The Smart Growth vs. Green Field development debate is once again raging around California. The nascent home building recovery has renewed the debate about which approach local development officials and home builders should follow to satisfy resurgent home demand.
A recent Sacramento Bee article, Our New Lots in Life by Francesca Lyman, frames this debate nicely and shows how it applies to the Sacramento real estate market. This debate has significant statewide implications though as job growth has been strongest in regions that have the most significant barriers to new home construction.
According to Gerd-Ulf (GU) Krueger*, a leading California home building expert,
“Cities are probably going to miss this extraordinary historic opportunity to capture the demand for infill.”
Proponents of Smart Growth claim that demographic trends and high gas prices are stimulating more interest in urban living.
“There’s just no culture like there is here, in city neighborhoods like midtown…”
Green Field adherents, though, maintain that the default choice of most Americans is for a place in the suburbs and that once the millennial generation starts raising families, the attraction of urban living will fade.
“Surveys of housing preferences consistently show that if given the choice, most Americans, particularly families, will still opt for a place with a spot of land and a little breathing room,” writes [Joel] Kotkin”
*GU Krueger s the principal economist and founder of KruegerEconomics, a housing and economic advisory firm for institutional investors, developers, builders, and state and local governments.