Smart Growth in the Southeast
Growth has brought many benefits to the Southeast, but the sprawling, inefficient auto-dependent pattern characterizing most development over several decades carries a high price tag for taxpayers, our health, and our environment. Moreover, the benefits—as well as the burdens—of growth have not been distributed equitably.
The Southeast is sprawling faster than any other part of the country. Our region’s haphazard and inefficient development patterns and asphalt-centered transportation programs have increased air and water pollution, spurred the rapid loss of farmland and natural areas, and exacerbated the effects of climate change on our communities.
SELC’s experts are advocating smart growth policies at the state and local levels that will help make communities more resilient, sustainable, equitable, and vibrant while reducing the cost to taxpayers to serve growth.
Smart Growth Is Smart Economics
Smarter growth alternatives emphasize new and revitalized communities that are well-designed, walkable, and better integrate where we live, work, and shop in order to reduce the need to drive everywhere and to provide greater housing and transportation choices for all.
The multiple advantages of smart growth for our economy and our pocketbooks include:
- Significantly lower costs to taxpayers to provide infrastructure and services
- Enhanced economic competitiveness and job growth
- Higher quality of life that helps attract businesses and workers
- Thriving communities and commercial corridors
- Shorter commutes that save money for people and businesses
- More mixed-income, affordable housing and increased access to jobs
Smart Growth Is Good for Our Health
Communities that keep sprawl in check and reduce dependence on auto travel also enjoy multiple health benefits, including cleaner air, cleaner water, and more opportunities for physical activity such as bicycling and walking. In addition, more and more localities are making it a priority to increase the availability of healthy food, to make new buildings healthier and more energy efficient, and to improve access to health care and other services.
Keeping Housing Affordable and Transportation Costs Down
The high cost of housing can push people farther out of town. But moving farther out in search of affordable housing often leads to higher transportation costs. By contrast, households at or near the center of a town or city—particularly those near transit—tend to spend far less of their income on transportation. SELC is championing policies that promote cleaner, healthier, more vibrant communities that can help keep both housing and transportation costs within reach for more people.
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