Smart Growth America

1707 L Street, Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20036

phone: 202-207-3355
fax: 202-207-3349


Don Chen, Executive Director



 a national coalition working toward better choices for our communities

Web site:


Mission:  (from website)  

"Smart Growth America is a coalition of national, state and local organizations working to improve the ways we plan and build the towns, cities and metro areas we call home. The coalition includes many of the best-known national organizations advocating on behalf of historic preservation, the environment, farmland and open space preservation, neighborhood revitalization and more. Our state- and regional-level members are community-based organizations working to save treasured landscapes while making our towns and cities ever more livable and lovable.

"We believe that the American people deserve healthy cities, towns and suburbs; homes that are both affordable and close to jobs and activities; fewer hours in traffic and more opportunities to enjoy recreation and natural areas; air and water of the highest quality; and a landscape our children can be proud to inherit. We believe that ordinary citizens deserve a much greater say, and better options, in choosing their communities’ future.

"To that end, our members work with citizens across the country to preserve our built and natural heritage, promote fairness for people of all backgrounds, fight for high-quality neighborhoods, expand choices in housing and transportation and improve poorly conceived development projects.


Areas of Research and Dialogue:



Resources to Share:

Choosing Our Community’s Future (2005)
This guidebook is designed for citizens interested in becoming more informed and involved in planning their communities. The Guide outlines planning terms, approaches, and procedures, and highlights ways citizens can get the most out of development plans and proposals without eliminating smart growth goals.

Endangered By Sprawl (2005)
This is the first study to quantify the effect of sprawling development on wildlife nationally. The report chronicles how the rapid conversion of once-natural areas and farmland into subdivisions, shopping centers, roads, and parking lots has become a leading threat to America’s native plants and animals.

CD signup!Smart Growth Shareware (2005)
On a single CD-ROM, the Shareware compiles over 100 publications, fact sheets, presentations, images, weblinks, and suggested reading. Resources are organized in a user-friendly format by various cross-searchable topics.

2004 National Poll by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America
The 2004 national survey of consumer preferences found that there is a growing, and largely unmet, demand from for mixed use, walkable neighborhoods, convenient to schools and offices. However, the demand for walkable communities, shorter commutes, and broader choices in homes, neighborhoods and transportation.

Smart Growth is Smart Business (2004)
The report profiles 17 businesses that are improving the quality of life for customers and employees also bolsters their bottom line by supporting smart growth policies and projects.

Measuring the Health Effects of Sprawl (2003)
Using the sprawl measurement methodology and results from Measuring Sprawl and its Impact, this is the first national study to find that people who live in counties marked by sprawl-style development are more likely to weigh more, be obese, and suffer from high blood pressure.

Measuring Sprawl and its Impact (2002)
This rigorous, peer-reviewed study is the first to develop a consistent method for defining and measuring the development pattern referred to as “sprawl” and its impact on residents’ lives. The study amassed an unprecedented database of measures of residential density, a mix of jobs, shops, and housing, the street network, and the presence or absence of strong centers of activity. Metropolitan areas across the country were scored and ranked, and various lifestyle and transportation factors were related to local sprawl levels.

Paving Our Way to Water Shortages (2002)

American Rivers, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and SGA collaborated to analyze the effects of sprawl on our water supplies, especially in light of 2002’s drought conditions. Impervious surfaces not only increase polluted runoff, but also impair aquifer and surface water recharge. The report discusses sprawl’s impact on water quality and quantity through an ever-increasing amount of paved surfaces.

Greetings from Smart Growth America
Our introductory brochure. The booklet discusses Americans’ desires and feelings about growth and development, illustrates smart-growth principles, and presents real-life examples for citizens and officials, in the private sector and at every level of government, who wish to help their communities get better as the grow.


National Survey on Growth and Land Development (2000)
This presents results from a nationwide survey on attitudes regarding transportation, land development, and smart growth policies, and perceptions about the public officials in charge of implementation.

The Science of Smart Growth (2000)
Over the past several years, citizens nationwide have passed hundreds of ballot initiatives supporting land preservation, park improvements, community reinvestment, public transit and other measures to curb sprawl. To obtain a copy of this December 2000 Scientific American feature article, by Don Chen, please contact

Smart Growth Around America Newsletter (bi-monthly)
The SGA e-newsletter covers the most recent and exciting news in smart growth around the country. It is distributed to a large and growing audience of coalition members, partners, funders, and other interested individuals or groups.

Smart Growth Implementation Kit (forthcoming)
The Smart Growth Leadership Institute (SGLI) is developing this tool for communities nationwide, to be based on SGLI’s Implementation Assistance Program activities. The Program utilizes a scorecard to examine proposed projects, identifies “smart” sites for future development, and evaluates zoning codes, approval processes, and design protocols that help advance smart growth strategies. For information on the Implementation Assistance Program, please contact Benjie dela Pena at

Vacant Properties: the True Costs to Communities (2005)
This upcoming report highlights the many costs that vacant lots and buildings pose, including safety concerns, strain on public services (nuisance abatement, fire and crime prevention), and the documented devaluing of adjacent properties. Vacant properties represent lost tax revenue and potential blight but also present potential opportunities for recapturing community vitality through redevelopment.


More Resources...