SMART GROWTH AND NEW ECONOMY

Smart Growth emerged in response to the negative effects of suburban sprawl - the spreading out of cities and regions that has become intertwined with problems of traffic congestion, air and ground-water pollution, excessive resource consumption, and declining quality of life.

At the same time the New Economy - with the networked personal computer and the Internet at its core - is radically changing the way companies do business, the relationships between workers and companies, and the location and character of the workplace and marketplace. These changes have implications for metropolitan spatial structure, urban design, and the future of cities and rural communities.



Characteristics of Smart Growth
Expands the range of options of where people live, work and shop and how they get around.
Invests in existing communities, steering growth toward areas with sufficient infrastructure and away from remaining green space and areas unsuitable for growth, such as floodplains.


 

 



Characteristics of the New Economy    
Relies on speed, flexibility, expanding networks and constant innovation.
Changes the way companies operate as a result of globalization and rapid advances in information technologies (the Internet and computers).

 

 

 

        

Program Description

In January 2001, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies launched a new, multidisciplinary program that focuses on the links between two strategic areas of growing national and international importance: smart growth and the New Economy. For example, one possible link is quality of life and the competitiveness of cities. In the New Economy, advances in telecommunications technologies provide firms and workers greater freedom in where they locate. Location decisions may, therefore, be based upon quality of life factors. Communities that manage growth to preserve their quality of life may be more attractive, and thus more competitive, than those that do not.

Through collaboration with nonprofit, for-profit and government entities, we conduct research and disseminate the results to academic, professional and lay audiences. In general, our research seeks answers to the following questions:

How will New Economy trends affect smart growth strategies in cities, regions and rural communities?

  • How will the New Economy change how business is organized, the nature of land use, and the design of buildings and metropolitan areas?
  • What are the goals of smart growth and how can they be realized in the New Economy?
  • Are there negative implications to smart growth for the economic competitiveness of cities and regions?
  • What are the connections between the characteristics of livable communities that smart growth espouses and the changing locational preferences of New Economy workers and firms?
  • What does the New Economy mean for the geographic incidence of poverty and racial segregation in cities, regions and rural areas?

Completed Projects

Reducing the Risk of Foreclosure Among Low-Income Homeowners Participating in Government Buyout of Flood-damaged Properties

The purpose of the project, funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, is to examine the financial impacts of buyout programs on participating low-income homeowners, focusing in particular on whether buyouts increase the likelihood of foreclosure. We will also analyze the impact of local initiatives, such as prepurchase counseling, to protect buyout participants from losing their (new) home. As a result, we will (a)identify the financial risks of participating in a buyout and (b) identify promising techniques that can be implemented in future buyout programs. Finally, we will determine the extent to which buyout programs lead to a displacement or dispersal of low income residents from one community to another. The project will culminate in a set of guidelines and recommendations for implementing buyout programs in a way that protects the financial health and well-being of participants.

Assessment of the Douglas Park Neighborhood in Norfolk VA

The purpose of this project is to conduct an assessment of the physical conditions of the Douglas Park neighborhood (the Project Area) in Norfolk, Virginia. The assessment will include an analysis of socioeconomic, physical, and other conditions in the project area, including current conditions and trends in population, income, poverty, housing tenure, crime, city services (i.e., requests for fire, police, and rescue assistance, as well as external physical features of housing in the Project Area, including an identification of housing types. The examination will be conducted on-site, from the public right-of-way, i.e., from the sidewalk or street.

A Proposal for a Survey of Conditions in the Lafayette Boulevard Corridor, Norfolk, VA

The purpose of the study is to conduct an assessment of the physical and socio-economic conditions along the Lafayette Boulevard commercial corridor in Norfolk, Virginia. The assessment involves three main tasks: 1) a review of the Fairmount Park Neighborhood Revitalization Implementation Plan (Fairmount Park borders the corridor), 2) an analysis of socio-economic and other conditions and trends in the corridor, and 3) an on-site, physical survey of the Lafayette Boulevard corridor. We will evaluate the physical condition of each property in the corridor. The study, which will be carried out by researchers at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at UNC, will be conducted over a four-month period.

Promoting Physical Activity by Integrating School Facility Planning with Local Land Use Planning

Schools are often built far from the neighborhoods they serve, and even when schools and neighborhoods are in close proximity, poor connections discourage children from walking. Moreover, most local land use regulations make it difficult to develop compact, mixed-use neighborhoods that encourage people to walk rather than drive. Without “walkable” neighborhoods, school boards cannot build pedestrian-oriented schools.
Legislation adopted by Florida in 2002 requires coordination between school boards and local governments. This study will examine the effectiveness of state-mandated collaboration between local school boards and local governments to see if it has led to greater commitment to increasing physical activity among school children by facilitating the development of walkable schools and neighborhoods. The study will be conducted in Lee County, lorida. The study will help communities understand the importance of collaborative planning, the obstacles that must be overcome, and the lessons learned.

