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Encyclopedia > Smart growth

Smart growth is a concept and term used by those who seek to identify a set of policies governing transportation and land use planning policy for urban areas that benefits communities and preserves the natural environment. Smart growth advocates land use patterns that are compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly, and include mixed-use development with a range of housing choices. This philosophy keeps density concentrated in the center of a town or city, combating urban sprawl. Urban planning is concerned with the ordering and design of settlements, from the smallest towns to the worlds largest cities. ... Aerial view of growth patterns in Arlington County, Virginia. ... Roads can be pedestrian-friendly by measures such as: no other traffic allowed; in addition poles may prevent cars from entering low speed limit for other traffic wide pavements pedestrian crossings, especially with priority for pedestrians restrictions on advertising material cluttering shopping streets a partial or full roof to protect... Bicycle-friendly is a descriptive term that describes policies, places and practices which make it easier for people to ride bicycles. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Urban sprawl (also: suburban sprawl), a term with pejorative implication, refers to the rapid and expansive growth of a greater metropolitan area, traditionally suburbs (or exurbs) over a large area. ...

Proponents of smart growth advocate comprehensive planning to guide, design, develop, revitalize and build communities that: have a unique sense of community and place; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; expand the range of transportation, employment and housing choices; value long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short term focus; and promote public health and healthy communities.


Rationale for Smart Growth

Smart growth proponents see strong relationships between the policies described in the next section and the outcomes smart growth seeks to achieve. For example, by locating people near each other, near jobs, and near shopping, travel time will be reduced and transportation infrastructure costs will fall. Likewise, by creating transit-oriented development, communities are seen to improve quality of life and encourage a healthier pedestrian-based lifestyle with less pollution. Aerial view of growth patterns in Arlington County, Virginia. ...

Economic Rationale

Smart growth tries to take into consideration the total long-term economic costs of development decisions, rather than merely an aggregation of the short term profits that can be made by improving each individual parcel of land. For example, a person wishing to convert a farm 20 kilometers outside a city center to an office building may profit from the increased rents, but the community may pay more in the long run if more roads, commuting time and pollution is generated by the distance of the office building from residents, stores, suppliers and customers.

Part of the reason for the emergence of the smart growth concept in urban planning comes from changes in they way people view costs and benefits of development. Engineers often resort to life cycle cost analysis to evaluate trade-offs while investors and company proprietors can remain more interested in the "bottom line" of profitability. Without a new kind of analysis, it is possible that neither group would support proposed changes to land use planning policies unless they received clear and perhaps immediate financial benefit. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Total cost of ownership. ...

Smart growth principles challenge old assumptions in urban planning, such as the need for residents to use automobiles or to have detached houses. The idea of smart growth has grown in popularity as an alternative to urban sprawl, traffic congestion, disconnected neighborhoods, and urban decay. As such, policy-makers sometimes try to provide financial incentives to developers to encourage different land use choices, often in combination with changing legal prescriptions. Car redirects here. ... Urban sprawl (also: suburban sprawl), a term with pejorative implication, refers to the rapid and expansive growth of a greater metropolitan area, traditionally suburbs (or exurbs) over a large area. ... Traffic jams are common in heavily populated areas. ... Urban decay is the popular term for both the physical and social degeneration of a cities and large towns. ...

Climate Change Mitigation Rationale

Many of the actions and tactics used to mitigate contributions to greenhouse gas emissions at the local level encompass smart growth principals. Climate disruption can be seen as an environmental and economic threat to the health of communities, and whether motivated by a primary desire to reduce global warming pollution, or simply cut traffic, save tax dollars, clean the air, and improve quality of life in their communities, many cities in the U.S. and abroad already have strong local policies and programs in place addressing anti-sprawl and land-use policies. Land use is the pattern of construction and activity land is used for. ...

On February 16, 2005 Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels launched an initiative to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol through leadership and action by at least 141 American cities, and currently as of October, 2006, 319 mayors representing over 51.4 million Americans have accepted the challenge.[1] Under the US Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, cities must commit to three actions in striving to meet the Kyoto Protocol in their own communities, one of which is adopting certain smart growth principals.[2] Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels Gregory J. Greg Nickels (born August 7, 1955) became the 51st and current mayor of Seattle, Washington on January 1, 2002. ...

