Lower Housing Costs, Less Urban Planning, and the Positives of 90 Municipalities in Saint Louis County
The Show-Me Institute is proud to release a new policy study by Wendell Cox, one of America’s foremost demographers and a leading voice against government land use regulations. In the new study, Cox focuses on how Saint Louis can position itself for future growth by maximizing two of its assets – a low cost of living and low housing prices. One way to keep housing and living costs low is to refuse to implement the types of urban planning strategies many planners would like us to enact: “smart growth” policies like urban growth boundaries and higher density zoning mandates. The lack of those requirements in the Saint Louis area is one thing that has kept our cost of living low. On the other hand, the enactment of such things on the coasts, particularly the West Coast, is one of the reasons a substantial number of people are leaving California. Those land use rules put the price of housing and the cost of living beyond the reach of many people.
People in the Saint Louis area often talk about the problems associated with so many different governments and so many types. Those problems are real, but there are positive aspects of having a large number of small governments, too. One of the best aspects of having a high number of smaller governments (such as the 90 different municipalities in Saint Louis County) is the inability to enact comprehensive planning in the area. Government-directed urban planning is too often just an excuse for others to tell you how to live. We do not need growth boundaries in Saint Louis. We do not need higher density zoning (which should be allowed, of course, if that is what people want; it just should not be mandated by government). We do not need excessive impact fees for construction. We do not need — and more importantly, do not have — any number of other examples of land use rules governing our lives. What does that lack of mandated planning give us? More freedom and lower housing costs; two wonderful things.
Wendell Cox is uniquely qualified to comment on the affairs of Saint Louis. While his writings and lectures are international in scope, he resides in the Saint Louis area. The Show-Me Institute is excited to have him writing for us, and you can view his full policy study here. You can also enjoy a conversation between Wendell and Rick Edlund, Show-Me Institute’s director of communications, here.