Suburban sprawl, the strip malls and car-oriented subdivisions that have come to characterize most American development, is regarded simultaneously as a pestilence and as a natural free-market phenomenon. So which is it? The trendy “smart growth” movement claims to have some answers, but all too often tries to fight sprawl with ever more draconian regulation. A Better Earth has a pretty well balanced look: (article here) Among the ironies – sprawl development is not as free-market as one might think, with developers rarely paying the true cost of infrastructure.
If the government quit subsidizing developments either way, then the market would really be free to determine whether or not large, sprawling suburbs are the best way to grow. And that’s the kind of growth that might actually be smart.