Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth
USA Today profiles “Sunburnt” cities
The Metro Area Is Growing
The Atlanta region is expected to grow by more than 3 million people over the next 30 years. Almost half of this will come from the children of current residents. The additional growth will come from new residents attracted by the region’s mild climate and strong economic opportunities.
Population growth generates jobs and incomes, property values rise and tax revenues increase. But we must make good decisions about how we grow.
Just recently USA Today explored these issues in an article about Sunbelt cities, now grappling with the consequences of the housing bust and expectations for continued growth over the next 25 to 30 years. The recession has offered these “sunburnt” cities an opportunity to consider newer models that maintain and enhance their competitiveness in attracting new residents and businesses. Planning experts have started to argue that less is more.
Metro Atlanta finds itself in a similar predicament in planning for the expected growth. Just over the horizon the metro area will have the opportunity to pass a referendum that will allow the 10-county area to impose a one-cent sales tax to support transportation projects throughout the region to help relieve congestion and promote the area’s health growth.
The region’s growth and development involve many choices: where people will live, how the transportation system will work best, how to balance economic and environmental needs, and how to create communities where all citizens can attain the highest quality of life.
The Way We Grow Matters
Currently, Atlanta is the least densely developed region in the top 15 U.S. metro areas. Many current zoning regulations restrict the development of diverse and affordable housing near jobs, forcing “spread out” growth. This pattern is detrimental to our quality of life. It creates a lack of affordable housing near job centers, increases traffic congestion, and creates the need to build new infrastructure – straining our air, water and financial resources.
We Can Change the Way That We Grow
Growth doesn’t have to be something that just happens to us. We can harness the vitality of our region’s growth, and choose to create the highest quality of living for all of us and strengthen our business environment by accommodating growth in different and better ways.
By embracing smart growth for the region, we can create more housing choices closer to jobs, reduce traffic, increase our tax base and preserve green space.