Regional Planning for a Sustainable America: How Creative Programs Are Promoting Prosperity and Saving the Environment

Regional Planning for a Sustainable America: How Creative Programs Are Promoting Prosperity and Saving the Environment

Regional Planning for a Sustainable America: How Creative Programs Are Promoting Prosperity and Saving the Environment

Regional Planning for a Sustainable America: How Creative Programs Are Promoting Prosperity and Saving the Environment

Synopsis

Regional Planning for a Sustainable America is the first book to represent the great variety of today's effective regional planning programs, analyzing dozens of regional initiatives across North America.

The American landscape is being transformed by poorly designed, sprawling development. This sprawl--and its wasteful resource use, traffic, and pollution--does not respect arbitrary political boundaries like city limits and state borders. Yet for most of the nation, the patterns of development and conservation are shaped by fragmented, parochial local governments and property developers focused on short-term economic gain. Regional planning provides a solution, a means to manage human impacts on a large geographic scale that better matches the natural and economic forces at work. By bringing together the expertise of forty-two practitioners and academics, this book provides a practical guide to the key strategies that regional planners are using to achieve truly sustainable growth.

Excerpt

Carleton K. Montgomery

The dream of environmental, economic, and social sustainability through better land use drives the work described and debated in this book. “Land use” is an emotionally flat term, but it captures vastly important features of our society. It is the complex of policies and practices that shape the landscape; the pattern, design, and intensity of development; the infrastructure of sewer, water, roads, transit, and public institutions that serve that pattern of development; and the ways we exploit and conserve resources of land, water, plants, animals, and air. The programs discussed in this book are built on the recognition that our society can do land use better if we do it regionally.

The most fundamental obstacle to regional planning is also, surprisingly, its greatest virtue: the region is not built into our structure of government. Regional government—whether based on a metropolitan area, a watershed, or any other defining ecological, political, or cultural principle—is simply not part of America’s established administrative matrix. But the fact that regionalist programs keep appearing shows they are needed. In the absence of established legal or constitutional structures, necessity has been the mother of invention. Indeed, for all the difficulties that come from being a late-born child in our constitutional system, regional initiatives have shown a degree of creativity, diversity, and inclusiveness that we might never have seen were regional government a part of our political inheritance.

Good regional planning is planning for both conservation and growth. Managing growth to protect rural landscapes and natural resources has been the dominant motivation for most regional land use planning initiatives in America. But while conservation is a key motivation for regional planning, so too is the recognition that people are not going away—in most cases, more are coming. If it is people that

Maps, documents and links relating to this book can be found at http://www.regionalplans.com. This book does not provide a historical account of the evolution of land use planning and the ndevelopment of regional planning programs. Excellent historical accounts can be found in several nsources, such as Bosselman and Callies (1971), DeGrove (2005), Mason (2008), and Weitz (1999).

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