Who: Smart Growth
What: Smart Growth is a collection of urban planning and transportation policies and theories aimed at combating urban sprawl.
When: According to a 2010 article in the “American Journal of Public Health,” Portland, Oregon used Smart Growth to limit sprawl in the 1970s, but Smart Growth gained popularity in the 1990s and continues to be used in cities across the U.S. though it has lost some momentum due to politics and differing interests among stakeholders.
Where: Cities and suburbs across the U.S. have implemented and continue to use Smart Growth strategies.
Why: Urban sprawl began in the 1950s with white flight, the term used to describe the fear-based migration of white people from cities to surrounding suburbs. Due to growing populations, housing costs, and consumer preferences urban sprawl has continued along with its environmental and health impacts.
How: Urban sprawl creates excessive carbon emissions, air pollution, and water runoff while using land that could otherwise be used for agriculture or preserved as wilderness. Urban sprawl also leads to heath issues associated with sedentary lifestyles including obesity and cardiovascular disease. Smart Growth accepts that growth is going to happen and proposes ways to mitigate the environmental and health impacts associated with car-dependent suburban areas.
According to the Smart Growth Network, a partnership of businesses and government and civic organizations including the EPA, Smart Growth has 10 foundational Principles which boil down to using the same piece of land for homes, offices, shops, restaurants, and schools. This lowers car dependence and carbon emissions since residents can walk or bike most of the places they need to go. Mixed land use is achieved by building smaller houses on smaller lots, building taller buildings, and/or building in existing neighborhoods. By using less space for development, farmland and the environment is preserved. Smart Growth also encourages the use of high-quality public transportation.