Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban Sprawl by Pamela Blais

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

byPamela Blais

Paperback | March 29, 2011

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Urban sprawl – low-density subdivisions and business parks,big box stores and mega-malls – has increasingly come to definecity growth despite decades of planning and policy. Urban planning hasfocused on curbing sprawl by treating its symptoms – aiming toregulate more compact, livable urban forms into being. Most urbanistsview sprawl as an expensive and unsustainable pattern of development.Yet a few defend it as the natural expression of the market neutrallyresponding to consumer demand and as a reflection of consumers’lifestyle preferences.

In Perverse Cities, Pamela Blais argues that both viewsfail to recognize market distortions and flawed policy that drivesprawl. She shows that, as a result of crude public policies, a widerange of urban goods and services are subject to inaccurate pricesignals, including housing, non-residential properties, transportationand utilities. Mis-pricing creates hidden, “perverse”subsidies and incentives that promote sprawl while discouraging moreefficient and sustainable urban forms – clearly not what mostplanners and environmentalists have in mind.

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

About The Author

Pamela Blais is a city planner and principal of Toronto-based Metropole Consultants.

Details & Specs

Title:Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy, and Urban SprawlFormat:PaperbackDimensions:294 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.75 inPublished:March 29, 2011Publisher:Ubc PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0774818964

ISBN - 13:9780774818964

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface

1 The Price of Sprawl

Part 1: The Planning Problem

2 Sprawl: A Planning Problem

3 The Costs and Benefits of Sprawl

Part 2: The Problem with Planning

4 The Costs and Benefits of Planning

5 How Do Our Cities Grow? Plans versus Reality

6 Prices Drive Sprawl

Part 3: Subsidies, Cross-Subsidies, and Mis-Incentives: HowPublic Policy Finances Sprawl

7 Municipal Services: Costs and Prices

8 Network Services: Costs and Prices

9 Housing, Infrastructure, and Energy: More Mis-Pricing andMis-Incentives

10 Driving Sprawl: Pricing and Policy Mis-Incentives

Part 4: What to Do

11 Principles for a Market-Oriented Approach

12 A Toolbox of Market-Oriented Instruments

13 Perverse Subsidies, Perverse Cities

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

Urban sprawl – low-density subdivisions and business parks, bigbox stores and mega-malls – has increasingly come to define citygrowth despite decades of planning and policy. In PerverseCities, Pamela Blais argues that flawed public policies andmis-pricing create hidden, “perverse” subsidies andincentives that promote sprawl while discouraging more efficient andsustainable urban forms – clearly not what most planners andenvironmentalists have in mind. She makes the case for accurate pricingand better policy to curb sprawl and shows how this can be achieved inpractice through a range of market-oriented tools that promoteefficient, sustainable cities.