Subsidizing Sprawl?

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The Michigan Land Use Institute's Follow The Money report blasts decades of "profoundly misguided" state policies in Michigan that amount to "subsidizing sprawl" while fostering obesity and white flight from neglected cities. If research bears these claims out, then suburban builders could suffer when infrastructure expansion fails to keep pace with market demand.

April 01, 2005

The Michigan Land Use Institute's Follow The Money report blasts decades of "profoundly misguided" state policies in Michigan that amount to "subsidizing sprawl" while fostering obesity and white flight from neglected cities.

If research bears these claims out, then suburban builders could suffer when infrastructure expansion fails to keep pace with market demand. Additionally, neglect in hub cities can hurt perceptions and realities across the state economy.

The report notes that the state's spending $507 million for economic development and $1 billion-plus in tax credits for urban redevelopment in 2001 (the latest year for full data) was miniscule compared to the $10.1 billion in state and local funds spent on infrastructure and services in the suburban countryside.

Longer term, the report states that since 1988, the state legislature funneled 78 percent of its Transportation Economic Development Funds to suburbs and rural areas and only 22 percent to core cities. This brought, for instance, $1,250 per resident to the suburb of Auburn Hills but only $303 per resident to Pontiac and $25 to Detroit.

On the upside, the report calls Grand Rapids a "comeback city" and a model for a Blueprint for Redevelopment whose steps are efficient permitting; private investments; abandoned property recovery; taxpayer investments and infrastructure investment. The report also includes a lobbying position presented as "10 Steps to Prosperity."

Follow the Money is available at www.mlui.org.

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