The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defined the 10 principals of the concept of Smart Growth in response to the development paradigm – “bigger is better.” While growth is important for communities, if not carefully planned for, it can lead to transportation issues, declining home values, environmental degradation, and health problems. Small towns like Mammoth Lakes, CA as well as metropolises like Los Angeles, CA all need to seriously consider the impacts of growth. The EPA believes that “through smart growth approaches that enhance neighborhoods and involve local residents in development decisions, …communities are creating vibrant places to live, work, and play.” The following ten principals guide environmental non-profits, architecture companies, urban planners, engineers, landscape architects, and other environmental design companies in making decisions about growth, development, and preservation.
The Ten Principals of Smart Growth
- Promote mixed land uses;
- Use compact building design;
- Create a range of home design opportunities;
- Create walkable neighborhoods;
- Foster distinctive, attractive, contemporary communities with a strong sense of place;
- Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas;
- Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities;
- Provide a variety of transportation choices;
- Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective;
- Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.
Mammoth Lakes, CA has taken the initiative to implement these smart growth principles into a strategy that promotes mixed-use development, walkability and connectivity, as well as limiting expansion. In 2010, the community was awarded a Sustainable Communities Planning Grant from the The California Strategic Growth Council which would help fund the completion of a comprehensive update of the zoning code that encourages smart growth and sustainability. Furthermore, the Town has developed a Draft Mobility Element as well as a Trails Master Plan, which promote multi-modal transportation across town. These crucial considerations make Mammoth Lakes a walkable community, while also addressing issues such as automobile congestion and parking scarcity.
In order to address urban expansion in a town surrounded by the natural beauty of the Eastern Sierra, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, CA adopted an urban growth boundary which limits new development and sprawl while promoting infill, mixed-use projects, and sustainable revitalization.
Smart Growth positively affects the environmental design of our communities. How is your community growing smartly, or wisely?
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