When It Comes To Growing Pains, We're Not Alone

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When it comes to development, simplistic, one-dimensional solutions simply won't do. Americans, it seems, are in search of smart, comprehensive growth ideas.

According to a report released this week by the Brookings Institute, Americans are more concerned about the pace, quality and shape of development in their communities than ever before. And they're taking those concerns to the ballot box in record numbers.

The institute found 553 growth-related state and local measures on the November ballot, including two high-profile propositions that failed here in Arizona, the Arizona Republic reported Monday.

Although analysts didn't find a one-size-fits-all solution model, they did pinpoint several lessons for the future.

"Failing to include housing strategies is 'the Achilles' heel' of many growth management approaches," Robert Puentes, senior research manager at Brookings' Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, told the Republic.

"There is a big debate whether smart growth means unaffordable housing," he said. "We've seen that that is not the case."

According to the Republic, the report also found that:

Regional solutions are critical.

Ballot measures are more successful if they ally rural and urban interests.

Parks, recreation and open-space measures are popular. The number of such measures was up 15 percent from 1998, and 78 percent passed.

Growth-related measures including transportation, open space, economic development and various restrictions were most likely to succeed in the Northeast, where 91 percent were approved. The passage rates were 80 percent in the South, 66 percent in the Midwest and 62 percent in the West.

While Payson leaders strive to strike a balance between quality community development and vigorous economic growth, they might do well to look to communities across the nation for strategies that could work here. The most important lesson to be learned from the Brookings report is that we are not alone in this matter.

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