Randy O’Toole At The Mat-Su Borough

Randy O'Toole

Randy O'Toole

I attended part of an assembly work session at the Matanuska Assembly Chambers this afternoon. Randy O’Toole of the Cato Institute gave a presentation on planning at the session. I thought it was very interesting.

O’Toole is an advocate of free-market solutions in planning rather than centralized planning. He discusses how Houston and Dallas, Texas both use completely different methods of growth management than California. These days California is shrinking while Texas is still growing. O’Toole is the author of this excellent paper showing why, “Government Planning Always Fails“.

I have personally always been skeptical of zoning because it strikes me as tending towards tyranny. Think about it, zoning in the Mat-Su Borough will consist of 5 people, (the amount needed for a majority on the assembly), deciding what tens of thousands of people can do with their land. And we have seen how effective centralized planning has been in so many other places…remember the 5 year plans?

O’Toole’s other area of expertise is in transportation. Again, he is an advocate of free-market solutions. He discussed toll roads, toll lanes, toll bridges and other ways of paying for transportation. He explained how many European countries partner with private corporations to build highways and bridges rather than taxing the people. He believes that the people who use the roads should pay for them…what a concept! Actually pay for the service that you use? Whoever heard of that in America?

This quote seems to epitomize O’Toole’s philosophy, “As a matter of principle, infrastructure spending should be based on markets and user fees, not political whims and caprices. If users are not willing to pay the cost, we don’t need the infrastructure. But when users will pay, government shouldn’t prevent them from getting the facilities they need.” I sure don’t see anything wrong with that.


I just read another paper by O’Toole on Regional Growth-Management Planning. It’s very good and should be required reading for everyone in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, especially for anyone in local government. Here is a quote, “Regional growth-management planning makes housing unaffordable and contributes to a business-unfriendly environment that slows economic growth.”