The concept of “smart growth” means building urban, suburban and rural communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools. This approach supports local economies while protecting the environment and creating safer, more connected communities. Smart growth policies, typically laid out in the general plan, encourage infill, mixed-use and transit-oriented development as well as complete streets. These land use elements make communities easy to travel by foot or bicycle. The Smart Growth Network has identified 10 essential principles of smart growth :
- Mix land uses (for example shopping near jobs and housing).
- Take advantage of compact building design (for example focusing on investments in “infill development” within existing communities).
- Create a range of housing opportunities and choices.
- Create walkable neighborhoods.
- Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
- Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environmental areas.
- Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities.
- Provide a variety of transportation choices.
- Make development decisions predictable, fair and cost effective.
- Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.
One of the best ways to encourage active transportation is to place homes near schools so that walking and bicycling are feasible options. Local governments can identify areas near schools to develop as smart growth neighborhoods.
When faced with a growing student body in the mid-1990s, the City of Pomona decided to redevelop a deteriorating mall with a new school. The school became the hub for a new transit center, a new performing arts center and a revitalized mall.
Download the entire case story in New Schools for Older Neighborhoods: Strategies for Our Communities Most Important Aspects(PDF) from Local Government Commission.