Demographia Policy Shorts

Policy Point #3:
Memphis: Toward Portland's
Exclusionary Planning

To the Memphis Commercial Appeal

Re: David Waters Column

To the Editor

David Waters could not be more wrong (July 28). From relying on Brookings Institution sprawl data that the US Department of Agriculture says is not valid at the local level to buying Portlandís anti-Atlanta propaganda, he simply has failed to do his homework. The facts are these. The 2000 census indicates that only 2.6 percent of US land is urbanized; after 400 years of development this does not rise to qualify as a threat. Americaís dispersed development patterns have been a major factor in making us the most affluent nation per capita in the world larger than Knoxville. Portland may be Nirvana for urban planning elites, but for lower income households aspiring to home ownership it is Hades. Portlandís anti-sprawl policies led to the greatest loss in housing affordability of any major metropolitan area in the 1990s, a drop of more than 40 percent. At the same time, faster growing Phoenix experienced a gain, and Memphis had a 30 percent gain. In a nation seeking to right the ethnic injustices of the past, Portlandís policies are well on their way toward forcing the door of opportunity back toward closed.

Sincerely,
Wendell Cox,
Principal, Wendell Cox Consultancy

1 August 2002

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