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Make Smart Growth Affordable by Building More of It

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we're looking at a post from Kaid Benfield on NRDC Switchboard about smart growth and how to make it more affordable. The answer, in a nutshell, is to build more of it -- and the market tells us the demand is there.

Benfield writes about a recent paper by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Institute called "Where We Want To Be: Home Location Preferences And Their Implications For Smart Growth (pdf)." Benfield writes:

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One of the more frustrating challenges for people in our field to overcome is a certain past-is-destiny argument from sprawl defenders who contend that past trends in favor of large-lot, dispersed, automobile-dependent development constitute proof that Americans want more of it in the future. 

In fact, signals in the market have never been clearer that consumer preferences are changing and that demand for smart growth will outpace both demand for sprawl and current smart growth supply trends in the coming decades.…

Litman walks the reader through the evidence, from market surveys to trend data to quite a bit of academic research, all suggesting that, while demand for large-lot suburban homes will remain (an important point), it is not where the growth in demand will occur.

Litman's work is a must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between smart growth and market forces.

More from around the network: Bike Commuting in Columbus looks at why cyclists in that city break the law. The WashCycle examines a BBC report on risks for women bikers. And St. Louis Urban Workshop blogs about the importance of complete streets in transit planning.