1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: "cpeo@cpeo.org" <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 1999 10:24:25 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Federal Influence on "Urban Sprawl" is Unclear
For the complete Government Accounting Office report go to the following URL.


GAO Summary

Community Development: Extent of Federal Influence on "Urban Sprawl" Is
Unclear (Letter Report, 04/30/99, GAO/RCED-99-87).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the contribution of
federal programs and policies to urban sprawl, focusing on: (1) the
origins and implications of urban sprawl; (2) evidence that exists on
the influence of federal programs and policies on urban sprawl; and (3)
regulatory review and coordination mechanisms evaluating and mitigating
the effects of federal actions on urban sprawl.

GAO noted that: 

(1) suburban growth began in response to a number of social, economic,
demographic, and technological factors, including the postwar population
boom, the increased availability of suburban housing, and the greater use
of passenger cars; 
(2) federal housing and highway programs contributed to suburban growth
because the availability of housing loans facilitated suburban
homeownership and federal highway
spending financed the expansion of highways that gave consumers access
to suburban locations; 
(3) despite many studies on the costs and implications of urban sprawl, so
many factors contribute to it and the relationships among these factors are
so complex that researchers have had great difficulty isolating the impact
of individual factors; 
(4) as a result, researchers have generally been unable to assign a cost or
level of influence to individual factors, including particular federal
programs or policies; 
(5) some experts believe that the federal government influences urban
sprawl through spending for specific programs, taxation, and regulation,
but few studies document the extent of the federal influence; 
(6) according to some experts, the role of federal programs and policies
occurs in combination with a number of factors, including market forces and
local land-use decisions; 
(7) anecdotal evidence suggests that investment in water and sewer systems
may lead to residential and commercial growth in outer areas because such
investment facilitates development; 
(8) GAO found little quantitative research linking federal assistance for
water and sewer
systems with urban sprawl; 
(9) tax code provisions that subsidize homeowners through the mortgage
interest and property tax deductions are believed by some researchers to
provide an incentive for purchasing more
expensive housing that is sometimes located outside urban areas; 
(10) the tax policy research GAO reviewed did not directly estimate the
effects of existing tax policies on urban sprawl; 
(11) studies indicate that environmental regulations play a small role in
decisions about the location of businesses; 
(12) executive orders governing the federal regulatory review process do
not directly address urban sprawl, but coordination among federal agencies
on growth-related issues is
increasing; and 
(13) the executive orders establish basic principles for agencies to follow
when reviewing and approving regulations, and specific laws offer federal
agencies an opportunity to consider the potential influence of their
actions on growth.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

     TITLE:  Community Development: Extent of Federal Influence on
             "Urban Sprawl" Is Unclear
      DATE:  04/30/99
   SUBJECT:  Community development
             Urban development programs
             Federal aid programs
             Executive orders
             Environmental policies
             Housing programs
             Urban planning
             Road construction
             Land management
IDENTIFIER:  FHwA Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement

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