As someone who spent my early post-college years as an urban planner wrapped up in the profession’s Smart Growth groupthink (before I was shown “the light” by Reason and others), I am always heartened when I run into an engaging piece that exposes Smart Growth for the sham it is. Orange County Register editorial writer Steven Greenhut (who, by the way, has a new book out detailing the rampant abuse of eminent domain) offers a scathing critique of Smart Growth on LewRockwell.com. Here’s an excerpt: “It’s one of the most evil and selfish philosophies out there, but it also is gaining steam throughout the country. I’ve ridiculed its ideas as officials try to implement it in the urbanized Los Angeles basin, but I never viewed it as a serious threat to change the living patterns of that massively populated, predominantly suburban region. It is driving up costs and harming some places, but it is more of a side show in a region where growth is driven by many factors. But in Bozeman and other small places, the Smart Growthers, or New Urbanists, have the ability to really mess things up.” I know that most of my planner friends will just write this off as yet more evil propaganda from the “sprawl lobby,” but I have to hope that there are others like me who, with the help of well-argued pieces like Greenhut’s, can start to break free from the Smart Growth stranglehold that grips the planning profession.
Leonard Gilroy is vice president of government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He also serves as senior managing director of the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation, which assists policymakers and other stakeholders in designing, analyzing and implementing public sector pension reforms.