P2 and Sustainable Community Development: Reasons for Change
Community Growth: 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.
|Farmland is being lost, along with other open
spaces, pristine views and animal habitat.
|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.
|Surface and groundwater quality is threatened
by loss of wetlands and corresponding increases in stormwater flows and
|As the natural wonders of the scenic areas
decline, so too does the desirability of visiting them, damaging the important
regional tourism industry.
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
- 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
- Land consumed: new
- Land consumed: total
- Agricultural land consumed
- Cost of infrastructure (water, sewer, transportation, utilities) 1998-2020
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