Is Suburban Sprawl a Ponzi Scheme?
The Minnesota-based nonprofit Strong Towns has released a study comparing suburban sprawl to a Ponzi scheme. Their case goes like this: municipalities expand infrastructure hoping to attract new taxpayers. When the influx of new residents is not enough to pay for the last expansion, more infrastructure is built to attract more new residents. As the cycle keeps repeating itself and as maintenance costs rise, no amount of new taxpayers are able to cover the costs.
In order to break this cycle of spending, Strong Towns suggests obtaining a higher rate of return from existing infrastructure, focusing on denser, traditional neighborhoods where infrastructure is being underutilized.
The Atlantic Cities shares five strategies local officials can adopt to turn their city’s infrastructure spending around:
- A stop to infrastructure projects that expand a community’s long-term maintenance obligations.
- A full accounting of all short and long-term financial obligations local governments have assumed for maintaining infrastructure.
- The adoption of strategies to improve the public’s return on investment and improve the use of existing infrastructure.
- Large-scale changes in local zoning regulations to streamline approval processes and provide the necessary regulatory flexibility within existing neighborhoods.
- Significant changes in the standard engineering approach to road and street design, shifting emphasis away from increasing automobile-oriented mobility and toward increasing pedestrian mobility within neighborhoods while eliminating accesses and intersections along auto corridors.
Are Michigan cities falling into the trap of building more infrastructure to pay for old infrastructure? What can we do locally to break the cycle?blog comments powered by Disqus