Comprehensive Land Use Planning

Information | Best Practice: Grand Valley Metro Council | Best Practice: Youngstown 2010 | Best Practice: Detroit Works Project

Like other states, Michigan’s foreclosure crisis is, in part, caused by the housing bubble created by an oversupply of building in the prior decade. Michigan is the only state in America to have lost population over the last decade and its 2010 Census suggests that the state’s population has only grown 7.4% over the last 35 years.[1] Yet, the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council, a nonpartisan gubernatorial commission which issued a report (pdf) in 2003, projects a 63-87% increase in the built environment between 1990 and 2020 (in other words, land use will expand at a rate more than ten times the rate of population growth) and a 178% increase by 2040. Much of this growth is driven by the increase in number of households, despite population growth, and the movement within metropolitan regions to the exurban and outermost suburban communities.

1990-2006 saw one of the largest increases in supply in housing in American history. While there have been other boom periods in the housing industry, this one was characterized by bigger and bigger homes, often constructed on the edges of metropolitan areas. This housing boom was not the result of population growth or under-supply of housing (such as in the post-war era), but a desire for larger and more elaborate housing made possible by ever easier mortgage access and accessibility.

Comprehensive land use planning efforts appear to be an important part of re-designing Michigan’s housing markets in a way that is more sustainable, practicable, affordable, and attractive.


[1] U.S. Census.  2010 Michigan population was 9,883,640 while 1978 numbers are estimated at 9.2 million.

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