Free smart growth tools that local governments can use now

The application period for Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance closed yesterday, but we still offer a number of free tools for communities interested in smart growth strategies.

Smart Growth America’s Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit was published in 2007 and provides detailed guidelines for community leaders to examine zoning, policies, incentives and other regulations that influence development. The toolkit is free and available to everyone.

These tools can be used to help communities develop their own assessments and strategic plans related to growth. Read on to find out more about the available tools.


Smart growth news – October 25

Bus service, walking trails on Camden agenda
Herald Gazette (Maine), October 24, 2011
Camden Development Director Brian Hodges will ask the board to sign a letter supporting MCEA’s application for a Smart Growth America Technical Assistance Grant. The grant would provide a free public workshop on transit-oriented development that would be used to help MCEA to study the feasibility of a bus service that would connect Camden and other Midcoast towns with Amtrak service that is anticipated to connect to Rockland.

So cheap, there’s hope
The Economist, October 22, 2011
Yet physically, of course, the city remains the same size, imposing most of the same requirements of road maintenance, street lighting, rubbish collection and emergency-service response times. Detroit is a sprawling place, with the city itself (not the wider metro area) covering an area of 139 square miles, as it did in the 1950s when just under 2m people lived there, rather than the 714,000 it has now. You could fit Miami, Minneapolis and San Francisco into its city limits, and still have room left over. “We have a city that ought to be half its size,” says Mr Bing. He would like to concentrate his citizens, boosting the population density in areas that are still economically viable, while encouraging people to move out of districts that are not.

Republicans pitch transportation construction bill as major, bipartisan jobs program
Washington Post, October 24, 2011
House Republicans are pitching a six-year transportation construction plan as a major jobs bill that can win bipartisan approval before next year’s election, a key GOP lawmaker said Monday.

Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs
The New York Times, October 24, 2011
The poor population in America’s suburbs — long a symbol of a stable and prosperous American middle class — rose by more than half after 2000, forcing suburban communities across the country to re-evaluate their identities and how they serve their populations.


Deadline to apply for Smart Growth America's free techincal assistance this Wednesday, October 26th

A before and after of a complete streets project that responds to the needs of everyone using the roadway. The Complete Streets workshop is one of the twelve technical assistance tools being offered free of cost. Photos from the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Smart Growth America is offering free technical assistance to select communities interested in smart growth strategies. Communities interested in applying for this assistance may choose from twelve smart growth tools that help communities build stronger local economies while protecting human health and the environment.

The deadline to apply to for Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance is this Wednesday, October 26th at 5:00 PM EDT. Interested parties can click here to access the online application form.

Technical assistance

How-to workshops help small towns implement smart growth strategies

A new series of free workshops on smart growth development are catching the attention of policy makers and community leaders across the country.

The set of 12 workshops, run by Smart Growth America and several partner organizations, are designed to show local leaders how smart growth strategies can support a local economy and protect the environment while preserving the character of a town and making it more attractive to visitors or new residents.

The one or two-day workshops address a number of smart growth topics, including how to create pedestrian-friendly streets, the benefits of regional planning, innovative parking policies, and zoning changes that benefit small cities. “Transportation Performance Measurement,” for instance, empowers citizens and elected leaders to look at the roads, transit systems, walkways and bike lanes in their area as tools for achieving their objectives for economic vitality, public health, environmental protection and neighborhood character – in addition to the classic transportation objectives of access, circulation and travel.


Technical assistance workshops webinar materials now online

Smart Growth America is now offering free technical assistance to local communities interested in building stronger local economies while protecting human health and the environment. A recent informational webinar on this free technical assistance provided an overview of the application process and available resources for prospective applicants. The materials of this webinar are now available online.

Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute presented the webinar on this free technical assistance. The Leadership Institute has extensive experience helping local leaders create livable, sustainable and vital communities by providing the necessary tools and technical assistance to help communities move from visions to plans to execution.

Technical assistance

Register today for tomorrow's informational webinar on free technical assistance

A roundabout on LaJolla Blvd in San Diego, CA, keeps traffic moving smoothly while accommodating pedestrians. The Walkability Audit is one of the twelve technical assistance tools being offered free of charge. Photo from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

Smart Growth America is now accepting applications for a series of free technical assistance workshops for local communities interested in smart growth strategies. Organizations or communities interested in applying for this assistance are invited to join a webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, October 12th at 2:00 PM EDT to discuss the application process and important deadlines.

Technical assistance

Smart Growth America to provide free smart growth technical assistance to communities

Dan Burden, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Livable and Walkable Communities Institute, leads a Walkability Audit in Linden, MI. The Walkability Audit is one of twelve tools being offered free of change to communities interested in smart growth strategies. Photo from the Michigan Municipal League, via Flickr.

Smart Growth America is pleased to announce technical assistance will now be available to select communities interested in smart growth strategies – free of charge.

The new program has been made possible by a five-year technical assistance grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The grant will be used to provide direct technical assistance to communities across the nation on how to develop local solutions to help their communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place.

Technical assistance

Smart Growth America's Leadership Institute hosts infill policy workshop in Billings, Montana

Last week, Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute convened a two-day-long “Introduction to Infill” workshop in Billings, Montana. Infill is a development strategy that uses land within an already built-up area for further construction, focusing on reusing and repositioning obsolete or underutilized buildings and sites.

Together with the City of Billings, the Billings Association of Realtors, the Billings Home Builders Association, Healthy By Design, the Montana Association of Planners, Cole Law Firm, the Western Central Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Billings Chamber of Commerce, the workshop offered expert perspectives on infill development to the community in preparation for the City’s goal of developing an Infill Policy. This type of development is essential to renewing blighted neighborhoods and knitting them back together with more prosperous communities.

More than 80 participants from Montana and North Dakota attended the two-day workshop on April 26 and 27 in Billings. The workshop provided an overview of the state-of-the-practice, as well as the application of infill policies to specific issues – economic development, transportation, private sector involvement, and examples of infill development in Billings and around the country. Local perspectives were also provided through several sessions comprised of local developers, consultants, City staff and other organizations.

The workshop was designed to start the process of developing an infill policy for the City of Billings. A portion of the workshop was devoted to discussing the basic elements of an infill policy and beginning to define infill for Billings. A working group will be formed from the workshop attendees and others in the community in the coming months to develop a draft infill policy to present to the City Council for consideration in late 2011 or early 2012.

More information about the workshop, including the days’ agenda, workshop session descriptions and presentations are available at the City of Billings’ website. If you would like to know more about Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute’s workshops and seminars, visit or email leadershipinstitute [at] smartgrowthamerica [dot] org.

Technical assistance