Web Reviews: Urban Planning Online
Web Reviews: Urban Planning Online
Do phrases like “new urbanism” and “smart growth” leave you feeling slightly confused? If so, it's time to smarten up. Although smart growth initiatives may not immediately affect your sales, their long-term consequences can change your market’s equilibrium, altering the balance between supply and demand or raising new home costs through impact fees or density restrictions. Smart Growth Online provides local and national resources to help you develop an understanding of smart-growth issues and track initiatives in your area.
The site, a cooperative effort between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several non-profit and government organizations, is overwhelmingly pro-smart growth, but it can help you unravel the issue’s complexities. Its “Smart Growth Resource Library” collects links to reports, Web sites, tools, and case studies related to different aspects of smart growth. The library’s three sections are:
- Principles--provides a mission statement for smart growth, listing goals such as preserving open space, farmland, and critical environmental areas; providing a variety of transportation choices; taking advantage of compact building design; and ensuring predictable, fair, and cost effective development decisions.
- Issues--summarizes various areas related to smart growth, including economics, transportation, community quality of life, building design, and health.
- Type--indexes links according to category, whether they are speeches, articles, case studies, books, organizations, or Web sites.
The site’s “Smart Growth News” section provides U.S. and international short news summaries of smart-growth activity, with links to the original articles. You can search the section by date or by state or province to read about the latest smart-growth happenings in your area. For example, the site contains numerous articles on Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening, an outspoken smart growth proponent who has championed protections for the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, you can sign up to receive free weekly smart-growth news updates by state.
The site also provides a calendar that lists dates for presentations on smart growth. One drawback is that the section is not searchable by state--a curious omission. Instead you must click on each link to find out whether the presentation is in your area.
Users can register to join the Smart Growth Network (SGN) online for membership for $49 for the first year; the annual renewal fee is $29. Members receive two primers, Best Development Practices andWhy Smart Growth; a list of SGN partners; and fact sheets about infill financing; as well as a video on land use and development issues. They can also access Smart Growth Online’s members-only section, which contains a bulletin board and issues of the organization’s bimonthly magazine, “Getting Smart!” online.
Smart growth initiatives can affect the development of your community and raise property values and prices. Growth Online can help you to smarten up to the latest trends, so that you can track policies in your area.
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