NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 12, 2006

"Smart growth" policies have prevented thousands of Americans from realizing the American Dream of owning their own home, says Ryan Balis, a policy analyst for the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

Designed as an environmentally-sensitive response to perceived suburban overcrowding or sprawl, smart growth policies crowd housing units together into clusters of dense, skyward structures.  But smart growth development restrictions pose a distinct problem for regions experiencing population growth.  The overall shortage of housing can create affordability and quality of life problems for families entering the housing market, particularly those with low and moderate incomes and upwardly mobile minorities.   

According to Baylis:

  • One million households who bought homes between 1992 and 2002 would not have been able to do so had smart growth policies such as those found in Portland, Ore., been extended nationwide.
  • Smart growth proponents consider Portland's policies a model for other metropolitan areas, yet, among this displaced group, a disproportionate number -- 260,000 -- would have been black.

Smart growth can even create the sprawl it is intended to prevent.  Steven Greenhut of the Orange County Register points out that those "who want a bigger place (that may be unavailable because of smart growth policies) simply move away, thus promoting the sprawl that is trying to be stopped."

Source: Ryan Balis, "Smart Growth" Policies Hurt, National Center for Public Policy Research, National Policy Analysis # 539, June 2006.

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