Research

Chengri Ding, Yi Niu, and Gerrit-Jan Knaap

Employment Centers and Agglomeration Economies: Foundations of a Spatial Economic Development Strategy

Previous research provides evidence that jobs and firms in U.S. metropolitan areas are concentrated in economic centers, creating a polycentric urban form. Previous research also suggests that firms realize localization economies when they locate near other firms in the same industry and urbanization economies when they locate near firms in other industries. In this article, we tie these concepts together in an exploration of the spatial distribution of employment in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area. Our analysis suggests that the spatial distribution of employment in Maryland is characterized by the existence of concentrated employment centers that create a polycentric urban form. What is more, we find these centers provide both urbanization and localization economies as well as unspecified locational advantages.

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Casey Dawkins, Jason Sartori, and Gerrit-Jan Knaap (2012)

Barriers to Development Inside Maryland's PFAs: Perspectives of Planners, Developers, and Advocates

This study presents a summary of stakeholder perspectives on the effectiveness of Maryland's Priority Funding Areas and barriers to growth within PFAs. It relies upon responses to a telephone survey of forty-seven representatives from three key stakeholder groups—planners, policy advocates and consultants, and developers.

Executive Summary

Passed in 1997, Maryland’s Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Initiative took a novel approach to growth management, utilizing the power of the purse to encourage sustainable development. The initiative seeks to discourage suburban sprawl through a targeted spending approach, while also allowing local governments to retain their land use decision-making authority. It required local governments to designate Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) where state infrastructure funding would be focused. Through this tool, the State aimed to promote development and revitalization within Maryland’s urbanized areas, while limiting the urbanization of Maryland’s rural areas and green spaces.[i]

Data from the Maryland Department of Planning, however, suggests that PFAs are having limited impacts. The percent of single-family acres developed outside of PFAs has risen steadily over time.[ii] Development densities have declined in PFAs, with the average parcel size inside PFAs increasing from 0.25 acres in 1990 to 0.28 acres in 2004.[iii] Despite their disappointing performance, PFAs are anticipated to play key roles in future policies regarding development on septic systems and in PlanMaryland, the state development plan.

Given their growing prominence but questionable efficacy, PFAs warrant further examination. That is the purpose of this study, conducted by the Housing Strategies Group of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, and funded by the Maryland State Builders Association and NAIOP Maryland chapters. The study relies upon responses to a telephone survey of forty-seven representatives from three key stakeholder groups—planners, policy advocates and consultants, and developers. HSG made every effort to obtain the perspectives of a variety of sources but it is important to note that the survey respondents could not be said to be randomly selected and the sample size is too small for rigorous statistical analysis.

While not presenting new empirical analysis of the influence of PFAs on development patterns across the State, the study does produce new information on how critical stakeholders view the efficacy of PFAs and the barriers to development inside PFAs:

  • Most respondents think PFAs are only somewhat effective or not effective at all. Of those responding to the question, “To what extent have PFAs been an effective urban growth management tool?” 78 percent responded either “not at all effective” or “somewhat effective.” When asked to comment on the effectiveness of PFAs, respondents from each of the three groups interviewed mentioned inconsistencies between state and local planning objectives as contributing to the ineffectiveness of PFAs. In theory, PFAs can provide the opportunity to reduce uncertainty and development costs by coordinating state and local infrastructure investments. There have also been examples of local governments reducing impact fees and providing expedited review processes within their PFAs, but these cases are generally more the exception than the rule. Most suggested that PFAs are either ignored in the local planning process or create additional impediments to local planning, because existing land use patterns and development rights predated the establishment of PFAs. In one jurisdiction, local growth areas are intentionally drawn to be larger than PFAs to create a “buffer” between existing urbanized areas and areas planned for future growth. In explaining continued growth outside PFAs, planners in particular pointed to legacy zoning and grandfathered permits. Others pointed to consumer preferences and the relative ease of development outside PFAs from the regulatory and community opposition perspectives. When development does occur within PFAs, state policy is often less a factor than the strength of the local market for PFA development.
  • Most respondents think it’s more difficult to develop land inside than outside PFAs. When asked, “Holding other things constant, do you believe it is more difficult to develop land inside or outside PFAs?” respondents citing “inside” PFAs outnumbered those citing “outside” by almost four to one. A large percentage (29 percent) also indicated that designation inside or outside a PFA had no impact on the difficulty of development. Several indicated that the difficulties arise not from spatial differences in regulations but in how they are applied. Citizen opposition, for example, can be more severe within PFAs, because the higher density of development implies satisfying a larger number of constituencies. The difficulty of assembling multiple parcels of land makes “staging” of development inherently more difficult. Parking must often be built as structured parking below-grade, increasing construction costs. Utility easement requirements (i.e. 10-foot right of way requirements) often inherently favor suburban development. Environmental regulations, while not directly designed to discourage development within PFAs, may be more difficult to satisfy due to the higher probability of soil contamination combined with additional requirements to achieve LEED certification. Satisfying APFO requirements can also be more difficult within PFAs where roads, schools, and other facilities are more burdened.
  • Citizen opposition, consumer preferences, APFOs, scarcity of zoned land, lack of infrastructure, and stormwater management regulations are the most commonly-cited constraints to developing inside PFAs. Respondents were asked to identify from a list of conditions, which were impediments to development or redevelopment inside PFAs and which were among the top three impediments. The most frequently cited impediments include stormwater management regulations and citizen opposition. Respondents from all categories suggested that recent changes in the State’s stormwater mitigation requirements make redevelopment within existing urban areas more difficult. When asked to prioritize the impediments, the most frequently cited items included citizen opposition, APFOs, scarcity of zoned land, and lack of infrastructure. Combined, these suggest that local regulatory processes requiring substantial citizen review, which are also tied to local infrastructure capacity constraints through APFOs, or ad-hoc moratoria can impose significant constraints to development within PFAs. Respondents also identified quality-of-life considerations, particularly schools and crime, as influencing market demand within PFAs. Developers remarked that inconsistencies between current soft-market realities combined with stringent regulatory constraints limit the feasibility of development within many PFAs. Inappropriate requirements for ground-level retail square footage, parking, stormwater management, and environmental standards are some examples of such inconsistencies.
  • High rise apartments and mixed use developments are viewed as the most difficult products to develop within PFAs. All three groups indicate that while the market for multifamily and mixed-use projects is strongest within many PFAs, these development types are also the most difficult to capitalize and bring to completion. When asked to elaborate, citizen opposition, land availability, economic return and infrastructure capacity were all frequently-cited constraints facing developers of these project types. Several respondents also pointed to a general lack of understanding among the public about mixed-use developments and their potentially beneficial community impacts.
  • Zoning and the adequacy of infrastructure are viewed as the most influential public policy tools. When asked, “Which of the following planning tools is the most important determinant of whether or not a development or redevelopment projects will be approved on a given parcel of land?” a parcel’s status vis-à-vis the PFA made little difference, according to the three groups interviewed. The most important determinants of development approval are the parcel’s zoning and the existence of adequate infrastructure. Policy advocates also point to the importance of local public support and political leadership.


