Friday, March 4, 2011

Smart Growth in Iowa Survives (for now)

When I first moved to Des Moines, I was pleased to read about a new and progressive Smart Growth law passed by the legislature (begins at Section 17 in the link).  The law provided for a host of Smart Growth related requirements, including charging a new Smart Planning Task Force with the responsibility of "recommending policies and strategies for creating a stronger planning culture in Iowa [and] producing more resilient and sustainable communities."  The Task Force's final report was issued in November 2010.  The final report, among other things, included a provision requiring local governments to submit Smart Growth regional plans to a regional and then state body for approval.

Shortly after the elections, Iowa's Smart Growth law was on the chopping block in HF 45, which passed the House.  An amendment to remove the amendment did not pass the House.  Fortunately, yesterday, the Speaker and President (of the Senate) signed HF 45 without the repeal language in it and sent it to the Governor.

I'm not suggesting that Smart Growth is a magic pill, but the considerations that are required for Smart Growth plans under the Task Force's report include important government functions such as, collaboration, transparency, renewable energy, occupational and housing diversity, natural resource protection, sustainable design, and transportation diversity.

Jonathan Rosenbloom

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