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George Will on Orange County

September 11, 1987

George Will is wrong if he thinks that Orange County is restricting growth only to enhance property values (Op-Ed Page, Aug. 30). Communities are acting, as Orange County has, to protect a high quality of life and why shouldn't they?

Literally hundreds of American cities and counties throughout the nation--not just upscale suburbs, but old, blue-collar manufacturing towns too--have adopted "growth management strategies" to limit residential and commercial development. They are an appropriate expression of the public's interest in private land use decisions, a preferable alternative to haphazard suburban sprawl and a chaotic mix of land uses.

Some 30 million more people are expected to add to the congestion in our nation's already overcrowded cities before the end of the century. It is only natural for the leadership in communities like Orange County to want to avoid a future involving more overcrowded highways, longer commuting times, increased air and water pollution, more crime, higher costs of public services, shortages of trash disposal sites, less open space to enjoy and skyrocketing local taxes.

Urban growth-control programs should not be considered anti-business or a violation of private property rights.

Communities are recognizing the enormous long-term costs of runaway population expansion and commercial overdevelopment. Having a bigger population is not necessarily better. The consequences of "bigness" are becoming a major threat to our well-being.

And while the adoption of local growth-management programs will help maintain local amenities, it is not the long-term answer to the overpopulation problem. The long-term answers are adoption by the U.S. Congress of a national policy goal of population stabilization and a firm annual limit on immigration.


Executive Director

Population-Environment Balance

Washington, D.C.

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