As communities grow and develop, they may become more vulnerable to natural hazards. Expanding into more hazardous areas or redeveloping existing areas already subject to hazards can pose a threat to future community safety. The safe growth audit is a tool that can be used to evaluate the extent to which a jurisdiction is growing safely relative to the natural hazards it faces.
Conducting a safe growth audit can help to prevent future growth conflicts. if the community and its elected officials understand how their zoning and subdivision ordinances allow growth in hazardous areas, they can revise these ordinances before property owners embark on risky projects. if they understand how their comprehensive plans fail to guide growth to safe locations, they can amend the plans. if they understand how their capital improvement programs encourage unsafe growth, they can change their utility provision policies.
This issue of Zoning Practice outlines the principles of safe growth, includes a list of basic safe growth audit questions, and describes how the audit was used in Lee County, Florida.
About the Author
David Godschalk, FAICP