Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit

The Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit is a set of practical tools to help communities grow smarter. The Toolkit is designed to help local leaders untangle the policies and procedures that get in the way of smarter growth and sustainable development.

The tools are designed for communities committed to (or are exploring) smart growth strategies, but which are struggling to implement such policies, build support for them, identify the most problematic policies or other issues that typically accompany changes in development practices.

These tools provide a step-by-step guide for how to examine the policies, codes, zoning regulations and development requirements that can impact how a community grows. Each tool may be used independently or in combination with others. These tools are intended to be templates, and can and should be customized for your community’s needs.

The full Toolkit includes seven components. Download them each at the links below:

1. Quick Diagnostic
The first part of the tool is a simple flow chart that asks “yes” or “no” questions: follow the arrows and redirections to get to the recommended tools and actions. The last page of the tool is a matrix that lets you to select the tools you need and defines your primary task to help your community achieve its vision for smarter growth.

Download: Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Quick Diagnostic (PDF)

2. Smart Growth Policy Audit
Use this tool as a guide to understanding your community’s land use and development policy documents. Use this tool to learn more about a particular smart growth principle (e.g. “Mixing Land Uses”) and to understand what kind of policies support the principle. audit all of your community’s land use and development policies, to audit just one part, or to review proposed changes to these policies.

Download: Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Policy Audit (PDF)
Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Policy Audit (DOC)

3. Smart Growth Code and Zoning Audit
Use this tool as a guide to understanding your community’s codes and zoning regulations. You can use it to audit all of your community’s codes and zoning regulations, to review one specific topic (such as street connectivity) of your codes and zoning regulations, or to review proposed changes in your community’s codes and zoning regulations.

Download: Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Codes and Zoning Audit (PDF)
Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Codes and Zoning Audit (DOC)

4. Smart Growth Project Scorecard
This tool will provide you with a way to evaluate any proposed development project using very specific standards. You can use it to measure one specific dimension of a proposed project (such as street connectivity) to see how the project can be improved, or use it to compare two or more competing projects, to see which one can best fulfill your community’s vision. You can use it in negotiations to see how a developer can improve a proposed project, or as a seal of good housekeeping to recognize projects that fulfill your community’’s vision for smarter growth.

Download: Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Project Scorecard (PDF)
Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Project Scorecard (DOC)

5. Incentives Matrix for Smart Growth Projects
This tool provides a quick way to survey and summarize incentive programs that the federal government and many states and communities provide to encourage redevelopment of brownfields, adaptive reuse of historic buildings, infill development and compact, mixed-use development. Use this tool to catalog available incentives at the federal, state and local levels, particularly for projects that will help achieve your community’s vision for smarter growth. It can also be used as a template to gather information and learn more about a particular incentive program, or to review whether the incentives your community provides match up with the needs of the projects you want to encourage.

Download: Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Incentives Matrix (PDF)
Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Incentives Matrix (DOC)

6. Smart Growth Strategy Builder
The Smart Growth Strategy Builder will help you to create a strategy for building the momentum your community needs to achieve its vision for smarter growth. Very few communities are ready to completely revise their policies, codes and zoning all at once. Leaders in most communities must first build support for the new community vision, and achieving your community’s vision for smarter growth requires strategic steps that will gain short-term wins and build long-term commitment. This tool will help you map and understand the issues that either support or hinder smart growth, and identify the opportunities and challenges in your community.

Download: Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Strategy Builder (PDF)
Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Strategy Builder (DOC)

7. Smart Growth Audit Summary
The Smart Growth Audit Summary will help you summarize the findings from the Smart Growth Policy Audit and the Smart Growth Code and Zoning Audit. Complete both those documents before using the Smart Growth Audit Summary.

The Audit Summary will help you to list the changes needed in policies and the changes needed in regulations (codes and zoning) to get your community to smarter growth. The Summary will also help you compile the findings of the audits so you can:

  • Identify the documents (including sections) that contain the policies or codes that need to be improved or changed;
  • Identify the agency is responsible for implementing changes in the document; and,
  • Identify the decision-making body that is in charge of reviewing and approving the changes (like the county commission, or the planning review board or the city commission.)
Download: Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Audit Summary (PDF)
Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit – Audit Summary (DOC)

Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute developed these tools as part of a four-year technical assistance program funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.