How Much Could Oregon Towns Save From Smarter Development?

Towns across Oregon are looking for ways to balance their budgets. Better development strategies could help them do that.

A new report released today by the national non-profit Smart Growth America reveals how much municipalities can save, on average, by using smart growth development strategies.

The report also examines how much revenue smart growth development generates compared to the alternatives.

Smart growth development is characterized by a mixture of homes, businesses, and services located closer together, with better connections by streets and sidewalks between neighborhoods. The report compared this development pattern with “conventional suburban development,” in which these uses are typically more distant from each other, and transportation networks are more suited to driving only.

“Cities’ budgets are stretched tight. Oregonians expect leaders to make wise fiscal choices,” said 1000 Friends of Oregon Policy Director Mary Kyle McCurdy. “Yet many leaders and citizens don’t evaluate the huge fiscal difference between different development patterns. These persist long into the future because not only are the upfront capital costs of sprawl development patterns more expensive, but this development also cost more to operate, maintain, and repair over the long-term.”

The new report, Building Better Budgets: A National Examination of the Fiscal Benefits of Smart Growth Development surveyed case studies from across the country that compare the costs and benefits of smart growth development with conventional suburban development. The report finds:

  1. Smart growth development costs at least one third less for upfront infrastructure construction.
  2. Smart growth development saves taxpayers at least 10 percent on ongoing delivery of services.
  3. Smart growth development generates 10 times more tax revenue per acre than conventional suburban development.

“These figures should make every civic leader in America stop and take a hard look at what impact their development is having on public finances,” said William Fulton, Vice President of Policy Development and Implementation at Smart Growth America. “Smart growth strategies can cut costs and raise revenues for any town or city, that’s what this research shows.”

The national report affirms and expands on many findings in 1000 Friends’ More Extensive Is More Expensive infrastructure report, published in January 2013. “We look forward to sharing the important findings in this report and our own infrastructure report with local and state leaders throughout Oregon,” said Mary Kyle McCurdy. “Creating better places to live and work saves Oregon taxpayers money.”

Read the complete report at smartgrowthamerica.org/building-better-budgets.

Read 1000 Friends' More Extensive Is More Expensive report at friends.org/infrastructure.