For the greater part of the last century, many people have sought the American Dream by raising their families in suburbs. But today, anti-sprawl activists blame the suburbs for a host of environmental and social ills, and push initiatives to limit housing growth to high-density patterns. In fact, the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development and of Energy have jointly issued a set of "livability principles" for "sustainable communities." Such initiatives often end up raising housing prices while exacerbating the very problems they claim to fix, such as traffic and pollution. Their main effect is to make suburban living affordable only for the well-to-do.
Federal programs that subsidize suburban development should be restricted or eliminated, but so should programs that boost urban development, whether via subsidies or outright coercion.