In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development adopted Agenda 21, an initiative that seeks to preserve the environment by regulating where individuals can live and what they can produce. Though it is a non-binding plan, its policies are harmful to prosperity and freedom.
The driving force behind Agenda 21 is a form of government central planning called “smart growth.” The idea is that by condensing the population into more compact urban areas, humanity can reduce its impact on the environment.
Advocates of these policies “work to impose land use regulations that would force Americans into denser living arrangements, curtail freedom of choice in housing, discriminate against lower-income Americans, and compel people to pay more for their houses and give up their cars in favor of subways, trolleys, buses, and bicycles,” according to a new Heritage Foundation report.
But Agenda 21 is only a small part of the larger central planning movement, explain Heritage’s Wendell Cox, Ron Utt and Brett Schaefer. They warn that undue focus on this one plan could allow
homegrown smart-growth policies that date to the early 1970s and undermine the quality of life, personal choice, and property rights in American communities [to] be implemented by local, state, and federal authorities at the behest of environmental groups and other vested interests.
These policies, the report explains, have already contributed to America’s economic situation. “While recklessness was certainly a factor in the U.S. housing bubble, smart growth policies played a major role in creating and exacerbating the bubble and the subsequent recession,” the authors say.
Equally harmful are the limits smart-growth policies impose on the freedom of lower-income families to live in an area of their own choosing:
An explosion of exclusionary zoning throughout the U.S. encouraged many communities to adopt zoning policies to ensure that they maintained a certain demographic “profile.” Such zoning limited real estate development to higher-cost homes in order to “price out” moderate-income households, which included a disproportionate share of minorities.
Moreover, Heritage’s Cox has already demonstrated that smart growth does not solve environmental issues, and in fact makes polution worse.
What do you think? Is smart growth the smart choice?