A Survey of Conditions in the Lafayette Boulevard Corridor, Norfolk, VA

The purpose of the study is to conduct an assessment of the physical and socio-economic conditions along the Lafayette Boulevard commercial corridor in Norfolk, Virginia. The assessment involves three main tasks: 1) a review of the Fairmount Park Neighborhood Revitalization Implementation Plan (Fairmount Park borders the corridor), 2) an analysis of socio-economic and other conditions and trends in the corridor, and 3) an on-site, physical survey of the Lafayette Boulevard corridor. We will evaluate the physical condition of each property in the corridor.

A Survey of Conditions in the Wards Corner Neighborhood, Norfolk, Virginia

The purpose of the study, funded by the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, is to conduct an assessment of the physical and socio-economic conditions in three neighborhoods in the City of Norfolk, Virginia: Denby Park, Monticello Village and Oakdale Farms. The assessment will involve an analysis of trends in population, income, poverty, housing tenure and crime as well as an assessment of the physical conditions (layout, age, dilapidation, incompatible land uses, etc.) of houses in the three neighborhoods. We will develop a simple protocol, a checklist, for the on-site assessment. The study will culminate in a report on the socio-economic trends and the physical condition of the neighborhoods.

Facilitating Collaboration among School Boards and Local Governments in North Carolina ( Intergovernmental Collaboration and School Facility Siting).

The purpose of this project, funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, is to improve the process and outcomes of school site selection by facilitating collaboration among school boards, county commissioners and local planners in North Carolina. We propose to collaborative planning workshops in two to three counties in North Carolina to provide an opportunity for key stakeholders in school facility planning to discuss areas of mutual interest, identify opportunities for collaboration, and most importantly, to examine the links among school location decisions, local land use regulations and the quality and character of communities. Workshops will be conducted in counties where the school board, Board of County Commissioners and local planning director(s) have agreed to participate. In the final workshop, participants will apply the knowledge gained from the preceding workshops to the selection of a site for a new school in their community or to examine whether to renovate an existing school. The project will be carried out by two nonprofit organizations: the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Orange County Dispute Settlement Center (DSC). For a printable copy of this report, click here.

The Impacts of Growth and Sprawl in North Carolina
The purpose of this project is to illustrate, on a county-by-county basis, the impact of North Carolina's rapid growth pattern on our quality of life and to establish a benchmarking system to begin measuring the state's progress (or lack thereof) in reducing sprawl. The project will help citizens and decision makers in North Carolina examine the outcome of their actions as our town and cities continue to grow.

Smart Growth Training Program
The purpose of this project is to develop and implement a smart growth training program that will provide local planners, elected officials, developers, realtors, lenders, conservationists and others with the knowledge, understanding and tools necessary to promote smart growth in their communities. The program is being developed by leading experts in planning, outreach, and training from the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, North Carolina Smart Growth Alliance and the Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Training sessions will be offered initially in North Carolina and eventually will be expanded to other states.

Good Schools-Good Neighborhoods
The purpose of this project is to determine whether state and local school board policies in North Carolina encourage the construction of "mega-schools" in suburban settings at the expense of smaller, neighborhood schools that are readily accessible by walking or biking. Through focus groups, interviews and case studies, we will identify the obstacles to building more walkable schools. In addition, we will analyze the extent to which new schools on the urban fringe act as magnets for low-density, auto-dominated development, i.e., sprawl. That is, does the infrastructure put in place to support a new school make vacant land nearby more attractive for new development? Finally, we will illustrate how some school districts successfully built or renovated smaller, neighborhood schools.

The Impact of "Smart Codes" on Building Rehabilitation
In 1998, New Jersey adopted a new rehabilitation code as a way to stimulate redevelopment of older buildings throughout the state. The new code makes rehabilitation more affordable and predictable while ensuring that buildings meet certain minimum standards. In 2000, Maryland adopted a similar code, as did North Carolina in 2001. The purpose of the project is to analyze the impact of New Jersey's new rehabilitation code on the number and dollar amount invested in building rehabilitation projects in the state. We will compare building rehabilitation projects in New Jersey with those in New York and Connecticut for the years 1996 through 2001. In addition,we will analyze whether jurisdictions in New York and Connecticut with flexible enforcement of their building codes achieve the same results as those in New Jersey under the new statewide code.

The Importance of Quality of Life in the Location Decisions of New Economy Firms
The purpose of this project was to review the literature on business location decisions in the New Economy and to examine the actual location decisions of a small sample of firms recently located in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. Anecdotal evidence suggests that employers in the New Economy will seek locations that attract knowledge-based workers, e.g., areas offering cultural and recreational amenities that are sought by today's mobile and well-educated workers. The project sheds light on the relative importance of factors such as land and labor costs, infrastructure and quality of life in the location decision of firms.

Our findings suggest that quality of life varies by industry type, size and function. For example, quality of life plays a greater role in the lcoation decision of research and development firms than for those whose primary fucntion is manufacturing or warehousing.
For a printable copy of this report, click here.

