A Smart Growth & Equity Framework and Tool for Measuring, Understanding, and Realizing Transportation Land Use Coordination for Sustainability, Livability, and Equity

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A Smart Growth & Equity Framework and Tool for Measuring, Understanding, and Realizing Transportation Land Use Coordination for Sustainability, Livability, and Equity


The coordination and integration of transportation and land use (also known as “smart growth”) has been a long-standing goal for planning and engineering professionals, but to this day remains an elusive concept to realize. As this approach is a widely recognized as key to achieving sustainable, livable, and equitable (SLE) outcomes for individuals and society, a key aim of this report is to instill the coordination of transportation and land use into practice by the collection of key actors and agents (MPOs, DOTs, and local land use authorities, etc.) through new measurement and policy guidance frameworks and tools. A fundamental assumption of this report is that frameworks are needed first to help guide the use of tools to measure and understand urban quality, and then inform policy decisions toward realizing SLE outcomes. Along these lines, this report provides a review of current literature and practice related to measuring and understanding the integration of transportation and land use through the lenses of sustainability, livability, and equity (SLE), specifically focusing on efforts to operationalize the Livability Principles of the 2009 HUD/DOT/EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities and Caltrans’ Smart Mobility Framework. Specifically, this report builds on the use of various principles, performance measures, and place typology frameworks, along with current mapping and Planning Support Tools (PSTs) in order to develop a framework to:

  1. Measure SLE urban quality performance urban places
  2. Understand what this SLE performance means in terms of how to respond with policies
  3. Provide guidance on how to enact policies to realize more robust transportation land use integration (smart growth) to achieve SLE outcome for society.

With this knowledge and understanding we then go into a discussion of tools and metrics and how they can be used. For illustration purposes, this report uses the Smart Growth & Social Equity Calculator (https://smartgrowthcalculator.netlify.com/) – an online tool designed to make key data easily available to all stakeholders so they can more readily make coordinated decisions to that will lead to a more robust integration between transportation and land use. Specifically, the SGE Calculator can help with: climate action planning, VMT analysis related to new CEQA regulations under SB 743 that move us away from LOS, and how to coordinate transportation & land use across the spectrum, from community NIMBY discourses to regional and state transportation planning.



Dr. Bruce Appleyard is an Associate Professor in of City Planning and Urban Design at San Diego State University. He holds a PhD in City & Regional Planning from UC Berkeley. He is the author of many scholarly articles and serves as the Associate Director of SDSU’s Center for the Study of Human Dynamics in our Mobile Age (HDMA), as well as SDSU’s Active Transportation Research Center.

February 2020
Smart growth
Planning support tools
Land use
Climate action planning



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