The Folly of Smart-Growth

7 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2001


Throughout the United States, city and state governments are turning to "smart-growth" urban planning strategies to slow suburban "sprawl." Spurred by concerns over traffic congestion, air pollution, and loss of green space, the plans are intended to improve urban livability. The strategies include purposeful efforts to increase population density, boost mass transit ridership, and decrease auto driving.

In order to achieve those goals, "smart-growth" governments are implementing a degree of land-use regulation unprecedented in the United States prior to 1990. Unfortunately, as examples such as Portland, Ore., show, such regulation can produce a worse quality of life for residents. The policies' real effects appear to be increased traffic congestion, more air pollution, higher costs and taxes, and an overall increase in just about every other impediment to urban livability.

Suggested Citation

O'Toole, Randal, The Folly of Smart-Growth. Available at SSRN: or

Randal O'Toole (Contact Author)

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

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