Survey respondents identified a number of ways to improve development conditions in PFAs, ranging from limiting the length of APFO restrictions to reducing impact fees and lowering level of service requirements for certain types of infrastructure inside PFAs. Other recommendations included expediting the state agency review processes and lessening stormwater management and other environmental protection requirements for projects inside PFAs.

Based on the findings of this and previous studies, the HSG offers the following recommendations:

  • Require that PFAs be consistent with growth areas, incorporated into comprehensive plans and be reviewed as part of the comprehensive plan review process every ten years. Currently, PFAs are not required in comprehensive plans, which are reviewed every six years.
  • Require that PFAs contain sufficient development capacity for 20 years of residential, institutional, commercial, and industrial growth. Currently, PFA capacity criteria include only residential development.
  • Provide local governments with greater flexibility in constructing PFAs if they place greater restrictions on development outside PFAs. This recognizes that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to PFAs across the State and would provide local governments some flexibility on the size of PFAs if they restrict development outside PFAs.
  • Require local governments to include a housing element in their comprehensive plans that permits, but does not require, high density and mixed use development.
  • Establish minimum zoned density requirements that vary for urban, suburban, and rural PFA communities.
  • Enable local governments to reduce regulatory restrictions (e.g., road service standards, stormwater management and forest preservation requirements) inside PFAs, especially in transit station areas.
  • Limit development moratoria from adequate public facilities ordinances to four years. If moratoria cannot be lifted in four years, require local governments to increase development capacity elsewhere.
  • Target state infrastructure spending in areas within PFAs under adequate public facilities ordinances moratoria.
  • The State should work with local governments and other development stakeholders to further identify barriers to growth specific to the PFAs within each jurisdiction. Collectively they should work to identify options for overcoming these barriers.
  • The State should work with local governments to periodically conduct a statewide infrastructure needs assessment as well as a review of growth related capital funding approved and planned by the state and local governments.

 

[i] Knaap, Gerrit-Jan, and John W. Frece (2007). “Smart Growth in Maryland: Looking Forward and Looking Back.” Idaho Law Review 43, 445-473.
[ii] Sartori, Jason, Terry Moore, and Gerrit Knaap. Indicators of Smart Growth in Maryland. National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education, January 2011.
[iii] Lewis, Rebecca, Gerrit-Jan Knaap, and Jungyul Sohn (2009). “Managing Growth With Priority Funding Areas: A Good Idea Whose Time Has Yet to Come.” Journal of the American Planning Association 75:4, 457-478.

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Jason Sartori, Terry Moore, and Gerrit Knaap (2011)

Indicators of Smart Growth in Maryland

Maryland is often referred to as the birthplace of smart growth, a movement in land use planning that contributed to what is now referred to as sustainability planning, sustainable development, and sustainable communities. Maryland adopted a Smart Growth Program in 1997 with the primary purposes being to use incentives to (1) direct growth into areas already developed and having public facilities, and (2) reduce the conversion of farm, forest, and resource land to urban uses.

The National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland was established in 2000 in large part because of Maryland’s leadership in the field of smart growth. Its mission is to provide research and leadership training on smart growth and related land use issues in Maryland and in metropolitan regions around the nation. Thus, a key focus of the Center’s research is Maryland’s Smart Growth Program: where is it effective, and how can it be improved?

This report provides some indicators (also called performance measures) that suggest answers to those questions. The term “suggest” is important: (1) there are many limitations of any assessment based on indicators, no matter how well developed, and (2) the indicator assessment reported here is only in its preliminary stages. Understanding the limitations of indicators is critical to interpreting their significance. Thus, Section 2 and Appendix B of this report discuss in some detail data, methods, and limitations.

