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On Common Ground: Summer 2004


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In this issue of On Common Ground, we take a wide-view scan of the State of Smart Growth — what’s working and what challenges remain. We report on efforts to measure and promote Smart Growth, zoning codes that encourage Smart Growth, and some of the REALTORS® who have embraced Smart Growth in their business plans and in their associations’ public policy efforts.

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On Common Ground: Summer 2004

  1. 1. he type of planning and community development T described by the term Smart Growth continues to evolve. When the term was first introduced in the mid-1990s, Smart Growth’s focus was on reducing or mitigating the envi- ronmental degradation brought by development—consumption of land and the accompanying negative effects of degraded water and air quality and loss of natural lands, wildlife, and farmland. The term’s early use also encompassed the need to provide adequate infrastructure to handle growth’s demands and address concerns such as traffic congestion. Subsequently, Smart Growth’s vision has expanded to con- sider new models of how to rebuild (or build) communities to be better places. This refined vision now includes alternative transportation options (including transit and walking), the cre- ation of “walkable,” mixed-use communities, and the revital- ization of older neighborhoods and cities. From the beginning, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ definition of Smart Growth included the provision of a wide range of hous- ing options and prices, and this element has been embraced by Smart Growth advocates. MEASURING Today’s Smart Growth 2 SUCCESS ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  2. 2. Now there is an increasing recognition that Smart Growth must address the need for social equity in our communities. This means creating safer, healthier, more livable communities for all members of our com- munities, and embracing the full range of our diverse population in the benefits of Smart Growth, including homeownership. Are these expanding goals for Smart Growth being achieved? The scorecard is mixed. There has been significant achievement since the late 1990s in the preservation of natural lands and agricultural lands through a variety of mechanisms, including public purchase, land trust stewardship, and the use of pur- chase or transfer of development rights. Transit rider- Mithun Design ship is increasing, and many communities are invest- photo: Michael Seidl ing in new transit systems. The downtowns of many major cities have been revived, and growth in these cities has included significant residential develop- For more information on NAR and Smart Growth, ment. Some jurisdictions are rewriting their zoning go to codes to permit and encourage more compact, mixed- use development, and these projects are doing very On Common Ground is published twice a year by well in the marketplace. the Government Affairs office of the But in most places, zoning still makes Smart NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, and Growth development illegal, and the amount of is distributed free of charge. The publication pres- development that could be called Smart Growth is a ents a wide range of views on Smart Growth small portion of what is being built. Low-density sub- issues, with the goal of encouraging a dialogue urbs that require the use of a car to go everywhere are among REALTORS®, elected officials, and other still the norm (and still required by most zoning interested citizens. The opinions expressed in On codes), and attempts to integrate different housing Common Ground are those of the authors and do types and prices are usually opposed. While home- not necessarily reflect the opinions or policy of the ownership rates are at an all-time high, housing opportunities for low-income households are dwin- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, its dling, especially in revitalized high-cost cities. And members, or affiliate organizations. while some older cities flourish, others—especially those whose economies were based on manufactur- Editor ing—are stagnating or declining. Joseph R. Molinaro In this issue of On Common Ground, we take a Manager, Smart Growth Programs wide-view scan of the State of Smart Growth—what’s NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® working and what challenges remain. We report on 700 Eleventh Street, NW efforts to measure and promote Smart Growth, zoning Washington, DC 20001 codes that encourage Smart Growth, and some of the REALTORS® who have embraced Smart Growth in their business plans and in their associations’ public Distribution policy efforts. For more copies of this issue or to be placed on our mailing list for future issues of On Common Ground, please contact Ted Wright, NAR Government Affairs, at (202) 383-1206 or SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 3
  3. 3. Communities are learning to build compactly by mixing housing, stores, and offices … but outmoded zoning and other obstacles must be overcome. The LongRoad to 4 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  4. 4. n the Internet, the O Census Bureau operates a “population clock” that gives an up-to-the-minute esti- mate of how people are living in the United States (www.census. gov/cgi-bin/popclock). On April 15, the clock counted 293,026,388 people on U.S. soil—140 million more than in 1950. Every 13 sec- onds another person is added. This near-doubling of the nation’s population in a little more than half a century— compounded by the tendency of Americans to demand more liv- ing space per person, drive more miles per person, and consume more goods per person than they did in 1950—is forcing policy makers to face an important question: How should our com- munities grow? Smart Growth By Philip Langdon In the 1,000-square-mile Highlands region that stretches from eastern Pennsylvania across northern New Jersey to New York’s lower Hudson Valley and northwestern Connecticut, nearly 100 square miles have undergone development during the past two decades. The spread of houses, roads, offices, and shopping centers has exerted a mostly harmful impact on agriculture, wildlife, and sources of fresh drinking water. Meanwhile, in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West, development is penetrating areas that used to be far off the beaten path. In much of the United States, countryside is giving way to “rural sprawl.” What’s the answer? Part of it can be summed up in two words: Smart Growth. “Smart Growth first and foremost is plain old good planning,” says Don Chen, executive director of the national advocacy group Smart Growth America. “It means improving on what we’ve already built, rather than throwing away old neighborhoods and leaving scars in the landscape so that we go chew up the next field or forest.” SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 5
  5. 5. The goal of Smart Growth proponents is to steer walking distance of gathering places such as development to the most suitable places and parks and cafes and to have sociable streets and organize it into better-connected, more compact sidewalks, “is growing as never before,” says forms. If that can be done, people can live well on Robert Steuteville, editor of the national less land. In fact, they can live better—because newsletter New Urban News. A survey complet- their communities will be more walkable and gen- ed in December 2003 by the Ithaca, New erally more convenient. The environment will be York–based newsletter identified 648 neighbor- less degraded by miles of strip commercial build- hood-scale New Urbanist communities that are ings and parking lots. being developed or are in phases leading up to Here’s a quick rundown on what’s happened development. That’s a 37 percent increase over so far: the year before. “For the last seven years, the average increase has been 28 percent per year,” • Smart Growth has captured public attention. Steuteville points out. New Urban News defines David Goldberg at Smart Growth America says “neighborhood-scale communities” as those that 23 governors talked about Smart Growth in covering at least 15 acres, featuring an intercon- their 2003 State of the State addresses, or made nected network of streets and a mixture of hous- comments or initiated policies that apply smart ing types, and at least one central gathering growth principles. Those governors include place. “The placement of parking and buildings Democrats Phil Bredesen in Tennessee and and the design of streets must create a pedestri- Jennifer Granholm in Michigan, and an-friendly character,” Steuteville emphasizes. Republicans Mitt Romney in Massachusetts and • Economic benefits have been substantial. A Mark Sanford in South Carolina. The appeal of March 2004 study by Mark Muro and Robert Smart Growth cuts across party lines. Puentes for the Center on Urban and • New Urbanism has gained momentum. This Metropolitan Policy at the Brookings Institution movement, which calls for homes to be within determined that compact development patterns In much of the United States, countryside is giving way to “ rural sprawl.” 