Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl

March 29, 2011|
Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl by Pamela Blais
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Urban sprawl – low-density subdivisions and business parks, big box stores and mega-malls – has increasingly come to define city growth despite decades of planning and policy. Urban planning has focused on curbing sprawl by treating its symptoms – aiming to regulate more compact, livable urban forms into being. Most urbanists view sprawl as an expensive and unsustainable pattern of development. Yet a few defend it as the natural expression of the market neutrally responding to consumer demand and as a reflection of consumers’ lifestyle preferences.

In Perverse Cities, Pamela Blais argues that both views fail to recognize market distortions and flawed policy that drive sprawl. She shows that, as a result of crude public policies, a wide range of urban goods and services are subject to inaccurate price signals, including housing, non-residential properties, transportation and utilities. Mis-pricing creates hidden, “perverse” subsidies and incentives that promote sprawl while discouraging more efficient and sustainable urban forms – clearly not what most planners and environmentalists have in mind.

Perverse Cities makes the case that accurate pricing and better policy are fundamental to curbing sprawl and shows how this can be achieved in practice through a range of market-oriented tools that promote efficient, sustainable cities.

Pamela Blais is a city planner and principal of Toronto-based Metropole Consultants.
Title:Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban SprawlFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:294 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.75 inShipping dimensions:294 pages, 9 X 6 X 0.75 inPublished:March 29, 2011Publisher:Ubc PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0774818964

ISBN - 13:9780774818964

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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