Peter Pollock


Many models exist for creating better communities: for example, smart growth, new urbanism, and sustainable development. City planners have at their disposal a number of model ordinances and policies that could help communities meet the challenges of climate change and looming changes in transport and energy supply. The problem is not the lack of tools, but other policy issues that stymie their effective application. The localized nature of community planning, the inability to overcome local opposition to redevelopment within existing city boundaries, the lack of rigor in assigning costs to new development, the local competition for taxes, and the legacy of pre-existing discretionary reviews hamper our ability to apply the land-use planning tools that have been created. Land-use planning and regulation is typically a very local function. Regional collaboration among many local governments provides an opportunity to tackle larger scale issues around land use and transportation. Likewise, collaborative area planning involving multiple stakeholders can be used to overcome resistance to mixed-use, higher-density, and transit-oriented development. Implementing cost recovery systems that make new growth pay its own way can help mitigate resistance to new growth by ensuring that current levels of government services are maintained. Spreading tax revenues among local governments rather than allowing for the local capture of sales and property tax revenues would result in a land-use pattern less skewed toward commercial development and help to incentivize workforce housing. Local discretionary review processes that encouraged flexible land-use patterns have ironically created an inflexible regulatory system that is in need of reform.

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