Saving Open Spaces: Determinants of 1998 and 1999 “Antisprawl” Ballot Measures



Objective. Although such measures received media attention as indicative of a nationwide rebellion against sprawl, determinants of the appearance and success of 1998 and 1999 open-space preservation ballot measures have not been investigated. We suspect that, contrary to assumptions, these are not triggered by sprawled development and represent a response limited to small, wealthy communities. Methods. The influence of population density, total population, percentage of Anglos, and median income on these initiatives is estimated through regression. Results. Low population density is not the trigger for the appearance and passage of these measures; however, demographic factors determinant of limits on growth in general do exhibit significant influence. Conclusions. The 1998 and 1999 open-space measures are better explained by the broad “growth machine” approach than they are by popular assumptions of what prompted these policies. In short, the existence of sprawl lacks a positive empirical link to its putative solution.