Concerns over climate change have brought new impetus to the goal of reducing vehicle travel through land-use policy. In California, for example, Senate Bill 375 (2008) led to the establishment of regional targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles and requirements that metropolitan planning organizations adopt land-use policies, among other strategies, that help meet these targets. While empirical evidence shows that residents drive less in communities with greater densities and mixes of land uses, local governments have little basis for knowing how much less their own residents will drive if they succeed in increasing densities or the land-use mix. At the local level, changes are usually incremental, occurring one project at a time within the context of the existing community, and neither one-size-fits-all elasticities based on cross-sectional studies (Ewing and Cervero, 2010) nor regional travel-demand models (Rodier, 2009) are likely to…
Increased traffic congestion, loss of open space, infrastructure costs, and a desire for more housing options have all made smart growth an increasingly powerful strategy for building and revitalizing communities, catalyzing economic development and protecting the environment.
Evidence of this trend is every-where. Of the 189 ballot initiatives in 2002 related to state and local conservation, 141 were approved. Elected in 2002, Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney, Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Ed Rendellare poised to make smart growth actions a high priority.
Smart growth projects nationwide were built in record numbers, continuing a five-year upward trend, reported “The New Urban News,” an industry publication that tracks new development. Cities and towns across the country are re-examining and changing comprehensive plans, zoning and other building regulations to make smart growth possible.