Researchers and policymakers acknowledge those limitations, but that acknowledgement does not slack their desire for indicators that say something concrete about whether desired outcomes are being achieved, and at what cost in direct expenditures and spillover effects; and about directions for policy that would increase the desired outcomes, reduce the costs, or both. Sections 3 and 4 address those issues.

Section 3 reports indicators for six categories of issues. Population and employment growth drive development. That development is the immediate concern of the two thrusts of the Maryland Smart Growth Program: it puts pressure on the natural areas that the Program wants to protect, and it can occur in development patterns that not only eliminate and vitiate those natural areas, but also are inefficient from the perspective of providing transportation and other infrastructure and, ultimately housing (and other buildings). Some of the key findings:

  • Population. The population growth rate in Maryland approximately equals the national average. The indicators give no direct, rigorous, or even casual evidence that the Smart Growth Program either increased or decreased the amount or composition of population growth statewide.
  • Employment. Employment and other measures of economic activity have consistently grown over the last two decades in Maryland and all its regions. From 2000 to 2009, Maryland had the 13th highest annualized rate of job growth (1.0%) among the 50 states. Indicator data allow the conclusion that the Smart Growth Program did not stop economic growth, but they do not allow a conclusion about whether the Program increased or decreased that growth from what it would have been in the absence of the Program.
  • Transportation. For most measures of transportation performance that are standardized, Maryland looks like other states: VMT, congestion, and car ownership have risen consistently over time. Maryland has higher transit ridership than most states, some of which may be attributable to the Smart Growth Program but most of which is attributable to Maryland’s proximity to Washington, D.C. and its own historical investments in transit (especially in Baltimore and in suburban Maryland) that pre-date the Program.
  • Development patterns. Urban development continued in Maryland at densities lower than several comparison states from 1990 to 2000. Most of that growth has not been infill of urban areas: the predominant form of urban development in Maryland remains suburban. Three-fourths of the new single-family acres were developed outside PFAs since 1997. Indicators of Smart Growth in Maryland NCSGRE January 2011 Page 3 While this indicator has shown some improvement in recent years, the share of parcels developed outside PFAs continues to demonstrate an increase over time. Despite increases in density for the state as a whole (which is inevitable if there is any population growth), a substantial amount of Maryland’s new growth has been occurring in the exurban areas of the state. The share of population that lives within a half-mile of rail transit stations, however, has generally risen over time.
  • Housing. Although the single-family share of new housing construction has fallen recently, the single-family share of housing in Maryland is high for a highly urbanized state. Housing prices have inflated faster in Maryland than most other states the last few decades, clearly raising questions of affordability, which varies across the state.
  • Natural areas. The trends for acres of farm and forest land have been steadily downward in Maryland and the U.S. for a long time, but data suggest that rate of decline is decreasing. Maryland and its counties have protected well over 1.3 million acres of land. There is still, however, a substantial amount and percent of critical land that is not protected. Measures of air quality are mainly stable or improving, yet measures of water quality demonstrate poor conditions in watersheds across the state.

If the indicators here are leaning in any direction, it is that Maryland has not made substantial progress toward improving its performance in many of the areas pertaining to smart growth. There are, however, reasons to qualify a direct conclusion like that one:

  • Without the kind of research design that goes well beyond the reporting of indicators into statistical controls for multiple explanatory variables, there is no solid way to rebut the hypothesis that what the Maryland Smart Growth Program did was to prevent many indicators from getting much worse than they are.
  • Things take time. Many changes in technology, social attitudes, prices, and the built environment occur slowly. Indicators of Smart Growth in Maryland NCSGRE January 2011 Page 4
  • If it is too early to expect to see much by way of results (e.g., changes to trends) then perhaps indicators of outcomes should be supplemented by indicators of inputs: of efforts made to stimulate future change (i.e., the number and strength of policies to change the patterns and effects of growth).

Related Resource

Indicators of Smart Growth in Maryland: Appendices

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Sabyasachee Mishra, Xin Ye, Fred Ducca, and Gerrit Knaap (2011)

A Functional Integrated Land Use-Transportation Model for Analyzing Transportation Impacts in the Maryland-Washington D.C. Region

The Maryland-Washington, DC region has been experiencing significant land-use changes and changes in local and regional travel patterns due to increasing growth and sprawl. The region’s highway and transit networks regularly experience severe congestion levels. Before proceeding with plans to build new transportation infrastructure to address this expanding demand for travel, a critical question is how future land use will affect the regional transportation system. This article investigates how an integrated land-use and transportation model can address this question. A base year and two horizon-year land use-transport scenarios are analyzed. The horizon-year scenarios are: (1) business as usual (BAU) and (2) high gasoline prices (HGP). The scenarios developed through the land-use model are derived from a three-stage top-down approach: (a) at the state level, (b) at the county level, and (c) at the statewide modeling zone (SMZ) level that reflects economic impacts on the region. The transportation model, the Maryland Statewide Transport Model (MSTM), is an integrated land use-transportation model, capable of reflecting development and travel patterns in the region. The model includes all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Delaware, and portions of southern Pennsylvania, northern Virginia, New Jersey, and West Virginia. The neighboring states are included to reflect the entering, exiting, and through trips in the region. The MSTM is a four-step travel-demand model with input provided by the alternative land-use scenarios, designed to produce link-level assignment results for four daily time periods, nineteen trip purposes, and eleven modes of travel. This article presents preliminary results of the land use-transportation model. The long-distance passenger and commodity-travel models are at the development stage and are not included in the results. The analyses of the land use-transport scenarios reveal insights to the region’s travel patterns in terms of the congestion level and the shift of travel as per land-use changes. The model is a useful tool for analyzing future land-use and transportation impacts in the region. 