Implementing Smart Growth Practices in North Carolina: Putting Knowledge into Action David R. Godschalk. June 2001 The Darwinian competition between aging malls, some 20 years old or more, and more recently developed malls, has become a major interest of smart growth advocates, real estate investment analysts, planners and elected officials (Egan 2000). Communities all over the country are faced with the prospect of 40-60 acre parcels of commercial property suddenly degenerating from powerful economic engines that fuel local tax revenues into dormant, forbidding no man's lands with a negative impact on surrounding businesses and neighborhoods. This report documents the overall program of highly participatory community workshops and events conducted in Durham, NC during the fall of 2000 regarding development options for South Square Mall. Report available from the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS)..

Smart Growth Starts with Smart Planning: Key Elements of Quality Local Development Plans Edward J. Kaiser and David H. Moreau. May 2000. A good local land development plan is a vital component in a community's strategy to control its own destiny. This guidebook helps planners and planning boards in counties and municipalities improve their development plans. It also gives them guidance on how to integrate state policy constructively into local development plans.
Report available from the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS).

Transportation and Social Equity: A Review and Future Research Directions
Daniel Rodriguez. (2001)The environmental justice movement has brought increased attention to the role of planners and policy-makers in addressing the distributional consequences of planning decisions. Motivated by this renewed emphasis, this paper uses a temporal perspective to review past literature on transportation and equity. We identify three waves of research: (1) citizen participation, (2) access to transit, and (3) environmental justice and work access. We argue that these three waves coincide with distinct policy concerns of each time period and thus reflect the then-contemporary emphasis of transportation planning and policy-making: highway building, transit service availability, and transportation as the provider of access to desired destinations. Similarly, we find that equity consistently plays a role secondary to broader goals such as economic efficiency gains or improvements in cost recovery of transportation investments. We conclude that key aspects of the environmental justice academic literature are yet to permeate the transportation equity debate. The example of social exclusion in the UK is used to highlight gaps, underlying research complexities, and planning challenges for future transportation and equity research.

Current Projects

Cabarrus County Growth Mangement Summit

Public emergency evacuations in response to natural or manmade disasters occur frequently in the U.S. While most evacuations have proceeded safely and effectively, Hurricane Katrina vividly illustrated some of the problems and shortcomings of evacuating those who lack access to reliable transportation, e.g., the poor, elderly, or disabled. The purpose of this project, funded by Cabarrus County, is to explore some of the issues and obstacles to evacuating and sheltering disadvantaged people. We will conduct an analysis of best practices, examine the nature and extent of the problem in 2-4 communities in NC, and work with these communities to develop strategies to improve plans for evacuation and sheltering.

Collaborative Planning between School Boards and Local Governments in North Carolina

In selecting sites for new schools, local school boards often work in isolation, with little or no consultation with local governments. The lack of consultation means that school boards and local governments often work at cross-purposes. What is needed is a mechanism for those who control decisions about local land use, school funding, and school planning to coordinate their thinking and their actions. This pilot project will create a dialogue among educators, elected officials and planners and begin to build lasting partnerships among these key stakeholders. It will help generate innovative ideas and approaches to school siting that could be used by cities and towns across the state. The project represents a unique collaboration between the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill and the Orange County Dispute Settlement Center.

Safe Schools – Identifying Health and Environmental Threats to Children Attending Public Schools

The purpose of the project, funded by the Wallace Genetic Foundation Inc., is to determine whether environmental hazards pose a threat to the health and well-being of children attending public schools in North Carolina and whether state policies for siting schools adequately address the potential threats posed by such hazards. The project has six parts: (1) an inventory of public schools and their proximity to known environmental hazards; (2) creation of a GIS database showing location of schools and nearby environmental hazards; (3) an audit of state policies and guidelines on school siting;(4) development of model school siting guidelines, (5) exposure analysis at one (case study) school, and (6) a workshop on risk management and schools.

Publications

Intergovernmental Collaboration and School Facility Siting (Facilitating Collaboration among School Boards and Local Governments in North Carolina). David Salvesen, Andrew M. Sachs, and Kathie Engelbrecht, Center for Urban and Regional Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Report prepared for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Augustl 2005. 32 pps. CURS Report No. 2006-01.
Free download of this pdf file.

Good Schools-Good Neighborhoods: The Impacts of State and Local School Board Policies on the Design and Location of Schools in North Carolina

David Salvesen and Philip Hervey, Center for Urban and Regional Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Report prepared for the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. June, 2003. 28 pps. CURS Report No. 2003-03. $10.00
FREE Download of this PDF file

 

Other Links

Smart Growth

Planning and Markets An Electronic Journal

Urban Environmental Management

Smart Growth Online

EPA Smart Growth

Urban Land Institute

Sustainable Communities Network

The Smart Growth Toolkit

Smart Growth and Wildlife

National Neighborhood Coalition

New Partners for Smart Growth

New Economy

New Economy Index

Encyclopedia of the New Economy

New Economy Information Service Website

The New Economy: an essay

New Rules for the New Economy

New Math for a New Economy

LiNE Zine: Learning in the New Economy

New Economy White Papers

New Economy Daily