Jim Bacon is creator and publisher of Bacon’s Rebellion, a Virginia-based blog that covers a range of infrastructure, growth and policy issues. In an interview with Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Bacon discusses how he came to see smart growth strategies as a fiscally responsible approach to development.
A former editor of Virginia Business Magazine, Bacon has been following community development and transportation issues since the 1980s when northern Virginia was experiencing a building boom. “I was really concerned about costs of growth at the time,” says Bacon. “When you smear out growth over a large, huge land mass, it’s going to be far more expensive to build the roads, extend water and sewer, cable lines, and electricity.”
Bacon notes that too often, zoning laws drive up municipal costs by requiring the separation of land uses and construction of large parking lots. Mandates like this hinder the free market while placing higher cost burdens on local governments and taxpayers. “We have basically outlawed any form of development that would allow creation of a walkable community, which is what people actually want,” Bacon explains.
Times are changing, though. Communities that plan for new development and infrastructure efficiently are able to reduce municipal costs while also growing economically. “The economics of economic development are changing,” Bacon asserts. Workers in the growing knowledge economy are seeking vibrant neighborhoods, active main streets and multi-modal cities—all of which smart growth strategies foster. “This is crucial for anyone concerned with the economic vitality of their community.” Hear more from Jim Bacon in the video above.
This video is part of the Local Leaders Council’s “Meet the Experts” video series, which provides information for local leaders interested in learning more about smart growth strategies. Want to know more about all the videos in the series? Join our mailing list stay in the know.