Sprawl is Beautiful

Published in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, October 1, 2000


On Smoky Hill Road near E-470 in South Aurora, a large developer has a sign advertising a planned subdivision that reads "Field of Dreams." The allusion is to the baseball movie starring Kevin Costner, in which the most famous line is, "If you build it, they will come."

This, in a nutshell, is what drives the hated phenomenon of suburban sprawl. Developers are building new homes as far as the eye can see in response to consumer demand. If housing prices on the outskirts of Denver are any indicator, homes are not going up nearly fast enough to meet this demand. It is this demand factor that backers of the Responsible Growth Initiative (Amendment 24) conveniently overlook.

South Aurora is not North Korea, and Highlands Ranch is not Cuba. A lot of people want to live in these places. And they want to do so for a variety of reasons.

Denver is a modern city with a modern economy. Many major employers have enormous facilities on the outskirts of town. Studies show that more people work in the Denver Tech Center than work downtown. Add to this the explosive growth in telecommuting, and you have less and less reason for people to live cheek-by-jowl in the center of town. If work is decentralized, why shouldn't housing also be decentralized?

Suburbia offers much that downtown cannot, such as proximity to mountains, reservoirs, bike trails, and plain old open space. Oh sure, the homes may still be a bit too close together, but you still have more elbow room. Besides, have you tried finding a parking spot on Capitol Hill lately?

Will the Front Range one day represent southern California? No one knows. Colorado has countless qualities that make it a place where a lot of people want to live. If someday enough people decide that Colorado is not so great, they will vote with their feet and move elsewhere in the pursuit of happiness. In recent years, California has lost population.

No trend, including the growth of the Front Range, lasts forever. People have a right to pursue happiness, even if it makes some other people unhappy. No one has a right to be made happy by forcing economic, social and cultural trends to conform to their wishes. Vote "no" on Amendment 24 on November 7.

Vote No on Amendment 24!

Also by Doug Newman: Sprawl Control Equals People Control

Freely Speaking: Speeches and Essays by Doug Newman

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