Communities across the country are facing tremendous
opportunities to shape their future and provide solutions to the
most pressing local, national and global challenges of our time.
Community leaders, serving as stewards of the future, have the
power to change previous patterns of unsustainable growth and
realize the benefits of smarter growth.
A growing number of local political, civic and business leaders
understand that with smarter patterns of growth and development,
our towns, counties and cities can enjoy the fruits of growth
without the costs of poorly planned development. They
understand that smart growth strategies can help communities to
generate more jobs, enjoy a more stable tax base, provide more
choice in the location and cost of housing and build a healthy
economy while reducing our impact on the environment, securing
our energy independence and creating safe and healthy
neighborhoods for our children, our seniors and our families. They
understand that communities that choose to grow smarter are also
improving their ability to compete in the global marketplace for
investments and talent.
While the challenge of building healthier and safer communities
has not changed, the opportunities to move away from previous
unsustainable patterns have increased. These opportunities are
driven by dramatic demographic changes and shifting lifestyle
preferences in our population and by a growing understanding of
our shared responsibility for the future of our planet. At the same
time, the prospect of ever lengthening commutes and rising gas
prices is leading growing numbers of people to seek locations
where they are not completely automobile-dependent. More and
more people prefer neighborhoods where they can improve their
health by choosing to walk or bike to the grocery store or shrink
their “carbon footprint” (reduce their greenhouse gas emissions)
by taking public transit to work or to school. They want to live
where they can still be active citizens as they age and where their
children and grandchildren can enjoy healthy physical activity
Shortsighted planning sacrifices the long-term fiscal health of our
communities — starving our established downtown businesses,
overlooking existing investments in our older communities, eating
up our farms and open spaces and damaging our environment.
Many communities are envisioning an alternative future. They
want to rebuild our existing communities and design new ones to
better respond to the needs and preferences of their citizens
Getting there from where we are today can look like an
overwhelming task because it asks community leaders to overhaul
outdated plans. It requires rewriting laws and regulations to
transform the existing development patterns.
The good news is that we can take advantage of the opportunities
simply by allowing walkable, mixed-use development to happen in
our communities. The tools in the Smart Growth Implementation
Toolkit can help community leaders take the first step of removing
the regulatory obstacles to smarter growth. The tools can help
your community level the playing field to encourage development
that meets your community’s goals and your citizens' aspirations.
If you are new to the ideas of Smart Growth,
to find more resources available for download
as well as links to other helpful sites .