Smart Growth in a Changing World

By Jonathan Barnett, FAICP, F. Kaid Benfield, W. Paul Farmer, FAICP, Shelley Poticha, Robert Yaro, Armando Carbonell, FAICP

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Can the United States adopt smart growth policies before it's too late?

The United States is in the midst of a crisis of energy consumption and environmental degradation. This crisis is masked by our vibrant economy, high standard of living, and abundant land, but as our population continues to grow and our cities continue to sprawl, the costs of current development policies will become ...

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March 1, 2007
APA Planners Press

About the Authors

Jonathan Barnett

F. Kaid Benfield
Kaid Benfield is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on how to make cities, towns, and neighborhoods work better for both people and the environment. Kaid serves as senior counsel for environmental strategies at PlaceMakers LLC, a city and town planning consultancy working across the United States and Canada. He is based in Washington, DC Before joining PlaceMakers in 2015, Kaid served as a senior attorney and program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council for over 30 years, where he led the organization's work on behalf of sustainable communities and smart growth. Kaid also teaches law, policy, and best practices for sustainable communities at the George Washington University School of Law. His latest book is People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, distributed by Island Press. A longtime leader of the smart growth movement, Kaid co-founded LEED for Neighborhood Development, a national process for defining and certifying smart, green land development under the auspices of the US Green Building Council. Kaid is also a founder and board member of Smart Growth America, a nationwide coalition working on revitalizing cities, building better neighborhoods, and stopping the spread of suburban sprawl. Kaid was named one of "the most influential people in sustainable planning and development" by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, voted one of the "top urban thinkers" on the leading city planning website,, and named "one of the top 100 city innovators worldwide" by the website Future Cities. Kaid is a prolific writer whose portfolio spans several books and frequent articles for The Huffington Post, Sustainable Cities, Better Cities & Towns, CityLab, and NRDC websites.

W. Paul Farmer
Paul Farmer, FAICP served as: CEO of the American Planning Association and its professional institute, AICP, as well as President, APA's Planning Foundation and AICP Ethics Officer, 2001-2014; Executive Director, Planning and Development, Eugene, OR, 1999-2001; Planning Director, Minneapolis, 1994-1998; Deputy Planning Director, Pittsburgh, 1980-1994. He was a founding faculty member of the planning masters program of the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, 1972-1980, and adjunct professor at: University of Oregon, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. He has consulted in the U.S., Canada, Germany, India, China, and Brazil, lectured on planning, design, development and public policy throughout the world, and written extensively. Both his Masters in Regional Planning and PhD studies were at Cornell University, where he was a Richard King Mellon Fellow, a Health Planning Fellow and an Instructor in Planning; his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Architecture are from Rice University, where he was a Lasker Fellow and a Distinguished Student Fellow in Architecture. He is a: Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP); Honorary Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia; Honorary Life Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute; Honorary Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He has received awards from Progressive Architecture, the National Endowment for the Arts, the 2008 William and June Dale Prize from Cal Poly-Pomona for excellence in urban and regional planning; and, the New York University-Poly 2013 Spirit of Innovation Award. In Pittsburgh, he joined colleagues in: guiding recovery from the region's loss of 200,000 steel industry jobs in the early 1980's and, through Strategy 21, replacement with research, advanced technology and innovation sector jobs of 200,000 by 1990; reuse of mill sites and rebirth of 35 miles of riverfronts; construction of both light rail and first-generation BRT; and the program of Renaissance II, including over 12 mllion sf of downtown construction. He was in charge of the creation of the city (and ultimately, seven county region's) pioneering GIS, including the world's first use of GPS to establish new survey control, leading to the first GIS that met USGS national map accuracy standards. In Minneapolis, he directed the creation of The Minneapolis Plan, the city's first comprehensive plan in two decades, and revision of four-decade old zoning and development ordinances, as well as creation of the city's first, multi-year CIP. He guided development and implementation of: new water strategies, housing strategy and economic development strategy. He was instrumental in planning and construction of the region's first light rail line, connecting the major generators of downtown, the airport and the mega-mall. In Eugene, he served basically as a Deputy City Manager with a broad portfolio: planning, economic development, housing, redevelopment, permitting, inspections, transportation, parking, and solid waste. At APA, he engaged in transformative initiatives with elected leadership and members: unique growth strategies for a diverse membership with targeted market segments, resulting in an increase from 31,000 to 45,000 members; substantial increase in education programs, including Certification Maintenance for AICP members; a successful communication strategy with various initiatives, such as the Great Places in America Program, which annually receives vast media coverage and has been extended to many chapters and copied to some extent in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom; and an expanded advocacy program that includes an annual conference in D.C., increased amicus filings and broader partnership activities. APA, with members in almost 100 countries and members active in even more, also increased international activities with private, public and NGO partners and co-founded the Global Planners Network that has grown from three nation-based planning organizations to three dozen. With elected leadership, he provided stewardship of Association resources and guided the Association successfully through the Great Recession and recovery, leaving the Association in a sound financial position. He has also been active in APA and AICP from student days at Cornell through today, serving in various chapter positions, including president; various division positions, including chair; national positions, including CPC Chair and member of the APA Board. He has served in a variety of volunteer positions for other NGO's. In all of his positions, he has viewed the role of a planner as one of a collaborator, leader and educator -- an educator who must continue to be educated. Borrowing from statements by planners in the U.S. and elsewhere, he is proud to be a planner.

Shelley Poticha

Robert Yaro

Armando Carbonell
Armando Carbonell, FAICP FAcSS Hon MRTPI has chaired the urban planning program at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, MA since 1999. After attending Clark University and the Johns Hopkins University, Carbonell spent the early part of his career as an academic geographer. He went on to initiate a new planning system for Cape Cod, MA as the founding Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission. In 1992 he was awarded a Loeb fellowship in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. Carbonell later taught urban planning at Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania and served as an editor of the British journal Town Planning Review. He has consulted on master plans in Houston, Texas and Fujian Province, China and is the author and editor of numerous works on city and regional planning and planning for climate change, including the recent book, Nature and Cities: the Ecological Imperative in Urban Design and Planning.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Smart Growth in a Changing World

Chapter 2
What Are the Nation’s Future Growth Trends?

Chapter 3
The Runaway American Dream

Chapter 4
Transportation in Multi-City Regions

Chapter 5
Alternate Futures for the Seven-County Orlando Region

Chapter 6
Reinventing Megalopolis: The Northeast Megaregion

Chapter 7
Natural Hazards and Regional Design

Chapter 8
Smart Growth in Cities and Towns

Chapter 9
America’s Future and Federal Smart Growth Policies

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About the Authors


More than half the world's people now live in urban areas. This trend continues to accelerate, with a large majority of new jobs and residents predicted to be in "super regions" or "megalopolises" in the next 50 years. The future of the world's children now, more than ever, depends on the success of our urban areas in meeting their needs. Smart growth, when it works, involves recognizing these and other emerging social and market trends to help our neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions grow better. This collection of essays and studies adds significantly to the growing debate concerning how smart growth concepts may, or should, play out at the super regional scale through a host of complex issues, including environmental preservation, transportation infrastructure, land-use policy, and economic and social equity, to ensure our urban areas meet the needs of the world's current and future generations. Robert J. Grow, Founding Chair Emeritus of Envision Utah

Jonathan Barnett has his finger on the pulse of growth trends in America. This book provides insight into strategies and policies that, if embraced, will positively impact the way we grow. Chandra Foreman, Principal Planner for Polk County, Florida, and Chair of APA's Planning and the Black Community Division