Fixing the Future, Today

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy—also affectionately known as the Lincoln Land Institute—is a Cambridge, Mass, think tank active in “issues involving the use, regulation, and taxation of land.”  Their material tends to be a bit esoteric (i.e. “We explore the effects of land value taxation and the practical, administrative, and political issues raised by its implementation.”) but I have found them to be an interesting source of thought-provoking nonpartisan analysis on issues of urbanization in the United States and abroad.

I noticed this bit in a recent email newsletter/blog and thought I’d pass it on:

Reshaping development patterns

Call them the new ghost towns – “premature” subdivisions that have been laid out in anticipation of a continuing housing boom and unfettered growth at the periphery. In many areas there is a large surplus of already platted lots, improperly located to foster smart growth. Teton County, Idaho has granted development entitlements in the rural countryside sufficient to quadruple their population. Most of these lots have non-existent or poor services.
Even in areas that expect large increases in population, these premature subdivisions are in the wrong location to foster smart growth patterns. In Arizona’s Sun Corridor, approximately one million undeveloped lots, many not even platted yet, have been entitled and would lead to further sprawl.
The current economic downturn provides an opportunity to address past impacts, better anticipate and prepare for future growth and improve property values, says senior fellow Armando Carbonell, who will be moderating a panel, Reshaping Development Patterns, at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Charlotte Feb. 3.
Carbonell sees an opportunity to redesign communities to transfer development pressure from previously approved development areas to foster more sustainable development. For example, in the suburbs of the Northeast, there are projects that remake the suburban highway, turning “edge city” districts into compact mixed-use centers, and using green infrastructure strategies for shaping new communities at the metropolitan fringe.”There’s a sponge-like capacity to accommodate population growth without any further peripheral development,” says Carbonell.
The panelists exploring these issues will be Arthur “Chris” Nelson, Metropolitan Research Center, University of Utah, on demographic and population trends; Jim Holway, head of Western Land and Communities, the Lincoln Institute-Sonoran Institute joint venture; and Thomas Wright, executive director of the Regional Plan Association of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
New Partners for Smart Growth this year marks its 10th anniversary as a collaboration of the Loal Government Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.

I have a friend, Pete, in Phoenix who bounced back from the Financial Crises into a job managing foreclosed properties.  In some ways, his story strikes me as the classic lemons-into-lemonade, taking his former banking company’s meltdown and turning the trend into a new opportunity.

Maybe we ALL can learn something from Pete.  We can look at all of the half-finished and abandoned development, at our fringes and in urban centers, as a glass half-empty.  Or we can look at these “ghost towns” as an opportunity to do development better in a glass half-full future.

How about we start to fix the future, today?


This entry was posted in Economy, Policy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.