Throughout the United States, large and small communities are competing. They
compete for things that make them prosper -- industry, tourism, resources, and
people -- while struggling to manage growth and secure the finances necessary
to provide public infrastructure and services. Some states have developed specific
ways to support their communities' growth planning processes and advise the
state legislature on growth management issues. Tools are being developed that
identify and bring together people and groups necessary for the planning
stress the necessity of multi-jurisdictional
planning on things such as land and energy use, transportation investment,
and environmental protection.
Here are common growth situations with potentially negative repercussions
to sustaining the environment and quality of life in a community:
Zoning rules that forbid a mix of homes, densities, and business, and discourage
walking, biking, and public transit
Readily available federal grants and low-cost financing for water, sewers,
and roads, inviting decentralized expansion.
Mortgage interest and property tax deductions give people a subtle incentive
to buy bigger houses on bigger lots, thus promoting consumption of open space
State finances oriented towards building new rather than repairing existing
infrastructure, and pulling resources from the metropolitan core
Commercial development emphasized along transportation corridors rather
than "centers based" within residential areas
Conflict between local and state design standards
Tax rate structures that make sprawl-type developments financially attractive
Reliance on population growth for lower per capita property tax
Subsidies for developments that outweigh the tax revenues received from
Lack of jurisdictional cooperation among cities, counties, and regions
New Planning Principles
Because of shared problems facing communities and regions, a variety of principles
that advocate sustainable growth have been offered. The American
Planning Association summarized much of what is accepted in the following
principles. Most are applicable to pollution prevention.
Recognition that all levels of government, and the non-profit and
private sectors, play an important role in creating and implementing
policies that support smart growth.
State and federal policies and programs that support urban investment,
compact development, and land conservation.
Planning processes and regulations at multiple levels that promote
diversity, equity, and smart growth principles.
Increased citizen participation in all aspects of the planning process
and at every level of government.
A balanced, multi-modal transportation system that plans for increased
A regional view of community.
One size that doesn't fit all - a wide variety of approaches to accomplish
Efficient use of land and infrastructure.
Central city vitality.
Vital small towns and rural areas.
A greater mix of uses and housing choices in neighborhoods and communities
focused around human-scale, mixed use centers accessible by multiple
Conservation and enhancement of environmental and cultural resources.
Creation or preservation of a "sense of place
In its Toolkit for Community Growth Planning, The
Western Regional Development Center suggests five cyclical steps: awareness,
assessment, alternatives, action, and evaluation for community planning. The
most successful planning documents and plans occur when there is in-depth involvement
from stakeholders throughout a region in all five phases. As one community planner
said, "You are going to hear from everyone at some point, so you might
as well involve everyone right from the beginning." Finally, community
growth management often revolves around monitoring measurable indicators that
show whether the community is moving towards or away from its vision.