The Guide to the American Dream


Why We Defend the American Dream




Land Use

Open Space


Smart-Growth Disasters


Public Health & Safety

Land Use References & Experts

Many of the papers annotated here show that the connection between land use and transportation is weak at best, i.e., that land-use planning can have little influence on how people get around. Other papers show that low-density development ("sprawl") actually has a higher quality of life than higher densities ("compact cities"). Papers are divided into the following categories:

The Obama Administration's Smart-Growth Plans

Obama's Emerging Housing Policy: Will Ideology Trump Opportunity?
Author: Ronald Utt
Citation: Heritage Foundation Web Memo no. 3009, September 9, 2010, 3 pp.
Summary: The Obama administration is promoting a "transformational" housing policy that will make housing more expensive and less accessible to moderate- and low-income American families.
Quote: "Obama's transformational housing plan will embody many of the prejudices that the urban elites hold toward those who have opted to live in the suburbs and will be designed to compel or nudge them to adopt lifestyles that mimic lifestyles common to many European cities."
Will Obama's 'Livability' Program Bring Britain's 'Hobbit Homes' to America?
Author: Ronald Utt
Citation: Heritage Foundation Web Memo no. 2601, September 1, 2009, 3 pp.
Summary: The Obama administration is proposing land-use policies similar to those that Britain has used since 1947. These policies have significantly reduced the size and quality of housing in Britain.
Quote: "According to one report compiled and published by The Times and the BBC, new housing built in Britain is now among the smallest in the developed world."
Slouching Toward a 'Huddled Masses' Housing Policy: Saving Energy With Higher Densities?
Author: Ronald Utt
Citation: Heritage Foundation Backgrounder no. 2281, June 2, 2009, 4 pp.
Summary: The Obama administration is promoting smart growth to save energy, but this is unlikely to work.
Quote: "One option for the reduction in energy use that has come to the attention of the U.S. Department of Energy is to pack more people into smaller apartments--a prospect more akin to living standards in Calcutta."
President Obama's New Plan to Decide Where Americans Live and How They Travel (564-KB pdf file)
Author: Ronald Utt
Citation: Washington, DC: Heritage Foundation, 2009, 4 pages.
Summary: Under President Obama, the departments of Transportation and Housing & Urban Development have formed a "partnership" to promote "sustainable communities." In particular, much of what they propose is part of the smart-growth agenda.
Quote: "Rich in the sort of progressive euphemisms used to mask real intentions, the press release heralds a process that could likely lead to an unprecedented federal effort to force Americans into an antiquated lifestyle that was common to the early years of the previous century."

Urban Sprawl: Good or Bad?

