Mailbag: Smart Growth’s “Agenda of Exclusion”

Among the mail to our post about Ryan Balis’s letter on “smart growth” in the Washington Post:

I enjoyed Ryan Balis’ letter in the Washington Post yesterday and I agree completely with him.Many of the policy makers in local government know that what Ryan has pointed out is true but they look at this as a positive benefit of their efforts to control sprawl. In fact, for many of them the goal of limiting sprawl is really about protecting and enhancing their local tax base, keeping their local governments costs down and enhancing the value of their constituents’ property. Protecting the environment is often a facade for land use policies that push lower income families into neighboring jurisdictions and schools and significantly raise real estate values.

One of the reasons for the proliferation of such methods is the absence of renters and lower income citizens at the polls in local elections. In many jurisdictions, local governments behave more like homeowners associations than like governments of all the people. I’ve had enough experience here in Charlottesville/Albemarle to firmly believe that a not so hidden agenda of exclusion is really the foundation of many local governments anti-sprawl land use policies…

Kevin Cox

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