Smart Scorecard for Development Projects

Smart Scorecard For Development Projects January 2002
3
demographics; dominance of scattered, low density work places; preponderance of low density,
single family homes; and government subsidies for auto travel – have transformed thousands of
acres of agriculture and open lands into subdivisions and shopping malls at a proportion that far
exceeds the rate of population growth.
Sprawl, as defined by Tony Downs of the Brookings Institution, maintains ten major
characteristics:
1. Predominance of low density residential and commercial settlements, especially in new
growth areas;
2. Unlimited outward extension of new development;
3. Leapfrog projects jumping beyond established settlements;
4. Single use development that separates shopping, working and residential activities;
5. Low density, single use work places and strip retail development typically located at the
periphery of metropolitan areas;
6. Reliance on auto transportation for virtually all trips;
7. Fiscal disparities among localities;
8. Lack of adequate housing choices located close to work opportunities, thus forcing many
workers to commute upwards of 45-90 minutes each direction;
9. Reliance mainly on trickle-down to provide housing to low-income households; and
10. Fragmented land use decisions by local governments.
Bruce Katz of Brookings says we have entered a new phase called “Hyper Sprawl”. Plans for
metropolitan areas would double their land area in the coming 15-20 years. This despite the good
news from many cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and Portland where revitalization of
neighborhoods, construction of hundreds of affordable housing units and preservation of historic
assets are occurring. The continued volume of single use, low-density growth located outside the
periphery of established cities has become the prevalent form of development.
The consequences of this pattern of development are causing major economic, social and
environmental disruptions and inequities:
Lack of new jobs in existing inner cities and first-ring suburbs in areas such as
Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Chicago are making it more difficult for residents to earn a
sufficient living wage, and in some instances are helping cause the reduction of
property values;
In Colorado, the forces underlying sprawl have caused the loss of 90,000 acres of
farmland per year on average since 1978;
An increase of almost 300% in the congestion of major roadways in Metro Denver
since 1990.
According to an American Farmland Trust study, the costs of providing services to
low-density development leads to higher taxes: increased emergency response times for
ambulances are as much as 50% longer and for fire as much as 33% longer; and the
taxes don’t adequately cover the costs of extended sewer and water lines.
SMART GROWTH AGENDA
The term “Smart Growth” was selected by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to
create an umbrella program for several initiatives which have attempted to respond to the increasing
degree of sprawl development across the United States.
The objectives of Smart Growth focus on the long-term health of our existing
communities --economically, environmentally and socially:
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