The Suburban Archipelago (88-kb pdf)
Author: Joel Kotkin
Citation: Wharton Real Estate Review, Fall, 2007, pp. 77-87.
Summary: Most Americans are likely to continue to live in suburban-like locales. While cities will remain important, an increasingly diverse suburbia will remain dominant.
Quote: "The mid-twenty-first century may see the emergence of a landscape that resembles the network of smaller towns that characterized America in the nineteenth century. The nation is large enough -- less than 5 percent of the United States is currently urbanized -- to accommodate this growth, while still husbanding our critical farmland and open space."
Sustainable Development and British Land-Use Planning: A Hayekian Perspective (104-kb pdf)
Author: Mark Pennington
Citation: Town Planning Review 77 (1): 2006, 49 pp.
Summary: Friedrich Hayek was a Nobel-prize-winning economist who supported markets and property rights. Pennington argues that markets and properties are more likely to produce sustainable outcomes than planning and regulation.
Quote: "There is no obvious reason why most local environmental protection issues should not be dealt with via private property approaches. The emergence of private community governance challenges the current orthodoxy in Britain, which maintains that issues of 'sustainable' urban form must be determined by a national planning strategy."
Social Interaction and Urban Sprawl (188-kb pdf)
Author: Jan K. Brueckner and Ann G. Largey
Citation: CESIFO Working Paper #1843, 2006, 33 pp.
Summary: Anti-suburbs groups claim that sprawl reduces a sense of community. This report finds the opposite: social interactions are greater in lower densities than in higher. If social interactions are an "externality," then Americans actually live in higher-than-efficient densities.
Quote: "With a negative effect of density on interaction, individual space consumption would tend to be too low rather than too high, tending to make cities inefficiently compact."
How the Suburbs Made Us Rich (212-kb pdf)
Authors: Wendell Cox
Citation: PA Township News, January, 2006, pp. 4042.
Summary: Argues that low-density suburbanization greatly contributed to wealth and the quality of life in America.
Quote: "Without the Levittowns, our parents and grandparents would have paid rent most of their lives, and the equity that so much of the American Dream depends on would simply not have developed."
Urban Resurgence and the Consumer City (424-kb pdf)
Author: Edward Glaeser and Joshua Gottlieb
Citation: Cambridge, MA: Harvard Institute of Economic Research, 2006, 46 pp.
Summary: To the extent that American cities have experienced a revival, it is due to lower crime rather than to utopian urban planning schemes.
Quote: "While density is correlated with consumer amenities, we show that it is not correlated with social capital and that there is no evidence that sprawl has hurt civic engagement."
Rule, Suburbia -- The Verdict's In: We Love It There (36-kb Word document)
Author:Joel Kotkin
Citation: Washington Post, February 6, 2005, page B1.
Summary: Despite the ardent wishes of urban advocates, the suburbs are being ever more ubiquitous.
Quote: "Traditional urban America isn't going to die. Instead, city living will likely become primarily a niche lifestyle, preferred primarily by the young, the childless and the rich."
Prove It: The Costs and Benefits of Sprawl (232-kb pdf)
Authors: Dr. Peter Gordon and Dr. Harry Richardson, USC
Citation: Brookings Review, Fall, 1998, pp. 23-26
Summary: Critics of low-density development have failed to prove that there is anything wrong with it.
Quote: "'Sprawl' is most people's preferred life-style. Because no one wants to appear to contradict popular choices, the critics of sprawl instead blame distorted prices, such as automobile subsidies and mortgage interest deductions. . . . [Yet] the costs argument is empirically shaky."
Is Sprawl Inevitable? Lessons from Abroad (120-kb pdf)
Authors: Dr. Peter Gordon and Dr. Harry Richardson, USC
Citation: Paper presented at the ACSP Conference, Chicago, 1999, 30 pp.
Summary: Far from being uniquely American, low-density development and increased auto driving is a world-wide trend, even in places that long ago adopted policies that U.S. smart-growth advocates promote here.
Quote: "Widespread auto ownership with suburban land-use patterns are evolving in countries such as those of Western Europe and Canada where policies are very different, most of them strongly favoring compact development and blatantly pro-transit."
The Continuing Decentralization of People and Jobs in the United States (872-kb pdf)
Authors: Donghwan An, Dr. Peter Gordon and Dr. Harry Richardson, USC
Citation: Presented at the 41st annual meeting, Western Regional Science Association, Monterey, California, February 17-20, 2002, 79 pp.
Summary: Despite claims that people are returning to the cities, suburban and exurban growth continues to be faster than central-city growth. Policies favoring smart growth will be costly because they run counter to strong market trends.
Quote: "Most firms no longer have to seek locations in traditional high-density centers to achieve agglomeration economies; they can either do without them or find them in low-density regions."
The Sprawl Debate: Let Markets Plan (284-kb pdf)
Authors: Dr. Peter Gordon and Dr. Harry Richardson (both USC)
Citation: Publius
Summary: Federal involvement in the sprawl debate is "undesirable, unattainable, and probably unconstitutional."
Quote: "The sprawl debate, at its most fundamental level, hinges on whether one believes that people have the right to choose where they want to live, what they want to drive, where they want to shop, and soon - - if they are willing to pay the full costs involved."
The Voluntary City: Choice, Community and Civil Society (152-kb pdf)
Authors: by David Beito (Uof Alabama), Peter Gordon (USC), and Alexander Tabarrok (George Mason University)
Citation: Based on chapter 1 of book of same title (University of Michigan Press, 2002), 14 pp.
Summary: Markets, not central planners, are better suited to solving urban problems, promoting equitabliity, and providing a sense of community.
Quote: "The use of land is not a 'special case' exempt from the power of markets to fashion orderly and efficient outcomes. In fact, quite the opposite is true. . . . Private developers now routinely supply what had been thought to be 'public' goods -- without the widely presumed market failure."
Sprawl and Urban Growth (420-kb pdf)
Author: Dr. Edward Glaesser (Harvard) and Dr.Matthew Kahn (Tufts University)
Citation: Written as a chapter for volume IV of The Handbook of Urban and Regional Economics (Elsevier, 2004)
Summary:"Sprawl is not the result of explicit government policies or bad urban planning, but rather the inexorable product of car-based living."
Quote: Perhaps the most interesting finding is that "car-based edge cities have much more racial integration than the older public transportation cities than they replaced."
Cities, regions, and the decline of transport costs (3-mb pdf)
Author: Dr. Edward Glaesser (Harvard) and Janet E. Kohlhase (University of Houston)
Citation: Cambridge, MA: Harvard Institute of Economic Research, 2003, 55 pp.
Summary: Over the past century, the cost of transporting manufactured goods has declined by 90 percent. This has the reduced the need for high-density cities, but low- to medium-density cities still exist because people still need or prefer face-to-face contact.
Quote: "There is little reason for cities to be near natural resources or natural transport hubs. Instead, cities should locate where it is pleasant to live or where governments are friendly. We think that the movement away from the hinterland should best be understood as a flight from natural resources towards consumer preferences."


