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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Paul McMorrow

A frugal answer to zoning pitfalls, needlessly slashed

Sprawl isn’t so much a deliberate choice as it is a product of bureaucratic inertia.

THESE SHOULDN’T be controversial statements - gasoline isn’t getting cheaper; land is finite and exhaustible, so sprawl is a waste of land; building new roads and sewer lines is more expensive than using the ones that already exist; it’s no fun to sit in traffic. The logical end of these statements, that we need to find more efficient and more productive ways to construct buildings, shouldn’t be politically divisive, either.

But in Washington, there’s a vast difference between the way things should work and the way things do work. For example, there’s no logical reason why Sustainable Communities, a modest Obama administration effort to encourage efficient patterns of real estate development, should be a political lightning rod. There isn’t anything political about smart growth. The program was nevertheless shredded to appease the Tea Party.

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