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Nikhil Kaza, Gerrit Knaap, and Kelly Clifton (2009)

Economic Scenarios and Development Patterns in the Baltimore‐Washington Region

This paper illustrates the use of scenarios in land use, environmental and transportation planning in and around the State of Maryland. Different assumptions about futures result in different patterns of growth with differential impacts on particular sectors of the economy. Such different patterns require formulation of contingent plans as well as robust plans. In this paper, we illustrate the quantitative modelling methodology of loosely linked economic demographic, transportation and other impact assessment models in constructing two scenarios; one of which represented the best possible guess about the continuation of the future and other involving rapid changes to energy prices and Federal spending. We illustrate the spatial development outcomes and the transportation and environmental plans that are necessary to deal with these different outcomes. Further, we illustrate that different planned actions have different efficacies in different futures and thus multiple futures should be carefully considered. Finally, we illustrate the notions of contingent plans and robust plans.

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Rebecca Lewis, Gerrit Knaap, and Jungyul Sohn (2009)

Managing Growth With Priority Funding Areas: A Good Idea Whose Time Has Yet to Come

Problem: In 1997, the State of Maryland adopted a bold new approach to growth management based on a novel instrument: priority funding areas (PFAs). PFAs contain growth by directing state spending to areas designated by local governments and reviewed by the state government. Despite widespread acclaim and subsequent imitation, little is known about whether PFAs effectively contain urban growth.

Purpose: The purpose of this article is to evaluate the adoption, implementation, and performance of PFAs in Maryland in order to provide planners and policymakers with insights into their efficacy as instruments for managing growth.

Methods: First, we describe the statutory definition and mandated role of PFAs in state funding. Then, we describe the process used to create PFAs, the resulting pattern of targeted growth areas, the relationship between PFAs and local comprehensive plans, and the extent to which PFAs altered state spending. Finally, we examine the effects of PFAs on residential development patterns.

Results and conclusions: We find that PFAs have fallen short of expectations. The criteria used to establish PFAs produced boundary configurations that vary widely and are in many cases not ideally suited to managing urban growth. Ten years after their official designation, PFAs are not well integrated in land use decision making processes in many local jurisdictions. Finally, state agencies have not altered budgetary systems to monitor and guide the spatial allocation of funds and there is little evidence that after 10 years they have had any effect on development patterns.

Takeaway for practice: Targeting state funds to promote compact growth is a conceptually sound approach to urban growth containment, as land is less likely to be developed if it is not served by public infrastructure. But, as with other planning tools, the key is effective implementation. If states want to contain growth by targeting state spending, they must change budgeting processes to ensure that funds are spent appropriately and that the level of state spending is large enough to make a difference.

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Nikhil Kaza, Gerrit Knaap, and Douglas Meade (2008)

Exploring Alternative Futures Using a Spatially Explicit Econometric Model

This paper illustrates the application of various forecasting methodologies in constructing multiple scenarios for the state of Maryland using Long term Inter Industry Forecasting Tool that tracks inter-industry outputs at a macro scale, and State Employment Model that disaggregates these outputs to the states. We then use accessibility, land availability and observed relationships of employment categories to distribute employment at a county level. In this paper, we identify the possible advantages and pitfalls of using large scale economic models to drive employment forecasts at the county level. This framework allows for simulating the implications of macroeconomic scenarios such as changes in exchange rates and unemployment levels, as well as local land use and transportation policies on local employment and demographics. In particular, we focus on two scenarios as test cases both of which involve very different ideas about how future might unfold and their effects on land use and transportation policy prescriptions. One of the scenarios involves, among others, rises in health care spending over the next few years and the other involves increases in energy prices. As will be shown, they have different spatial effects and suggest different policy actions on the part of various governments.

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Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Antonio Bento, and Scott Lowe (2008)

Housing Market Impacts of Inclusionary Zoning

Many communities across the country face affordable housing challenges. An increasing number of communities are considering inclusionary zoning as a response. Inclusionary zoning programs, which require developers to sell a certain percentage of newly developed housing units at below market rates to lower income households, are politically attractive because they are viewed as a way to promote housing affordability without raising taxes or using public funds. Standard economic theory, however, suggests that such programs act like a tax on housing construction. And just like other taxes, the burdens of inclusionary zoning are passed on to housing consumers, housing producers, and landowners. As a result, inclusionary zoning policies could exacerbate the affordable housing problem that they are designed to address.

Although debate over the merits of inclusionary zoning has continued for nearly three decades, there have been no rigorous studies on their effects on housing prices and starts. We offer such an analysis here, estimating the effects of inclusionary zoning policies on single family housing prices, single family and multifamily housing starts, and the size of single family housing units in California over the period from 1988 to 2005. In our analyses, we are able to isolate the impacts of inclusionary zoning programs by carefully controlling for spatial and temporal conditions, such as the neighborhood or school district within which the house is located, and changing market conditions over time.

We find that inclusionary zoning policies had measurable effects on housing markets in jurisdictions that adopt them: the share of multifamily housing increases; the price of single family houses increases; and the size of single family houses decreases. These results are fully consistent with economic theory and demonstrate that inclusionary zoning policies do not come without cost.

