Growth Control and Transit Initiatives on the November
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.