Establish a set of measurable state development goals


To help assure that a citizen-inspired vision for how a state should grow comes to fruition, state officials should establish a set of specific goals that must be reached in order to achieve the vision. This list of goals could include specific actions that each state agency is expected to take or an assessment of changes in land use patterns (e.g., growth inside cities and towns vs. growth outside cities and towns) or behavior (e.g., the number of vehicle miles traveled per capita per year). It is important that these goals be ambitious, yet achievable. Above all, they must be measurable. If necessary, new methods of collecting data may have to be instituted to assure that progress toward specific goals can be tracked. Without a method of tracking progress, states have no credible way of determining if their land use policies are having the desired effect.


As with the development principles mentioned above (see Policy #3, Establish a set of state development principles, in this section), an initial set of goals could be developed by a department of planning or similar state agency, an Office of Smart Growth, or a growth sub-cabinet. Goals must be developed in cooperation with local governments and the private sector and would gain greater credibility and acceptance if developed as part of a public outreach campaign. Once developed, the set of goals can be adopted internally within the administration via executive order, overseen by a semi-independent planning commission or similar outside group, or be placed in state statute. They also may be adjusted over time as conditions warrant. To date, only a handful of states have developed, maintained, and amended statewide land use goals. Each state has created goals that are specific to that state's own land use vision.

In 1979, Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development developed the Nineteen Statewide Planning Goals. These 19 goals serve as guidelines and must be consistent with the comprehensive plan of each municipality and county. Since their adoption, other states have followed suit. Washington developed a Growth Management Act, which lists a number of goals that municipalities and counties should follow and implement as part of their comprehensive plans. In 2001, the New Jersey Planning Commission adopted the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan, which lists eight goals or visions which the state would like to accomplish by the year 2020. Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Florida have all adopted different sets of goals.

Clearly, such an effort can be constrained (seriously, in some cases) by limitations on the availability of certain data or inconsistencies between jurisdictions on how and when certain data are collected and/or maintained. There are undoubtedly potential indicators of the progress of a state's land use program that could be or should be measured, but for which no one currently keeps data or the data are unreliable or incomplete. So, states that wish to establish meaningful land use goals must pay appropriate attention to the data that must be collected in order to measure progress against those goals.


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