6 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  6. 6. The goal of Smart Growth proponents is to steer development to the most suitable places and organize it into better-connected, more compact forms. can cut road-building costs nationally by $110 • Smart growth ideas have been incorporated billion, or nearly 12 percent, over 25 years. They into laws and government policies. Nineteen can reduce water and sewer costs over the same states have growth management laws and 10 period by $12.6 billion, or nearly 7 percent. They have smart growth laws, according to Smart can shave $4.2 billion, or nearly 4 percent, from Growth America. In addition, regions such as the annual costs of operations and services metropolitan Portland, Oregon and municipali- delivery. ties such as Fort Collins, Colorado have adopted smart growth principles. • The building and development industry is growing more receptive. Harry H. Frampton, “While in some areas Smart Growth initially chairman of the Urban Land Institute, which was motivated by worries over the destruction of serves developers, said his organization has farms and natural areas, it has gone far beyond “helped Smart Growth gain enough traction to that now,” says Chen of Smart Growth America. move into the mainstream.” “People are making the connection between SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 7
  7. 7. spread-out, disconnected development and the minimum density of 3.5 dwelling units per acre in need to spend so much of our lives in traffic. One- new residential projects. If a county designated a size-fits-all subdivisions just aren’t working for a Priority Funding Area, it also had to be consistent population that is aging, deferring children and with the county’s 20-year growth projections. having fewer of them, and forming single-person Since construction of schools in outlying areas households faster than any other type.” often entices families to move to the suburban fringe, Glendening increased state school spend- How communities respond ing and focused more of its construction and ren- A number of governments have decided to chan- ovation budget on older, more built-up communi- nel development into existing towns and cities and ties. In 1996–97, 43 percent of Maryland’s school other areas where new construction makes the construction and renovation funds went to older most sense from a regional perspective. Under communities. When Glendening left office in Democratic Governor Parris Glendening, January 2003, schools in older communities Maryland established “Priority Funding Areas”— received 80 percent of those funds. areas designated for growth. Land outside those Glendening’s Republican successor, Robert L. areas is ineligible for state financial support, Ehrlich Jr., has since backed off on some elements including road-building and other projects intend- of Smart Growth, such as using state funds to ed to accommodate growth. (One exception is acquire open space, but he too is focusing on bol- schools. To forestall opposition from rural legisla- stering older communities. “The idea is to spend tors, schools were omitted from the Smart Growth money renovating and fixing up these existing law, but Glendening took other actions to concen- town centers and historic Main Streets,” says trate school construction dollars in built-up areas.) Chuck Gates, spokesperson for the Maryland Maryland’s program designated the state’s 157 Department of Planning. municipalities and all the communities inside the “It has made a significant difference,” Gates Washington and Baltimore beltways as Priority says of Maryland’s effort over the past eight years. Funding Areas. Many counties are beyond the On Baltimore’s west side, large condominium tow- beltways and have no municipalities. Every coun- ers have been springing up. “Throughout older ty was allowed to designate additional Priority parts of our communities, we see new life and Funding Areas, but those areas were required to increasing property values,” says Dru Schmidt- have water and sewer lines, and had to achieve a Perkins, executive director of 1000 Friends of Smart Growth seems to work best when it encompasses an entire metropolitan area. 8 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  8. 8. Maryland. On the other hand, Gates notes that if homebuyers want to live in more remote areas and are willing to pay a premium for that privilege, developers will heed the market and continue building at the fringe. Smart Growth, as practiced in Maryland and many other places, does not pre- clude outward development; it does, however, across the Columbia River in Washington State is eliminate many of what effectively were govern- exempt from Metro’s growth controls. Motivated ment subsidies for sprawl. by the disappearance of prime farmland, Portland Smart Growth seems to work best when it has been thinking regionally since the 1970s, encompasses an entire metropolitan area. Before when Governor Tom McCall and the state legisla- Maryland embarked on its smart growth efforts, ture took steps to control outward development. some counties acted on their own, with mixed Oregon law requires Metro to keep a 20-year results. Baltimore County, which surrounds supply of land available for development within Baltimore City, restricted development in some the growth boundary. Since the late 1970s, the rural areas, such as the horse country north of boundary has moved about three dozen times, Baltimore, where the landed gentry live. That usually not far. The most recent expansion, in inadvertently encouraged residential develop- December 2002, added a substantial territory— ment to leapfrog to Harford County to the north- 18,638 acres, enough for 38,657 housing units and east and Carroll County to the northwest. “Both thousands of jobs. Rather than expanding around those counties have experienced enormous sprawl the fringe, Metro concentrated two thirds of the problems,” says Gates. The lesson is that restric- growth in one area: Damascus/Boring. “The tions in one area sometimes shift development intent,” says Metro principal planner Raymond into more distant places. Valone, “is that it be all planned together as a com- About as close as any urban area in the United plete community.” States has come to a comprehensive approach is Portland-area housing prices have risen consid- Portland, Oregon. Portland’s directly elected met- erably in the last decade. How much of the price ropolitan government, known as Metro, oversees increase resulted from the growth boundary is an expansion in a three-county area. Only the area open question. Some areas of the U.S. with no SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 9
  9. 9. ensure that housing of various kinds can be pro- duced in a range of locations. “Any corner lot in a If Smart Growth is to single-family residential zone in Portland is enti- tled to be converted to a duplex,” notes Robert achieve substantial Liberty, former executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon. “All local governments [in the region] results, efforts must be must authorize accessory apartments.” While sub- urbs in many sections of the United States have made at both regional become less dense over the years, Portland’s sub- and local levels. urbs have become denser. The 2000 Census found that greater Portland, unlike most American metropolitan areas, does not concentrate poor families in the city. People with modest incomes were able to disperse throughout nearly all of the Portland suburbs because every municipality and county is required to zone for a sizable number of apartments. In 2000, for the first time, more poor people in the three-county area lived in the suburbs than in Portland itself, Betsy Hammond reported in The Oregonian. The result, in the view of Bruce Katz, director of the Brookings’ Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, is that social problems are not compounded by concentration. Nor are the central city and the older suburbs emptying out, dragging down the metro area. The center, with its MAX light-rail line and a new streetcar line, is thriving. The light-rail line connects towns on the east side to those on the west. Mixed-use development has clustered close to MAX stops like Orenco Station—a popular cen- ter where residents can walk from home to coffee shops, restaurants, and commuter rail. If Smart Growth is to achieve substantial