Randal O'Toole

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Randal O'Toole (born 1952[1]) is an American public policy analyst. The majority of O'Toole's work has focused on private land rights, particularly against public land use regulations and light rail.[2][3]

Since 1995, he has been associated with the Cato Institute as an adjunct scholar and frequent anti-light rail campaigner. O'Toole was the McCluskey Visiting Fellowship for Conservation at Yale University in 1998,[4] and has served as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (1999[5]) and Utah State University (2000[6]). O'Toole studied economics at the University of Oregon, but did not receive a degree in economics.[7] He is the contact listed for the Thoreau Institute.[8]


Early in his career, O'Toole worked with environmental groups to oppose the United States Forest Service's subsidized sales of public forest timber to the logging industry. His book Reforming the Forest Service built on his experience during this effort, and proposed a number of free-market solutions to management of U.S. public land and timber. He has written analyses of the usage and development plans of a number of U.S. national forests, working with state environmental agencies and other groups.[citation needed]

In the 1990s, O'Toole emerged as an outspoken critic of New Urbanist design and smart growth strategies[9] after learning in 1995 of a county plan to rezone his neighborhood to allow higher density and mixed use development.[1] O'Toole contends that these development strategies—in which regulatory measures and tax incentives are employed to encourage denser development, more efficient land use, and greater use of public transportation—ignore the desires and preferences of most housing consumers and ultimately waste public funds. He has campaigned against smart growth policies and light rail systems in several U.S. states as well as in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Ottawa, Ontario.[10][11]

His 2001 book The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths was written as a detailed critique of these styles of planning. He continues to advocate for free market solutions to urban planning and design in his writing and teaching.[12][13][14][15]

Personal life

He rides a bicycle to and from work. In 1998[1] he moved from Oak Grove, Oregon to Bandon, Oregon.[16] In a recent New York Times article, he was noted to live in Camp Sherman, Oregon and his Thoreau Institute address is listed as Camp Sherman.[17][18]


Urban planning
  • The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths (Thoreau Institute, 2001) ISBN 0-9706439-0-X
  • A Desire Named Streetcar: How Federal Subsidies Encourage Wasteful Local Transit Systems (Cato Institute 2006)[19]
  • The Best-Laid Plans (Cato Institute 2007) ISBN 978-1933995076
  • Gridlock: Why We're Stuck in Traffic and What to Do About It (Cato Institute 2010) ISBN 978-1935308232
  • Reforming the Forest Service (Island Press, 1988) ISBN 0-933280-49-1
  • The Citizens' Guide to the Forest Service Budget (Thoreau Institute) [20]
  • The Citizens' Guide to the Timber Industry (Thoreau Institute)[20]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Randal O'Toole, The Vanishing Automobile
  2. Randal O'Toole. The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths: How Smart Growth Will Harm American Cities. ISBN 978-0970643902.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Randal O'Toole. The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future. ISBN 978-1933995076.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://www.yale.edu/yibs/YEN%20Winter%202003.pdf
  5. http://berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/1999/1020/species.html
  6. http://prfamerica.org/biography/Biography-OToole-Randal.html
  7. Property Rights Foundation of America, Randal O'Toole biography. Online website: http://prfamerica.org/biography/Biography-OToole-Randal.html
  8. "Thoreau Institute".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Congress for the New Urbanism. Debunking Cato: Why Portland Works Better Than the Analysis of Its Chief Neo-Libertarian Critic. Online website: http://www.cnu.org/sites/www.cnu.org/files/DebunkingCato.pdf
  10. Bill Steigerwald (November 5, 2007), "Meet the Anti-Planner". Townhall.com
  11. Ray Stern, "Anti-Planner" Scholar Randal O'Toole Coming to Phoenix to Talk Up Gridlock Book. Phoenix News Times, Friday, Apr. 30 2010. Online website: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2010/04/anti-light-rail_scholar_coming.php
  12. Randal O'Toole, A Libertarian View of Urban Sprawl and reliance on freeway and highway construction for mobility
  13. Streets blog NYC,Randal O’Toole: Taking Liberties With the Facts, online:http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/06/02/randal-otoole-taking-liberties-with-the-facts/
  14. Randal O'Toole, Highway Funding and Urban Form, February 8, 2010. online: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2010/2/8/randal-otoole-highway-funding-and-urban-form.html
  15. Cato Institute, March 18, 2010. Online: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/2010/03/18/a-libertarian-view-of-urban-sprawl/
  16. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/4759662.html.[dead link]
  17. New York Times, Son of Portland, Oregon tries to puncture myth of 'Smart Growth', http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/07/15/15climatewire-a-son-of-portland-ore-tries-to-puncture-the-52412.html
  18. Thoreau Institute website; http://www.ti.org/aboutti.shtml
  19. "A Desire Named Streetcar: How Federal Subsidies Encourage Wasteful Local Transit Systems".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Thoreau Institute Publications Order Form".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links