It is interesting that Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns has criticized the approach:
I really dislike being called a Smart Growth advocate....It feels designed to be inoffensive to everyone in a kind of disingenuous way.One particular problem is that Smart Growth still may have a bias for new greenfield development - though it is "new and improved" with better urban form. Crucially, this kind of development is still autoist and still invokes the life cycle problem: What will fund infrastructure replacement in the second and third life cycle? A Smart Growth paradigm may not give sufficient weight to the values of redevelopment and of incremental development in already built-up neighborhoods.
Boosterism and Uniqueness
As regards "inoffensive" appeals of "Smart Growth," in the clip our new Development Director talks about "the Oregon Model" for planning process and then offers a refinement in "The Salem Model." Is being known for our use of post-it notes what we really want? More importantly, the potential for flattery and self-congratulation should engage our critical faculties.
A Previous "Salem Model" Failed Badly
Appealing to "The Salem Model" isn't the same as saying "Salem is unique," but it still invokes a certain provincial boosterism and self-satisfaction. The impetus for the Strategic Plan is that what we've been doing hasn't led to the outcomes we desire. So the point is to do something different. Focusing on narratives about how great we already are may not get us there.
|Are we basically just gonna do it all over again?|
(via University of Utah)
A 2009 analysis of Oregon planning studies conducted for ODOT outlined our rejection of it. (It silently passed over the election results that changed City leadership and led to the rejection.)
The project selected a preferred alternative to guide future development and recommended its adoption by the Salem City Council. From 2002-2005, there was no consensus on the acceptance of the preferred alternative and it remained mired in a city periodic review process for several years.The City should publish the whole of "Salem Futures" so citizens can review it and incorporate references to it in our current debates and analysis. Right now it is inaccessible. (That intro chapter from the library at the University of Utah is the only part of it that has so far turned up. We shouldn't have "go" to Utah to read it!)
Ultimately, the City of Salem submitted a demonstration of meeting the Transportation Planning Rule based on a dramatically different version of the preferred alternative as the basis for Salem’s growth management strategy. The future vision submitted to the State Department of Land and Conservation (DLCD) resembled more closely the Salem Futures base case scenario with some small adjustments.
The City of Salem amended the Salem Area Comprehensive Plan in 2009 and met compliance with the periodic review order of DLCD. The comprehensive plan update process resulted in the adoption of an addendum map for reference and some minor language changes. The comprehensive plan update did not incorporate any of the alternatives examined in Salem Futures. [italics and internal link to the old City site added]
So those are some moments in the planning process to consider and watch. Without a more critical discussion of previous attempts at "Smart Growth" policies and the processes that lead to them, we may be doomed to repeat the cycle.