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Economic Implementation Constraints on Preserving Land from Sprawl: The Case of the Delaware Valley

Author: MICHAEL HOWELL-MORONEY
Published in PAQ, Vol. 29 No. 1

Urban sprawl is one of the most pressing policy issues facing
today’s county governments. Most of the policy analysis in this area is
limited to international comparisons, focusing on differences in national
political structure as determinants of policy success. This paper
explores determinants of land preservation outcomes at the sub-national
level and hones in on a specific area, examining the implementation of
land preservation efforts taken by several counties in the Greater
Philadelphia Area. A simultaneous equation model is used to examine
the impact of various factors on land preservation outcomes. Findings
suggest that differences in the price of land, population growth and
funding for land acquisition are all key dimensions of implementation
constraint that explain variation in policy outcomes. The model predicts
that given population projections, seven of the eight counties will face
significant shortfalls in the funds necessary to preserve the amounts of
open space prescribed by the local Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Given these findings, it is likely that efforts to preserve land will fail
without significant increases in funding and more effective controls on
land use.

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