To help it create a more sustainable community, this inner suburb of Detroit sought a zoning code audit from Smart Growth America and Clarion Associates. The audit focused on stormwater management, green infrastructure, and housing diversity. Since the audit, Royal Oak has made significant progress around its land use and sustainability goals.
Building Blocks: Sustainable Land Use Code Audit
Downtown Pedestrian Mall in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Abi Bhattachan via Flickr.
Charlottesville, VA has ambitious plans to grow its economy while becoming a healthier, more sustainable place to live. In 1998, Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County adopted Sustainability Accords and in 2013 completed a regional livability plan. These plans have put forth an ambitious vision and to help achieve those goals, Charlottesville brought in some expert help.
On April 28 and 29, 2015, a technical assistance team from Smart Growth America visited Charlottesville to conduct a Sustainable Land Use Code Audit workshop. Our instructors met with community members to review key portions of the zoning code and to identify zoning changes that could help the city become more sustainable, healthy, and economically vibrant.
A mixed-use development in San Diego, CA’s Little Italy. Image by Chris via Flickr.
If all goes according to plan, San Diego, CA will soon pass a Climate Action Plan full of ambitious goals for reducing emissions. Integral to the plan is a vision of smart growth: adopting more sustainable land use patterns, particularly through walkable mixed-use, transit-oriented development.
In advance of the plan’s passage, the City of San Diego suspected that its zoning code could be doing more to encourage sustainable development. So they brought in the experts.
On October 9, 2014, a technical assistance team from Smart Growth America and Clarion visited San Diego for a Sustainable Land Use Code Audit workshop. The instructors worked with stakeholders to review key portions of the zoning code to identify how they could better support the mixed-use and transit-oriented development envisioned by the City’s General Plan and made all the more urgent by the anticipated Climate Action Plan.
Blue Springs officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on September 19 and 20, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide a “code audit”—a review of development regulations—that will help Blue Springs leaders understand the various smart growth development options available to them, specifically with regard to the Unified Development Code. The City is in the process of updating both the Unified Development Code and Comprehensive Plan.
“The City of Blue Springs is a very fortunate recipient of a Smart Growth America technical assistance grant,” said Blue Springs Director of Community Development Scott Allen. “This code audit will focus on community health, alternative energy codes, and sustainable stormwater infrastructure, and will help Blue Springs move forward with sustainable development alternatives. This technical assistance from Smart Growth America and Cision Associates has come at a most opportune moment for Blue Springs. We are currently updating both the Comprehensive Plan and Unified Development Code, and the knowledge gained from this assistance can be incorporated into both the Plan and Code to move Blue Springs towards a more sustainable development type.”
A detail from Pima County’s Cultural Resources map. Image from the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.
Pima County, Arizona, has made a concerted effort in recent years to improve how it uses land and maintains its infrastructure.
The County already is already working to improve the area’s zoning codes, and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, which works to balance development with preserving open space, has been touted as “one of the best and most comprehensive habitat conservation plans in the country.”