Overall, we find that inclusionary zoning programs had significant effects on housing markets in California from 1988 to 2005. Although cities with existing or new programs during the study period did not experience a significant reduction in the rate of single family housing starts, they did experience a marginally significant increase in multifamily housing starts. More specifically, we found that in municipalities with inclusionary housing programs, the share of multifamily housing starts increased seven percent. The reasons for this shift are relatively clear when viewed in the proper context. Housing markets in California expanded rapidly over the 1990s as pent up demand exploded following the 1991 recession. The imposition of inclusionary zoning requirements was not strong enough to slow the overall rate of housing production but did cause a measurable shift from single family to multifamily housing production. We further found that the magnitude of this shift varied with the stringency of the inclusionary requirements.

We also found that housing prices in cities that adopted inclusionary zoning increased about 2-3 percent faster than cities that did not adopt such policies. In addition, we found that housing price effects were greater in higher priced housing markets than in lower priced markets. That is, housing that sold for less than $187,000 (in 1988 dollars1) decreased by only 0.8 percent while housing that sold for more than $187,000 increased by 5.0 percent. These findings suggest that housing producers did not in general respond to inclusionary requirements by slowing the rate of single family housing construction but did pass the increase in production costs on to housing consumers. Further, housing producers were better able to pass on the increase in costs in higher priced housing markets than in lower priced housing markets.

Finally, we found that the size of market rate houses in cities that adopted inclusionary zoning increased more slowly than in cities without such programs. Specifically, we found that housing in cities with inclusionary zoning programs was approximately 48 square feet smaller than in cities without inclusionary programs. Further, most of the reductions in housing size occurred in houses that sold for less than $187,000. These findings suggest that inclusionary zoning programs caused housing producers to increase the price of more expensive homes in markets where residents were less sensitive to price, and to decrease the size of less expensive homes in markets where residents were more sensitive to price.

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Gerrit Knaap and John Frece (2007)

Smart Growth in Maryland: Looking Forward and Looking Back

Spring of 2007 will mark the 10th anniversary of the passage of Maryland’s Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Initiative; an effort designed to discourage sprawl development, foster more compact communities, protect the best remaining farms and open space in the state, and save taxpayers from the growing cost of providing services and infrastructure to serve far-flung development. Almost before its various provisions took effect in 1997 and 1998, the Maryland initiative generated interest and acclaim across the country. It received numerous awards and became the principal legacy of the program’s primary architect, former Governor Parris N. Glen- dening. Governors in other states, such as New Jersey, Colorado and Massachusetts, instituted their own “smart growth” proposals, often modeled after portions of the Maryland program. Even the popularity and wide usage of the now omnipresent phrase “smart growth” can be attributed in large part to the Maryland program.

But, what has been the effect of Maryland’s Smart Growth pro- gram? Looking at it some ten years later, has it worked? Did it accomplish what it was designed to do? What have been the strengths and weaknesses of the Maryland approach, and how can lessons from the Maryland experience be used to offer a new set of policymakers in Maryland, as well as elsewhere in the nation, practical suggestions on how to make smart growth smarter?

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Gerrit Knaap and Rebecca Lewis (2007)

State Agency Spending Under Maryland’s Smart Growth Areas Act: Who’s Tracking, Who’s Spending, How Much, and Where?

In 1997, the Maryland General Assembly enacted the Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation initiative, an attempt by state government to use the state budget to concentrate urban development in certain areas. The primary vehicle for this approach was embodied in the Smart Growth Areas Act, which required that all “growth-related” funding by state agencies occur in locally designated “Priority Funding Areas” (PFAs) that met certain state criteria. The intent of the Act was to restrict state spending so it became easier for local governments and private developers to concentrate urban development within the PFAs, while at the same time, discourage development outside PFAs.

Data recently released by the Maryland Department of Planning, however, reveal that the Act is not having its intended effect. Although approximately three-fourths of all residential permits issued from 1990 to 2004 were for development inside PFAs, approximately three- fourths of the land developed for residential use over the same period was developed outside PFAs. Furthermore, the share of permits issued for residential development outside PFAs has risen from approximately 28.6 percent in 1998 to 31.6 percent in 2004, while the share of acres developed for residential use outside PFAs has risen from 76.7 percent in 1998 to 77.2 percent in 2004.1 These data suggest that the Smart Growth Areas Act has not concentrated growth inside PFAs as intended.

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Gerrit Knaap (2006)

A Requiem for Smart Growth?

Presented at “Planning Reform in the New Century,” Washington University Law School, St. Louis, Mo, December, 2004

In the days following the 2004 presidential election there was much consternation in Democratic circles. George Bush won again; the Republicans picked up seats in the House and Senate; and the Republican majority seemed to have grown in depth and strength. Pundits and progressives were already wondering--could the Democrats ever recapture the hearts of an American public now apparently obsessed with security, morality, and personal charm.

Among academic and professional planners there was similar concern. Although John Kerry had never been a champion of smart growth, it was clear that the prospects for smarter growth were far greater in an administration headed by Kerry than one headed by Bush. Smart growth had not fully disappeared in the federal agenda in the first Bush administration, but the momentum had clearly waned. Further, the discussion in the planning chat-rooms and list serves focused on the blue and red maps, which made clear that Republicans dominated not only the central and southern states but also the rural and suburban areas of most every state in the union. The subject line of one long conversation on the PLANET list serve was “sprawling Republicans” which conveyed the alarm: the new American majority was deeply rooted in urban sprawl.

