After World War II Planners and Policymakers encouraged segregated usage with zoning and infrastructure investments. Everyone seemed to feel that residential areas, commercial districts and industrial estates should be insulated from one another, accessed only by automobiles.
The result was sprawl. And now, as a result of sprawl we have spiraling property taxes.
Compact cities and villages were hollowed out, leaving their maintenance cost to be borne by fewer residents. New suburbs aged, necessitating expensive reconstruction of facilities that were cheaply built. Lacking density, their residents face staggering individual tax bills because so few people shoulder the burden of so much infrastructure.
During the era of segregated zoning, cars were king. Walking to work or school became impossible when these activities were banished from residential districts. Even old villages and cities felt the impact of car culture. Their main streets were widened and sped-up with synchronized traffic signals and dedicated turn lanes. Sidewalks and street trees were sacrificed to make room for extra lanes of commuters.
Town life lost its charm and city residents, through their taxes paid and their streets widened, wound-up subsidizing their suburban neighbors to commute through their neighborhoods.
To restore a pattern of development that is both affordable and equitable, planners and politicians are rethinking both design and policy. Complete Streets and Walkability have become tag words for traditional street design – like those that fostered vibrant town centers before World War II. SmartGrowth is the policy catch phrase that advances the concept of reinvesting in core communities rather than consuming ever more land for declining populations. These short videos explain.