The contradictions of smart growth: transit-oriented development, affordable housing and community vision - the case of the Lamar/Justin Lane TOD, Austin, Texas
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Smart Growth is a comprehensive approach to planning that aims to shape more compact and well-connected communities across the United States. Among its principles are leveraging existing infrastructure, developing around transit, providing a mix of housing types and price ranges, and increasing community participation in the planning process. However, research suggests the comprehensive approach at times obscures potential tensions between these principles, in particular when Smart Growth principles are applied to a specific property. This is the case in Austin, Texas’ Lamar/Justin Lane TOD, where the City of Austin is currently evaluating development scenarios for a publicly-owned 5.6 acre parcel located within the TOD area. How equity and access is addressed in Smart Growth comes to fore in conversations between the City and affluent, neighborhood residents. This report examines the history of Smart Growth, reviews its implementation in cities across the U.S., and considers how the City of Austin may learn from other cities.