Similarly, another major campaign is the "Cities for Climate Protection", under ICLEI which currently has 150 cities and towns participating in the U.S., and 600 municipalities worldwide.[3]. Like the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, communities use a 5-step methodology in reducing global warming and air pollution emissions, where one step encourages many of the smart growth elements listed below.[4] ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local governments and national and regional local government organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable development. ...

Elements of Smart Growth

Proponents of smart growth would typically view the following elements as important to the concept [5] [6]. Because the contours of the smart growth concept are not universally agreed upon, implementation can be seen as a matter of degree rather than kind -- in other words, something is more "smart growth" if it includes many of the elements listed below, and is less "smart growth" if it contains fewer of them.

Compact neighborhoods

Compact, livable urban neighborhoods attract more people and business. Creating such neighborhoods is a critical element of reducing urban sprawl and protecting the climate. Such a tactic includes adopting redevelopment strategies and zoning policies that channel housing and job growth into urban centers and neighborhood business districts to create compact, walkable, bike and transit friendly hubs. This sometimes requires local government bodies to implement code changes that allow increased height and density downtown and regulations that not only eliminate minimum parking requirements for new development, but establish a maximum number of allowed spaces. Other topics that fall under this concept include:

  • mixed-use development
  • inclusion of affordable housing
  • restrictions or limitations on suburban design forms (e.g. detached houses on individual lots, strip malls and surface parking lots)
  • inclusion of parks and recreation areas

This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Affordable housing is a dwelling where the total housing costs are affordable to those living in that housing unit. ... House - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... The Mall, an out-of-town shopping centre at Patchway, near Bristol, England. ... Underground parking garage at the University of Minnesota. ... For the Korean family name Park, see Korean name. ...

Transit-oriented development

Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and mixed-use/compact neighborhoods tend to use transit at all times of the day. Many cities striving to implement better TOD strategies seek to secure funding to create new public transportation infrastructure and improve existing services. Other measures might include regional cooperation to increase efficiency and expand services, and moving buses and trains more frequently through high-use areas. Other topics that fall under this concept include: Aerial view of growth patterns in Arlington County, Virginia. ...

Transportation Demand Management or TDM is changing or reducing demand for car use by encouraging the behavioural change of household choices of travel. ...

Walkable and bicycle-friendly design

See also:walkable and bicycle-friendly. Biking and walking instead of driving can greatly reduce emissions, save money on fuel and care maintenance and foster a healthier population. Improvements to such infrastructure can include developing an urban bike trail system, create or increase the number of bike lanes on main streets, increase bike parking, improve pedestrian crossings, and create associated master plans. Roads can be pedestrian-friendly by measures such as: no other traffic allowed; in addition poles may prevent cars from entering low speed limit for other traffic wide pavements pedestrian crossings, especially with priority for pedestrians restrictions on advertising material cluttering shopping streets a partial or full roof to protect... Bicycle-friendly is a descriptive term that describes policies, places and practices which make it easier for people to ride bicycles. ...

Other concepts

  • preserving open space and critical habitat, reusing land, and protecting water supplies and air quality
  • transparent, predictable, fair and cost-effective rules for development
  • historic preservation

In the physical sciences, specifically in optics, a transparent physical object is one that can be seen through. ... It has been suggested that Cultural heritage be merged into this article or section. ...

Policy Tools Used to Achieve Smart Growth

Zoning Ordinances

The most widely used tool for achieving smart growth is the local zoning law. Through zoning, new development can be restricted to specific areas, and additional density incentives can be offered for brownfield and greyfield land. Zoning can also reduce the minimum amount of parking required to be built with new development, and can be used to require set-asides for parks and other community amenities. A typical zoning map; this one identifies the zones, or development districts, in the city of Ontario, California Zoning is a North American term for a system of land-use regulation. ... Examples of brownfields that were redeveloped into productive properties Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. ... Underground parking garage at the University of Minnesota. ... For the Korean family name Park, see Korean name. ...

