Americans Favor Smart Growth — Sez Smart Growth America

Three-fourths of Americans believe that smarter development and more public transportation are better long-term solutions for reducing traffic congestion than building new roads, according to the 2007 Growth and Transportation Survey.

Some highlights from the survey, which was sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America:

  • 90% believe that new communities should be designed so people can walk more and drive less
  • 80% favor redeveloping older urban and suburban areas rather than build new housing and commercial development on the edge of existing suburbs.
  • 55% approve of charging tolls on more roads if it improves roads and decreases congestion. On the other hand, 84% are opposed to selling roads and highways to private companies who would charge a toll and give a portion of the toll money to the state.

I would like to think the American people really are so strongly in support of the policies I advocate. But I’m guessing the situation is more complex. When people are asked these questions in the abstract, they give the answers the pollsters want. But when people make real-life decisions in concrete situations, the outcome is often very different. Still, I find the answers encouraging.

(Hat tip: Diana Sun)

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7 responses to “Americans Favor Smart Growth — Sez Smart Growth America”

  1. Groveton Avatar

    What is the alternative to Smart Growth? Dumb Growth? If so, I am glad to hear that most Americans support Smart Growth.

    But you know what really doesn’t work? Centrally planned growth. Ask the Soviets.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    I thought it was interesting that the number of people who oppose enacting restrictions that prevent landowners from developeng their land went up, and 73% of people are opposed to large lot restrictions. Also the number of peopole opposed to restricting water, sewer and road expansion increased.

    But 72% are in favor of encouraging non-profits to purchase or preserve land and 70% are in favor of having the government purchase land.

    Apparently at least some people still see the value in private property, and expanding infrastructure.

    But, like Jim Bacon says, that is easy to do as long as you don;t have to actually write the checks.


  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    the poll did have some interesting stuff but some of the questions were not as free of bias as they could have been.

    And actually, the poll did show strong support of property rights – which makes one wonder, including me where the support comes from for restricting land use…

    several interesting questions about transportation….

    I’m waiting to see a POLL that asks folks how they would feel about mileage-based taxes… probably a concept not easily understood by the average person…

    But I do have a question about transit – which the POLL showed support for….

    and that is… when we talk about funding schools in NoVA – we don’t talk about subsidies and whether or not they are cost effective and instead we talk about strong support for schools including the taxes to support them.

    The very same folks also strongly support transit and taxes for transit yet the bloggers here have a different standard for transit than they do for schools…

    and that is… they question the cost as well as many other aspects of transit – but don’t use similar criteria to challenge schools…

    why is that – if the same public that supports schools, supports transit and is willing to pay taxes for both?

    If you had a referendum in NoVa for Metro to Dulles – what would the level of support be?

    folks here will say.. you should ask the question while showing the cost.

    My question is.. if you asked that question the same way for schools – and showed the cost…

    would it make much difference?

    Does the Average NoVaian know whether Metro should cost 1, 2, 3 or 5 or 10 Billion?

    Why the questions about METRO?

    Because… METRO is … CENTRAL to the Smart Growth folks…

    We could yammer on and on about what Smart Growth is or is not or even what Dumb Growth is – but most advocates of Smart Growth – see transit as key – more so than new urbanism… to a certain extent…

    so if the public supports schools and transit … and are willing to pay the taxes for them.. what is the problem?

  4. A survey by ‘Smart Growth’ says that Americans favor smart growth – and someone thinks that is news? Do you really think the results would say otherwise? Not because we agree with smart growth (because MANY of us don’t) but because of who put on the survey. I could have told you what ‘Smart Growth’ would say the results were before even one person was surveyed. Come on Jim, a more biased survey can’t be imagined.

  5. Anonymous Avatar


    I thnik we could agree that this is an independent/republican leaning blog so most of us who post here are very concerned about the cost and effectiveness of anything that is proposed

    However, democrats makeup a majority in Fairfax

    It is interesting for you to pointout the dichotomy for some democrats between Education and Transportation funding

    I don’t know why the tunnel controversy is such a big deal but for whatever reason it has split the democrats mostly along “smart growth”

    Most of the republicans who post here have been against the project since day one (I know I have) A BRT system would be much better

    Hope this clears somethings up for you


  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    yes.. very helpful NMM

    Do you have an opinion about the proposed Purple Line .. which I understand has some BRT in it?

    re: R’s vs D’s .. urban regions… transit support via taxes vs user pays.

    It would be useful to see a POLL broken out on such a basis.

    Are most R’s whether they live in rural or urban of the same mind with respect to “subsidized” transit?

    If Gilmore were Gov.. what would be his position on Tysons?

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    There has been a great deal of press on the purple line this week and I confess I haven’t been tracking it particularly closely

    On the surface, I am not convinced that there is justifiable demand for the total cost of the project but I haven’t read the documents to support this opinion

    Via Rs and subsizdized transit I would think yes. Prince William rejected matching Metro Funds. (I don’t blame them however there are no metro lines in Prince William)

    Kilgore actually was one of the first people to propose regional transportation authorities which I find interesting

    I once again Confess that I don’t know much about Gilmore (I wasn’t in the state when he was governor). Tysons is both a growth and transit mode issue. I will just post this directly from Gilmores website (few comments in the brackets)

    Solving the Transportation Challenge

    “As Governor, I worked to secure funding for the construction of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge (need for federal dollars), building the redesigned Springfield Interchange (road savy) and expanding the Virginia Railway Express (transit savy) – all without raising taxes (common theme here would this be possible today?). I believe we can solve Virginia’s transportation challenge and help protect our overburdened taxpayers by using federal transportation bonds and private/public partnerships (woops that’s part of the mess that Tysons is in, although Route 28 was a success story) to raise the funds to build needed transportation projects across the state.”


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