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Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
P2 Opportunities
All Community Growth links
Only Reasons for Change links

Essential Links:

Paying the Costs of Sprawl
Using fair-share costing to control sprawl.

New Community Design to the Rescue
A four part report explaining how states and communities can encourage New Community Design, i.e. mi...

Transportation, Land Use and Sustainability
Sample initiative including information on transportation, land use, and sustainability. Excellent e...

Community Growth: Reasons for Change
P2 and Sustainable Community Development: Reasons for Change
Smart Growth is so important [because] it is critical to economic growth, the development of healthy communities, and the protection of our environment all at the same time. Smart Growth--the ability to create a sustainable society where we can reach all of these goals simultaneously--really comes down to one thing: quality of life. We can grow our economy without sacrificing quality of life. We can preserve the environment for future generations without sacrificing our quality of life. And, we can live and work in healthy and convenient neighborhoods without sacrificing our quality of life... --Christine Todd Whitman, US EPA Administrator

Preserving quality of life while maintaining a sense of community is the reason to consider pollution prevention in growing communities. However, cost is a tangible reason to worry about current development trends.

Community tax dollars pay for infrastructure development (roads, sewer systems, water systems, schools, etc.) in effect subsidizing development and keeping costs to developers artificially low. The high economic cost of extending utilities (such as electricity, gas, water), hospitals, schools, roads, waste pickup and disposal, and fire and public safety services is then increased with environmental costs resulting from new construction such as groundwater and stormwater pollution, increased air pollution and reduced open space. It's important for local communities to research and understand the costs of growth and who is paying the bills. The numbers and configurations are different in each community. Other compelling reasons for managing growth to prevent pollution include:

One reason to encourage development in city cores is that the people who live there are often the poorest and need the opportunities and investment that are currently funneled into suburbs.
The aging population as well as younger groups make clear that sprawl is of no benefit to people who cannot drive; there should be choices for those who want to remain mobile without cars.
Motor vehicles are a significant source of air pollution. These pollutants are associated with numerous pulmonary diseases.
Mitigating land loss
Farmland is being lost, along with other open spaces, pristine views and animal habitat.
Aquifer protection
As open land is paved, rainwater is efficiently drained and piped directly to streams; this diverted rainwater then is not available to soak into the ground and replenish aquifers.
Riparian Protection
Surface and groundwater quality is threatened by loss of wetlands and corresponding increases in stormwater flows and pollutants
As the natural wonders of the scenic areas decline, so too does the desirability of visiting them, damaging the important regional tourism industry.

Measuring Progress

As cities, counties and states go forward, it will be important to measure the impacts of current development trends--in terms of pollution, health, and quality of life. Quantitative measures of progress can be a real gauge of success, can reveal less successful approaches, and are currently the most compelling arguments for change.

One of the reasons that LUTRAQ (http://www.friends.org/resources/lutraq.html), the Portland area Land Use, Transportation and Air Quality plan, is so compelling is that it has quantified its expected results. LUTRAQ projects a 10% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) per capita as a result of the policies adopted in Portland. Further, time spent in traffic congestion would be reduced by 53% and CO2 emissions by 6.4%. Rather than vague promises, these measurments compared favorably with an alternative plan to expand a freeway.

The following short list of metrics was used by Envision Utah (http://www.envisionutah.org/) in a strategic planning model:

  • Average peak hour traffic speeds (mph)
  • People who can walk to rail transit (1/2 mile) as a percent of total population
  • Total water demand (acre feet)
  • Per capita water use (gallons per day)
  • Air quality: total emissions (tons per day)
  • Walkable communities (qualitative)
  • Land use and housing: average size of single-family lot
  • Overall housing availability (single-family, townhouses, condos and apartments)
  • Land consumed: new
  • Land consumed: total
  • Agricultural land consumed
  • Cost of infrastructure (water, sewer, transportation, utilities) 1998-2020

Hub Last Updated: 08/20/2003

The P2Rx Topic Hub Project was developed by:
The Community Growth Topic Hub was developed by:
Peaks to Prairies
Peaks to Prairies
Contact Laura Estes (Peaks)
406-994-3451 or laurae@montana.edu