Letters to the Editor - Jan. 12

Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 11, 2010 at 5:07 p.m.

Don't scapegoat ‘smart growth'

Ed Braddy's denunciation of smart growth (Jan. 4) recycles old arguments and misreads data. For example, the tension between single-family and multi-family housing goes back to the 1920s, when the U.S. Supreme Court first upheld zoning laws.

As for Braddy's argument that "command and control policies" drive people away from cities and foster unemployment, is it not possible that other factors might be in play?

In the past eight years alone, more than 142,000 people have left Detroit, a city, hardly noted for stringent planning policies. Indeed, few places have been historically more dependent upon automobiles and highways than the sprawling "Motor City," whose economy is in collapse.

Smart growth means evaluating the facts and then using a little common sense to avoid repeating old mistakes and improve the possibility of making good choices. It is responsible stewardship to which Braddy seemingly objects because he finds it "coercive."

Braddy tries to impugn responsible stewardship by trotting out Cold War terminology. That old chestnut dates to the 1930s, when critics attacked public planning initiatives as communistic. It is worth remembering that the U.S. helped defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in part owing to the organizational innovations of a strong central government — the same government that subsequently outlasted that of the Soviet Union.

The new mobility that motorists achieved during the Cold War years owes everything to the financing and construction of the federal Interstate Highway System. But ask anyone whose farm, business or home was paved over by the new four-lane highway whether they found the process coercive.

Growth management laws require local citizen involvement at every level of planning. We elect officials, who appoint planning and zoning board members, who advertise their public meetings and hold hearings.

No one suggests that participating in the growth management process is painless, often it is quite the opposite. But that is one of the burdens of being a good steward of public resources.

Alan Bliss


Alachua County Housing Finance Authority


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