Approaching the "Smart Growth" Issue: A Look at Best Practices Used by Transportation Planning Organizations

Report No: 00-TAR3

Published in 2000

About the report:

A fundamental public policy decision implicitly addressed by agencies responsible for urban transportation planning is the right of the individual versus the goal of the community. This question arises in considering the role that state and local officials should play within the context of transportation and land development, specifically the "smart growth" movement. Although there is no universally accepted definition of "smart growth", discrete actions being implemented or advocated under that rubric reveal that smart growth is viewed as a range of regulatory, financial, and educational practices that may help to coordinate transportation and land use through integrated planning. Practices helpful in this coordination include communications, consensus building, and legislative efforts that improve the dialogue, reduce polarization, and enable coordination of transportation and land use decisions. None of these practices requires the use of the "smart growth" label; instead, they expose tangible initiatives that can be publicly debated. Only when referring to specific initiatives (rather than the general slogan "smart growth") is it fair to ask a community or an organization to take a position on the issue of individual autonomy versus communal desires. This paper discusses critical policy issues facing agencies responsible for land use planning, reviews organizational approaches to resolving smart growth issues, and suggests practices to enhance community participation.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Lester A. Hoel, Ph.D.

Last updated: December 11, 2023

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