In the wake of these political events, it is reasonable to ask: can smart growth survive another term of President Bush? If so, what must be done to regain the momentum and capture the favor of an ever-growing conservative majority? In this period of national reflection, therefore, I consider the state of smart growth and its prospects for the near- term future. I start with a brief history of its evolution, continue with an examination of recent trends, and follow with an assessment of whether smart growth will change those trends. I conclude with recommendations for how smart growth might adapt to the new political realities.

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Song, Y., C. Ding and G. Knaap

Envisioning Beijing 2020 through Sketches of Urban Scenarios

To provide the decision-makers in Beijing, China, with an assessment of alternative development futures, we introduce scenario planning to process of drafting Beijing’s 2020 Plan. The sketches of scenarios for Beijing are fruitful in several ways. First, the development of scenarios can meet the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning (BMCUP)’s needs to explore different urban development options. Second, scenario planning can accommodate uncertainty in economic and population growth caused in part by China’s rapid social and economic transformation. Third, in the course of creating evaluation framework to assess scenarios, scenario planning informs decision-makers about choices regarding predicted outcomes. We demonstrate that in a city that is experiencing unforeseen growth in the era of transformations, the decision-making process can be informed by evaluating the performance of alternative development scenarios.

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Gerrit Knaap and Yan Song (2005)

The Fruits of Growth Management in the Sunshine State: An Examination of Urban Form in Orange County, Florida

The state of Florida is nationally recognized as a leader in urban growth management. In 1972, Florida’s legislature passed a host of statutes aimed at addressing the increasingly apparent strains on the natural environment caused by then uncontrolled development. The Florida Environmental Land and Water Management Act of 1972 was based on the American Law Institute Model Land Development Code, and created a new regulatory process for “developments of regional impact” (DRIs) in those jurisdictions with local land use controls (FLA. STAT. §§ 380.06, 380.012 et seq.). It also provided for designation of environmentally sensitive “areas of critical state concern,” which entailed stringent state oversight of development (FLA. STAT. § 380.05). Other legislation passed that year include the Florida Water Resources Act of 1972, which created regional water management districts, and the Land Conservation Act of 1972, which authorized the Governor and Cabinet to buy environmentally endangered lands and land for outdoor recreational use (FLA. STAT. §§ 373.013 et seq., 259.01 et seq.).

Specifically related to land use planning, the Florida State Comprehensive Planning Act of 1972 required the Governor to prepare a State Comprehensive Plan, which would articulate goals and policies to guide Florida’s future growth following enactment by the legislature (FLA. STAT. § 186.001 et seq.)

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Gerrit Knaap and Yan Song (2005)

The Transportation-Land Use Policy Connection

In this paper, we explore the transportation-land use policy connection. More specifically, we consider the question: can land use policy be used to alter transportation behavior? The answer is of some importance. If the answer is yes, then there is hope that land use policies can be designed and implemented that will bring some relief to the gridlock and complex transportation problems facing US metropolitan areas. This is the underlying assumption behind most smart growth policy reforms. If the answer is no, then land use policy may still be important, but is not likely to play an important role in resolving transportation issues.

We proceed as follows. First we offer a schematic that identifies necessary conditions for land use policy to play a role in addressing transportation issues. Specially,we argue that for land use policy to play an effective role, three conditions must hold.  First, land use must be able to alter transportation behavior. Second, transportation infrastructure must not fully determine land use. Third, the condition on which we consider most extensively, land use policy must significantly and constructively affect land use. After presenting the schematic, we consider the evidence on each of these conditions. Based on our review of the evidence, we conclude that land use policy can play an effective role in addressing transportation issues, but that the role is likely to be small, often counter productive, and most effective at the neighborhood scale.

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Gerrit Knaap, Yan Song, Reid Ewing, and Kelly Clifton (2005)

Seeing the Elephant: Multi-disciplinary Measures of Urban Sprawl

In this paper we review and discuss multiple approaches of measuring urban sprawl. Our intent is not to propose new measures or methods but to present in a single paper an overview of approaches to measuring sprawl taken by scholars trained in a variety of disciplines. Our intent instead is to describe general approaches and to provide references to key sources for further examination. Based on our review, we draw two conclusions. First, over the last two decades we have made substantial progress in our ability to measure and analyze spatial patterns that constitute the problem known as urban sprawl. Second, because of the disciplinary boundaries in which this progress has been made, we understand parts of the problem better than we understand the problem as a whole.

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Gerrit Knaap, Yan Song, and Zorica Nedovic-Budic (2005)

Measuring Patterns of Urban Development: New Intelligence for the War on Sprawl

Despite the release of several new sprawl indexes, the measurement of sprawl remains an illusive task. Many measures of urban sprawl, for example, fail to capture differences in development patterns within metropolitan areas and in changes over time. These measures, therefore, cannot help us determine if we are making progress in the battle against sprawl or where such progress is perhaps being made. To provide such information, we compute a variety of measures of urban form (or sprawl) for neighborhoods of varying age in five study areas: Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County, Florida; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Montgomery County, Maryland; and Portland, Oregon. We then use those measures to illustrate how urban development patterns differ within and across study areas and over time. Our analysis suggests that some characteristics of development patterns differ significantly within and across study areas and over time; this raises doubt about the utility of sprawl indexes for entire metropolitan areas. For advocates of “smart growth”, the good news is that single family lot sizes are falling and neighborhoods are becoming more internally accessible. For the same advocates, the bad news, however, is more extensive: houses are becoming larger, neighborhoods are becoming more isolated, land uses remain separated, and pedestrian accessibility to commercial uses is falling. If these trends continue, it is likely that housing will remain unaffordable and traffic congestion will only get worse.

