. . . . . . . . . . . .This report identifies the most common subsidies that create sprawl and provides examples from across the United States. For each type of subsidy we provide analysis and solutions. Where appropriate, our report also provides figures for the cost of these subsidies and calculates the cost of sprawl.
Roads and HighwaysRoads are the lifeblood of sprawl. Building new roads encourages sprawling development and, because of the high cost, crowds out other transportation options. And when driving becomes the only choice, residents must drive for every chore. This leads to gridlocked traffic, frustrated drivers and calls for bigger roads. But it's impossible to build our way out of this mess-new lanes and new roads act like magnets for new traffic, encouraging more people to drive more miles. Recent research has shown that up to one-half of the additional lanes or roads built are filled by this new traffic. This means that highways designed to meet an area's needs for a decade or more become full of traffic in a fraction of that time - putting communities right back where they started.
SchoolsA good education is priceless and our children deserve top-notch schools. But, like a cat chasing its tail, sprawl is forcing our school districts to blow their budgets building new schools rather than making our school system great. In community after community, we've seen districts shutting schools in existing neighborhoods as they build new ones on the fringe. The result: We lack the money we need for programs and teachers; the quality of education suffers and our kids pay the price.
UtilitiesBuilding a housing development outside of town saps resources from the community that provides the utilities. The high cost of extending water and sewer systems out to the fringe is rarely paid for by new development. And haphazard growth just compounds this-the farther from existing resources and the more spread-out the development, the more expensive it is to extend the needed infrastructure.
ServicesNot only does sprawling development require roads, schools and utilities, it also requires police, fire and emergency medical services. These services are as expensive as they are important. But once again, the taxes and fees generated don't cover the costs-turning a shared resource into a hidden subsidy.
Corporate SubsidiesThough the overwhelming majority of Americans want to protect green spaces like parks, wetlands and farm land, many state and local governments actually encourage the development of these lands. Why? Politicians responsible for the giveaways claim that they are necessary to grow the local economy. However, as we detail, this Faustian bargain rarely nets the economic benefits that its boosters promise. In fact, in many cases, leaving a field undeveloped or a wetland unfilled is better for an area's economy than developing it.
SolutionsIn our conclusion we discuss innovative solutions and successful communities. The good news is that some of the most sprawl-choked places-like Virginia's Prince William County and Florida's Palm Beach County-are turning back the tide of haphazard growth with simple changes in civic and fiscal policy. Though the approaches differ, the underlying principle is the same: We must require developers to pay the true cost of new development and use smart-growth techniques to both minimize these costs and protect the environment.
The vast majority of Americans want clean, safe, livable communities -yet many fear that we are powerless to slow sprawl. The good news is that there are solutions. There are many ways to reign in out-of-control development. And, as this report illustrates, there are many ways to prevent it. Sprawl is the fruit of 50 years of government subsidies. Cutting these subsidies will not just save us billions of dollars-it will save habitats and green space, lead to cleaner air and water, and revitalize our towns, cities and suburbs. . . . . . . . . . . THIS IS PART 2 OF A SERIES BY SIERRA CLUB ON HOW URBAN SPRAWL IS CREATED.


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