No, “New Urbanism” and “Smart Growth” are Not the Same August 26, 2014

There are two political movements in urban development that have a lot of overlap but are not the same.  ‘New Urbanism’ advocates the legalization and building of communities resembling the 19th century American town, with a fair number of single family homes [or maybe ‘single family’ with granny flats], row houses, and clumps of apartments, close enough to commercial places to be walkable, and diverse in terms of income, hopefully without subsidy.  Smart Growth, on the other hand, goes farther and advocates the forbidding of building that is not either New Urbanist or denser, sometimes even high-rise; and also any building at all outside a ‘growth boundary’.  It is a fact that perhaps 90% of New Urbanists are also Smart Growthers, though many of the leaders of the New Urbanist movement are not; that still does not mean the two philosophies are identical.  Smart Growth, in fact, finds itself an ally in many areas of No Growth, which is not the same as Smart Growth either, but is quite popular in the suburbs as people desire to conserve the values that brought themselves to the suburbs in the first place, and not have the value of their investments diluted by ‘printing’ new housing, as the value of our money is diluted by ‘printing’ money.

A disproportionate number of Jewish people are ‘progressives’ and ‘socialists’ for very historical reasons, for example, but that does not mean that Judaism and progressivism are the same.  And there is a lot of overlap between conservatism and evangelical Christianity, but the two are not the same either.  Overlap does not, and must not, mean identity.

I will admit that, though the single family suburban house was favored for many years by government policy, nevertheless it is what many people, including especially families with children, desire; and I have no objection to allowing that kind of housing to fill in the spaces between the ‘New Urbanist’ and ‘Transit Oriented Development’ clumps, as long as we legalize the building of the clumps too.  A Smart Growther would oppose this; one can be a New Urbanist, however, and not oppose it.  Options are also required by justice for those who might aspire to a single family house, but either cannot afford it now and must save, or those that aspire to an ‘extended family house’, as some ethnicities do, and must save even more.  And of course, this involves legalizing ‘extended family houses’ too!

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