A Framework for Quantitative Smart Growth in Land Development

Glenn Moglen, Steven Gabriel, and Jose Faria (2003)

view report (853.97 KB)

Increasing awareness about the problems brought on by urban sprawl has led to proactive measures to guide future development. Such efforts have largely been grouped under the term, Smart Growth. Although not widely recognized as such, the smart in Smart Growth implies an optimization of some quantity or objective while undertaking new forms of urban development. To illustrate a formal, quantitative framework for Smart Growth, this study develops definitions of optimal development from the perspectives of four different types of stakeholders: a government planner, a land developer, a hydrologist, and a conservationist subject to certain developmental constraints. Four different objective functions are posed that are consistent with each of these stakeholders’ perspectives. We illustrate the differences in consequences on future development given these different objective functions in a stylized representation for Montgomery County, Maryland. Solutions to Smart Growth from the individual perspectives vary considerably. Trade-off tables are presented which illustrate the consequences experienced by each stakeholder depending on the viewpoint that has been optimized. Although couched in the context of an illustrative example, this study emphasizes the need to apply rigorous, quantitative tools in a meaningful framework to address Smart Growth. The result is a tool that a range of parties can use to plan future development in ways that are environmentally and fiscally responsible and economically viable.