Kaid Benfield reports on a new book about housing affordability and some interesting data it reveals about the way we subsidize sprawling developments.
According to the book, “municipal service costs in low-density, sprawling locations can be as much as two and a half times as those in compact, higher-density areas.” Smart growth fans like me are pretty aware of this already. It’s a common sense but important argument for compact, walkable growth.
But what is not as well know is the way that sprawl gets subsidized by the people who are living in those more efficient compact areas.
…fees imposed on new development… seldom make any distinction between compact development and sprawl, or between automobile-dependent locations and transit-oriented ones. This creates a regressive system in which smarter development and, in many cases, less affluent residents, subsidize sprawl by paying more than their fair share while the sprawl residents pay less.
Interestingly, the post points out that the City of Atlanta is part of the effort to correct this problem by reducing impact fees for compact development near transit — a fact that could explain this encouraging recent report: “MARTA officials say they are receiving more interest from developers that are considering projects near existing train stations.”
It’s nice to know that Atlanta is on the leading edge with ideas for reducing the environment and fiscal damage of sprawl! I’m eager to see an increase in good, walkable infill near transit here.
Top photo of Tribute Lofts from Atlanta Development Authority's Flickr
Bottom photo of metro Atlanta sprawl from Flickr user elmada