars at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education found that over a decade, smart growth has not made a dent in Maryland’s war on sprawl.

That’s the actual “flop.” The organization proposes tougher mandates for smart growth in Maryland development planning, meaning that they want MORE smart growth, not less.

 You can find the Post story here:

Barnaby Zall

Barnaby Zall


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