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James Cohen and Gerrit Knaap (2004)

Planning and Development Control at the County Level in the United States: Lessons from Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia

This report provides an overview of planning and development control at the county level in the United States based on a case-study analysis of two counties in the Washington, DC metropolitan area: Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax County, Virginia. The intent is not to provide an in-depth analysis of the differences between these two counties but instead to demonstrate general principles and procedures of county planning in the United States.

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Jayanthi Rajamani, Chandra R. Bhat, Susan Handy, Gerritt Knaap, and Yan Song (2003)

Assessing the impact of urban form measures in nonwork trip mode choice after controlling for demographic and level-of-service effects

The relationship between travel behavior and the local built environment continues to be a contentious issue, despite several research efforts in the area. The current paper investigates the significance and explanatory power of a variety of urban form measures on nonwork activity travel mode choice. The travel data used for analysis is the 1995 Portland Metropolitan Activity Survey conducted by Portland Metro. The database on the local built environment was developed by Song (2002) and includes a more extensive set of variables than previous studies that have examined the relationship between travel behavior and the local built environment using the Portland data. A multinomial logit mode choice model results indicate that higher residential densities and mixed-uses promote walking behavior for nonwork activities.

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Lewis D. Hopkins, Xiaohuan Xu, and Gerrit J. Knaap (2003)

Economies of Scale in Wastewater Treatment and Planning for Urban Growth

Can urban growth patterns take advantage of economies of scale in infrastructure by relying on fewer and larger treatment plants? Estimates of potential cost savings from alternative wastewater treatment consolidation strategies for the metropolitan Chicago region suggest that the timing of consolidation is important. Carefully timed consolidation, even consolidation that occurs after development has occurred, might yield present value savings on the order of $170 million in capital costs. These potential savings are large enough that such strategies should be considered when planning for metropolitan growth.

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Gerrit Knaap and Elisabeth Holler (2003)

Web-Based Planning: A Survey of Local Government Planning Websites

The worldwide web has provided the planning community with numerous opportunities to reach new audiences, analyze data, and publicize events. Planning departments across the country have placed zoning maps, comprehensive plans, and meeting schedules, among other things, on their websites. Plans that were once kept in the planning office, and only available to those who could personally stop in to see them, are now available online at any time. When combined with opportunities to view community access television broadcasts and communicate with the planning department by email, there have been significant improvements in communication with the public over the last ten years. In addition, advances in computer technologies, such as GIS mapping, have allowed planners to conduct more sophisticated analyses and better understand trends in their communities.

This issue of the PAS Memo provides the results of a comprehensive survey of local planning websites in more than 200 communities. It differs from previous studies for two reasons: first, it focuses specifically on local government; second, it identifies whether or not specific website features (such as mapping) are available. The results create a description of how planners are currently using the web. Based on the results of this study, specific examples of the current state-of-the-art show what can be achieved in a planning website.

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Gerrit Knaap, Jungyul Sohn, John W. Frece and Elisabeth Holler (2003)

Smart Growth, Housing Markets, and Development Trends in the Baltimore-Washington Corridor

Maryland is a dense and rapidly growing state. For this and other reasons, Maryland has been a national leader in a movement known as smart growth. Smart growth has many objectives, but concentrating urban growth in well defined areas while protecting rural land from development are perhaps its primary goals. Though public support for smart growth continues to rise, so do concerns that policies used to promote smart growth could have adverse effects on land and housing markets. To evaluate these concerns, this study provides information on housing markets and development trends in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.

The study finds that housing demand in the nation and in Maryland is strong, as revealed by rising prices and homeownership rates as well as by falling vacancy rates and housing-to-jobs ratios. In general, the housing market in Maryland exhibits trends similar to those in comparable jurisdictions, such as neighboring Virginia. The performance of specific housing markets in Maryland, however, varies widely, with strong growth in the suburbs, variable growth in rural areas and persistent weakness in Baltimore City. Further, in the Baltimore and Washington suburbs, housing prices are rising rapidly while housing starts remain sluggish.

Though this study does not prove that housing markets and development trends in Maryland have been adversely affected by land use policies, there is evidence to suggest that state and local constraints on development are contributing to problems of housing affordability and deflecting growth to outlying areas. The result could be more, not less, urban sprawl. Moreover, neither the state government nor most local governments in Maryland currently have adequate policies in place to monitor or address this problem. While the Maryland Smart Growth initiative has been successful in protecting natural areas and agricultural lands from development, it has not had similar success in assuring a steady, future supply of affordable housing. Local governments, meanwhile, appear to have little incentive to address this problem.

To address this problem the state needs to assure that local governments address development capacity and housing affordability issues. This does not mean it should eliminate or immediately expand Priority Funding Areas. It does mean that the state should require local governments to include housing elements in their comprehensive plans, provide periodic estimates of housing and employment capacity, and develop modern and publicly accessible data on the location and capacity of developable land. Local governments must be active and willing participants in this process and the Maryland Department of Planning should provide whatever technical assistance may be needed.

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Jungyul Sohn and Gerrit Knaap (2002)

Does Job Creation Tax Credit Program in Maryland Induce Spatial Employment Growth or Redistribution?

