The Corruption Of Smart Growth

<p>With many developers touting their various projects as "smart growth", the term is losing much of it meaning.</p>
June 20, 2007, 6am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"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."

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Published on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 in The Hartford Courant
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