(October 12, 2016) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2016 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.
(May 19, 2012) Dr. Alan Evans is Professor of Economics at the University of Reading (United Kingdom) is one of the world’s experts on land use economics. He is a prolific author of several books and articles on land use economics (see full text links below).
Dr. Evans is director of The Centre for Spatial and Real Estate Economics (CSpREE), within the Henley Business School at the University of Reading.
According to the CSpREE web site: http://www.reading.ac.uk/economics/research/centres/econ-cspree.aspx –
“CSpREE specialises in the theoretical, empirical and applied economic analysis of property markets and the spatial economy. Our members have made significant contributions to developments in Urban and Regional Economics, Regional Science, Transport Economics, Real Estate Economics, Housing Economics, the Economics of Town Planning and the Economics of Land and have published in the leading international journals in these fields.
The Centre maintains strong links with government, the professions and industry while also developing extensive international collaborations. The Centre’s unique strength is reflected in the fact that it constitutes the largest group of spatial economists working in any European or American University.”
Dr. Evans has also written papers with the noted Dr. Oliver Marc Hartwich (home page with free articles: http://www.oliver-marc-hartwich.com/about-me).
Dr. Hartwich is executive director of The New Zealand Initiative, a public policy think tank with offices in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. Dr. Hartwich has also served as research Fellow in the Economics Program of the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, Australia, along with think tanks in Britain (Policy Exchange and the International Policy Network).
Dr. Alan Evans Academic Textbooks and Research Papers
Here are some of Dr. Evan’s books on Google, along with links to his PDF articles. The books are actually available as “Google Books:”
PDF Articles –
Alan Evans and Oliver Marc Hartwich have written much more, and I will add more links as I find them. Since Evan’s textbooks are expensive, check out web sites that sell used books on the Internet.
Consistent with the mission of this web site, Alan Evans appears to oppose smart growth, and advocates affordable housing within green suburbs at lower densities, similar to many of the Professors that I discuss on this web site. Refer to his recent 2006 paper, entitled “Better Homes, Greener Cities,” written with Dr. Oliver Marc Hartwich – 50pp PDF – http://www.localis.org.uk/images/articles/Feb%2006_Better%20Homes,%20Greener%20Cities.PDF
The introduction summarizes Alan Evans’ philosophy. If you are an environmentalist and outdoors enthusiast like I am, then you will love reading these introductory paragraphs:
“The planning system should aim to balance people’s
housing demands against the needs of the environment.
By using only a further one or two per cent of the 90 per
cent of land that is undeveloped, the quality of British
houses and neighbourhoods could be dramatically
improved. Yet our system of town and country planning
too often imposes the views of politicians, officials and
planners on the population at large.We are told we ought
to consume less land, to live in flats not houses, but rarely
does anyone ask: “how do people themselves want to
House prices and opinion polls clearly show that the
British prefer to live in detached homes with gardens in
green suburbs, but the planning system restricts this kind
of development and instead delivers high-rise living in
ever more crowded cities. So despite just ten per cent of
the land in the UK being urban, new development takes
place on the kinds of green spaces people actually use –
like allotments, playing fields, parks and gardens – in
order to save agricultural land. Nearly half the UK’s
playing fields have disappeared in the last fifteen years.
Front gardens 22 times the size of Hyde Park have been
lost in London alone. Our cities are becoming grey
This has serious implications for the health of the 50
million Britons who live in urban and suburban areas.
Fewer trees means less oxygen, which inhibits good
mental performance. Neighbourhoods with less greenery
are associated with lower levels of physical activity,
leading to higher obesity rates. Easy access to green space
also brings mental health benefits. Reversing the trend of
high density development in favour of ‘garden city’ living
is not just what most people want, it is good for us too.
Reforming the planning system – We do not want a development free-for-all, but successful reform of the planning system must ensure that the housing market is flexible enough to respond to local demands and that local residents are compensated for the
negative impact of new development.
The German and Swiss planning systems offer good examples of how to balance the needs of the environment with the demand
for housing, and they both deliver affordable, high
quality, spacious homes in green towns and cities.
There are clear benefits to developing – increased
affordability, spacious homes, gardens, green neighbourhoods
– but everybody recognises that there are costs too,
especially if development takes place on ‘green’ rather
than ‘brown’ land.
There are two ways of taking the social and environmental
costs of building new homes into account, both of
which involve increasing the cost of land in order to limit
development: either by constraining the supply of land,
or by levying some sort of tax on land. Constraining
supply is more popular because it does not affect those
who already own land or property.
This group actually benefits from rising house prices, and the costs are borne by those who do not own their own homes – the young
and the less well off. Taxation is fairer because it affects
both groups – owners and non-owners – equally. It also
offers more benefits to the community, who can share in
the profits of development currently reaped by
We therefore propose the following reforms:
To read about the reforms, click the 60pp PDF –
Dr. Alan Evans is Strongly Against Smart Growth and “Infilling”
This quote from Dr. Evans certainly summarized what I’ve said repeatedly on this web site, about the importance of parks within our city limits, rather than relegating open space to outside the urban growth boundary:
“[B]etween 1992 and 2005 out of the 77,949 playing fields nearly
34,000 disappeared5 as planning policies focus on developing
within existing towns instead of letting cities grow
outwards. In fact, the Government has set a target for
using at least 60 per cent of so-called brown field land for
new development. This policy is meant to ‘recycle’ areas
that were previously developed, and sounds like a reasonable
idea. However, many of these brown fields look
These are inner-city areas that nature
has reclaimed. Many are now valuable havens for plants
and animals in the cities, and they also provide recreational
spaces for children and adults. From the statistical
evidence we know that people prefer to live in green
environments.Most would like to enjoy the clean air and
greenery of the countryside, or at second best would like
to live in green cities.Yet, with disappearing playing fields,
the re-use of ‘green’ brown field sites and densification
policies it becomes less and less likely that people will ever
live in such an environment.
It should hardly be surprising that this is bad news for
nature too. The Independent newspaper has reported the
mystery of disappearing butterflies.8 With gardens disappearing,
cities getting denser and highly intensive
agriculture surrounding the cities, butterflies have
nowhere to go. As we pointed out in our first publication
Unaffordable Housing, biological research has shown that
there is no better place for butterflies (and other plants
and animals) than what the opponents of development
would derisively label ‘urban sprawl’. It may be counterintuitive,
but the wish to ‘save nature’ by increasing densities
has produced the very opposite result.
Photos – Large Lot Neighborhoods in Less Regulated Western USA Markets
Finally, a few nice photos of very nice established, or forthcoming, green neighborhoods, with large lot zoning across the USA, followed by examples of where native vegetation is threatened near Denver, Colorado, due to high density developments under the DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments). This organization and its urban growth boundary are responsible for high levels of air pollution in the Denver area, along with a high rate of foreclosures. Their policies have destroyed the Denver housing market, in a manner very similar to the growth management acts in Oregon and Washington State.
The large lot photos are from Bellevue, Washington; Palm Springs, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Phoenix, Arizona; Placitas, New Mexico; Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Albuqerque, New Mexico; Orinda, California; Thousand Oaks, California; Mill Valley, California (San Francisco area); Castle Rock, Colorado; and Superior, Colorado (Denver area).