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Smart Growth

Table of Policy Options for Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience

This table of the policy options included in Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience: Changing Land Use and Building Codes and Policies to Prepare for Climate Change is sortable by chapter (Overall Strategies, Adapting to Flooding and Extreme Precipitation, Adapting to Sea Level Rise, Adapting to Extreme Heat, Adapting to Drought, Adapting to Wildfire), level (Minor Adjustment, Major Modification, or Wholesale Change), and type of policy change (Collaboration/Partnerships, Education/Outreach, Incentives, Land Preservation, Pilot Program, Planning/Mapping, Regulatory). The table also lists other impacts to which a policy option might be relevant in addition to the main impact it addresses.

For more information on these policies, including examples of how they have been implemented in communities, read Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience.

Chapter Level Type of Policy Change Policy Change Other Relevant Impacts
Overall Strategies Modest Adjustment Planning/ Mapping
Use regional climate change, population demographics, transportation demand, and related projections to understand where community assets could be vulnerable.
  • Incorporate projections into the comprehensive plan to show climate adaptation is a priority.
  • Mainstream climate change and smart growth into comprehensive, master, capital improvement, and hazard mitigation plans.
  • Update land use maps to identify vulnerable lands. Designate less-vulnerable areas and encourage development there.
  • Require new municipal buildings to be in well-connected, safer areas.
  • Establish clear annexation policies that take climate change projections into account.
Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Modest Adjustment Planning/ Mapping Align land use, hazard mitigation, transportation, capital improvement, and other plans so all plans are working toward the same goals. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Modest Adjustment Incentives; Regulatory Create a list of desired development elements in more-vulnerable areas, and encourage or require developers to implement a certain number of them. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Modest Adjustment Incentives Evaluate development incentives to see if they encourage development in particularly vulnerable areas. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Modest Adjustment Planning/ Mapping Conduct a safe growth audit. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Modest Adjustment Education/ Outreach Improve public education about the risks of developing in sensitive areas. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Modest Adjustment Education/ Outreach Assess and address the needs of people who might be particularly vulnerable and/or are likely to be most affected, especially if they live in higher-risk areas. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Major Modification Planning/ Mapping Use scenario planning to inform local planning and policies. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Major Modification Regulatory
Adopt flexible zoning.
  • Adopt elements of dynamic zoning, or building flexibility into codes.
  • Adopt a floating zone or overlay zone.
Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Major Modification Planning/ Mapping Incorporate fiscal impact analysis into development review, and make sure it includes costs related to climate change impacts. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Major Modification Regulatory Allow a mix of uses. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Major Modification Planning/ Mapping; Incentives Incorporate into the land use map, comprehensive plan, and economic development plan locations where it makes sense to encourage economic growth. Encourage businesses to locate there. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Major Modification Collaboration/ Partnerships; Regulatory
Encourage on-site renewable energy generation and storage.
  • Amend codes or adopt ordinances to allow renewable energy on individual properties and in communal installations.
  • Use public-private partnerships to promote renewable energy.
Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Wholesale Change Planning/ Mapping Incorporate into capital projects features that enhance resilience and bring multiple other benefits. Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Extreme heat, Drought, Wildfire
Overall Strategies Wholesale Change Planning/ Mapping; Regulatory
Plan for post-disaster redevelopment before a disaster strikes.
  • Create a post-disaster redevelopment plan.
  • Adopt a post-disaster redevelopment ordinance.
Flooding and extreme precipitation, Sea level rise, Drought, Wildfire
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Modest Adjustment Pilot Program Pilot a sustainable streetscape program with green infrastructure features. Sea level rise, Extreme heat
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Modest Adjustment Education/ Outreach; Incentives Help private property owners better manage stormwater through education and incentives.  
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Modest Adjustment Land Preservation Design open space in flood plains for multiple amenities. Sea level rise
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Modest Adjustment Regulatory Require new development or redevelopment to capture and infiltrate the first 1 or 1.5 inches of rain.  
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Modest Adjustment Regulatory Update any Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits to consider climate change.  
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Major Modification Planning/ Mapping Adopt the 500-year flood plain as the "locally regulated flood plain." Sea level rise
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Major Modification Regulatory Restrict development in areas buffering water bodies or wetlands. Sea level rise
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Major Modification Regulatory Adopt green and complete streets design standards. Extreme heat
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Major Modification Land Preservation Acquire properties at risk of flooding, use the land for infiltration, and help the property owners resettle in the community. Sea level rise
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Major Modification Collaboration/ Partnerships Enter into a community-based public-private partnership to install and maintain green infrastructure. Extreme heat
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Wholesale Change Pilot Program Create an overarching framework for water-related initiatives. Sea level rise
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Wholesale Change Regulatory Establish elevation requirements with design guidelines for streets and infrastructure. Sea level rise
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Wholesale Change Regulatory Adopt a site plan requirement that requires all new development to retain all stormwater on-site.  
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Wholesale Change Regulatory Create sustainable funding for stormwater infrastructure.  
Flooding and Extreme Precipitation Wholesale Change Education/ Outreach Develop a municipal stormwater design manual that illustrates context-appropriate green infrastructure. Sea level rise, Extreme heat
Sea Level Rise Modest Adjustment Planning/ Mapping Add projected sea level rise to flood zone hazard maps that are based exclusively on historical events.  
Sea Level Rise Modest Adjustment Land Preservation Designate and protect "transition zones" near tidal marshes.  
Sea Level Rise Modest Adjustment Regulatory Change the definition of "normal high water" for land adjacent to tidal waters to change regulatory setbacks.  
Sea Level Rise Major Modification Planning/ Mapping; Regulatory Incorporate sea level rise impacts into all future land use planning and regulations using projections rather than past trends.  
Sea Level Rise Major Modification Regulatory Strengthen building codes in coastal zones by requiring additional adaptation strategies. Flooding and precipitation
Sea Level Rise Major Modification Regulatory Modify the steep-slope ordinance to account for slopes exposed to increased moisture due to changes in precipitation and sea level rise. Flooding and precipitation
Sea Level Rise Major Modification Regulatory Create an overlay district where flood regulations and standards would apply, or establish context-sensitive shoreline classifications with appropriate standards. Flooding and precipitation
Sea Level Rise Major Modification Regulatory Require building-level design for disassembly/ adaptation planning. Flooding and precipitation; Wildfire
Sea Level Rise Wholesale Change Pilot Program Designate and protect working waterfronts.  
Sea Level Rise Wholesale Change Regulatory Implement rolling development restrictions.  
Sea Level Rise Wholesale Change Planning/ Mapping Begin planning for managed retreat from the shoreline. Flooding and precipitation; Wildfire
Extreme Heat Modest Adjustment Incentives Offer financial or procedural incentives to use passive survivability.  
Extreme Heat Modest Adjustment Program; Planning/ Mapping Map "hot spots," and conduct pilot programs in these places to reduce heat.  
Extreme Heat Modest Adjustment Education/ Outreach
Support the people and neighborhoods that are most vulnerable and least able to adapt on their own.
  • Designate cooling centers in neighborhoods with particularly vulnerable populations.
  • Identify vulnerable populations, and develop an outreach plan for them.
 