How Urban Density Intensifies Traffic Congestion and Air Pollution (900-kb pdf)
Author:Wendell Cox
Citation: Goldwater Institute, Arizona Issue Analysis 162, October 2000
Summary: Increasing densities may increase transit usage and reduce per capita driving -- but not by enough to reduce congestion. If doubling density reduces per capita driving by only 10 percent, that results in 90 percent more driving in the same area.
Quote: "Traffic speeds are slower when densities are higher. Given the fact that air pollution rises as speeds decline, this adds to air pollution."
Population Density and Reduced Road Congestion (632-kb pdf)
Author:William Eager, TDA Inc.
Citation: TDA Inc.
Summary: Increased density increases, not reduces congestion. While it is possible that extremely high densities may decrease driving from slightly lower densities, there would still be far more driving per square mile than at typical U.S. urban densities.
Quote: "It is unrealistic to expect that transit will solve our congestion problems."

Smart Growth

Are Urban-Growth Boundaries Really Necessary? (1.1-mb Word document)
Author: Owen McShane
Citation: Presentation given to the Preserving the American Dream conference, San Jose, CA, 11 November 2007, 21 pp.
Summary: Urban-growth boundaries (or metropolitan urban limits, as they are called in some countries) create artificial land shortages that do more harm than good. To recover from smart growth, the first step is to eliminate such boundaries.
Quote: "A clear geometric pattern of a tightly encircled urban form, with pure open space beyond, is totally unnatural, and without historical precedent, unless we count the early fortified towns and villages enclosed within high walls to keep out the marauding tribes of bandits and barbarians."
Do State Growth Management Regulations Reduce Sprawl? (196-kb pdf)
Author: Jerry Anthony
Citation: Urban Affairs Review, January, 2004, pp. 376-397.
Summary: Compares the 13 states that have passed growth-management law with those that have not and finds that the laws had no effect on sprawl.
Quote: "Controlling urban sprawl is a prerequisite for realizing some of the other potential benefits of growth regulations, such as cost efficiencies in the provision of urban public goods and services, making transit options viable, reducing commuting trip lengths, and decreasing urban energy consumption and air pollution levels. The limited effect of state regulations on checking sprawl suggests that other benefits are perhaps not accruing."
Mandated Density: The Blunt Instrument of Smart Growth (604-kb pdf)
Author: by Kenneth Dueker (Portland State University)
Citation: Draft, 2002, 13 pp.,
Summary: Minimum-density zoning won't accomplish the objectives of smart growth, such as getting people to drive less or providing mroe housing choices.
Quote: "Use of minimum density requirements in commercial areas is having the effect of under-building and diverting development from those areas. . . . Preliminary results indicate that small lots (less than 5000 sq. ft.) have a depreciating effect on the price of new, detached single-family houses, controlling for other influences."

The Land Use-Transportation Connection

United States Central Business Districts: 50 Largest Urban Areas 2000 Data on Employment and Transit Work Trips (564-kb pdf)
Authors: Wendell Cox
Citation:, 2006, 25 pp.
Summary: Presents data showing downtown jobs and the share of downtown and urban-area workers who use transit.
Quote: "Transit best serves the most concentrated CBD cores, where its routes generally converge."
Residential Self Selection and Rail Commuting (788-kb pdf)
Author:Robert Cervero and Michael Duncan, UC Berkeley
Citation: University of California Transportation Center research paper 604, 2003,
Summary: Robert Cervero is an urban planner who wants to believe that rail transit will work, but he is also an honest researcher. Here he finds that at least 40 percent of the transit usage near train stations is because people who want to ride transit choose to live there. He concludes that market-responsive zoning and reducing barriers to residential mobility is more important than mandating high-density housing.
Quote: "Public policies should focus less on designing TODs in response to, say, political smart-growth agendas and more on expanding market opportunities that allow those who wish to live near transit to act on their preferences."
Walking, Bicyling, and Urban Landscapes (132-kb pdf)
Author:Robert Cervero and Michael Duncan, UC Berkeley
Citation: University of California Transportation Center research paper 713, 2004,
Summary: Here Cervero finds that the "built environment" exerted far weaker influences on people's decisions to walk or bicycle than other factors. Based on this, he again ends up supporting "market-responsive planning and zoning."
Quote: "Many factors conspire against walking and cycling in contemporary urban American of which car-dependent landscapes is just one."
The Influence of Built-Form and Land Use on Mode Choice (1.1-mb pdf)
Author:Michael Reilly and John Landis, UC Berkeley
Citation: University of California Transportation Center research paper 669, 2003,
Summary: Landis is a colleague of Cervero's who has similar leanings, i.e., he would like to find that land-use planning can influence people's transportation choices. Instead, he finds that the relationships between land-use and transportation are "generally moderate," and may not be "causal" -- i.e., it is likely that changing land use would have little effect on transportation unless you also changed the people.
Quote: "It is quite likely that people who prefer to walk or ride the bus choose to live precisely in neighborhoods that make that easier. Altering the built-form of auto-oriented neighborhoods to make them more pedestrian-oriented without also changing their socio-demographic characteristics would have only a minimal effect on travel behavior."
Curbing Excess Sprawl with Congestion Tolls and Urban Boundaries (524-kb pdf)
Author:Alex Anas, SUNY Buffalo, and Hyok-Joo Rhee, Seoul National University of Technology
Citation: Working paper, 2004
Summary: Congestion-priced tolls can reduce congestion and discourage urban sprawl without urban-growth boundaries. Urban boundaries discourage urban sprawl but increase congestion.
Quote: "Urban boundaries can be efficient if urban workers greatly value the greenbelt or the urban compactness it creates as a pure public good. Nevertheless, such efficient boundaries increase congestion and tolls are still needed to reduce travel times."

