The concept of "Smart Growth" has emerged in the last 10–20 years driven by "new guard" urban planners, innovative architects, visionary developers, community activists, and historic preservationists. Smart Growth is a term which has become codified in Federal and State regulations. It has various flavors, but the basic principles are generally similar — being variations of the same concept with different emphasis, including
- Smart Growth
- New Urbanism
- New Community Design
- Sustainable Development
- Traditional Neighborhood Development
- Resource Stewardship
- Land Preservation
- Preventing urban sprawl
- Conserving Open Space
- Creating Sense of Place
- Development Best Practices
- Preservation Development
- Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Accounting - People, Planet, Profit
- The Three Pillars - Human, Natural, and Created Capital
Perhaps the most descriptive term to characterize this concept is Traditional Neighborhood Development which recognizes that Smart Growth and related concepts are not "new" but fundamental development practices that have been employed for centuries. Many favor the term New Urbanism — which invokes a new, but traditional way of looking at urban planning. The most general term characterizing this concept is likely Sustainable Development, or more simply just "Resource Stewardship" or "Best Practices."
There are a range of "best practices" associated with "Smart Growth" — these include: supporting existing communities, placing a value on communities and neighborhoods. redeveloping underutilized sites, enhancing economic competitiveness, providing more transportation choices, developing livability measures and tools, promoting equitable and affordable housing, providing a vision for sustainable growth, enhancing integrated planning and investment, aligning, coordinating, and leveraging government polices, redefining housing affordability and making it transparent.
There are many goals of Smarth Growth and they include: making the community more competitive for new businesses, providing alternative places to shop, work, and play, creating a better "Sense of Place," providing jobs for residents, increasing property values, improving quality of life, expanding the tax base, preserving open space, controlling growth, and improving safety.
Smart Growth principles are directed at developing sustainable communities that are good places to live, to do business, to work, and to raise families. Some of the fundamental aims for the benefits of residents and the communities are to increase family income and wealth, improving access to quality education, fostering livable, safe and healthy places, stimulating economic activity (both locally and regionally), and developing, preserving and investing in physical resources.
One needs to distinguish between Smart Growth "principles" and Smart Growth "regulations" the former are concepts and the latter their implmentation - that is, how federal, state, and municipal governments choose to fulfill Smart Growth principles. Many critics of Smart Growth point to deficiences in Smart Growth regulations — it is hard to criticize principles that promote "best practices," "stewardship," and "quality of life."
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