The Public Interest

Defending suburban sprawl

Harry W. Richardson & Peter Gordon

Spring 2000

IN September 1998, Vice President A1 Gore traveled to Portland, Oregon, the urban planners’ Mecca, to attack suburban sprawl and support “smart growth.’” What he actually meant was managed growth—higher densities, mixed land uses, energy-efficient construction technologies, and environmentally friendly transportation. By delivering this speech, Gore catapulted the “sprawl debate,” formerly a second-tier local issue, into national politics. Perhaps it was inevitable. Most of us live and work in cities, their suburbs, or nearby exurban areas, and how metropolitan areas develop is an issue of concern.

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