The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy spent two years looking at smart growth policies in a number of states to see how well they've achieved their goals. Gregory K. Ingram, President of the Institute, explains the results.Two years ago, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy began to gather 21 leading researchers to analyze the empirical evidence on smart growth, choosing four states – Florida, Maryland, New Jersey and Oregon – that all declared formal statewide smart growth programs through legislation, executive order, and otherwise. Using the 10 Principles of Smart Growth as a reference, this group addressed five important smart growth policy objectives: promoting compact human settlement, protecting undeveloped land, providing a variety of transportation options, maintaining affordable housing, and achieving positive fiscal impacts. Though smart growth policies have been around, in the case of Oregon, for nearly four decades, this kind of comprehensive, objective-based evaluation had never been done.
What we found was somewhat sobering. No state was able to make gains in all five performance measures. Success was more limited and reflected each state’s areas of high priority. Maryland was successful in protecting natural resources through its land preservation programs and state funding for the purchase of farmland conservation easements. New Jersey’s affordable housing policies that responded to state supreme court decisions slowed house price escalation and encouraged rental and multifamily housing production. Oregon's commitment to urban growth boundaries helped reduce development on farmland in the Willamette Valley and encouraged commuters to use transit, walk, or bike to work.