Wendell Cox Responds to
Criticisms on PLANETIZEN Op-ed

Just a few comments in response to the comments on my oped on smart growth.

1. As regards the loss of agricultural land, the US Department of Agriculture, under a Clinton-Gore administration, found that urbanization is no threat.

2. I reject outright the "anti-transit" label. My proposals for transit, enunciated for more than a decade, would increase transit ridership, but lowering unit costs (thereby increasing service levels and lowering fares) and providing five times as much rapid transit for the available money (busways, etc.). Those who pursue policies that limit transit ridership would be more appropriately labeled anti-transit, regardless of the high offices they hold in the industry. What is good for transit as an industry or bureaucracy is not necessarily good for the riders and taxpayers, as the last 30 years should surely have taught us.

3. Smart growth policies, especially impact fees, have exacerbated the housing affordability crisis in California. Rationing home ownership by raising prices through impact fees removes the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.

4. Not only is Los Angeles not a sprawling urban area (by comparison with others around the nation), it is the most dense urban area in the country. And that is only the beginning. Outside of New York, there is no larger area of high density.

5. Yes, more dense cities have shorter trips, but not enough shorter to negate the additional trips that occur from having more people in a square mile or kilometer. At the census tract level, traffic volumes tend to rise approximately 8 percent for each increase of 10 percent in density. That slows down traffic and increases air pollution.

6. The reality is that there have never been walkable cities of 5 million, much less 10, 15 or 30 million.

7. I am intriqued by proposals to equalize subsidy levels for transit and highways. It would make sense if based upon passenger miles. Of course, most of the expenditure on highways is user fees, not subsidies (just like payment to a city owned electric utility is a user fee, not a subsidy). Right now, transit receives many, many times the subsidy per passenger mile as the street and highway system.

(c) 2000 --- Wendell Cox Consultancy --- Permission granted to use with attribution.
Demographia is "pro-choice" with respect to urban development.
People should have the freedom to live and work where and how they like.

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