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The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Will Harm American Cities Paperback – December 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0970643902 ISBN-10: 097064390X

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Thoreau Inst (December 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097064390X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970643902
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,665,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Randal O'Toole is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute specializing in public lands, urban growth, and transportation issues. O'Toole spent 15 years working with environmental groups helping them understand the perils of big government planning and 15 years working with libertarian groups helping them find ways to protect the environment without big government.

O'Toole is an active cyclist who rides thousands of miles a year and a rail fan who loves riding passenger trains. But he is also an economist who recognizes that government spending must be cost-effective if it is to accomplish anything other than transferring money from taxpayers to special interests. This makes him skeptical of proposals to, for example, spend billions of dollars on urban rail transit or high-speed rail.

A native Oregonian, O'Toole was Yale University's McCluskey Conservation Fellow in 1998 and the Merrill Visiting Professor at Utah State University in 2000. He also taught at the University of California (Berkeley) College of Natural Resources in 1999 and 2001. He currently resides in Camp Sherman, Oregon.

Customer Reviews

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Orina Lisson on June 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
I hate cars. They're dangerous, they're dirty, I don't think we pay the "real" cost given the environmental and safety hazards. I have a feeling that if we weren't building giant, ugly freeways, we'd have small neighborhoods with businesses more intermixed with our houses, and wouldn't be trying to commute such long distances in the first place. Who knows.

I bike to work, or walk/take public transportation. The health and psychological benefits are immense, plus I don't have to buy a gym membership. I love my bike.

There are some very good arguments why "urban planning" is for wealthy white people in ivory towers only. Urban planning often leaves poor people with fewer economic opportunities, is disproportionately expensive to taxpayers for the benefit to the community, and is extremely controversial. If nothing else, it's very important to understand why so many people disagree with the concept.

If you're a liberal interested in challenging your preconceived notions, read this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Nichols on April 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
O'Toole breaks down the ridiculousness of "smart growth" initiatives and shows that it not only produces the opposite effects than intended, it also cannot stand up to logic. I applaud the author for taking this controversial stand in a time when the "greens" are under every rock.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Open Mind on May 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you have read Andres Duany's SUBURBAN NATION or one of the similar 'smart growth' books, or if you are simply interested in land use issues from an environmental or planning and zoning perspective, this book is a fact filled MUST READ -- unless of course you are the sort who says, "my mind's made up, don't confuse me with the facts."
Though I've seen the uglification of much of the area in which I grew up due to dumb growth, I've also experienced the carefully contrived charettes and public meetings designed to manufacture a facade of 'public support' for heavy handed 'planning' intended to impose 'smart growth' on a community in violation of property rights, common sense and community desires.
While elements of "smart growth' can make sense when implemented via incentives for voluntary action, Mr. O'Toole's thorough analysis backed by statistics drawn largely from government sources (all well footnoted for those interested in tracking them down) punctures both the exaggerated conceits used to sell the smart growth agenda and the overwrought fears used to herd unsuspecting environmentalists into supporting an agenda with few, if any, environmental benefits.
This book is an encyclopedic collection of most every argument against 'smart growth.' If you are a smart growth advocate, you need this book to familiarize yourself with the arguments against your position and the facts that your opponents will use to back them up. If you are feeling steamrolled by a 'smart growth' crusade in your area, you'll go to this book time after time for the ammunition you're looking for to support your cause. Of all the 'anti'-'smart growth' books out there that I've come across, this is the most comprehensive and well organized.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Ferrell on September 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Light rail carries a tiny fraction of the people that a highway carries and if you take construction into account it wastes more fuel as well. This is just one of dozens of PC myths that are refuted in this unique, well written book.
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18 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Lowell E. Grattan on January 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
San Jose is the number two city to institute Smart Growth Planning after Portland. Our housing prices are up 10 times in the last 25 years because of the Urban Growth Boundary. We spend 80% of transportaion funds on transit which provides 1.1% of passenger miles and roads are planned to come to a stop. Our transportation plan reports that 90,000 auto trips will not be possible to be made because of road congestion. Our industrial and office buildings are 20% vacant. We are #2 behind Portland in Urban Joblesness.

In regard to running out of Oil. As a student at SJSU 50 years ago we were taught that the world had a 10 year supply of oil. Now it is reported that is some where between 50 and 100 years. I use the book almost every week for references.
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14 of 29 people found the following review helpful By C. Heath on January 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book should be in the hands of every citizen who has been upset by development and planning issues in their Cities & Towns. It is an education and an invaluable resource that levels the playing field somewhat when you have to deal with Planning staffs that don't seem to be listening and zoning decisions that aren't making any sense. It's eye-opening and a long overdue revelation for the average citizen.

The two negative reviewers of this book sound like they are more than likely city planners themselves and, of course, would not like this book. Interesting that they resort to fear-mongering and conspiracy theories to discredit it.

I have read this book and highly recommend it. It was written for all of us who don't have a degree in city planning.
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