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A couple years ago, the EPA published a very concise, well-conceived, and practical guide for municipalities to turn smart-growth principles into regulations. Titled “Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes“,the publication outlines 11 “fixes”:

  • Allow or Require Mixed-Use Zones
  • Use Urban Dimensions in Urban Places
  • Rein in and Reform the Use of Planned Unit Developments
  • Fix Parking Requirements [more on this in an upcoming blog]
  • Increase Density and Intensity in Centers
  • Modernize Street Standards
  • Enact Standards to Foster Walkable Places
  • Designate and Support Preferred Growth Areas and Development Sites
  • Use Green Infrastructure to Manage Stormwater
  • Adopt Smart Annexation Policies
  • Encourage Appropriate Development Densities on The Edge

Of course, as partners with HUD and DOT in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, one would think these principles would guide any development of EPA facilities.  Sadly, this is not the case.  As reported in the NY Times and elsewhere, the EPA is moving its Region 7 headquarters out of downtown Kansas City to a suburb.

The defense: money.  The problem with the defense: savings now is not a long term solution and will typically cost more in the long term.  Productivity, morale, health, commuting times, and numerous other issues are not considered in this kind of balance sheet.  The aforementioned publication, itself, points out the numerous benefits for employers and employees when smart growth principles are used to maintain more walkable environments for businesses and residents.  Sigh, if only the community had enacted zoning that promoted smart growth, they may have thwarted the move and made the EPA practice what it preaches.