Smart growth: More than a ghost of urban policy past, less than a bold new horizon

Robert W. Burchell, David Listokin, Catherine C. Galley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Proponents of smart growth tout its more compact, less automobile-dependent development as a superior alternative to the prevailing pattern of sprawl. Admittedly, smart growth is characterized by the ghost of urban policy past, ranging from inner-area revitalization to growth management. Yet smart growth incorporates leading-edge, contemporary components (e.g., encouraging multimodal transportation, strategically locating public employment), and its timing is propitious-as aging baby boomers, rising immigration, and other forces support core-area revitalization and other smart growth themes. The future of smart growth is promising, but its success is far from assured. Multiple factors, such as the lack of adoption across governments, market support for sprawl, the automobile's clinging dominance, and a paucity of techniques, could impair broad implementation. However, smart growth is sensible, broadly recognized, and fortuitously timed, and its proponents have learned from the miscues of its historical antecedents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-879
Number of pages59
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Development/revitalization
  • Growth management
  • Land use/zoning


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