Extreme Heat Modest Adjustment Incentives Offer incentives to plant and protect trees. Flooding and precipitation
Extreme Heat Modest Adjustment Planning/ Mapping Include reducing heat island effects as an objective in complete streets projects.  
Extreme Heat Major Modification Incentives; Regulatory Require or encourage green or reflective roofs on new buildings with little or no roof slope.  
Extreme Heat Major Modification Regulatory Revise the zoning ordinance to allow urban agriculture.  
Extreme Heat Major Modification Regulatory Require shade trees in all municipal projects and private parking lots.  
Extreme Heat Major Modification Planning/ Mapping Adopt a tree canopy or urban forest master plan and implementing ordinances.  
Extreme Heat Major Modification Incentives; Regulatory Require or offer incentives for using cool paving in municipal capital improvement projects and private parking lots.  
Extreme Heat Major Modification Regulatory Amend site plan requirements and design guidelines to encourage light or permeable paving, shade, green alleys, vegetation, and tree canopy.  
Extreme Heat Wholesale Change Regulatory Adopt an energy conservation code to establish minimum requirements for energy efficiency in buildings, or adopt a stretch or reach code.  
Extreme Heat Wholesale Change Regulatory Incorporate passive survivability into the building code.  
Drought Modest Adjustment Regulatory Encourage compact development policies such as walkable block sizes, transit-supportive density, and high intersection connectivity. Extreme heat, Wildfire
Drought Modest Adjustment Education/ Outreach Recommend the use of drought-tolerant plants or xeriscaping as part of water conservation, landscaping, and water waste ordinances. Extreme heat
Drought Modest Adjustment Incentives Promote the use of WaterSense-rated plumbing fixtures through incentives.  
Drought Major Modification Regulatory Implement a water impact fee that reflects each property's consumption.  
Drought Major Modification Incentives Offer rebates or other incentives to encourage drought-tolerant plants, residential rainwater harvesting, water-efficient fixtures, or other water-saving practices.  
Drought Major Modification Regulatory Mandate graywater-ready residential development.  
Drought Major Modification Pilot Program Adopt a citywide policy promoting water recycling for nonpotable uses.  
Drought Major Modification Regulatory Require use of water-efficient fixtures through the building code.  
Drought Wholesale Change Regulatory Enact a building energy and water benchmarking ordinance.  
Drought Wholesale Change Regulatory Enact a water conservation or water waste ordinance to restrict the type of landscaping on new development and public properties.  
Drought Wholesale Change Regulatory Mandate rainwater harvesting for all new commercial construction.  
Drought Wholesale Change Collaboration/ Partnerships Integrate water resource management with land use plans to make sure the community has enough water for planned growth.  
Wildfire Modest Adjustment Collaboration/ Partnerships Establish a task force to review building codes, development patterns, and other relevant issues.  
Wildfire Modest Adjustment Planning/ Mapping Incorporate wildfire scenario planning into local planning.  
Wildfire Modest Adjustment Regulatory Strengthen requirements for building and roof materials to be fire-resistant and green.  
Wildfire Modest Adjustment Regulatory Require sites for new emergency facilities to be outside of high-risk areas, well-connected, and easy to access. Flooding and precipitation, Sea level rise
Wildfire Modest Adjustment Regulatory Require new developments to submit a fire protection plan during site plan review.  
Wildfire Major Modification Incentives; Regulatory Encourage or require compact development through comprehensive plans, area plans, and zoning codes.  
Wildfire Major Modification Regulatory In subdivision regulations, require clustered development that is well-connected to existing development and walkable.  
Wildfire Major Modification Regulatory Adopt wildfire hazard overlay districts with development regulations based on factors like slope, structure, and fuel hazards.  
Wildfire Major Modification Collaboration/ Partnerships Consider adopting the Firewise Communities Program.  
Wildfire Wholesale Change Regulatory Require subdivisions to have a highly connected street network with multiple connection points to the external street network.  
Wildfire Wholesale Change Land Preservation Acquire and maintain open space between dense forested areas and residential development.