2011 Assessment of Smart Growth in Austin, Texas
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Smart Growth refers to a variety of goals focused on curbing urban sprawl throughout the world. Though it has the potential to resolve many of the current problems faced by American cities, Smart Growth has yet to be formalized into a coherent policy. In the United States, some cities have tried and succeeded but others have failed in developing sustainable Smart Growth practices. In Austin, Texas, Smart Growth became a goal for future planning and was implemented in 1999 to create a "smarter," more sustainable city. This research paper gauged the current implementation of Smart Growth practices with an emphasis on Partnerships, Development Models and Transportation. City planning and transportation documents were reviewed to measure Smart Growth goals against practical ideal types discussed in the existing scholarly research. The methodology used to assess Smart Growth practices in Austin was document analysis, direct observations, field research. The research revealed that the City of Austin has met and exceeded expectations in the sub-categories of Non-Profit Advocacy Groups, Intergovernmental Agreements, Business Entitlement Programs, Traditional Neighborhood Design, Transit-Oriented Development and Value-Added Services. The only sub-category failing to meet expectations of Smart Growth practices in this research was Transit Reorientation. Recommendations made to improve all sub-categories to exceed expectations would be to empower citizens by providing an advisory chair on final decisions, providing a mass transit liaison at major transit centers to improve customer satisfaction and creating more amenities to improve rider experience on public transportation.