The Job Creation Tax Credit (JCTC) program is one of the five major Smart Growth Programs initiated by the State of Maryland in 1996 and amended in 1997.  Like other tax credit programs it is intended to create jobs, but it is also a place-based policy in the sense that eligibility is limited to jobs created in Priority Funding Areas (PFAs). This paper examines whether the JCTC program has furthered the goals of smart growth by concentrating job growth within well defined regions of the state. Towards this end, both the number and the relative share of employment inside and outside of the PFAs are compared using three econometric models. The empirical analysis examines employment in five economic sectors ((1) primary, (2) manufacturing, (3) transportation, communication and utilities (T.C.U.), (4) finance, insurance and real estate (F.I.R.E.) and (5) services) over the years (1994 to 1998) using ZIP Code data. The result shows that jobs in the T.C.U. and services industries have responded to the state incentive program while three other sectors have not; the distribution of jobs in the primary sector have grown counter to the state incentive policy and jobs in manufacturing and F.I.R.E. have been unaffected by the program.

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Gerrit Knaap (2002)

An Inquiry into the Promise and Prospects of Smart Growth

Prepared for Presentation at the International Workshop on Urban Growth Management: New Approaches to Land Management for Sustainable Urban Regions University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, 29-31 October 2001

Smart growth is a term rising rapidly in use and ambiguity. The origin of the term is uncertain, though some credit Harriet Tregoning, former Director of the Development, Community and Environmental Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and now the smart growth Czar in the cabinet of Maryland’s Governor Glendening. Even if fiction, this story has a certain allure, since the USEPA and the State of Maryland have done much to make smart growth an agenda item of many states, local governments, and interest groups. Despite its popularity, however, the concept of smart growth remains ephemeral. Much has been written about smart growth in the popular press and newsletters of advocacy organizations, both pro and con, but little has been written about it in the academic literature (early contributions include Burchell et al. 2000, Downs 2001, and Nelson 2001). As the newly appointed Director of Research for the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, it will be my job to do just that -- not just with papers of my own, but with papers written by scholars with a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. This paper, therefore, represents a first step towards that end. But my goals for this paper are more ambitious; they include the articulation of an agenda for research on smart growth. This is a formidable task, since the ambiguity of the term leaves little in the realm of land use to eliminate as beyond the scope of the subject. To narrow my scope, therefore, I ignore all discussions about what constitutes urban sprawl and whether sprawl, however defined, is good or bad. Instead, I focus my analysis on smart growth policies adopted by the State of Maryland.

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Gerrit Knaap (2002)

Talking Smart in the United States

As in many countries around the world, concerns about contemporary urban development patterns and their effects on the natural and social environment are high and rising in the United States. Though these concerns are not new, the recent period of sustained economic growth has led to both rapid urban expansion and falling relative concerns about other problems like crime, unemployment, and government deficits. Urban sprawl is now a major public policy issue (U.S. Office of Technology Assessment 1995, U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) 1999, GAO 2000).

How to address -- even define -- the problem, however, remains unresolved and contentious. Some view urban sprawl as a major threat to environmental quality, fiscal stability, and human health. Those with this point of view support policy reforms sometimes called smart growth, new urbanism, and sustainable development (Ewing 1997, Smart Growth Network 2002). To others, sprawl is simply the result of increases in population, rising real incomes, and the expression of consumer demands (Brueckner 1999). To those with this point of view, there is little evidence that urban sprawl has adverse social or environmental consequences or warrants a policy response (Gordon and Richardson 1997, Urban Futures 2002). In a nation rich in land resources and steeped in traditions of private property rights, this view is not easily dismissed.

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Yan Song and Gerrit Knaap

Internally Connected, No Commercial, With a Touch of Open Space: The Neighborhoods of New Homes in the Portland Metropolitan Area

For many years, neighborhoods have been classified as either “suburban” or “traditional.” But new homes today are built in many different types of neighborhoods with many different design features. In this paper, we develop a quantitative method for classifying the neighborhoods of new homes in the Portland metropolitan area. We proceed in three steps.  First we measure urban form attributes of neighborhoods around newly developed homes.  We then use factor analysis to identify a small set of factors that capture essential differences in urban form. Finally we use cluster analysis on these factor scores to identify distinctly different neighborhood types. Applying these methods to neighborhoods around new single family homes in the metropolitan Portland, Oregon, we are able to identify eight factors of urban form and six neighborhood types. We then show that most new single family homes in metropolitan Portland are built in new suburban neighborhoods but a substantial portion is occurring in traditional urban neighborhoods. 

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Rebecca Lewis and Gerrit-Jan Knaap (2012)

Targeting Spending for Land Conservation: An Evaluation of Maryland's Rural Legacy Program

In 1997, Maryland burst into the national spotlight with a package of legislation collectively referred to as smart growth. At its core, the innovative Maryland approach relied on directing state investments in urban infrastructure to Priority Funding Areas while directing state investments in land preservation to rural legacy areas. This article examines the performance of Rural Legacy Areas. Although smart growth in Maryland and the performance of Priority Funding Areas have received considerable attention at the national level, there have been few analyses of the performance of the Rural Legacy Program.

Lewis and Knaap find that the performance of Rural Legacy Areas has been mixed. The level of state funding has varied tremendously, and few areas have received consistent funding over time. In areas where the state has targeted high levels of funding for several years, however, development in Rural Legacy Areas has been tempered. Overall the share of development in Rural Legacy Areas measured in parcels has increased slightly, but the share of development measured in acres has decreased slightly.

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