Austin, TX Smart Growth Initiative

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Austin, TX, US

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Type: Ordinance

Status: Adopted

Source File:


In the late 1990's the City Council adopted a Smart Growth Initiative to modernize Austin's long-range plan for growth, managing and directing growth that minimized damage to the environment and helped build a more livable city. The tenets of the City's Smart Growth initiative were consistent with the general poilicies of Austin Tomorrow, discouraging growth in the west to protect Austin's water supply and growing the city's boundaries in the east, taking into account geographical and utility constraints.

Introduction and Overview

"Smart Growth" is a term that describes the efforts of communities across the United States to manage and direct growth in a way that minimizes damage to the environment and builds livable towns and cities. Our current pattern of growth--sometimes known as "sprawl"--has a number of negative cultural, economic, environmental, and social consequences. In central cities and older suburbs these include deteriorating infrastructure, poor schools, and a shortage of affordable, quality housing. In newer suburban areas problems may include increased traffic congestion and declining air quality, the absence of a sense of place, and the loss of open space. Smart Growth argues that these problems are two sides of the same coin, with the neglect of our central cities fueling the growth and related problems of the suburbs.

Smart Growth addresses problems caused by sprawl by emphasizing the concept of developing "livable" cities and towns. Livability suggests, among other things, that the quality of our built environment and how well we preserve the natural environment directly affect our quality of life. Smart Growth calls for the investment of time, attention, and resources in central cities and older suburbs to restore community and vitality. Smart Growth advocates patterns for newly developing areas that promote a both a balanced mix of land uses and a transportation system that accommodates pedestrians, bicycles, transit and automobiles.