Land-Use Policy

Beware Place-Based Planning (80-KB pdf file)
Author: Owen McShane
Citation: Presentation to the 2009 Preserving the American Dream conference, Bellevue, WA, April 18, 2009
Summary: "Place-based planning" is the latest planning fad being used in New Zealand. It attempts to force jobs into downtowns and other existing job centers, thus preventing "job sprawl."
Quote: Place-based planning is "intended to lock present patterns of land use and development in place in spite of the regions constantly changing economy, technology and demographics."
Mega-Amalgamation: Another Entry Point for Place-Based Planning (176-KB pdf file)
Author: Owen McShane
Citation: Presentation to the 2009 Preserving the American Dream conference, Bellevue, WA, April 18, 2009
Summary: Critiques a proposal to merge the eight cities in the Auckland, NZ, region into one "super city."
Quote: "The largely unspoken issue was that the proponents of Smart Growth for Auckland had been frustrated by the fact that the peripheral cities had resisted the centralizing demands of Smart Growth and the ongoing assumption that all commuters were heading for downtown. Instead they wanted control over their own destiny and wanted to provide employment centres in their own backyard."
Suburbs as Exit, Suburbs as Entrance (228-kb pdf file)
Author: Nicole Stelle Garnett
Citation: Michigan Law Review, November, 2007, 28 pp.
Summary: Most people assume suburbanites are people who fled the cities. In reality, for most Americans, suburbs have become points of entrance to, not exit from, urban life. This weakens the case for policies constraining urban growth.
Quote: "Proponents of intrametropolitan equity should seek to maximize city competitiveness without restricting suburban growth. Cities can best compete by capitalizing on urban distinctiveness. . . . This argument runs counter to those who argue that cities cannot compete for new development because metropolitan fragmentation systematically disadvantages them."
The Quiet Success: Telecommuting's Impact on Transportation and Beyond (1.2-mb pdf)
Authors: Ted Balaker
Citation: Los Angeles, CA: Reason Foundation, 2005, 57 pp.
Summary: Telecommuting is growing faster than transit ridership. However, unfriendly zoning ordinances and other existing laws often discourage it.
Quote: "Telecommuting may be the most cost-effective way to reduce rush-hour traffic and it can even improve how a weary nation copes with disasters, from hurricanes to terrorist attacks."
U.S. Census Domestic Migration Data Reveals Heavy Core Area Losses: Exodus to the Suburbs and Beyond Continues (468-kb pdf)
Authors: Wendell Cox
Citation:, 2006, 32 pp.
Summary: Presents 2000 to 2004 census data for every U.S. metropolitan area showing that urban core counties continue to lose population while suburban counties grow.
Quote: "Suburban areas generally experienced net domestic migration increases, but were often less than the core losses."
Ballot Box Planning and Growth Management (1.1-mb pdf file)
Author: William Fulton and Mai Nguyen
Citation: Sacramento, CA: Local Government Commission, 2005, 24 pp.
Summary: Explains the role that ballot-box zoning has played in local government, particularly in California.
Quote: "So-called 'subsequent voter approval' requirements have been growing in popularity in recent years. These are typically enacted by ballot measure and have the effect of 'locking in' the current zoning or general plan land use designation. Most often, they have been used to discourage 'upzonings' and rezoning of property from agricultural use or open space to urban use. Obviously, they foster a culture of ballot-box planning in communities: once the voter requirement has been instituted,it is a virtual guarantee that future issues will be decided at the ballot box."
The Private Neighborhood (172-kb pdf)
Author: Robert Nelson (University of Maryland)
Citation: Regulation magazine, Summer 2004, pp. 40-46
Summary: Homeowners associations, condominiums, and cooperatives are all forms of collective ownership over certain rights, and represent alternatives to zoning.
Quote: "A new legal mechanism is necessary, however, for the privatizing of land-use controls and neighborhood governance in inner cities and other existing developed areas. If such a mechanism were established by a state legislature, private neighborhood government might extend some day to encompass the entire metropolitan area."
From BIDs to RIDs: Creating Residential Improvement Districts (216-kb pdf file)
Author: Robert Nelson
Citation: Tallahassee, FL: Florida State Uniersity, 2006
Summary: Many states allow business communities to form "business improvement districts" that charge property owners an annual fee to pay for improvements. Nelson suggests that residential areas could be allowed to form similar districts.
Quote: "State legislation to authorize the creation of RIDs would extend some of the same advantages of private community associations to the residents of older neighborhoods. A RID might in fact be seen as a limited version of a community association."
Privatizing the Neighborhood: A Proposal to Replace Zoning with Private Collective Property Rights to Existing Neighborhoods (8.1-mb pdf file)
Author: Robert Nelson
Citation: George Mason Law Review, Summer, 1999, pp. 827-880.
Summary: State legislatures should grant neighborhoods the ability to opt out of zoning and to protect their property values through deed restrictions.
Quote: "Citizens in an existing neighborhood could petition the state government, triggering procedures that could lead to the formation of this new instrument of private neighborhood ownership and governance. . . tailored to the needs of each individual neighborhood."
Collective Private Ownership of American Housing: A Social Revolution in Local Governance (104-kb pdf)
Author: Robert Nelson (University of Maryland)
Citation: Adopted from a forthcoming book, Privatizing the Neighborhood
Summary: Protective covenants monitored by homeowner associations are an attractive alternative to zoning, bringing governance to a very local level and providing homeowners with security about the future of their neighborhoods. Dr. Nelson proposes a method of transitioning from zoning to such covenants.
Quote: "In the long run municipal zoning in the United States perhaps is best abolished. The existing functions of zoning perhaps instead should be served through private neighborhood associations."
Private Communities, Market Institutions, and Planning (308-kb pdf)
Authors: F. Frederic Deng, Dr. Peter Gordon, and Dr. Harry Richardson, USC
Citation: Unpublished, 2002, 50 pp.
Summary: Common Interest Developments (CIDs) have grown from 1 percent of U.S. housing to 15 percent since 1970. This paper explains why CIDs solve both the NIMBY problem and the public goods problem better than conventional planning and regional government.
Quote: "In CIDs, homeowners associations are directly delegated by homeowners; they have mutual obligations towards each other. The free-rider problem in public goods provision disappears."
Developers: The Real City Planners (84-kb pdf)
Authors: Dr. Peter Gordon and Michael Keston
Citation: Unpublished, 2000, 4 pp.
Summary: Entrepreneurs have developed and brought to market the idea of "common interest developments" (CIDs), planned developments with governance structures that enforce private zoning codes.
Quote: "Just as conventional zoning has appeal as a way to preserve neighborhood character and assure property values, private zoning is one better because third parties are presumably kept at arms length."
Can Both Sides of the Sprawl Debate Find Common Ground on Property Rights? (web page)
Author:Ronald Utt, Heritage Foundation
Citation: Heritage WebMemo #730, 2005
Summary: Sprawl opponents claim sprawl is caused by restrictive zoning. Smart-growth opponents claim smart growth requires restrictive zoning. Perhaps they can both agree to oppose restrictive zoning.
Quote: "Instead of letting the planners have their way, communities should work to restore and strengthen individual property rights. Part of this is giving property owners and builders the freedom to construct housing that people want, not what the planners want to impose on them."

