NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Passing Anti-Growth Laws

July 11, 2000

Almost half the states have passed laws to contain suburban development in the past three years. Opponents of the laws argue that Americans should be able to live where they wish and developers should be free to build where homebuyers want to live.

Proponents of the laws avoid using terms such as "anti-sprawl" and "growth restrictions" -- preferring, instead, to refer to such efforts as "better growth" or "smart growth."

  • Since 1997, 22 states have enacted some type of land use law and last year some 1,000 land-use bills were introduced in state legislatures.
  • More than 200 of them passed into law.
  • Eight states -- Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin -- have passed strict laws that require local governments to prevent development where roads and sewers don't exist.
  • Of the 10 legislatures still in session, six have land-use legislation before them.

The Sierra Club is sponsoring ballot initiatives in Colorado and Arizona this November. The measures are strict. They would force most municipalities to create growth boundaries that ban development beyond a certain point. So far, voters in the two states have resisted such restrictions.

Source: Haya El Nasser, "Development Bursting Seams of Sprawl Laws," USA Today, July 11, 2000.


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