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Achieving Smart Growth for Everyone

September 25, 2012
Jen Horton, Policy and Planning Fellow, US EPA, for the Smart Growth Network

One negative consequence of economic redevelopment can be displacement of local residents and businesses due to rising costs of housing and commercial spaces. This blog post reviews two authors’ approaches to helping communities plan and develop in more equitable ways.

A Bay Area Agenda for Investment without Displacement
This paper, submitted in response to the National Conversation’s call for papers, outlines specific steps regional and local governments can take to achieve economic development that also benefits vulnerable communities. The recommendations were developed by the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), Causa Justa::Just Cause, Council of Community Housing Organizations (CCHO), PolicyLink, Public Advocates, and Urban Habitat. Although the recommendations are tailored to California’s Bay Area, the paper is relevant to any local or regional government or organization interested in more equitable forms of development.

According to the authors: Achieving investment without displacement will require coordinated local and regional actions. These actions must be grounded in the localized neighborhood needs of low-income communities as identified by those communities, because they are experts on what they need to thrive. Well-funded neighborhood engagement and community assets mapping should inform all stages of regional and local plans for low-income communities, from development through implementation. Local government policies play a critical role in preventing gentrification and displacement, and it is essential that regional government bodies use their money and influence to promote strong local policies. To achieve development that benefits vulnerable communities while bringing economic and environmental gains, regional and local governments should work together to: Ensure meaningful resident leadership and influence in planning processes and outcomes Invest in community assets to meet the needs of low-income families Protect tenants and preserve existing affordable housing Promote new affordable housing to meet existing and future needs Tailor economic investments to local workforce and community needs Improve transportation access Read more


Comment from: Cora [Visitor]
I'm so glad this issue is being researched. Sometimes smart growth is exclusive.
10/02/12 @ 09:25
Comment from: Rick Rybeck [Visitor]
Avoiding gentrification and displacement are important goals. But they need more than good intentions to be realized. Economic externalities are often at the root of real estate speculation, displacement and sprawl. For information about a technique that succeeds in promoting affordable TOD, see "Using Value Capture to Finance Infrastructure and Encourage Compact Development." It can be found at
11/02/12 @ 09:14

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