Case Studies

San Jose Demonstrates the Limits of Urban Growth Boundaries and Urban Rail (472-kb pdf)
Author:Randal O'Toole
Citation: Los Angeles, CA: Reason Foundation, 2003, 22 pp.
Summary: San Jose's urban-growth boundary and other restrictive regulations have made Silicon Valley one of the nation's least affordable housing markets.
Quote: "Former Mayor Janet Gray Hayes even called a plan to develop Coyote Valley 'the Los Angelization of San Jose.' In fact, it is her densification and congestification that is turning San Jose into Los Angeles, the densest and most congested urban area in America."

Urban Design

Back to the Future: Is Form-Based Code an Efficacious Tool for Shaping Modern Civic Life? (264-kb pdf file)
Author: Lolita Buckner Inniss
Citation: Cleveland, OH: Cleveland State University, 2007, 39 pp.
Summary: Form-based code is not an effective way to solve urban problems.
Quote: "in advocating for norms to re-create the city of the past, form-based code seeks to implement by design what was essentially a spontaneous and self-generated form of social organization driven largely by economic concerns rather than social or political concerns."
In Defense of Strip Development (48-kb rtf)
Author:Randal O'Toole
Citation: Thoreau Institute Vanishing Automobile Update #42, 2003,
Summary: Strip developments make sense because businesses want to locate on busy streets but people want to live on quiet streets.
Quote: "Strip developments offer an incredible variety of goods and services, many of which are not found in shopping malls, city centers, or other, more heavily planned areas."
Reconsidering the Cul-de-Sac (784-kb pdf)
Author: Michael Southworth, UC Berkeley, and Eran Ben-Joseph, MIT
Citation: Access magazine, #24 (Spring, 2004), pp. 28-33.
Summary: Urban planners tend to disparage cul-de-sacs in the suburbs even as they create them in the cities. In fact, they produce many benefits.
Quote: "Berkeley, California's grid system has been converted into cul-de-sacs and loops by placing bollards, large concrete planters, or planted islands as traffic barriers across some intersections."
The Effects of Subdivision Design on Housing Values: The Case of Alleyways (56-kb pdf)
Author: Dr. Randall S. Guttery (University of North Texas)
Citation: Journal of Real Estate Research, vol. 23, no. 3 (2002), pp. 265-273
Summary: Analyzed more than 1,600 homes in Denton, Texas, and found that alleys (favored by New Urbanists) reduced home values by more than 5 percent.
Quote: "These findings hopefully will influence New Urbanism subdivision designers to reconsider alleyways in favor of traditional suburban parking."

