Market-based Principles for Livable Communities

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sat Apr 14 2001 - 13:50:58 MDT

(from THE LIGHTHOUSE VOL. 3, ISSUE 14 April 9, 2001)

Policymakers have increasingly looked to the "smart growth" movement for
answers to the problems of rising housing prices, increasing traffic
congestion and other by-products of urban sprawl. Unfortunately, "smart
growth" -- government policies intended to increase urban density and
preserve scenic open space -- often reduce the quality of urban and suburban
life, as economist Randal O'Toole has forcefully argued in THE INDEPENDENT

But when regulatory fads such as "smart growth" find support from
special-interest groups (e.g., urban planners and sundry "environmental"
organizations), they tend to gather steam, even as the evidence against them

Accordingly, more than 100 academics, scholars and public policy
officials -- including several scholars associated with The Independent
Institute -- have signed the Lone Mountain Compact, a principled statement
against the "smart growth" movement's not-so-smart push for greater
government controls.

The Compact contains ten guidelines for policymakers -- principles that
would genuinely improve the quality of life in America's cities and suburbs.
To paraphrase: 1) Put people's freedom, not government power, first. 2)
Favor community adaptation and avoid "comprehensive" government planning. 3)
Let the market and market-based planning, not government, determine
densities and land uses. 4) Allow market-driven diversity in neighborhood
design. 5) Decentralize neighborhood decision-making as much as possible. 6)
Embrace private property rights and common law principles of nuisance, not
rigid zoning regulations. 7) Avoid government policies that raise the cost
of living. 8) Employ market-based transportation strategies and reduce
reliance on inefficient public transportation. 9) Don't forget about the
needs of future residents. 10) Let facts, not misinformation, drive planning

A ten-point manifesto cannot present every principle or argument relevant to
improving the livability of our communities, but the Lone Mountain Compact
goes a long way in leveling an intellectual playing field long tilted in
favor of misguided government "planning."

For details, see the Lone Mountain Compact, at

For a critique of "smart growth" policies, see economist Randal O'Toole's
article, "Is Urban Planning 'Creeping Socialism'?" (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW,
Spring 2000), at

For the case against government-sponsored eco-industrial parks, see
"Eco-Industrial Parks: The Case for Private Planning" by Pierre Desrochers

For more on land-use regulation, see Howard Husock's review of Bernard
Siegan's PROPERTY AND FREEDOM: The Constitution, the Courts and Land-Use
Regulation (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Fall 1998), at

For a defense of the motor vehicle, see philosopher Loren Lomasky's article
"Autonomy and Automobility" (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer 1997), at

For an innovative approach to improving urban transit, see "Curb Rights:
Eliciting Competition and Entrepreneurship in Urban Transit" by economists
Daniel Klein, Adrian Moore and Binyam Reja (THE INDEPENDENT REVIEW, Summer
1997) at
For information on books and other publications from The Independent
Institute, see
For information on The Independent Institute's upcoming Independent Policy
Forums, see
Copyright 2001 The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
(510) 632-1366 phone
(510) 568-6040 fax

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