“Smart Growth” Law Repealed in Florida

by Wendell Cox for New Geography

The state of Florida has repealed its 30-year old growth management law (also called “smart growth,” “compact development” and “livability”). Under the law, local jurisdictions were required to adopt comprehensive land use plans stipulating where development could and could not occur. These plans were subject to approval by the state Department of Community Affairs, an agency now abolished by the legislation. The state approval process had been similar to that of Oregon. Governor Rick Scott had urged repeal as a part of his program to create 700,000 new jobs in seven years in Florida. Economic research in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States has associated slower economic growth with growth management programs.

Local governments will still be permitted to implement growth management programs, but largely without state mandates. Some local jurisdictions will continue their growth management programs, while others will welcome development.

The Need for A Competitive Land Supply: Growth management has been cited extensively in economic research because of its association with higher housing costs. The basic problem is that, by delineating and limiting the land that can the used for development, planners create guides to investment, which shows developers where they must buy and tells the now more scarce sellers that the buyers have little choice but to negotiate with them. This can violate the “principle of competitive land supply,” cited by Brookings Institution economist Anthony Downs. Downs said:

If a locality limits to certain sites the land that can be developed within a given period, it confers a preferred market position on those sites. … If the limitation is stringent enough, it may also confirm a monopolistic powers on the owners of those sites, permitting them to raising land prices substantially.

Read more on the New Geography website.

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