Friday, February 13, 2009

Examples of Legislation that support Smart Growth Management

Good code, legislation and/or ordinances are the foundation upon which vibrant, livable communities are built. They are the framework that regulates what type of development may occur in certain areas.

The EPA Smart Growth site has posted the following information to assist elected officials who are planning for future growth. I'm posting excerpts from the site to allow readers to review the work that is being done in other communities.

The EPA site tells us that "codes guide everything from permissible land uses, to building densities, locations, and setbacks, to street widths and parking requirements. When done well, codes make it easier for a community to implement its vision. However, when they are out of date or don't line up with the community's vision, codes can actually keep communities from getting the development they want.

For example, the standard zoning practice of the past few decades has separated residential, retail, and office uses. Today, however, this zoning stands in the way of communities that want to create vibrant, walkable neighborhoods that mix these uses and give residents the option to walk to the store, walk to work, or own a home business.

EPA has found that many of the applicants to our Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program request help with updating and/or revising their codes. In response to this demand, EPA compiled this set of best-practice examples of adopted codes and guidelines from around the U.S. that support smart growth. This list is not exhaustive, but rather is a sampling of good, smart growth-supportive codes that could be used as models for communities trying to make similar updates to their zoning.

The examples are grouped into six categories:
Unified Development Code — a single document that includes all development-related regulations, including zoning and subdivision regulation.
Form-Based Code/SmartCode — a code that outlines a specific urban form rather than zoning by use.
Transit-Oriented Development — moderate- to high-density, mixed-use neighborhoods concentrated at transit stops and designed to maximize access to and use of public transportation.
Design Guidelines — a set of standards that aims to maintain a certain level of quality and architectural or historic character, addressing features such as building facades, public spaces, or landscaping.
Street Design Standards — guidelines and standards related to travel-lane width, bicycle lanes, on-street parking, medians, sidewalks, landscaping, lighting, crosswalks, pedestrian refuge islands, bulbouts, and accessibility ramps.
Zoning Overlay — a set of zoning ordinances, optional or required, specifying land use and/or design standards for a designated portion of the underlying zoning within a defined district; typically used to keep architectural character and urban form consistent, make adjacent uses compatible, and/or accelerate the conversion of non-conforming land uses.

Examples of Codes That Support Smart Growth Development

On this page:
Unified Development Code
Form-Based Code/SmartCode — Area Plans
Form-Based Code/SmartCode — City Wide
Transit-Oriented Development
Design Guidelines
Street Design Standards
Zoning Overlay

Partnership to Work on Coastal Community Development:

EPA-NOAA Form Partnership to Work on Coastal Community Development
Populations and built environments in coastal watersheds are growing rapidly, with 55 percent of the U.S. population already living within 50 miles of the coasts.

The environmental impacts of development directly affect the ability of communities to balance natural resource protection with sustainable economic growth in their decision-making. The pressures of coastal growth profoundly affect the ability of NOAA and EPA to achieve national goals for sustainable management of coastal resources and protection of human health and the environment.

This challenge has been highlighted in the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's report, which calls for improvements in program planning, coordination, and implementation to more effectively manage coastal growth.

One key approach to addressing this challenge must be more integrated and coordinated partnerships among all levels of government. In January 2005, EPA and the
U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) agreed to work together to help coastal communities grow in ways that benefit the economy, public health, and the environment. The two agencies signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that created a formal partnership between the two agencies supporting state and local development innovations.

The EPA-NOAA partnership will provide: training for local government staff and officials; outreach and education on successful policies, ordinances, and initiatives; and assessments of local development rules and policies.

The projects fall into three broad categories: Policy Development and Research, Tools and Technical Assistance, and Outreach and Education. EPA and NOAA are focusing on four priority projects detailed below. An additional six projects have been identified that EPA and NOAA will work on as time and resources allow.
Community technical assistance to support local development efforts

Policy analysis
Promote university-based technical assistance and feedback via Sea Grant
Develop and deliver training for state and local government officials
Click here for the complete description of the EPA-NOAA projects.
Office of Water and Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation will collaborate with NOAA to implement the MOA.
Read the one-page summary on the EPA-NOAA Partnership on Coastal Community Growth (PDF) (1 pp, 11 K, About PDF)
Read the complete memorandum of agreement between EPA and NOAA (PDF) (10 pp, 30 K, About PDF)

For more information on the EPA-NOAA Partnership, please contact Lynn Richards ( in EPA at 202-566-2858, or Jim Murray ( in NOAA at 301-713-2431 ext. 152.

Additional Resources:

Making Land Development Regulations Work for Smart Growth
by: Smart Growth Network Land Development Regulations Subcommittee

This presentation discusses the kinds of land development regulations found in many communities. It explains how outdated land development regulations may inhibit smart growth and how such regulations can be revised to promote it instead. The presentation and all images contained in it may be used for non-commercial, educational purposes. To save these files on your computer, right-click on the file you want. Select ''Save target as'' when the dialogue box opens, and then choose a location on your computer to save the file.

PowerPoint format:
right-click here (6042kb).
PDF format:
right-click here (1017kb).
Script for presentation:
right-click here (PDF format/37kb). To view the presentation in your web browser, select the resource link below.

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