Environmental Impact Assessments

One popular approach to assist in smart growth in democratic countries is for law-makers to require prospective developers to prepare environmental impact assessments of their plans as a condition for state and/or local governments to give them permission to build their buildings. These reports often indicate how significant impacts generated by the development will be mitigated - the cost of which is usually paid by the developer. These assessments are frequently controversial. Conservationists, neighborhood advocacy groups and NIMBYs are often skeptical about such impact reports, even when they are prepared by independent agencies and subsequently approved by the decision makers rather than the promoters. Conversely, developers will sometimes strongly resist being required to implement the mitigation measures required by the local government as they may be quite costly. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an assessment of the likely human environmental health impact, risk to ecological health, and changes to natures services that a project may have. ... Mitigation consists of the activities designed to reduce or eliminate risks to persons or property or to lessen the actual or potential effects or consequences of an incident. ... NIMBY (an initialism for Not In My Back Yard) is an acronym for the phenomenon in which residents oppose a development as inappropriate for their local area, but by implication do not oppose such development in anothers. ...

A typical outcome in a community governed by those advocating smart growth is that developers will comply with the required measures, since building the community's trust over the long term through open dialogue is also in their long term interest and may help in recruiting and retaining staff, investors and perhaps customers with a genuine interest in social and environmental quality.

The Role of Government and Infrastructure in Supporting Current Patterns

Government has played an essential role in subsidizing the infrastructure needed to support sprawled land us patterns, leading to inaccurate price signals regarding the true cost of sprawl. Federal subsidies for highway buidling are an often talked about example. Fossil fuel subsidies that mask the true cost of driving are another example. Electricity presents another interesting case.

Electrical delivery subsidies

With electricity, there is a cost associated with extending and maintaining the service delivery system, as with water and sewage, but there is also a loss in the commodity being delivered. The farther from the generator, the more power is lost in distribution. According to the Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Information Administration (EIA), nine percent of energy is lost in transmission[7]. Current average cost pricing, where customers pay the same price per unit of power regardless of the true cost of their service, subsidizes sprawl development. The cost of infrastructure required to service a new unit in a greenfield(undeveloped) neighborhood is $50,000 to $60,000 per unit, wheras it costs $5,000 to $10,000 per unit in a brown(abandonded industrial or commercial parcel) or grey-field(abandoned retail or commercial site)[8]. With electricity deregulation, some states now charge customers/devleopers fees for extending distribution to new locations rather than rolling such costs into utility rates[9]. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government responsible for energy policy and nuclear safety. ...

The state of New Jersey has a mandated State Plan that divides the state into five planning areas, some of which are designated for growth, while others are protected. The state is developing a series of incentives to coax local governments into changing zoning laws that will be compatible with the State Plan. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities recently proposed a revised rule that presents a tiered approach to utility financing. In areas not designated for growth, utilities and their ratepayers are forbidden to cover the costs of extending utility lines to new developments--and developers will be required to pay the full cost of public utility infrastructure. In designated growth areas that have local smart plans endorsed by the State Planning Commission, devleopers will be refunded the cost of extending utility lines to new developments at two times the rate of the revenue received by developers in smart growth areas that do not have approved plans[10]. In general, zoning is the division of an area into sub-areas, called zones. ...

Examples of Communities Implementing Smart Growth Principles

The following cities are among those to have received formal recognition by the United States Environmental Protection Agency [11] as having achieved overall excellence in smart growth principles, and serve as examples of how smart growth elements can be successfully combined.

Additionally, the following neighborhood communities have been recognized by the Smart Growth Network as having sucessfully implemented particular elements of smart growth principles.[16] Arlington County is a county located in the U.S. state of Virginia (which calls itself a commonwealth), directly across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. By an act of Congress July 9, 1846, the area south of the Potomac was returned to Virginia effective in 1847 As of 2000... This article is about the city in Minnesota. ... Location in Ramsey County and the state of Minnesota. ... Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Area  Ranked 12th  - Total 87,014 sq mi (225,365 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 400 miles (645 km)  - % water 8. ... Davidson is a town in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, bordering Iredell County and Cabarrus County. ... Nickname: The Mile-High City Location of Denver in Colorado, USA Coordinates: Country United States State Colorado City-County Denver (coextensive) Founded November 22, 1858 Incorporated November 7, 1861 Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) Area    - City 401. ...