results, efforts must be made at both regional and local levels. In metropolitan Washington, D.C., the best development over the past 25 years owes its growth boundaries have experienced sharply existence to the regional Metro rail system and to escalating house prices. “In Portland, the housing local initiatives. A prime example is the profusion supply is expanding in a fashion that corresponds of housing, offices, stores, restaurants, and ser- very well with the population,” says Gerrit Knaap, vices within walking distance of five Metro sta- executive director of the National Center for Smart tions in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor of Arlington Growth Research and Education at the University County, Virginia. What had been an aging, low- of Maryland. In part because of restrictions on density commercial road corridor in the 1960s has outward expansion, plenty of private redevelop- become “the economic engine of Arlington ment is occurring in the city. The population with- County,” according to James Snyder, supervisor of in the city’s boundaries has grown to 539,000 from the county’s Planning Section. Since 1979, when 366,000 in 1980, partly through annexation but Metro opened its Orange Line in the corridor, also through an embrace of apartments, town- 18,000 houses and apartments, 14 million square houses, and other, denser forms of housing. feet of offices, and 21.5 million square feet of retail Housing has been built on former parking lots, have appeared. “Things are compact and dense,” above stores, even atop a public library. Haggard- Snyder says. The corridor, containing 7.6 percent looking neighborhoods have improved. “There’s of the county’s land area, generates 33 percent of no blight in Portland,” Knaap says. “That’s really its property tax revenue. It allows Arlington to set stunning.” its property tax rate lower than other major juris- As Smart Growth has become the norm, gov- dictions in northern Virginia. ernments in the Portland area have taken steps to Greater Atlanta, the biggest metropolis in the 10 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  10. 10. Southeast, is now trying to combine regional and ing; and developers tend to specialize in only one local action, both of which are badly needed after or two kinds of projects. “Compared with the chal- decades of uncontrolled sprawl made commuting lenge at hand—fundamentally transforming how on the region’s clogged highways maddeningly our communities grow—the strides that have been slow. In 1999, the 10-county Atlanta Regional made are quite modest,” says Smart Growth Commission launched the Livable Centers America’s Don Chen. Initiative, providing $5 million over five years for There is no doubt that compact, mixed-use communities to devise ways to build mixed-use development with extensively interconnected and residential construction with access to transit. streets, pedestrian convenience, and access to The resulting community plans are eligible for a transit is increasing. The question is whether it share of $350 million in transportation improve- will become widespread enough, fast enough. “In ments. One such plan calls for turning Perimeter my perspective, the ‘smart growth movement’ has Center—a suburban mall and office center with been most successful at sparking a national con- three MARTA rail stations—into a transit village. versation about why places matter,” says John Another calls for building mixed-income housing Shepard, a long-range planner with Larimer on what had been parking, near an underused County (Fort Collins), Colorado. That’s an impor- MARTA station in Decatur. In Midtown Atlanta tant beginning. But much more will have to be near the Georgia Tech campus, extensive develop- done, as Hank Dittmar, president of the advocacy ment integrating offices and housing is taking group Reconnecting America, acknowledges. place. Dan Reuter, chief of the Commission’s Land “Our challenge,” Dittmar says, “is to scale up, and Use Division, calls Midtown “a national success to take down the regulations, codes, standards, story.” and habits that shackle the marketplace.” In most of the United States, Smart Growth is still the exception to the rule. Impediments are Philip Langdon is senior editor of New Urban News, a many: zoning codes discourage mixed uses; finan- national newsletter on New Urbanism and community design. ciers resist integration of offices, retail, and hous- B ozeman, Montana, population 27,509, is one city that practices Smart Growth on a small scale. “We’re encouraging residential infill, taking underutilized residential lots and bumping up the density through accessory dwelling units,” says Jody Sanford, associate planner. Often the new, small units are above garages along alleys. They’re especially popular with students at Montana State University. “Most of the designs are quite nice,” Sanford says. In older parts of the city, owners are allowed to divide large lots in two to create additional hous- ing. The more people who live in a neighborhood, the better the nearby shops and eating places fare. Along with residential additions to existing neighborhoods, small-scale commercial infill development is encouraged. A custom cabinet- maker and a maker of custom bicycle frames have built apartments above their shops. The city’s policy of trying to improve and augment what already exists is paying off in the attractive- ness and vitality of the center. Says Sanford: “Downtown has experienced quite a renaissance in the past 10 years.” SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 11
  11. 11. 48 Urban Villages 14 Smart Codes Smart Places 38 Light Rail 26 22 Smart Growth Local Alliances 12 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  12. 12. On Common Ground summer 2004 2 Introduction 4 The Long Road to Smart Growth Communities are learning to build compactly by mixing housing, stores, and offices … but outmoded zoning and other obstacles must be overcome By Philip Langdon 14 Smart Codes Smart Places By Jason Miller 22 Local Alliances Helping to Determine Smart Growth Criteria By John Van Gieson 26 How Do You Know If It’s Smart Growth? By David Goldberg 32 Coast to Coast REALTORS® take an active role in shaping sustainable, Smart Growth communities By Steve Wright and Heidi Johnson-Wright 38 Light Rail A solid option in the transportation debate By Chris Swope 44 Housing versus Transportation Two sides of the affordability coin By Joanne M. Haas 48 Smart Growth Fuels Vibrant Urban Villages By Brad Broberg 54 54 And the Winner Is … EPA’s 2003 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement EPA Awards 60 Smart Growth in the States On Common Ground thanks the following contribu- tors and organizations for photographs, illustrations, and artist renderings reproduced in this issue: Haley Fleming of Atlanta Regional Commission; David Goldstein of Natural Resources Defense Council; Jody Sanford of the City of Bozeman; Christine Shenot of the Maryland Department of Planning; Howard Katz, Director of Strategic Planning, Cuyahoga County Treasurer’s Office; Tom Myer of Condo 1; Rob Steuteville of New Urban News; Janet Stone of Greenbelt Alliance; Urban Advantage; Emmaus Main Street Program; Craig Lewis, The Lawrence Group; Fisher & Hall Urban Design; Peter J. Musty, Charette Center. SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 13
  13. 13. What do you do when your development codes won’t let you build or maintain the kind of town you want? You make new rules. Smart Codes Places By Jason Miller 14 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  14. 