Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Smart(er) growth?

Dec 15, 2010


Over at Switchboard the NRDC’s exceptional blog on the connections between transportation land-use and the environment Kaid Benfield recently pondered about the future of smart growth. After recognizing past achievements in the field Benfield argues that the current definition of smart growth is not sufficient to meet the challenges that we face in this century.

The existing principles of smart growth are still relevant he argues but they need to be augmented by additional principles aimed largely at reducing inequities. Ensuring access to health care fresh food clean water well-paying and fulfilling jobs and diverse sources of energy are not explicitly delineated. In this sense RF should be a model – it includes targets aimed at each of these areas while also incorporating the more traditional elements of smart growth.

Benfield noting its progress in many areas challenges the smart growth community to evolve to more effectively meet the impending challenges: “Today we confront a very different set of trends than we did in the 1990s. In fact I would say that we have made so much progress on these things – with market forces on our side now too – that we who like to think of ourselves as ‘progressive’ risk being anything but if we don’t turn some attention to the issues that have emerged in the 21st century.”

On a related note a new magazine called Sustainable Communities recently released its premier issue. The magazine is the official journal of the non-profit Partnership for Sustainable Communities and has come interesting pieces on the Obama Administration’s efforts to add sustainability to HUD’s mission on the revolutionary TIGER program that changed the way many people think about transportation funding and the economic impacts of land-use decisions.

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