August 9, 2004

What Happens When Communities Seek Jobs, But Not Housing

Suburbs around Washington D.C. are encouraging more commercial development for the tax revenue, while not balancing it off with equal amounts of housing. And that's causing problems throughout the region, according to a Washington Post news analysis.

For example, Montgomery County's master plan calls for building office space and retail to generate 40,000 new jobs -- but fewer than 15,000 new units of housing, the Post says. And Mongomery isn't alone.

"...[B]y creating housing shortages, the policies push developers, home buyers and renters farther and farther away to find available land and more reasonably priced houses," the article notes.

"This migration, in turn, produces longer commutes to work, more road congestion and the destruction of remote natural habitats, planners say. The extra auto travel contributes to other troubles, including air pollution and the "dead zones" in the Chesapeake Bay. And, most of all, sprawl."

As Gerrit Knaap, a planning professor at the University of Maryland, told the Post: "Many local governments haven't controlled growth, unfortunately -- they've deflected it."

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