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GreenStep City Best Practices Land Use

Mixed Uses
no. 8

Develop efficient land patterns that generate community health and wealth.
Optional for category A, B and C cities
Category B and C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.

Category A cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least two actions.
Meeting sustainable urbanism's goal of complete, compact and connected communities (using architect Douglas Farr's phrase from his book Urban Design with Nature) depends on mixing land uses, which lowers infrastructure costs, increases property taxes/acre, increases walkability and decreases traffic fatalities, and minimizes environmental impacts and increases a community's health and quality of life. A city can use its land use authority and other tools to help create a vibrant community that attracts jobs, fosters economic development, and that is an appealing place in which people can live, work, and recreate without having to drive everywhere for every activity of daily living. Growth can happen in a manner where roads, transit, schools, ecologic services, and access to retail, commercial, jobs, and industrial facilities are planned for and efficiently provided through connection and coordination with existing local and regional infrastructure and services.

In cities across the nation, neighborhoods and districts of compact development with a mix of land uses, transportation options and pedestrian-friendly design have reduced driving from 20% to 40% compared to large single-use zoning districts. And such areas have resulted in, to use the Urban Land Institute's phrase, "cities of convenience, conviviality, and charm." And as the Congress for the New Urbanism phrases the challenge before cities: "Disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage is one interrelated community-building challenge."

greenstep advisor
Brian Ross, Senior Communities Program Director, Great Plains Institute: 612/767-7296, bross@gpisd.net, https://www.betterenergy.org/who-we-are/staff-and-consultants/
connection to state Policy

As of July 1, 2009 the new Minnesota Education Omnibus Law includes provisions to eliminate minimum acreage requirements for schools, and to remove the bias against renovating, rather than rebuilding, old, typically more compact schools within walking and biking distance of residential neighborhoods.