Urban Redevelopment

Opportunity Urbanism: An Emerging Paradigm for the 21st Century (2.8-mb pdf file)
Author: Joel Kotkin
Citation: Houston, TX: Greater Houston Partnership, 2007, 84 pp.
Summary: Opportunity Urbanism stresses that the vibrant cities result from a region's ability to create jobs, offer affordable homes, and present entrepreneurial openings to a diverse population.
Quote: "One of the primiary historic roles of cities has been to nurture and grow a middle class -- to be an engine of upward mobility. [In contrast,] comtemporary trends in thought regarding city development concentrate not on upward mobility, or even on the middle class, but on what might best be called an 'elite' strategy."
Development Without Eminent Domain (1.8-mb pdf)
Author: Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle
Citation: Arlington, VA: Institute for Justice, 2007, 19 pp.
Summary: Describes how Anaheim revived its urban core through deregulation instead of eminent domain and tax-increment financing.
Quote: " If eminent domain isn't the answer, what tool should cities use to stimulate economic development? The answer is simple: market forces."
Government or Capitalism as a Solution to Rural Population Loss? (448-kb pdf file)
Author: Deborah Thornton
Citation: Mt. Pleasant, IA: Public Interest Institute, 2007, 20 pp.
Summary: To provide jobs in declining rural areas, Iowa has used taxpayers to develop a destination resort designed to attract the "creative class." In contrast, other destination resorts are being built without taxpayer funds.
Quote: "Several attempts to privately develop this park failed. Why should the taxpayers of Iowa assume the risk?"
Downtown Rebound (52-kb pdf)
Author:Rebecca Sohmer and Robert Lang, Fannie Mae Foundation
Citation: Fannie Mae Foundation,
Summary: Populations are growing in eighteen of twenty-four downtowns studied. Yet the actual numbers are very small: though the total populations of the urban areas with growing downtown populations was nearly 60 million, downtown growth was less than 55,000 (see spreadsheet), or one-tenth of one percent. In every area cited, suburban growth outpaced downtown growth by at least 30 times.
Quote: "The unique history of downtown areas in combination with their central location and proximity to mass transit, work, and amenities offers potential for the growth of the 1990s to continue into the next decade."
Redevelopment: The Unknown Government (224-kb Word document)
Author:Chris Norby, Fullerton, California
Summary: Describes California's system of redevelopment agencies, which use eminent domain and tax-increment financing to redevelop major portions of urban areas. Although written about California, many states allow citis to have similar agencies.
Quote: "There is an unknown layer of government in California. . . which currently consumes 8 percent of all property taxes statewide."