14. ention zoning codes to the average person and the reaction is pre- M dictable: a stone-faced stare, glazed eyes, a yawn. But communi- ties across the United States are discovering that the very fabric of their neighborhoods and towns is built on those codes—or, more accurately, because of them. And communities are doing something about these codes. Conventional zoning codes are fundamentally flawed, says Geoffrey Ferrell, a principal with Geoffrey Ferrell Associates in Washington, D.C. “Ever since the industrial years, the conventional separation-of-uses approach has been the wrong approach to control”—to keeping unpleasant uses away from the residential areas. “It has devolved to micromanagement of use and density. The [built environment] that has resulted is very, very poor about 99 percent of the time. No one’s happy with what they’ve been given.” Ferrell’s co-principal, Mary Madden, agrees. “That micromanagement of uses has resulted in a huge number of unintended consequences, namely, suburban sprawl. Everybody hates sprawl, but the builders aren’t violating rules; they’re building exactly what the codes call for. Those codes are a blueprint for sprawl. Under the existing conventional codes, you can’t help but build it.” Community frustration with conventional codes and the type of develop- ment they spawn has driven new urbanist- and smart growth–minded plan- ners to create new zoning codes. While these new codes go by many names—form-based codes, new urbanist codes, TND (traditional neighbor- hood development) ordinances, smart zoning, the SmartCode© from Miami- based town planners Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company—they are all designed to create places that emulate the urbanism of older, well-loved places, while preserving rural areas and historic sites threatened by conven- tional development. Communities that have replaced their conventional codes with new ordi- nances have generally reported success in the process leading up to the new codes’ implementation, as well as favorable upturns in their real estate mar- kets. Here are a few of the notable success stories. nIn the 1960s, Columbia Pike was considered Arlington, Virginia’s main street. A 3.5-mile stretch of road that runs from the Pentagon to the Arlington County/Fairfax County border, Columbia Pike was intended to be a Metro rail corridor. When this didn’t happen, development along the Pike stagnat- ed and the corridor languished for 40 years. Growth occurred along the Pike, but it was of a singular variety, says Timothy Lynch, executive director of the SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 15
  15. 15. Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, whose enhance the richness of their community, while office is located on the Pike. “We saw bank ensuring none of the long-time local businesses branches with drive-through lanes, fast food fran- would be replaced. chises with drive-through lanes—and that’s been To tap the potential of this diamond in the about it. We also saw long-time businesses either rough, the Columbia Pike community developed a close or move to other parts of the county. There comprehensive Columbia Pike Revitalization are pizza stores, check-cashing stores, laundro- Plan, which included adoption of a form-based (as mats, dry cleaners, dollar stores—these are all opposed to a conventional use-based) zoning services people use, but you can’t buy a men’s code. The code is a legal document that regulates suit, women’s clothing, a pair of shoes, or even a land development by setting careful and clear con- book on Columbia Pike.” trols on building form to create good streets, In January 1998, Arlington County Board chair neighborhoods, and parks, with a healthy mix of Chris Zimmerman recognized the Pike’s need for uses. Components of the code include clear defini- revitalization. A challenge came from the long- tions of terms, a regulating plan, building enve- time property owners on Columbia Pike, however. lope standards to determine each building’s form, Many of the existing buildings were owned out- standards for siting and streetscapes and for archi- right by second- and third-generation owners who tecture, and administrative guidelines for expedit- were making money and weren’t interested in ing the approvals process. inviting hard-hitting capital gains taxes if they By most accounts, the Columbia Pike venture is sold their buildings. Others, anticipating a boom an ongoing success. Since implementation of the from the arrival of the Metro line, had developed form-based codes in 2002, more than $30 million buildings that ended up being “ white elephants” in development has been approved along the cor- after Metro declined to advance along the ridor. Within the corridor itself, more than Columbia Pike corridor. $300 million in development projects are in vari- Columbia Pike citizens wanted to preserve and ous stages of negotiation and planning. Everybody hates sprawl, but the builders aren’t violating rules; they’re building exactly what the codes call for. The present Safeway grocery store in the A computer-generated model of Columbia Columbia Pike corridor, Arlington, Virginia. Pike’s Safeway grocery store could be redeveloped under the new form-based codes. 16 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  16. 16. BEFORE CODES AFTER The Emmaus Farmers Market before the city implemented codes that focused on preserving and creating a small town American charm. Lynch sees good things ahead for Columbia Pike. “The first development—a $90 million proj- ect—broke ground this past March. We’re already seeing tremendous community benefits. The developers have started to create the street walls that will define the space, and they ’re doing it through the form-based code.” As for how much the form-based codes have affected the property values on Columbia Pike, it’s still a bit early to tell, says Dan Lockard, a REAL- buildings. Since the zoning codes in place permitted TOR® with Fraser Forbes Company in McLean, infill development of a conventional suburban Virginia. “I think it’s going to have a positive nature, the Emmaus Borough Council appointed impact on the county, however. The first property Marin to chair a newly created entity, the is just entering the development process now. Community Relations Planning and Development Everyone is watching closely to see what happens. Committee, and the first order of business was to “The form-based code takes a lot of the guess- examine a sample zoning ordinance intended to pro- work out of what you’re doing,” he adds. “The reg- tect the main street. ulations lay everything out for you. It makes your After 18 months of discussion and analysis, the job easy.” committee decided to amend portions of the zon- ing code for the central business district, rather Emmaus, Pennsylvania than create an “overlay” of traditional codes that Faced with encroaching conventional suburban would be no stronger or weaker than the existing development at either end of their seven-block conventional codes. Emmaus attorney Craig downtown main street, the citizens of Emmaus, Neely, now the Emmaus Borough Council presi- Pennsylvania, wanted a solution that would pre- dent, insisted on this approach, stating it would serve the pedestrian-friendly layout of the down- make the code changes defensible. With the town and retain the identity of the 250-year-old exception of one court battle, Neely’s position has community. proven correct. The borough (population 12,000) had revised The code changes followed a practical logic its comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance in rather than an aesthetic one. Every amendment 1992, but at that time there was no TND ordinance was made for practical reasons—usually to protect conceived of, let alone implemented. “We knew the pedestrians’ safety and enhance their experi- the character we wanted, but we didn’t know how ence. Drive-throughs were prohibited. Minimum to get there,” says Joyce Marin, a resident, council setback distances were changed to “build-to” member, and one of 150 business owners in the lines, which meant that new buildings needed to downtown district. align with existing buildings along the sidewalks, In 2000 came the scare that became the catalyst creating a street wall. Fencing requirements were for change. A downtown landowner planned to build added. New construction had to be at least two a conventional strip mall in the midst of Emmaus’ stories, and parking had to be behind the build- traditional collection of mixed-use, mostly two-story ings. Vehicular entrances to properties may only SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 17
  17. 17. be that—entrances; the exits have to be behind tle place on earth,” says Marin. “We are becoming.” the properties. Interestingly, even though the codes don’t man- Petaluma, California date aesthetics, that’s exactly what the citizens are A 24-member citizens advisory committee spent getting more of, says Marin. “Emmaus is a much an amazing seven years coming up with a vision more desirable place to live today than it was even for a 400-acre piece of land adjacent to the old three years ago.” downtown of Petaluma (the first town in America Neely agrees. “Once spring arrives and the to adopt a limited-growth plan, in 1972). flowers start blooming, and the trees leaf out, I get Passionate about the property, the citizens knew comments from visitors—they think they’re com- they had a jewel of an opportunity, and they want- ing into Mayberry.” ed to make the most of it. They wanted the Emmaus’ ordinances ensure that future devel- Petaluma River—which runs through the city—to opment will conform to the existing pattern, says become the centerpiece. They wanted the new Neely. “The provisions are designed to preserve development to blend and connect with the his- what’s already here, since 85 percent of what’s toric downtown, but with an edgier look. here conforms to the ordinance already. The ordi- After several fits and starts, an aggressive City nance has never really become an issue for peo- Council