March 4, 2014

With the multiple crises of municipal insolvency, climate change and citizen pushback against government regulation at all levels, it makes sense to consider a new "balance-sheet" approach to granting development approvals. Such an approach would screen for more compact, high-value development that would pay back government's up-front infrastructure investments on a more rapid basis.

On first blush, the regulatory strategy would not seem compatible with Smart Growth and New Urbanism, both of which are strongly driven by urban design and physical form. Such models, which have gained wide acceptance among planners as preferred models for more sustainable community development, have proved difficult to implement within the regulatory structures that prevail in the United States and Canada.

By incorporating the "missing metric" into development review, municipalities may be able to reduce and even eliminate many cumbersome and highly subjective development regulations, and at the same time make it easier to achieve more amenable, resource-efficient and economically stable communities.

For a recent article by Peter Katz on the approach, visit


PDF of PowerPoint presentation (pdf)

Peter Katz

Peter Katz

Peter Katz has been a leader in advancing innovative approaches to community planning for more than two decades. Katz played a key role in shaping the New Urbanism movement as founding executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism. He's also author of a seminal 1994 book on the subject, The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community. In 1991, Katz instigated and co-edited The Ahwahnee Principles, one of the first statements of sustainable community building practices, which has been endorsed by hundreds of municipalities in the U.S. and Canada. Katz was a co-founder of the Form-Based Codes Institute and is a member of the National Charrette Institute's Board of Advisors. He is also a consultant in the areas of community development and real estate marketing.