To date, Romney the Republican presidential candidate hasn’t commented much on his history using smart growth strategies, or whether he would encourage their use if voted into office.
During his tenure as the governor of Massachusetts, however, he passed several policies that encouraged strategic development and supported the creation of great neighborhoods. For instance, Romney signed legislation known as Chapter 40R, a policy that encouraged multi-family housing and transit-oriented development.
“We are working harder, but more importantly, we are working smarter to achieve a better quality of life in Massachusetts for all of our citizens,” Romney said at a smart growth innovation awards announcement in 2005. “I am delighted to recognize cities and towns that are leading the way in spurring important smart growth projects throughout the state.”
Likewise in a recent Next American City article, reporter Ben Adler presents a portrait of a governor who believed in smart growth policies and the benefits of prioritizing the right kind of development and investment:
As governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, [Romney] established an inter-agency Office of Commonwealth Development, similar in form and function to President Obama’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities. … During its heyday, the office succeeded in influencing various public policy decisions, such as putting the kibosh on a new highway interchange in Andover, Mass. that would have contributed to sprawl.
Many of Governor Romney’s programs encouraged towns in Massachusetts to consider strategies that support strong downtowns and vibrant main streets. The Obama Administration has brought similar programs to the national level with the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which is driving local economic development efforts across the country.
“Romney supported smart growth when he was governor for economic reasons,” said Alex Dodds, online communications manager for Smart Growth America. “If he was going to run the presidency from a fiscal, economic basis of making decisions on return on investment and helping communities, smart growth would be a good option for him.”
Romney’s smart growth policies worked in Massachusetts, and his emphasis on inter-agency collaboration was informed by his time in the private sector. The question now is whether a President Romney would support the same types of development strategies Governor Romney found so useful: Mitt’s Metropolis [Next American City – August 27, 2012]