Congressional Study Rejects "Sprawl" Theory
April 30, 1999
In a blow to Vice President Al Gore's contention that America's open spaces are being eaten up by suburbs, the General Accounting Office finds no statistical evidence to back up the theory.
- The long-awaited, 11-month study finds largely anecdotal evidence that current federal programs push development away from central cities.
- There is no consensus among researchers that transportation spending on new highways, environmental regulations, housing policies and tax incentives cause "sprawl."
- The GAO even cites some positive aspects of sprawl -- such as increased home ownership and cheaper places for businesses.
- In the opinion of Sam Staley, director of the Reason Public Policy Institute's Urban Futures Program, there is very little the federal government can do to stem sprawl -- which he characterizes as "a quintessential state and local issue."
A disappointed Sierra Club spokeswoman, whose organization had looked forward to a finding that would boost objections to suburban sprawl, said the club "had expected something emphatic."
Vice President Al Gore has made "smart growth" -- a catchword for anti-sprawl -- a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.
Source: Haya El Nasser, "Congressional Sprawl Study Fails to Find Culprit, USA Today, April 30, 1999.
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