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Vol. 11, No. 6 - November/December 2000

Growth Control and Transit Initiatives on the November Ballot
Growth control measures and transit referenda figured prominently on the ballot in the November elections. Although no clear national trends could be discerned from these votes, the defeat of two high-profile anti-sprawl initiatives in Arizona and Colorado sent the message that anti-sprawl measures are vulnerable when faced with opposition from advocates of affordable housing. In both states, the growth control initiatives were confronted with populist criticism that they merely preserve open space for the affluent while driving up housing costs for middle income families.

News Analysis & Commentary

  • Landmark Regulatory Case Argued in the Supreme Court
  • In So. California, Commuters' Travel Habits Continue Unchanged
  • California's Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate Reaffirmed

Seattle's LINK Project: The Anatomy of a Rail Controversy
Like many other transit authorities, Seattle's "Sound Transit," has set its sights on a rail system. Its "Central Link" proposal, which calls for a light rail line from SeaTac airport through central Seattle to the University District and eventually beyond, has set off a heated debate. Proponents of the rail project claim the rail line is essential to the region's future mobility and is the best way to save Seattle from sprawl and massive gridlock. Critics contend the rail system's costs are out of control and the project contains the seeds of a financial disaster. A behind-the-scenes battle over the project has recently boiled over into the open, dividing the community as no other issue has done in recent history.

The Case for "Outsourcing"
In the November elections, California voters approved a measure (Proposition 35) that allows state agencies to contract with private firms for transportation design and engineering services. The California ballot initiative has been the latest manifestation of a nation-wide debate about the merits of "outsourcing."

The Cult of Portland
Portland, Oregon has long been venerated by smart growth crusaders as a model of orderly land use planning. The city has been lionized by the liberal establishment, praised by progressive national magazines as a showcase of sprawl control, and turned into a place of pilgrimage for countless delegations of admiring planners. But some observers, including local activists John Charles of Portland's Cascade Institute and Randall O'Toole of Oregon's Thoreau Institute, think the mystique of Portland is overblown. They argue that Portland's light rail system has had little impact on travel patterns and the vaunted urban growth boundary, aimed at limiting suburban development, has created a housing shortage that has turned Portland into one of the least affordable cities in the nation. Portland's critics have been lately joined by an unlikely bedfellow, Andres Duany, the high priest of New Urbanism.

 



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