pushed the committee to act, and invited ple. … You don’t hear about it because it’s doing Fisher & Hall Urban Design of Santa Rosa, its job, quietly.” California, to assist the committee in its decision David Fretz knows what a good job it’s doing. making. When principals Lois Fisher and Laura The Emmaus-based REALTOR® with Prudential Hall assembled a team, presented the Fretz Realty sees the results every day. “The SmartCode© option, and framed the discussion as Emmaus real estate market is very strong because an effort to create “smart zoning,” the committee of low interest rates, but people also love Emmaus decided to move ahead with the new approach. because they are tired of the fast-food, strip-mall Nine months later, the Petaluma SmartCode was look in every American town. When towns pre- adopted to a standing ovation from political adver- serve a traditional look through traditional codes, saries and citizens, alike. when they restore themselves and their character, The Petaluma SmartCode differed from its pre- that creates value. Not every community is sensi- ceding conventional code in its simplicity. The tive to that, but Emmaus is one that is.” “hybrid” SmartCode used ordinary language and “We’re on the cusp of being the hottest, hippest lit- simple graphics, coding precisely the aspects of The North River area of the Petaluma River before its potential development under the SmartCode. 18 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  18. 18. The [Emmaus] code changes followed a practical logic rather than an aesthetic one … usually to protect the pedestrians’ safety and enhance their experience. the built environment that the community cared only the design review step to take if the develop- about most: the building heights, the building er follows the SmartCode. fronts, and the civic spaces. The code showed new “The SmartCode also eliminated mandatory streets, new green spaces, roads, and buildings on-site parking. From a real estate perspective, a facing the river. Different areas were coded for dif- building can now move from use to use more ferent densities, minimum and maximum building quickly, and can change hands more quickly heights, finished heights, parking areas, and per- because there isn’t the constraint of how much park- centages of frontage types. ing must be included with each use.” After the codes went into effect in June 2003, “it Mike Moore, community development director was like a dam breaking,” says Hall. “A four- for the City of Petaluma, admits it’s a little early to square-block theater district has been approved. A determine exactly how SmartCode is faring, but 10-acre condo project has been approved. In the likes what he sees thus far. “We had a large project pipeline is another 10 acres of mixed-use build- in the initial stages, and in terms of the ings: shops or workplaces on the main floor, con- SmartCode’s application, I think it has worked for dos on top. Six downtown blocks of redevelop- that project, which is several blocks in the down- ment are scheduled—in an area that had had very town area and includes the renovation of an exist- little development in the last 20 years!” ing historic building and the construction of a Fisher points to the roadblocks the Petaluma movie theater, a parking garage, some apartment SmartCode has removed. “Two-thirds of the buildings, a mixed-use building, and a small office approval process is gone, now,” she says. With the building.” SmartCode—which has been approved by the Skip Sommer, a commercial REALTOR® with Planning Commission and City Council—there’s Petaluma-based Creative Property Services/ An artist’s rendering of the North River area of the Petaluma River after potential development under the Petaluma SmartCode. SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 19
  19. 19. Golden Land Realty, represents some of the devel- Hammond and the town’s officials gathered opers who are transforming downtown Petaluma community representatives and began the vision- under the new SmartCode. “My clientele loves the ing process with comparative surveys of different new code because it minimizes the planning neighborhood images. “Virtually 99.8 percent of process,” he says. “And the city loves it because it the people said they preferred the traditional streamlines their ability to respond to developers.” development form,” says Hammond. On the strength of that visioning process, Huntersville, North Carolina Hammond and her team developed a strategic A bedroom community, Huntersville lies immedi- plan with input from a Citizens Advisory ately north of Charlotte, North Carolina. In the Committee and the Huntersville Public Works ’80s and early ’90s, Huntersville and the neighbor- Department. With help from consultants from the ing towns of Cornelius and Davidson began to College of Architecture at the University of North grow—fast. The rate of change Huntersville experi- Carolina Charlotte and input from the Real Estate enced was disconcerting for residents who had lived Building Industry Coalition, they totally rewrote there for some time. Even newcomers were uncom- the zoning ordinance, and made significant fortable with the unchecked growth, since they had changes to the subdivision ordinance. wanted the small-town quality of life and character. The result? A draft ordinance that mandated Waves of suburbanization were moving out from traditional development form in terms of building Charlotte, threatening to diminish the town’s char- placement. Build-to lines replaced minimum set- acter in such a way that it would not be recognizable back requirements. Frontage requirements were as the place that people had chosen or had grown included, as well as parking requirements. Front accustomed to over the years. doors had to be on the side of the building fronting The movement to look at change in the regula- the street. These and other changes encouraged a tions was spurred by a typical urge to maintain the pedestrian-friendly orientation of all buildings to community’s identity and not be “absorbed” into the street. Charlotte. Ann Hammond, then the planning With the help (“and open-mindedness,” says director for the Town of Huntersville, began to Hammond) of the Mecklenberg County expose the town’s officials to the new urbanist Engineering Department, they added a section on principles that were showing up in the planning narrower, more pedestrian-oriented streets. The and popular press. “They reacted as I had,” she code required connectivity, narrow lots with alley says. “They said, ‘This makes sense, and it makes access, and some vertical mixing of uses based on sense for us.’” locational standards—meaning that some mixed- The Basin Street Landing in Petaluma before adoption of the SmartCode, but The Basin Street Landing in Petaluma presently under construction due to within the SmartCode’s area of implementation. the adoption of the SmartCode process. 20 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  20. 20. “The code requires more traditional forms of town and city development. It does not require TNDs; it permits TNDs.” Ann Hammond, former planning director, Town of Huntersville use buildings were allowed closer in to town and in creating better places within Huntersville, says at certain key intersections. Craig Lewis, managing principal and director of The planners’ goals were simple: town planning with The Lawrence Group in neigh- • Allow neighborhoods in the more urban sec- boring Davidson, North Carolina. As a consultant for tions of town to fill out properly over time. Huntersville, Lewis has seen the outcomes of the • Allow for more TND greenfield developments. ordinances—both good and not so good. Hammond never misses the chance to correct a Political maneuverings blunted the edge of misperception of the Huntersville code: “The code some of the ordinance’s requirements, says Lewis. requires more traditional forms of town and city “The result was a proliferation of hybrid tradition- development. It does not require TNDs; it permits al neighborhoods. There were a lot of small lots in TNDs.” seemingly discontinuous areas over a 50-square- The ordinance continues to allow single-family, mile area within the Huntersville, Cornelius, and single-use subdivisions, but they must adhere to Davidson municipalities. Spots of sprawl were all the new code: over the place. The production builders are all • Narrow lots must have alley access. there, all building semblances of traditional • Homes on wider lots may include a front- neighborhoods, but many are hybrids.” loaded garage, but the garage must be Fortunately, the Huntersville success stories recessed from the front plane of the house. outnumber the hybrids. “Vermillion is a pure tra- • Every building must be on a public street. ditional neighborhood that’s doing it right,” says The public street stipulation proved to be an Lewis, “and they still have another 200 to 300 interesting aspect, because conventional subur- acres that they can develop.” ban shopping centers were effectively outlawed by this point; they needed to be configured as pedes- Jason Miller is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, trian-oriented shopping streets. and publishing consultant based in St. Paul, Minnesota. But these and other constraints proved successful SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 21