Property Rights

Doomsday? No Way: Economic Trends and Post-Kelo Eminent Domain (800-kb pdf file)
Author: Dick Carpenter and John Ross
Citation: Washington, DC: Institute for Justice, 2008, 19 pp.
Summary: Contrary to the claims of cities that favor use of eminent domain for urban redevelopment, eminent domain reform laws passed by the various states have produced no ill economic effects.
Quote: "Large-scale economic development can and does occur without eminent domain."
The Real Story of Eminent Domain in Virginia: The Rise, Fall, and Undetermined Future of Private Property Rights in the Commonwealth ( file)
Author: Jeremy Hopkins
Citation: Gainesville, VA: Virginia Institute for Public Policy, 2006, 80 pp.
Summary: A collection of horror stories of eminent domain abuse in Virginia.
Quote: "A most egregious abuse occurred in the case of Halifax County v. Lacy [in which the county] took the Lacy's property to build a driveway for the Lacy's neighbor. The board unabashedly admitted that the taking was to 'serve' the neighboring family."
The Anti-Kelo: A heavy government hand isn't necessary for economic development (32-kb Word document)
Authors: Steven Greenhut
Citation: Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2006.
Summary: Rather than promote economic development through subsidies, Anaheim has encouraged it by deregulating its downtown area.
Quote: "Anaheim created a land-value premium by creating an overlay zone that allowed almost any imaginable use of property. Because current owners could now sell to a wider range of buyers, the Platinum Triangle is booming, with billions in private investment, millions of square feet of office, restaurant and retail space, and more than a dozen new high-rises in the works."
Yes on 37 Radio Ad (992-kb mpeg)
Author: Family Farm Preservation PAC
Citation: Radio ad used during the 2004 campaign to protect Oregon property rights
Summary: Dorothy English is a 91-year-old woman fighting to protect her right to use her land as she was legally allowed to use it when she purchased it. This is an extremely moving ad that helped convince 61 percent of Oregon voters to support the measure.
Quote: "My husband and I bought 40 acres in Multnomah County in 1953. But Multnomah County took that away from us. And now I can't do anything with my property."
Opening the Floodgates: Eminent Domain Abuse in the Post-Kelo World (17.6-mb pdf)
Author: Dana Berliner
Citation: Arlington, VA: Castle Coalition, 2006, 104 pp.
Summary: Reviews eminent domain cases in 27 states and the District of Columbia since the Supreme Court's Kelo decision.
Quote: "The use of eminent domain for private development has skyrocketed in the past year. Since the Court issued its decision in Kelo, local governments have threatened or condemned more than 5,783 properties for private projects."
Mine and Thine Distinct: What Kelo Says About Our Path (336-kb pdf file)
Author: Timothy Sandefur
Citation: Chapman Law Review, 10 (1), 48 pp.
Summary: The Kelo decision was one more step in the gradual erosion of the framer's vision of the Constitution.
Quote: "The Lockean view sees government as a tool for protecting the rights of individuals. The Hobbesean view sees the government as primary and individuals as secondary and believes that rights are created by society for certain prudential reasons, and when society's 'diverser and always evolving needs' require that the citizen relenquish those rights, the courts should not stand in the way."
Redevelopment Wrecks: 20 Failed Projects Involving Eminent Domain Abuse (1.4-mb pdf)
Author: Castle Coalition
Citation: Arlington, VA: Castle Coalition, 2006, 18 pp.
Summary: The Supreme Court approved the Kelo taking because it was backed up by a "comprehensive economic development plan." This paper documents numerous instances of such takings whose plans ended in disaster.
Quote: "Failures occur for a range of reasons: financing fell through, developers backed out, tenants were not secured, market conditions changed, or incompetence prevailed. These reasons show why economic development is best done through the marketplace rather than by government force. Simply put, governments do not make very good real estate speculators."
Statewide Regulatory Takings Reform: Exporting Oregon's Measure 37 to Other States (596-kb pdf)
Authors: Leonard C. Gilroy
Citation: Los Angeles, CA: Reason Foundation, 2006, 58 pp.
Summary: Provides a state-by-state review of efforts to protect property rights from land-use regulation.
Quote: "Citizens, activists, and elected officials across the nation can look to Measure 37 as a model for regulatory reform."
Before Kelo: Federal grants encourage excessive use of emiment domain (288-kb pdf)
Authors: William Fischel
Citation: Regulation magazine, Winter 2005-2006, pp. 32-35.
Summary: Local governments use eminent domain, says Fischel, mainly because state and federal governments encourage them to do so.
Quote: "Local governments . . . have been the front man, and now the fall guy, for state and federal policies that serve job-related interest-groups and fail to take into account local concerns about quality of life."
Eminent Domain, Private Property, and Redevelopment (556-kb pdf)
Author:Samuel Staley and John Blair
Citation: Reason Foundation Policy Study 331, 2005
Summary: Eminent domain in urban development projects tends to be arbitrary, inequitable, serving private purposes, and without substantive limits.
Quote: "In Mesa, Arizona . . . eminent domain was a tool of first resort, not last resort."
Do Holdout Problems Justify Compulsory Right-of-Way Purchase and Public Provision of Roads? (280-kb pdf)
Author:Bruce Benson, Florida State University
Citation: Chapter of forthcoming book, Private Roads to the Future
Summary: One justification for eminent domain is that someone may "holdout" or refuse to sell a property that is critically needed for, say, a road. This is also a justification for public instead of private roads. But Benson shows that holdout problems are exaggerated while potential problems with misuse of eminent domain are much more serious.
Quote: "The increase in the rental value of the remaining land due to proximity and access to the road, easily can be substantially more than the price of the land that is sold for right-of-way. Thus, there clearly are strong incentives for many landowners to sell part of their land that can offset the incentives to hold out."

Tax-Increment Financing

The Right Tool for the Job? (Executive Summary) (24-kb pdf)
The Right Tool for the Job? (Volume 1) (148-kb pdf)
The Right Tool for the Job? (Volume 2) (160-kb pdf)
Author:The Developing Neighborhood Alternatives Project
Citation: 2003,
Summary: Tax-increment financing doesn't work, hurts neighborhoods, and is unfair.
Quote: "TIF does not tend to produce a net increase in economic activity; favors large businesses over small businesses; often excludes local businesses and residents from the planning process; and operates in a manner that contradicts conventional notions of justice and fairness."
The Effects of Tax Increment Financing on Economic Development (116-kb pdf)
Author:Richard Dye, Lake Forest College and David Merriman, University of Chicago
Citation: Working paper
Summary: TIFs do not necessarily promote economic development.
Quote: "In contrast to the conventional wisdom, we find evidence that cities that adopt TIF grow more slowly than those that do not."
Do Tax Increment Finance Districts in Iowa Spur Regional Economic and Demographic Growth? (112-kb pdf)
Author:David Swenson and Liesl Eathington, Iowa State University
Citation: 2002
Summary: The evidence indicates that the benefits of TIFs in Iowa do not exceed the costs.
Quote: "Existing taxpayers, householders, wage earners, and retirees are aggressively subsidizing business growth and population via this practice."
Urban Renewal in Colorado's Front Range (4.1-mb PowerPoint)
Authors: Jennifer Lang
Citation: PowerPoint presentation at the 2006 Preserving the American Dream conference, 32 slides.
Summary: Colorado urban development agencies divert property taxes (TIF) and sales taxes (PIF) from schools and other services to subsidize transit-oriented developments.
Quote: "Rail transit is driving urban-renewal transit-oriented developments. These are marketed as smart growth and progressive, but the marketing glosses over the finances."
TIF: The Hidden Cost of Rail Transit (112-kb pdf)
Authors: Randal O'Toole
Citation: Golden, CO: Independent Institute, 2004, 2 pp.
Summary: To promote the compact development that transit agencies believe will boost rail transit ridership, cities provide subsidies to developers in the form of tax-increment financing, effectively diverting property taxes (and sometimes sales taxes) from schools and other urban services back to the developers themselves.
Quote: "Cities in the Denver metro area plan to use eminent domain to obtain land for redevelopment near rail transit stations. But that won't be enough; they will also need to subsidize many if not most of the developments."

