Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Smart Growth Revamped

Jan 13, 2011


In December we wrote that the concept of smart growth needed to be revamped to be more comprehensive taking social justice and access to jobs education health care etc. into account as well as the more traditional smart growth focus areas (the intersection of land use transportation and the environment).

A new report by the University of Maryland’s National Smart Growth Center also notes the necessity for smart growth to evolve into “smarter growth.” Focusing on the state of Maryland Gerrit Knaap the center’s director said that as things stand “the state is barely moving the needle on most widely accepted measures of smart growth. [Maryland] has made a significant effort to encourage development in designated areas but the smart growth tools in place are apparently not adequate for the job.”

As Knaap notes in an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun Maryland is known for being a national leader in smart growth; however the state cannot rest on previous achievements alone. Despite its progressive past the state is now performing no better than average on many smart growth performance measures – including reducing vehicle miles traveled and promoting compact development – and it hasn’t improved much over the past decade according to Knaap. Smart growth must evolve into smarter growth and that will require a “fundamental change in the way development is planned and managed” Knaap argues.

“Never let a crisis go to waste” President Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel once said. With a national economy in the doldrums largely the result of a boom of non-sustainable housing development patterns this is as good of time as any to make the fundamental change for which Knaap argues and to turn smart growth into smarter growth.

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