At a recent townhall appearance, Governor Napolitano shared her concerns about Arizona’s growing population and stressed her support for “smart” growth. Of course, “smart” growth is just a smart euphemism for more central planning.
Instead of letting developers, businesses, and citizens figure out for themselves where to live, work, and build, “smart” growth puts those decisions in the hands of government bureaucrats. One need only look to the Pacific Northwest to see the effects of “smart” growth.
The State of Oregon enacted strict growth boundaries for urban areas, imposing restraints on the amount of available land for development. As artificial government controls caused less land to become available, Portland went from being one of the most affordable housing communities in 1991 to one of the least affordable in 2000. In Portland, “smart” growth resulted in skyrocketing land prices and lower homeownership rates.
State-mandated “open space,” government-directed economic development, and required “affordable” housing all come with costs. As the debate heats up about growth in Arizona, policymakers and citizens should pay careful attention to the proposed remedies.
Ben Barr is a constitutional policy analyst with the Goldwater Institute Center for Constitutional Studies.