The Corruption Of Smart Growth

With many developers touting their various projects as "smart growth", the term is losing much of it meaning.

"Remember the 1970s, when the nascent environmental movement spawned an interest in "natural food"? This initially referred to vittles that contained no artificial ingredients and were minimally processed. But soon the corporate food industry co-opted the term and started calling everything "natural," whether or not it was laden with preservatives, fillers, taste-enhancing chemicals and God knows what else.

Thus the term "natural food" lost much of its meaning. The same fate threatens "smart growth." Across the country, developers are starting to use "smart growth" to define whatever it is they happen to be building. It may be happening here, as well."

"Perhaps the term is too vague, because it is being tossed around with increasing abandon. Developers in California are using "smart growth" to describe mega-sprawl projects that meet few if any smart growth criteria, according to a May 30 article in LA Weekly ( by David Zahniser."

"So, maybe the smart growth people - and the New Urbanism folks as well - need to do what the foodies did. They changed the term to "organic" and created certification standards. That's worked reasonably well."

Full Story: Calling It `Smart Growth' Doesn't Make It So



Smart Growth

Smart Growth was never a very good term. Easily corrupted. A better term is "Compact Communities." Much more concrete and definable.

Compact Growth

Compact growth sounds too un-American, like compact cars. Any descriptor will eventually be corrupted by homebuilder/developers.

Certification Needed

That is the only solution, I think.

By a reputable and trustworthy organization.


How could anyone be surprised that developers would catch on to what the NUs were doing?

If the NUs hadn't set such a great precedent with cute new--sub-Urban--communities, then the developers would not have had the template from which to draw up their own cute new suburban communities.

Even the award-winning NU community in Denver (Stapleton) has big boxes and is far from Smart. So, if I am a developer (and I am) it is easy to co-opt a model that was suspect to begin with.

The answer is before you

Its called LEED-ND.

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