Use Planning Tools
Sustainable land use planning generally requires
the analysis of a vast array of data. Below are innovative methods,
computer software applications, and resources for interpreting
land use data and evaluating planning alternatives.
A Geographic Information System (GIS) software program for mapping,
measuring, and analyzing urban ecosystems. The program considers
trees and other natural resources in the community development
process. It allows users to create ecological maps, conduct
technical analysis of the ecology, summarize results, and create
graphic presentation materials. CITYgreen allows users to analyze
storm water, summer energy savings, carbon storage and sequestration,
air quality, and urban wildlife.
HUD's Community 2020 software Version 2.0 is a computer
program packaged with geographic and demographic data. It is
a full-featured desktop Geographic Information System (GIS)
for Windows, the result of a joint venture between HUD and Caliper
Corporation. It offers the full functionality of Caliper's Maptitude.
With Community 2020, HUD not only has made its huge program
data sets available to the public, but also has packaged the
data with an easy-to-use, high quality GIS tool for understanding,
using and communicating place-based information to others.
Community Image Survey
Based on the Visual Preference Survey developed by architect
Anton Nelessen, the Community Image Survey is a very effective
tool for educating and involving community members in land use
planning. The Survey consists of 40 slides of design characteristics
that are presented for review at a public meeting or workshop
organized to discuss some aspect of the land use and transportation
CommunityViz software developed by The Orton Family Foundation
allows users to create and manipulate a virtual representation
of a town and explore different land use scenarios. Professional
planners, citizen planners, landowners, and interested citizens
can use this software to make informed and collaborative decisions
about possible changes in their community. Communities will
be able to visualize and evaluate different land use patterns,
and make informed decisions on issues specific to their own
to Action: Stopping Sprawl in Your Community
A report from the David Suzuki Foundation that says sprawl is
responsible for increased air pollution, rising obesity rates
and loss of agricultural land includes a user-friendly toolkit
designed to help communities stop sprawl.
Information Systems: A Tool For Improving Community Livability
This fact sheet from the Local Government Commission offers
more than 20 case studies of how local government policy makers
in communities around the nation are using Geographic Information
System (GIS) software to create more livable, vibrant, resource
Green Developments is an interactive CD-ROM that
fully describes an exciting new field in which environmental
considerations are viewed as opportunities to create better
buildings and communities by working with the environment instead
of against it. It features 200 case studies; 400 visuals;
resource details, including financial details; and web links
to key related sites. You hear the architects talking about
their designs, see how the buildings have taken shape, and listen
to residents talking about their neighborhoods while viewing
APA's Growing Smart project has resulted in a collection
of useful information on growth and the management of change
in U.S. communities. This has been compiled in the new Growing
Smart Legislative Guidebook: Model Statutes for Planning and
the Management of Change.
Fiscal Impact Software
InfraCycle software is a fiscal impact tool that calculates
the life cycle cost of municipal infrastructure (fire, police,
roadways, sidewalks, street light, park land, recreation facilities,
storm water, sanitary sewers, garbage collection, transit, schools,
school busing). Municipal revenues can be calculated from sources
such as taxes, levies, development charges, application fees,
etc. Revenues are compared to costs to determine if revenues
will support costs. The software can be used for large or small
projects. Silver City, New Mexico, for example, has acquired
the software to assess the impact of a proposed 6,000-acre annexation.
Planning for Community,
Energy, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability (PLACE3S)
A land use and urban design method created specifically
to help communities understand how their growth and development
decisions can contribute to improved sustainability.
An information network that assists private sector,
public sector, and NGO partners in creating smart growth in
neighborhoods, communities, and regions throughout the country.
The network facilitates information sharing on financing for
infill and brownfields redevelopment, tools for evaluating development
options, and pilot money-saving investments which reap economic
and environmental benefits.
Growth Survival Kit
In this kit, the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions
brings together information and references to help environmental
commissions and citizens incorporate natural resource protection
and State Plan consistency into their local plans.
SmartPlaces is a tool for geographic decision-making, developed
by EPRI. SmartPlaces enhances decision-making insight in target
marketing, economic development, land-use planning, transportation
systems, facilities management, environmental remediation and
protection, energy forecasting, water allocation, and resource
SmartPlaces is used to evaluate the implications and opportunities
of alternative plans. It offers innovation in the planning process
through interactive design, evaluation, and illustration of
proposed activities. The system runs on a PC using ESRI's ArcView
software. Smart Places provides a user approachable set of tools
for the exploration, design, modification, illustration and
evaluation of alternative planning scenarios.
Scorecard for Project Development, a tool for quantifying
elements of smarth growth, was designed by Will Fleissig, a
Denver, Colorado developer.
Smarter Land Use
Project Planning Kit
This kit provides hands-on tools for modeling residential,
commercial and park projects from 2 to 200 acres and includes
the Smarter Land Use Guidebook.
Cost of Alternative Land Development Scenarios (SCALDS)
The Federal Highway Administration has sponsored
the development of a prototype model to estimate the full cost
of alternative land use patterns. The EXCEL-based spreadsheet
is called the Social Cost of Alternative Land Development Scenarios
(SCALDS) model. The model estimates monetary and non-monetary
costs associated with urban land development at the metropolitan
scale. The full cost accounting framework uses average cost
data, derived from a variety of national studies, as the default
values for the calculation of costs.
Visual Preference Surveys
Visual Preference Surveys are a tool to help communities establish
a common vision of what their localities should look like. The
A. Nelessen Associates website highlights the results of community
visual preference surveys for a number of projects.
Planning Information Network (LUPIN)
California’s on-line tool available for
planners, local and regional governments, conservationists,
developers, landowners, and others involved in planning. LUPIN
provides an aggregate view of information relevant to land use
and environmental planning.
INDEX is GIS-based software for measuring community indicators.
It is a framework model that is customized for each application
according to indicators and functions selected by local stakeholders.
Its main functions usually include data management, public information,
scenario analysis, and indicator tracking. The scope of indicator
measurements normally includes land-use, housing, employment,
transportation, infrastructure, and the natural environment.
Customizations are developed in either ArcView or MapObjects,
and are licensed to the client organization for subsequent local
and Quality of Life Tool Kit
The NGA Center for Best Practices, from the National Governors
Association, provides a Growth and Quality of Life Tool Kit
that offers examples of successful strategies used to encourage
growth that supports state and local priorities.
A collaborative research endeavor to create a computer simulation
program for any town or city to see itself - and its surrounding
environment - as a whole system.
Efficient Mortgage (LEM)
The Location Efficient Mortgage (LEM) is an innovative
mortgage product that is being offered in Chicago, San Francisco,
and Los Angeles to low- and moderate- income borrowers who are
interested in living in urban areas served by public transportation
Last updated: February 3, 2004
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