  21. 21. amien Place, a proposed mixed- port developments endorsed by the rep- T use development in San Jose, California, was opposed by near- by residents who felt that constructing resentatives of groups with divergent views on growth. The Santa Clara HAC includes mem- twin 11-story condominiums on the site bers of the Home Builder’s Association, of an old bowling alley would destroy Sierra Club, Building and Construction their neighborhoods. Most of the oppo- Trades Council, Silicon Valley nents lived in one- or two-story homes. Manufacturing Group, and the Santa But the project was compact, was Clara County Association of REAL- applauded by some advocates for its TORS®, among others. density, included affordable housing In the case of Tamien Place, Shiloh units, and was located near a freeway Ballard, who supervises the HAC as and a CalTrain commuter rail station. It director of housing and community seemed, in other words, to embody development for the Silicon Valley Smart Growth criteria. Manufacturing Group, put out the call Because of the controversy, approval for volunteers to talk the project through of the project by the San Jose City the political process. Local REALTORS® Council was far from certain. The coun- played a key role on the team that per- cil member from the district where the suaded local officials to approve Tamien project was to be built supported it, but Place, she said. the member from the adjacent district, ”They always send a representative where many of the opponents lived, to all of our meetings and have been opposed it. incredibly active in helping to support That’s where the local Housing our activities,” Ballard said. Action Coalition (HAC) came in. Stewart works closely with Ballard to Composed of diverse groups with an ensure that local REALTORS® are interest in supporting Smart Growth, the actively involved in supporting projects HAC, based in San Jose and covering all that passed muster with the HAC’s of Santa Clara County, urged local offi- review committee. cials to support the Tamien Place project. “Some time ago we, along with other “We all got together, spoke to various groups in the county—including some members of the City Council and wrote groups that were never able to talk to letters, and the project got approved,” each other, I might add—realized that said Paul Stewart, executive director of we needed to advocate for housing pro- the Santa Clara County Association of duction, especially affordable housing,” REALTORS®. Stewart said. The Santa Clara HAC is one of a He said the process works because the growing number of local and state participating groups have agreed to leave “We don’t say ‘no’ to sprawl; we say ‘ yes‘ to good, compact, infill development.” Janet Stone, Greenbelt Alliance alliances that review proposed develop- their differences at the door when they get ments, usually at the request of the together to advocate projects that are cer- developers, to determine if they meet tified by the HAC review committee. Smart Growth criteria. If so, the alliance The Santa Clara HAC is a member of certifies or endorses the proposal and the San Francisco–based Greenbelt urges local government authorities to Alliance, an extensive coalition of local approve it. groups in nine Northern California Particularly in California, where the counties with a population of more than certification movement originated in the 7 million. early 1990s, REALTORS® have become A pioneer in the certification move- players in urging local officials to sup- ment, the Greenbelt Alliance has been 22 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  23. 23. reviewing and certifying development TORS® is actively involved in the projects since 1990, before the term Housing Action Coalition in the Alameda Smart Growth gained the currency it has and Contra Costa counties’ suburbs east Greenbelt Alliance today. In 14 years, the Alliance has put of Oakland. Nancy Rogers, public affairs its stamp of approval on 105 proposed Endorsements developments. (The Santa Clara HAC director of the Bay East Association of REALTORS®, said REALTORS®, envi- Are Based On says projects it certified added more than ronmentalists, members of faith-based 33,000 housing units, nearly half of organizations, government officials, Seven Criteria: which were affordable to low and moder- developers, business leaders, and others ate income residents.) sit on the committees that review projects 1 Janet Stone, director of the Livable proposed for certification. Is it located in an Communities Program at the Greenbelt urban area within Alliance, said the review com- a half-mile of mittees typically meet once a mass transit? month to determine whether projects submitted by develop- ers meet the organization’s cri- 2 teria for certification. The alliances that endorse Will it reduce developments generally have dependency on similar criteria, but there are automobiles? regional differences based on local concerns. In California, 3 which Stewart said contains 6 of the 10 highest-priced hous- Does it have a ing markets in the country, minimum density there is an emphasis on afford- of 20 units per able housing. On the other acre? hand, the Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative’s crite- 4 ria emphasize preserving the Local REALTORS® played quaint villages and that give Does it have at the state its picture postcard a key role on the team that least 20 units? charm. Discouraging sprawl and persuaded local officials to promoting infill development approve Tamien Place. 5 are common goals of the certi- fication programs. Is it based on “We don’t say ‘no’ to sprawl; we say “There are a lot of growing pains good design ‘yes’ to good, compact, infill develop- going on right now, and you have REAL- features? ment,” Stone said. TORS® involved with a lot of coalitions She said developers in the San and being at the table with groups we 6 Francisco Bay area covet the endorse- normally wouldn’t be involved with,” ment of the Greenbelt Alliance, which Rogers said. “We have to be more flexi- Is it being provides letters of endorsement and ble.” speakers to urge project approval at “It’s taken awhile for the developers to developed with Planning Commission and City Council catch on and come to us,” she said. “I community input? meetings. would say two to three years for the “We’ve even had developers who were developers to begin to understand what 7 turned down come back and try to argue we’re doing and to use us.” that actually their project does meet The certification movement has Does it include Smart Growth criteria,” Stone said. spread east, but the high level of involve- affordable “We’ve had lots of feedback from devel- ment by REALTORS® in California has housing units? opers saying, ‘Your support made the dif- yet to materialize in other locations. ference and pushed this project over the Leaders of Smart Growth alliances in the line.’” states of Vermont and Pennsylvania and The Bay East Association of REAL- the Washington, D.C. area say REAL- 24 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  24. 24. TORS® are not actively involved in their efforts. her organization contained only four affordable One of the most promising new certification single-family homes. programs is the Washington Smart Growth Those homes were proposed, however, in the Alliance based in Washington, D.C., which covers center of the Village of Hancock, population 382. the city and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs. Hancock residents were fiercely insistent on pro- Formed by the Urban Land Institute and four part- tecting their 216-year-old village, Humstone said, ner organizations, the Washington program is a and it took a great deal of negotiating to reach prototype for programs being considered by other agreement with them. regional affiliates of the Urban Land Institute. Resistance by neighbors is a constant problem The partners in the Smart Growth Alliance that must be overcome by Smart Growth develop- (SGA) are the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ers and their advocates in the certification move- Greater Washington Board of Trade, Coalition for ment. Stewart said opponents of growth twist the Smarter Growth, and the Metropolitan Wash- meaning of Smart Growth to use it as a no-growth ington Builders’ Council. The review committees, club to beat up on projects they don’t like. which meet quarterly, have endorsed 15 projects “Often the neighbors will call us up and say, in the SGA’s three-year history. ‘Could you help me fight this project?’ when it is a John Bailey, director of the Smart Growth Smart Growth project,” Humstone said. She said her Alliance, said the organization believes in work- group’s endorsement may help to overcome opposi- ing with developers to correct problems that may tion to Smart Growth projects, “but it’s too soon to prevent them from being recognized for meeting say since it’s the Nimbys we’re dealing with.” Smart Growth criteria. “We’re sort of like the Nimbys—short for Not in My Backyard—are a teacher who says, ‘Hey, I don’t want to fail you. I potentially potent political force. want to pass you,’” he said. “If you’re a city council member and you’re fac- In Vermont, REALTORS® helped to develop the ing a crowd of 50 people who are opposing a vote Smart Growth criteria used by the Vermont Smart you’re going to take, why would you vote that Growth Collaborative, but they have not been way?” Ballard said. “You can’t go out on a limb.” active in the review process. What the endorsements do is give local officials Development in Vermont typically occurs on a cover in supporting controversial developments. far smaller scale than condominium towers like And they’ve been known to strengthen a back- Tamien Place in San Jose, or the massive mixed- bone or two. use projects springing up in the Washington sub- urbs. Beth Humstone, director of the Vermont col- John Van Gieson is a freelance writer based in laborative, said one of the projects approved by Tallahassee, Florida. He owns and runs Van Gieson Media Relations. WASHINGTON SMART GROWTH ALLIANCE RECOGNITION PROGRAM CRITERIA For a project proposal to be recognized, it must satisfy five criteria: 1. Location. The project must be located in an area designated and appropriate for growth or revitalization, most particular- ly infill or sites adjacent to developed residential or commercial areas. It should take advantage of existing or short-term planned public water and sewer service, and it should be accessible to public transportation. 2. Density, Design, and Diversity of Uses. The “three Ds” of smart growth development must be present, either within the proposed project or within its vicinity. There should be sufficient density and scale to support a mix of uses, walkability, and public transit. The project should be designed so that it is integrated effectively into the existing community fabric. 3. Transportation, Mobility, and Accessibility. The project should be designed, located, and programmed to offer alterna- tives to single-occupancy vehicle trips, by enabling safe and effective pedestrian and bicycle access to multiple uses and activities and/or by being accessible to public transportation. 4. Environment. The project should protect, conserve, and/or mitigate damage to open space, water and air quality, and important ecosystem components. 5. Community Assets. The project should generate benefits for its surrounding area and/or the host community. These may include positive economic impacts, affordable housing, support for the school system, historic preservation, public access to parks or open spaces, support for local efforts to encourage alternative transportation, adaptive use of obsolete build- ings, and other improvements to quality of life. SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 25
  26. 26. magine yourself in Pam Sessions’ shoes. You’re a I profit-oriented developer with a social conscience. Through market and demographic research, you’ve detected an unmet demand in metro Atlanta for well-designed, urban scale neighborhoods, with a mix of housing types and prices, in a village-like setting. You’ve absorbed the literature on green design and Smart Growth. The principles make sense and you’re determined to put them into practice. You’ve hired a design firm credited with landmark projects from Seaside, Florida to Maryland’s Kentlands. You’re con- fident you’ve got a to-die-for winner, but when you present it to the local government the reception is a tad chilly—something akin to being doused with ice water, then clonked on the head with the bucket. “It’s always a challenge to do something new,” Sessions says in her characteristically understated manner. The truth is, almost every aspect of her “smart,” “green” project was either illegal or otherwise unacceptable at the time. Narrow, tree-lined, pedestri- an-oriented streets? Sorry, code violation. Mix town- homes, big and little houses and apartments at differ- ent price points? It’s just not done. Eventually, though, Sessions did get her Vickery project approved—once the rental apartments were jettisoned. The whole process might have been a bit easier, she says, if there had been some respected third party to evaluate her plans and certify them as “smart” and “green,” or to tell her how to make them more so. Such a certification also could have helped the local community understand how certain changes to plans might be counterproductive to goals such as reducing traffic or water runoff or encouraging people to walk. Sessions might be getting her wish. Concerns like hers, along with several other considerations, are behind a growing effort to create tools, through research and standard-setting, to help answer the question, “How do you know if it’s Smart Growth?” The question applies not only to individual projects, but also to the broader policies being put into place to preserve rural land, revital- ize already-developed areas, and accommodate future growth in high-quality urban settings. Over the next few pages we’ll take a look at three promising efforts to measure Smart Growth in order to certify that it is, in fact, happening. One is an expansion of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for green buildings to neighborhood developments; anoth- er is an effort in Atlanta to create a market-ready, branded certification of smart- growth communities; and the third is an attempt to create a scorecard for Maryland’s statewide Smart Growth program. Taking the LEED in greening the neighborhood Since its introduction a few years ago, the LEED rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has gained wide acceptance as a way both to teach best practices in resource-efficient building design, and to recog- nize the builders and buildings that use them. Under LEED, projects can earn Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum status by meeting rigorous criteria in sever- al categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, and innovation in design. Its shortcoming, according to some advocates of Smart Growth, is that it gives too little weight to the building’s context. For example, a brand-new office build- SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 27
  27. 27. ing in a cornfield reachable only by car could rate there too much or too little low-income housing higher for energy savings than a renovated in- nearby? What are local needs?—is likely to vary so town building accessible by subway, foot, bike, widely that standard-setting could be very diffi- and car. At the same time, acknowledges urban cult, Benfield said. designer Doug Farr, the USGBC could criticize Another challenge will be to set clear standards new urbanist and smart growth advocates for but avoid being overly rigid. “Whatever system we neighborhood designs that fall short on minimiz- come up with will have to be flexible enough to ing storm-water runoff, night-sky lighting, or the recognize regional variations,” Benfield said. “I heat-island effect. personally think creativity is really important in “We wanted to see if we could work together to the smart growth world. It’s an incredibly creative come up with a rating system for green, smart- field, one in which new answers are being found growth neighborhoods,” said Farr, a Chicago new almost on a daily basis. I think we need to encour- urbanist and green architect responsible for sever- age that and whatever we do shouldn’t standard- al LEED-rated buildings himself. Farr has been ize too much.” representing the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) in a three-way planning effort among Marketing Smart Growth in Metro Atlanta CNU, the USGBC, and the Natural Resources As the LEED-ND panel begins to craft the new Defense Council (NRDC), which has expertise in program, members will no doubt want to watch both smart growth and environmental design. The developments in metro Atlanta where Sessions collaboration has produced a 15-member panel of and three other developers are guinea pigs in a experts that will establish rating criteria for what is LEED-like effort, with some twists. There, a col- being