Complete Streets: Guide to Answering the Costs Question

This resource from the National Complete Streets Coalition, helps transportation professionals, advocates, and decision-makers make the case that implementing Complete Streets won’t break the bank. The Guide provides four overarching points to make in answering cost questions, each supplemented with multiple examples from communities across the country

Complete Streets

New analysis examines the fiscal implications of development patterns in West Des Moines, IA

fiscal-implications-wdm-coverIn early April, Smart Growth America released a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development. The City of Madison, WI, was the first city to use the new model in their development planning.

Today we’re proud to release new analysis of development patterns in West Des Moines, IA. The new research examines four different strategies for West Des Moines’ growth over the next 20 years. Each scenario assumes the development of 9,275 housing units and 2.69 million square feet of commercial space, which is in keeping with West Des Moines’ current growth.

The four scenarios have different densities and a different mix of home types. A “base density” scenario approximates the average density of development in West Des Moines today; a “low density” and “higher density” scenario represent incrementally lower, and higher development densities, respectively, than the base. And a “walkable urban” scenario has the highest density of all scenarios considered and represents a more dramatic departure from the typical development pattern in West Des Moines (though does not propose any high-rise development).

The model calculates average annual public costs for each scenario. Our researchers subtract that from the average annual public revenues generated by each scenario. The result is the net fiscal impact of each type of development.

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The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns: Overview

Every town, city, and county makes decisions about how to grow and what kind of development to build. These decisions shape entire neighborhoods and form the foundation of communities as we know them. These decisions can also have enormous implications for a municipality’s finances. Over the past 40 years research has shown that low-density, unconnected, … Continued

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As small cities struggle, a look at the high cost of low-density development


Harrisburg, PA’s former City Hall building. The city of Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy yesterday. Photo by Flickr user Wally Gobetz.

Smart growth can reduce costs for municipal governments, and with so many towns in America struggling financially it’s time more places use these fiscally responsible strategies.

News this week from Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Florida and Maine highlight the fact that many small cities are struggling to make ends meet. Cash-strapped and unable to cover costs, many municipalities are tightening their belts and some are raising taxes. Most notably, the city of Harrisburg, PA filed for bankruptcy yesterday, unable to generate enough revenue to meet its expenses.

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