Motto: Nickname: Location in Maryland Founded Incorporated 1802 April 5, 1878  County Montgomery County Borough Parrish Mayor Sidney A. Katz Area  - Total  - Water 26. ... Nickname: Steel City, Iron City, City of Champions, City of Bridges, City of Colleges Location in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Coordinates: Country United States State Pennsylvania County Allegheny County Founded 1758 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (D) Area    - City 151. ... Nickname: City of Oaks Motto: You Can See the Whole State from Here Map of Wake County, North Carolina Coordinates: Country United States State North Carolina County Wake County Founded 1792 Mayor Charles Meeker (D) Area    - City 299. ... Nickname: The Windy City, The Second City, Chi Town Motto: Urbs In Horto (Latin: City in a Garden), I Will Location in Chicagoland and Illinois Coordinates: Country United States State Illinois County Cook Incorporated March 4, 1837 Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) Area    - City 606. ... Official language(s) English Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Area  Ranked 25th  - Total 57,918 sq mi (149,998 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 390 miles (629 km)  - % water 4. ... Official language(s) None, English de facto Capital Trenton Largest city Newark Area  Ranked 47th  - Total 8,729 sq mi (22,608 km²)  - Width 70 miles (110 km)  - Length 150 miles (240 km)  - % water 14. ...


In the early 1970s, transportation and community planners begin to promote the idea of compact cities and communities. Architect Peter Calthorpe then popularized and promoted the idea of urban villages that relied on public mass transportation, walking and cycling instead of automobile use. Another architect named AndrĂ©s Duany then promoted the idea of changing design codes to promote a sense of community and to discourage driving. Colin Buchanan and Stephen Plowden helped to lead the debate in the United Kingdom. The sheer cost and difficulty of acquiring land (particularly in historic and/or areas designated as conservancies) for the purpose of building and widening highways caused some politicians to have second thoughts about skewing all transport plans towards motor traffic. The United States Environmental Protection Agency suggests smart growth as a way to reduce air pollution. Politicians representing rural districts find the concept useful as a way of deterring in-migration and change to comparatively tranquil areas (that retain remnants of a pre-industrial age), even though their electorate may overwhelmingly depend on jobs located in towns and cities. Peter Calthorpe has been named one of twenty five innovators on the cutting edge by Newsweek magazine for his work redefining the models of urban and suburban growth in America. ... An urban village is an urban planning concept. ... Andrés Duany (born September 7, 1949) is a American architect and urban planner. ... EPA redirects here. ... Before flue gas desulfurization was installed, the emissions from this power plant in New Mexico contained excessive amounts of sulfur dioxide. ...

Some environmentalists who seek the protection of rural open space promote smart growth through the advocacy and defence of urban-growth boundaries, or Green belts as they have been termed in England since the 1930s. Big-city mayors, downtown business groups, and individual investors interested in gentrification who wish to reverse urban decay often see smart growth or regeneration as a useful tool to revitalize town centers or neglected neighborhoods without perceived harmful impacts upon social conditions or valued environmental assets. For other uses of the word Greenbelt, see Greenbelt (disambiguation). ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq mi  Population    - 2005 est. ... 1930 (MCMXXX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link is to a full 1930 calendar). ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Blight often stands side-by-side with new structures during urban renewal efforts. ...

Criticisms of Smart Growth

Although smart growth is the currently growing trend in many industrialized nations, not all groups are convinced of its benefits. Some find the phrase "smart growth" to be a loaded term and object to its implication that alternative strategies are inherently foolish or "un-smart". There is debate about whether transit-proximate development constitutes smart growth when it is not transit-oriented. Also, some lobby groups, such as the National Motorists Association[17], do not object to smart growth as a whole but strongly object to certain components traditionally associated with it, such as traffic calming or some other tactics intended to reduce automobile usage. A language construct, such as a word or a question, is said to be loaded if it carries meaning or implications beyond its strict definition (its denotation). ... High density development in Cambridge, Massachusetts stimulated by Alewife subway station (right foreground) and TOD zoning. ... Aerial view of growth patterns in Arlington County, Virginia. ... The National Motorists Association is a non-profit political interest group in the United States and Canada. ...

