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My Turn
Other Views from Those in the Know
Doug Guetzloe
Ax the Tax, Founder
I’m Pro-Urban Sprawl, and You Should Be, Too

You know the argument. You hear it a lot these days. “Stop urban sprawl.”  “Urban sprawl is choking the region.” “Florida needs less urban sprawl, more planned development.” ”More smart growth.”

Stopping urban sprawl is one of the greatest ‘urban’ myths of the last several decades.

The truth is that urban sprawl is good.  Urban sprawl is the ultimate freedom of choice.  Urban sprawl is as American as apple pie and the girl the next farm over.

Since the early 1960’s, ‘new urbanists’ have been leading the charge to kill off sprawl as they identify it. The “smart growth commandments” of most city planners and engineering departments are the following new urbanist principles:

Bury the car.  New urbanists strongly support killing off the automobile.  Their weapon of choice?  Commuter and light rail systems.  If people can’t drive or park conveniently they can be herded onto commuter rail systems and forced to use the early 19th century technology to try to get around in the 21st century.  Less than 1/10th of 1 percent of travelers will use our $2.6 billion SunRail system, but why let the facts get in the way of a new urbanist dream?

Build “smart growth” communities.  Redevelopment projects like Baldwin Park in Orlando are new urbanist meccas.  Take an old Navy base that sits on a toxic waste dump and build a town center in the middle, call it a ‘town’ and no one has to use their car.  It doesn’t work that way, but that’s another goal for the anti-sprawl crowd.

High density development.  A must for new urbanists.  Why should any Seminole County resident be allowed to build a home by the lake on 48 acres of land when we can put 2,500 new apartments and condos there? Kill that sprawl.

Install more traffic calming devices.  New urbanists don’t want cars to move rapidly or efficiently in traffic – that belies the new urbanists core beliefs that cars are bad.  Put in more traffic circles, more speed bumps, more curves, less road maintenance. 

Make roads less efficient.  Take away turn lanes.  Put in curbs where that pesky ‘extra’ turn lane used to be.  Put in more bike paths for those that have finally killed off their cars. Take away two sets of double lanes and put in a two-lane road with plenty of room for bikes and parking.  Slow down that traffic!

Keep the commuter buses on the street.  Ever get behind a bus stopped to pick up the one or two passengers that have to use the bus, and wait and wait and wait?  New urbanists don’t want the bus to have a stand-alone ‘bus’ lane to pull over, allowing cars to move more freely. Can’t do that.

Bottom line is that ‘sprawl’ is pro-American. It’s about your right to be able to live where you want and buy as much homestead as you can afford and not see your neighbor if you so choose.

I’m pro-sprawl and you should be too.

Doug Guetzloe is the Host of The Guetzloe Report and the founder of Ax the Tax, a grassroots group that has helped taxpayers successfully defeat tax increases throughout Florida, including the proposed light rail project in Hillsborough County.

Published Thursday, April 12, 2012