LOS ANGELES-Smart growth is more than a buzz phrase and is a distinct set of planning and development principles that offers guidelines for efficient development, according to speakers at Thursday’s “Smart Growth” conference presented by the UCLA Extension in Downtown Los Angeles. Conference speakers, including developers, city officials and economic development specialists, described smart growth as development that most efficiently uses scarce land and natural resources to meet the needs of a growing population. The principles of smart growth have become increasingly important for areas like Southern California, the speakers noted, because of the population growth, housing and land shortages, government budget deficits and other forces affecting development. These forces, they reported, require more efficient use of land to create mixed-use, transit-oriented, and environmentally responsible projects that maximize the use of land, reduce car trips and connect both existing and new communities. Individual panels at the event explored case histories of specific smart growth projects, explored the economic benefits of such growth, and outlined financing structures for smart growth developments.In a panel discussion titled “Supporting Smart Growth—What Must Happen Next?”, Dan Rosenfeld, principal of Urban Partners LLC, said “we must change the paradigm of development” as developers embrace smart growth practices. According to Rosenfeld, the frequent development practice of looking at “density, mobility (transportation) and parks, in that order” must be reversed for citizens to experience “smart growth living.” Victor B. MacFarlane, managing principal of MacFarlane Partners, cited another mistake development mistake that must be corrected. “We think ‘me’ versus ‘us.’ We must change that way of thinking. Instead, we should embrace our diversity,” MacFarlane said.The conference program cited the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of smart growth as development that “serves the economy, the community and the environment.” The specific principles that define and characterize smart growth, according to the EPA, are that it mixes land uses, takes advantage of compact building design, creates a range of housing opportunities and choices, creates walkable neighborhoods, fosters distinctive communities with a strong sense of place, preserves open space and critical environmental areas, provides a variety of transportation choices, makes development decisions predictable and fair, and encourages community collaboration in the development process.The conference was billed as “a day of practical dialogue” regarding Smart Growth, and it was sponsored by a host of organizations, including Real Estate Southern California Magazine, a member of the Real Estate Media Inc. family of companies that includes GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum magazine.

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