Stewart Schwartz: “Smart growth” saves taxpayer money

Stewart Schwartz brings us this article in which he argues that smart growth and New Urbanism are inherently conservative.  Traditional sprawl has created massive infrastructure costs, and the remedy proposed by Republicans was to create areas of concentrated development similar to pre-WWII towns and suburbs.  These areas should have more walkable, safer streets with more accessible services.  Family budgets have been hurt by the extra funds needed to live a car-dependent lifestyle.  “After housing, transportation is the second highest cost in family budgets — $9,369 per year to own a car driven 15,000 miles per year according to AAA,” says Schwartz.  The free market is turning away from the suburban model and back to cities, towns, and even inner-ring suburbs.  He says that, in addition to wasteful infrastructure spending, we are wasting money on energy.  “Because we have grown so inefficiently, our 5 percent share of the world’s population consumes 25 percent of the world’s oil with 70 percent going to transportation. Over 60 percent is imported.  We have some oil here at home, but it is a limited and long-term strategic resource. Smart growth policies would allow us to use less oil, and instead of sending our dollars overseas, we would save more, invest more, and be more competitive.”  New Urbanism is an issue that should be important to both sides of the aisle, and conservatives need to realize that this change would support their policies more than the status quo.

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