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Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes


Local governments across the country are looking for ways to support economic development and create livable communities for residents of all ages. The Smart Growth Program produced this document to outline “essential fixes” for communities that do not want to revise their entire regulatory system but are seeking to establish smarter, more environmentally responsible, and sustainable communities.

Key Points

The report discusses eleven essential fixes for common barriers local governments may face when implementing smart growth practices in urban and suburban communities. Each section addresses a barrier and outlines expected benefits and implementation steps, along with practice pointers and specific examples. The implementation steps provided in the report range from modest adjustments to major wholesale changes that communities can make to work toward successful smart growth that will improve community livability.

Recommendations made to support smart growth include:

  • Require mixed-use zones: Create community centers that incorporate housing, retail shops, and workplaces to bring jobs and services closer to community residents.
  • Fix parking requirements: Reform traditional parking management systems that incorporate a combination of off-site parking in mixed-use environments, more on-street parking, shared parking credits, public transit, etc.
  • Modernize street standards: Include complete streets, narrow local streets, universal design, and pedestrian-oriented environments, among other things, to encourage walking and bicycling as alternatives to driving.
  • Foster walkability: Incorporate pedestrians in street design and planning to ensure communities are safe, accessible, and walkable for all residents.

How to Use

This report provides sound strategies for handling obstacles and barriers that communities may face in implementing smart growth practices. Such practices enhance community livability and help to foster aging in place by bring services and retail locations closer to residential areas. Planners and local officials can use this report to gain an understanding of specific practices that will support smart growth within their communities, and the economic and health benefits their communities will feel from implementing smart growth techniques.

View full report: Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes (PDF – 4.6 MB)

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