The Green Party of Arkansas, a party that places sustainability at the center of its mission, strongly advocates Smart Growth policies. “Smart Growth” is a type of urban planning that recognizes the numerous advantages of higher density urban development over the unworkable sprawl that has dominated the landscape of Arkansas and the most of the rest of America. Sprawl is an unsustainable trend that must be addressed, and the Green Party of Arkansas leads the way. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites sprawl as the primary cause of America’s obesity, an epidemic that the American Medical Association (AMA) now defines as a disease.
A key feature of Smart Growth is the establishment of Urban Growth Boundaries (UGBs) that limit the spatial extent of new housing and commercial development in order to preserve farmland and wilderness surrounding urban areas, and to make public transit more efficient. Instead of endless sprawl, Smart Growth advocates “in-fill” development, or the rehabilitation of abandoned or decaying areas in midtown, inner-ring suburban, and downtown areas of cities. Abandoned strip malls and decaying automobile strips emanating from inner cities would be redeveloped in such a way to reduce automobile dependency. New development includes mixed land uses (residential, office, and retail) in close proximity, and preferably in clusters around transit stops, or “Transit Oriented Development” (TOD).
The advantages of Smart Growth are endless. Less automobile dependency means less fuel consumption, less need for expensive repair of roads, more pedestrianism and bicycling, more efficient layout of public transit routes, more room for parks and green belts. The Green Party of Arkansas advocates greater percentage of transportation funds be dedicated to alternative transit (public transit, bike trails, and pedestrian infrastructure) than is currently the case under the existing two-party system, and more fiscal incentives offered by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) for Transit Oriented Development.