Thursday, May 28, 2009

Smart Growth Report

A new report came out today from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. The report titled “Smart Growth Policies: An Evaluation of Programs and Outcomes” was a two-year study that looked at states in the US that implemented smart growth policy to see how successfully they were in meeting their goals. The report also looked at states that didn’t have smart growth policies. The report looked at the following key areas:

-Promoting compact development
-Protecting natural resources and environmental quality
-Providing and promote a variety of transportation options
-Suppling affordable housing
-Creating net positive fiscal impacts

No state did well on all performance measures, although individual states succeeded in one or more of their priority policy areas. Maryland was successful in protecting natural resources through its land preservation programs and state funding for the purchase of farmland conservation easements. New Jersey policies that responded to state supreme court decisions led to an affordable housing approach that slowed house price escalation and encouraged rental and multifamily housing production. Oregon’s commitment to establishing urban growth boundaries was able to reduce development on farmland in the Willamette Valley. The state also performed well in reducing traffic congestion growth by encouraging commuters to use transit and by systematically planning for bicyclists and pedestrians.

They also may the following recommendations when it comes to Smart Growth planning:

Program Structure and Transparency
-The design of smart growth programs and supporting regulations and incentives should be guided by a vision of sustainable and desirable development outcomes.
-Any top-down or bottom-up smart growth policies must be coordinated at the regional level to be able to achieve their desired objectives.
-Policy makers must articulate the means of achieving smart growth objectives and specify implementation mechanisms, rather than just declare objectives.

Functional Linkages for Policy Design
-The design of growth management policies should take account of interactions among policies and coordination across relevant agencies.
-Smart growth policies should make use of economic incentives, such as pricing and tax policies that have shown promise in other countries.
-Smart growth programs need to consider the income distribution consequences of their policies.

Sustainability and Monitoring of Programs
-Credible commitment from different levels of government is crucial for the successful implementation of smart growth programs.
-Improvements in measurement and collection of data, particularly related to environmental quality and public finance, are needed to better monitor program performance.
-More evidence is needed about the nature of interactions among smart growth policies—particularly those related to land use, transportation, and housing affordability.
-Clearer definition of performance indicators and measurement of their attainment would facilitate the evaluation of smart growth programs and contribute to their technical and political sustainability.

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