Growth management, like any other planning technique, is subject to use and misuse. At best, it can be used to step into the future in a planned manner and emerge with good results—with a sensible and attractive pattern of development, with the public treasury in good shape, with community services adequate to the tasks demanded of them, and with the natural environment disrupted to a minimal degree. At worst, growth management techniques can be used to block legitimate growth, to defend the privileges of those already privileged, and to displace the inevitable costs of development to other jurisdictions.

Quite probably, the best results will be obtained when the government doing the managing corresponds in size to a natural labor market or housing market. If the primary purpose of the growth management system is environmental, it seems likely that, all other things being equal, the best results will be obtained if there is a correspondence between the physical jurisdiction of the managing unit and the realities of the environmental processes. In this case the displacement effects of growth management decisions will be taken account of to a substantial degree. On the other hand, if the jurisdiction is small with regard to the economic, social, or physical effects resulting from its actions, the temptation to consider only parochial interests and to ignore the numerous effects of local decisions on outsiders may be hard to resist.

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