called LEED-ND, for neighborhood devel- laboration between the Greater Atlanta Home opment. Builders Association (HBA) and the Southface “One reason to do this is to foster a positive side Energy Institute, a nonprofit of environmentalism and reward good actors— business people, architects, designers, REAL- TORS® who are pursuing a path with good envi- ronmental values,” said Kaid Benfield, NRDC’s smart-growth guru and representative on LEED- ND. Another is the hope that projects able to meet the high standards will face less opposition from neighborhood groups, or at a mini- mum, prevent opponents from making false claims of environmental harm. As it has with individual buildings, a LEED standard might also convince more developers to try a greener approach. “Developers like pre- dictability,” Farr said. “If you’re telling me to do Smart Growth, give me a clear idea what’s expected.” Farr sees the ND designation as adding at least two new rating categories: location and linkage. “For location you would ask: Is it leapfrog development or in a preferred growth area? Is there a plan for transit or other infrastructure? The other [linkage] addresses neighborhood patterns— pedestrian linkages, having something to walk to.” Less clear is how, or whether, to incorporate social goals associated with Smart Growth, such as the provision of affordable and mixed-income housing. Those goals have an environmental com- ponent, in that housing close to jobs and public transportation can reduce the air and energy impacts of long car commutes. But the context—Is 28 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  28. 28. EarthCraft homes – Clark’s Grove, Georgia In the last couple of years the (EarthCraft House) concept has caught on, with more than 1,000 eco-friendly houses built or under construction. devoted to energy efficiency, produced a LEED- said Jeff Rader, the home builders’ project leader. like marketing brand for residential construction, “We see it as a product type that will be profitable. dubbed EarthCraft House. In the last couple of Conservation subdivisions generate a lot-price years the concept has caught on, with more than premium. We want to strengthen that value 1,000 eco-friendly houses built or under construc- enhancement by working on a whole range of tion. More importantly, a growing number of green elements. We also believe they should be developers, Sessions among them, have vowed to easier to permit since they do carry with them build only EarthCraft Houses. public benefits if they are done in truly green With the brand gaining cachet, Southface and way—reduced impact on the natural environment, the HBA began working with the Urban Land reduced traffic and infrastructure demand.” Institute and local planners and designers to cre- Initially the EarthCraft group planned a pro- ate standards for an EarthCraft House gram like LEED, which awards ratings based on a Community. While many of the goals are similar to numerical scoring system, but ultimately decided LEED-ND, EarthCraft is taking a conscious con- that only a jury could achieve the necessary flexi- sumer orientation that requires a somewhat differ- bility. “We found we couldn’t standardize it for all ent approach to setting the standards. contexts,” Rader said. “In urban infill, for exam- “There is a real market for green communities,” ple, you might not be able to score high on green SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 29
  29. 29. “Any effort to measure Smart Growth should somehow capture the most important goal of all, a population that is living happily and has hopes for an equally bright future.” Harriet Tregoning, former secretary for Smart Growth, State of Maryland 30 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  30. 30. coast to coast REALTORS Take an Active Role ® 32 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004
  31. 31. to coast to co in Shaping Sustainable, Smart Growth Communities By Steve Wright & Heidi Johnson-Wright hen Linda Goodwin- W Nichols set up shop as a REALTOR® in Florida’s Osceola County three decades ago, Smart Growth wasn’t an issue. In fact, growth of any kind wasn’t an issue. Back then, the quaint but sleepy Central Florida county didn’t even have 50,000 residents. On a holiday weekend, a population greater than that visited nearby Disney World. Today Goodwin-Nichols, who acts as vice mayor of the fast-growing city of Kissimmee, cannot think of fully serving a client without keeping abreast of issues such as higher density, smaller lots, better roads, improved infrastructure, conserved land, and— most important of all—school capacity. “Trying to balance extreme growth while pro- tecting private property rights has always been a major challenge,” said Goodwin-Nichols, presi- dent of Goodwin Realty & Associates. “Now it’s extremely crucial that we, as REALTORS®, get involved with planning organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, the school board, and our government to be proactive in looking at what our community will look like in 20 years.” Whether REALTORS® are trying to preserve rural char- acter in the East, small town charm in the Midwest, affordable housing in California, economic vitality in the Pacific Northwest, or good public education in Florida, they are finding that Smart Growth is key to the future. Goodwin-Nichols lives in Osceola County, which has more than tripled its population in less than two decades. She identified educa- tional funding as the crucial issue in an area that is popular with young and growing families. SUMMER 2004 ON COMMON GROUND 33
  32. 32. “We’re building so fast that we’re adding near- The Ventura Coastal County Association has ly a classroom’s worth of children per day,” she responded by joining a coalition called Housing said. “But we’re one of the worst-funded school Opportunities Made Easier, or HOME. The districts in the state. So we have to look at taxes, HOME coalition advocates for such things as impact fees, and other ways of making sure our affordable housing and higher-density develop- children get a good education.” ment in Ventura County, where voters have placed Goodwin-Nichols said that, years ago, she growth restrictions on much of the county land. could not have pictured herself becoming politi- Consequently, less land is available for develop- cally active, but now she has served eight years on ment, so it must be used more wisely. a city commission. In addition, three agents in her “We have to take a hard look at single family medium-sized office serve on either a planning or housing. Is it a 6,000-square-foot lot with a picket code enforcement board. fence or a 1,200-square-foot, third-story condo The Osceola County Association of REALTORS® has become so concerned about development eating up land for parks, recreation, and open space that it committed preliminary sup- port to the idea of raising taxes to buy undevel- oped land in the Central Florida county. A group called Save Osceola has been working to place a sales tax issue on the county ballot to raise funds for buying undeveloped land and per- manently setting it aside for parks, recreation, and open space. Board members from the Osceola REALTORS® association committed their support for the effort. Save Osceola is a grassroots organi- zation dedicated to land preservation and man- agement for the purposes of water resources, wildlife areas, and for nature-based recreational opportunities. However, the movement for a sales tax may be on hold. A separate referendum for a sales tax that would have helped pay for education in the coun- ty failed at the ballot during the March 2004 pri- mary. After seeing that voters would not support a sales tax hike to pay for education, Save Osceola hasn’t taken steps to raise funds to back an open space ballot issue. “If you as a REALTOR® are going to represent your clients and customers, you need to know what’s going on in your community,” Goodwin- Nichols said. “If we as REALTORS® can’t get involved in solving the problems in our communi- The American dream ties, then nobody can. We have the manpower to make a huge influence in our community.” has to be redefined as In Ventura County, California, one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, the we go into the next challenges are different. The lack of developable decade. Let’s see if we land and affordable housing are what motivate REALTORS® to get involved in Smart Growth can plan our cities so matters. “With a housing crisis in California, we need to we can walk to get a retain rural land while supporting jobs and hous- ing needs,” said Kay Wilson-Bolton, past president quart of milk. It’s of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® and broker/owner of Century 21 going to take awhile, Buena Vista. but we can get there. 34 ON COMMON GROUND SUMMER 2004