Is “smart growth” conservative?

This post on the Next American City site argues yes.  Below is my post indicating my objections.

There is a grain of truth in your argument that smart growth is consistent with conservative principles, but just a tiny grain.

Deregulating land use by letting individuals implement their plans for their property is the essence of conservative land use policy.  But this would mean that the government planners, university faculty teaching planning and planning consultants would be out of business.  Public choice theory predicts that the “planning-industrial complex” will not give up its power easily.

Planners in North Carolina illustrate this point.  For every regulation they want to eliminate, they propose two more to take their place.  Recently a consultant recommended that Raleigh eliminate its codes that prohibit mixed-use development.  Then recommended detailed form-based codes to control new mixed-use developments. We, planners argue, cannot let developers build ugly buildings. We have to use our power to impose our aesthetics on the community.

Single use zoning fads of the last century are being replaced with 21st century land use regulation fads, not conservative planning principles.

Dr. Michael Sanera

Director of Research and Local Government Studies

John Locke Foundation, Raleigh, NC

See my report, A Planners’ Glossary