Libertarian groups, such as the Cato Institute, criticize smart growth on the grounds that while well-intentioned, its application has resulted in greatly increased land values to the point where detached houses are no longer affordable to people with average incomes. A detailed commentary by Randal O'Toole can be found here. (link to PDF file) Smart growth proponents might respond that detached housing imposes a higher net cost on society and the environment than multi-family housing, and that it should therefore be priced at a level reflecting that cost. See also Libertarianism and Libertarian Party Libertarian,is a term for person who has made a conscious and principled commitment, evidenced by a statement or Pledge, to forswear violating others rights and usually living in voluntary communities: thus in law no longer subject to government supervision. ... The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.. The Institutes stated mission is to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets, and peace by seeking greater involvement of the... House - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... Affordable housing is a dwelling where the total housing costs are affordable to those living in that housing unit. ... Randal OToole is an American economist and public policy expert. ... PDF is an abbreviation with several meanings: Portable Document Format Post-doctoral fellowship Probability density function There also is an electronic design automation company named PDF Solutions. ...

Wendell Cox is a vocal opponent of smart growth policies that ration land and restrict mobility. He put forward an analysis on smart growth to the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, arguing that "Smart growth strategies tend to intensify the very problems they are purported to solve." The data he uses for his arguments can be found here. Cox was joined by Joshua Utt in writing an essay with analysis of Smart Growth and sprawl. In it, they argued the following: Wendell Cox is an international public policy consultant. ...

Our analysis indicates that the Current Urban Planning Assumptions are of virtually no value in predicting local government expenditures per capita. The lowest local government expenditures per capita are not in the higher density, slower growing, and older municipalities. On the contrary, the actual data indicate that the lowest expenditures per capita tend to be in medium- and lower-density municipalities (though not the lowest density); medium- and faster-growing municipalities; and newer municipalities. This is after 50 years of unprecedented urban decentralization, which seems to be more than enough time to have developed the purported urban sprawl-related higher local government expenditures. It seems unlikely that the higher expenditures that did not develop due to sprawl in the last 50 years will evolve in the next 20--despite predictions to the contrary in The Costs of Sprawl--2000 research. It seems much more likely that the differences in municipal expenditures per capita are the result of political, rather than economic factors, especially the influence of special interests.

See also

Related Topics

Organizations A New town or planned community or planned city is a city, town, or community that was designed from scratch, and grew up more or less following the plan. ... New urbanism is an urban design movement that became very popular beginning in the 1980s and early 1990s. ... ecocities ... Urban sprawl (also: suburban sprawl), a term with pejorative implication, refers to the rapid and expansive growth of a greater metropolitan area, traditionally suburbs (or exurbs) over a large area. ... Blight often stands side-by-side with new structures during urban renewal efforts. ... Transit-oriented development (TOD) refers to residential and commercial areas designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership. ...

Futurewise is a non-profit charitable organization in Washington State that works to keep overdevelopment and urban sprawl from consuming farms, forests and rural areas. ... Smart Growth America is a coalition of over 100 advocacy organizations that have a stake in how metropolitan expansion affects the environment, quality of life and economic sustainability. ... In 1978, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developments (HUDs) Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) established HUD USER, an information source for housing and community development researchers, academics, policymakers, and the American public. ... The Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse (RBC) collects, processes, assembles, and disseminates information on existing barriers that inhibit the production and conservation of affordable housing. ...

External links

  • SmartCode 7.0 A model for New Urbanism Planning Codes in PDF Format

  Results from FactBites:
City of Austin - Smart Growth Home Page (736 words)
"Smart Growth" is a term that describes the efforts of communities across the United States to manage and direct growth in a way that minimizes damage to the environment and builds livable towns and cities.
Smart Growth argues that these problems are two sides of the same coin, with the neglect of our central cities fueling the growth and related problems of the suburbs.
Smart Growth advocates patterns for newly developing areas that promote a both a balanced mix of land uses and a transportation system that accomodates pedestrians, bicycles, transit and automobiles.
John Locke Foundation | Smart Growth (873 words)
Smart Growth typically focuses on four activities: 1) restricting the size of urban areas through growth boundaries; 2) requiring denser development through zoning changes; 3) discouraging driving through higher taxes and less road construction; and 4) increasing funding for mass transit.
Smart Growth advocates seek to legislate their aesthetic and economic preferences at the expense of what most citizens desire.
Smart Growth advocates are pushing very hard to move all North Carolina’s cities in the direction of Asheville and Wilmington.
  More results at FactBites »



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