Transit-Oriented Developments

The Mythical World of Transit-Oriented Developments (32-kb pdf)
Author:John Charles, Cascade Policy Institute
Citation: Cascade Policy Institute Policy Perspective 1019, 2001
Summary: Portland is providing tax abatements and subsidies to developers who build high-density developments near transit lines. Yet there is no evidence these developments are increasing transit ridership or reducing congestion.
Quote: "Has the dream of transit-oriented living been realized? Surprisingly, none of the local TOD advocates knows the answer. Neither Portland nor Tri-Met has done any monitoring to see how people who live there actually travel."
TOD: A Solution in Search of a Problem (152-kb pdf)
Author:John Charles, Cascade Policy Institute
Citation: Cascade Commentary 2003-24, July, 2003
Summary: There is no evidence to indicate that transit-oriented developments in the Portland area are reducing congestion, increasing transit usage, or cost less to build than traditional suburban neighborhoods.
Quote: "Attempting to retrofit the suburbs through TOD will be a costly exercise in futility, while making regional traffic problems worse. Local transportation officials should accept that fact and stop wasting money on nostalgia trips into the last century."
The Mythical World of Transit-Oriented Developments: Light Rail and the Orenco Neighborhood (896-kb pdf)
Author:John Charles and Michael Barton, Cascade Policy Institute
Citation: Cascade Policy Institute, 2003
Summary: Though widely acclaimed in the planning literature, the Orenco has not reduced traffic or improved air quality, and the high-density zoning mandated for parts of the area are actually retarding development.
Quote: "Many local residents do not feel that high-density development improves their quality of life."
The Mythical World of Transit-Oriented Developments: Steele Park in Washington County (344-kb pdf)
Author:Michael Barton, Cascade Policy Institute
Citation: Cascade Policy Institute, 2003
Summary: Steele Park is a high-density, single-family neighborhood that one county planner calls a "long-range fiasco" because it is disliked by adjacent neighborhoods, occupied mainly by renters, and opposed by the fire marshall.
Quote: "Most residents don't use light rail regularly, and those who do tend to drive the quarter mile to TriMet's free Park-n-Ride lot. Local roads receive more traffic from the Steele Park development than they would have under the original, medium-density design, and consequently it's impossible to argue that TOD has resulted in improved air quality."

Post-Katrina Recovery

Helping Homeowners in the Gulf Post-Katrina: The Road Home ( file)
Author: Eileen Norcross and Anthony Skriba
Citation: Washington, DC: Mercatus Center (draft), 2007
Summary: Louisiana is spending $6.9 billion on a program called "the Road Home" that is becoming a nightmare for people trying to rebuild.
Quote: "Road Home was intended as more than simply a disaster compensation program: it fashioned itself as both planning and housing policy. . . . One result has been to slow payouts. The effect of these delays can be catastrophic for long-term recovery."
Government Dines on Katrina Leftovers (52-kb pdf file)
Author: Emily Chamlee-Wright and Daniel Rothschild
Citation: Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2006, p. A15.
Summary: New Orleans is using eminent domain to take and demolish many homes damaged by Katrina. This has turned left-wing community organizers into property-rights activists.
Quote: "This has become a fight between those who believe in organic urban development and those who favor political central planning."
The Long Road Back: Signal Noise in the Post-Katrina Context (184-kb pdf file)
Author: Emily Chamlee-Wright
Citation: The Independent Review, Fall 2001, pp. 235-259.
Summary: When compared with reconstruction after other historic disasters, the recovery of New Orleans has been much delayed, and those delays have resulted from uncertainties and confusion caused by government disaster-relief and planning processes.
Quote: "In in the post-Katrina environment, many of the signals on which people depend to make informed and responsible decisions have been difficult to read. . . . Disaster-relief policies and procedures, government management of flood-protection and Ԩood insurance programs, and the regime uncertainty created by postdisaster redevelopment planning are principal sources of this noise, distorting the signaling process that otherwise would guide swift and responsible adjustment to the new circumstances."