Evaluating the impacts of Smart Growth : a quantitative analysis of state-level Smart Growth policies

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2021-05-10

Authors

Glazener, Andrew Branson

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Abstract

Smart Growth is a collection of development principles that address the undesirable environmental, land use, and fiscal impacts that stem from urban sprawl. This report intends to analyze the impacts of Smart Growth through the comparison of Smart Growth states and non-Smart Growth states. Informed by the literature, I selected multiple indicators that quantify the impacts of state-level Smart Growth-policies in Oregon and New Jersey. These indicators were also measured in one non-Smart Growth state: Colorado. Indicators of mobility include work commute mode share, the volume vehicle miles traveled, and the relationship between density (population and employment) and work commute mode share. Housing affordability indicators are home values, multifamily units as a share of new units, and the prevalence of cost burdened households. Each state performed best in at least two of the indicators measured. New Jersey posted the best results for four indicators: the share of cost-burdened renter, median home value, median rent, and vehicle miles traveled. Oregon performed the best for two indicators: new multifamily development and commute by public transit. Colorado also performed the best for two indicators: cost-burdened homeowners and commute by driving alone. Trends revealed by changes in selected indicators suggest Smart Growth policies may produce intended outcomes but are not the best or only way in guiding successful growth management. Planners and scholars might therefore ask whether additional steps are needed to guide successful growth management.

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