You Call It Urban Sprawl, I Call It Home

Click for audio You Call It Urban Sprawl, I Call It Home

Hardly a single Michigan family trip will occur this summer without a child growing restless from passing mile after mile of farm and woodland and asking, "Are we there yet?"

Some anti-growth activists don’t seem to realize that our state is more than 90 percent rural. They grimly warn that our agricultural industry’s most basic resource—land—is being gobbled up by so-called "urban sprawl."

Despite dire warnings, sprawl is not reducing agricultural output. During the last six years of economic growth that has fueled urbanization, Michigan’s annual farm output has remained steady at around 24 million tons. Even if our last two centuries of urbanization doubled overnight, the state would still be more than 80 percent rural!

Those who want strict limits on the growth of new cities as a way to invigorate old ones should try more carrot and less stick. Older cities can be made more attractive by lowering high taxes, relaxing stringent zoning ordinances, and improving urban schools through competition and choice.

People happy where they are may disparage "urban sprawl," but people who need jobs and places to live welcome the addition of new houses, businesses, parks, and neighborhoods they can call home.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.