Sprawl to ruin, or dense with green space for quality of life

Jeffrey H. Dorfman, Professor, Dept. of Agricultural & Applied Economics, The University of Georgia:
Local governments must ensure balanced growth, as sprawling residential growth is a certain ticket to fiscal ruin*
* Or at least big tax increases.
See The Economics of Growth, Sprawl and Land Use Decisions.
  • Green spaces increase property values of surrounding land
  • Green and open spaces can provide environmental amenities for free
  • If green spaces contribute to quality of life, you attract people and jobs to community
Note and jobs, not just people: jobs so the people can work and afford the houses they live in.

But this doesn’t mean exurban subdivisions with big yards:

  • Development patterns have an impact on the cost of service delivery: sprawl is expensive to service.
  • The same growth done more densely and contiguously saves both money, farmland, and provides environmental amenities.
Using results compiled by AFT, the national averages are:
  • Residential: $0.87
  • Commercial/Industrial: $3.45
  • Farmland/Forestland/Open Space: $2.70
These figures are $dollars of revenue for each $1 of expenditures.
He goes on to say which sorts of development work (dense and contiguous) and which don’t (sprawl doesn’t).

And remember, nobody wants to live in a strip mall and fewer people today want to live in cookie-cutter suburbia:

  • Sociologists are finding that today more and more high skill workers are choosing where to live first, then finding jobs.
  • Because businesses want high skill workers, they follow these workers to places with good quality of life.
  • If you attract good workers, good jobs follow.