The most formidable obstacle to smart growth is inertia. Change is hard. And for significant change in urban structure there must be significant change in preferences, politics, institutions, and infrastructure. None of this will occur quickly. Preferences are changing, but preferences are socially constructed—shaped in part by demographics, social institutions, and the sprawl-industrial complex. This complex of developers, homebuilders, financial institutions, automobile manufacturers, and the highway construction industry all have vested interests in the status quo. Although there is no Status Quo Network, there is also never a shortage of response to the latest study to extol the virtues of smart growth. Perhaps the most formidable obstacles to smart growth are the millions of current homeowners of the United States. As articulated by Bill Fischel every homevoter has a stake in the status quo. Rarely are the social benefits of infill, higher densities, and especially regional institutional change sufficiently compelling as to draw the support of this dominant constituency.
National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education
March 3, 2006