Atlanta's smart growth scorecard

Anyone who has attempted to measure the merits of proposed development in their area knows of the difficulties in attaching quantitative values to a proposal. Community opposition or support to a project, based on nothing but emotion or feelings about what may result from that new development, isn’t always productive in achieving desired outcomes. And as important as it is to oppose poorly conceived developments, having a way to give a reasoned “thumbs up” (as well as a “thumbs down”) to a project is a superb way to “choose a community’s future.”

The Livable Communities Coalition in Atlanta, debuted a new tool to help rate proposed projects in the metro Atlanta area, breaking down different aspects and rating them with a concrete score. From their release:  “The Coalition’s Smart Growth Scorecard uses teams of volunteer experts to rate proposed developments from poor to excellent on as many as 50 separate criteria in eight categories: location and availability of basic services; density and compactness; diverse mix of land uses; housing choice; accessibility, mobility, and connectivity; pedestrian safety, streetscapes, and parking; environmental protection; and community needs.”

“The Coalition’s newest service helps developers and communities distinguish real smart growth from pretenders by scoring proposed developments on 50 rigorous questions,” said LCC executive director Jim Durrett. Through the system, developers pay a small fee to have the Coalition rate their proposed project, which will hopefully aid beneficial projects in getting through the pipeline of the planning process. Durrett told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he hopes municipal governments begin encouraging developers to submit their projects for evaluation. “If governments are thinking this way throughout the region, we’re going to have better outcomes,” he said. “We hope it’s almost viral after we get comfortable using this.”

While creating this project undoubtedly had costs, the LCC scorecard was developed in part from the free Smart Growth Toolkit, produced by our Smart Growth Leadership Institute. Those tools (and the scorecard) are available to download (with registration), at

Visit the Livable Communities Coalition