Published July 2002
In the past few years, widespread frustration with sprawling development patterns has precipitated an explosion in innovative thinking and action across the United States. This new thinking ¿ generally labeled as ¿smart growth¿ ¿ contends that the shape and quality of metropolitan growth in America are no longer desirable or sustainable. It argues that metropolitan areas could grow in radically different ways if major government policies on land use, infrastructure and taxation were overhauled. This essay discusses the current state of smart growth and metropolitan thinking in the United States. It outlines the demographic, market and development trends that are affecting metropolitan areas and the consequences of these trends for central cities, older suburbs, newer communities and low-income and minority families. It describes how current government policies facilitate the excessive decentralization of people and jobs and how smart growth reforms are being enacted, particularly at the state level, to shape new, more urban-friendly, growth patterns. It concludes by identifying the major challenges that smart growth needs to address if it is going to succeed in shaping new, sustainable metropolitan communities.