Paper presented to the Legislative Action Committee, U.S. Conference of Mayors, on urban policy analyses dealing with unplanned, uncontrolled urban growth. San Jose is used as an example and the specific influences that contributed to San Jose's problems are identified. One is the post-World-War-II move to the suburbs by many Americans who were supported by federal FHA and VA mortgage policies. The explicit policy for some years was segregation. The federal housing policy facilitated the departure of the middle class from the city and helped produce the consequent inner-city problems and immense city sprawl. Current policy, especially income-tax policy, also contributes to the problem in a similar way by allowing deductions for home ownership and reinforcing flight to the suburbs. These examples point out the very limited control that local decisionmakers have over their cities. Consequently, much more attention must be paid to those federal policies that may reshape our cities.
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