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‘Smart growth’ a passé term?


Smart Growth, a philosophy that has helped define redevelopment in Windsor, Petaluma and even Rohnert Park, is being tweaked a bit.

Debora Fudge

Fresh from a Smart Growth conference in Charlotte, N.C., Windsor Councilwoman Debora Fudge tweeted this week that the new guiding principle is “slow development,” given the current economy.

Fudge said the realization came from a two-hour talk given by architect Andres Duany, often described as the father of New Urbanism, which is synonymous with Smart Growth and its emphasis on designing walkable, dense, mixed-use neighborhoods.

“He said we were moving into a slow development phase, a new way of looking at development based on the new economy staying with us a long time,” Fudge said. “We can’t afford to optimize things anymore.”


Fudge said “optimization” essentially represents many of the demands made on developers, especially the environmental “gold” or “platinum” certifications that denote cutting-edge practices.

“When you want people to build in your city center, you’re asking them for higher density and affordable housing,” she said. “You can’t also demand platinum LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design). People will barely be able to afford to build.”

Duany has been warning that the current environmental movement has been captured by a high-tech ethos with  expensive features such as triple-glazed windows, eight inches of insulation and green roofs.

He advocates “original green,” or a more simple economic approach.

Fudge said that she and Windsor Councilman Sam Salmon, as well as Rohnert Park counterpart Jake Mackenzie, were “sort of blown away” by Duany’s talk.

Salmon on Friday described Duany as “a brilliant man. He had me spellbound.”

But he said the “slow development” title of Duany’s talk “didn’t really fit with the presentation.”

“He has always taken on environmentalists for trying to green the center of the cities and restrict development,” Salmon said. “His argument is that the most beautiful places where people want to go on vacation is all concrete.”

So how does this apply to Windsor?

Fudge noted that the new fire station across from Windsor High School just received a coveted gold LEED certification.

“It cost us a lot. Had we started today, we couldn’t have been able to do that,” she said. “We shot for the stars and we made it. I’m not sure in this economy we would have gone that far.”

There are projects in the pipeline that could be impacted by the new way of thinking. They include the mixed-use Bell Village planned on the site of the former Windsorland trailer and mobile home park, and the Target store under consideration on farmland just west of Highway 101 and north of Shiloh Road.

“We’re not going to tear out the sidewalk we just put in because we may have the wrong-colored aggregate,” Salmon said of the pedestrian path on Old Redwood Highway, next to the Bell Village site.

“Maybe we don’t do swales,” he said of a feature intended to improve drainage and reduce water runoff.

Even a new grocery store that is being talked about near the Town Green could end up being one-story, instead of the signature two-story, mixed-use buildings in the area that include a residence on the top floor.

“We’re not going to be able to make the cities and communities we want, unless we realize the economy is in the bucket — is what he’s saying,” Salmon said.

25 Responses to “‘Smart growth’ a passé term?”

  1. john bly says:

    @ Rick Deringer-I am surprised you got so many \thumbs down\. I think you are spot on. Well thought out, articulate, and universal in your message.
    I feel you are correct about the deregulation being the fault of both parties and of their collective ignorance. Nobody understood \derivatives\ and how they came about is the fault of greed, supported by both parties (just one example). Unfortunately, that ignorance continues today as our Feds spend billions promoting a health care bill that our lawmakers do not understand, and urge passage of same \so we can all read and understand it afterward\. We are slow to learn.
    I find myself somehow encouraged by Ms. Fudge’s thoughts. I doubt anyone would advocate we can close our County borders and not let anyone else in and say we can maintain public services at the same level they are at now (unless magically, the State or Fed subsidizes us-NOT!). Therefore, the \path\ seemingly needs to be moderation and working together to keep our population of TAXPAYERS growing moderately while we reduce our overal spending. How to do this? By encouraging businesses to come here and open shop. That is starting to happen. \Evolution, not Revolution\.

  2. PressDEMOCRAT…run the story.Be of the highest good and the greatest service you can be.U.N.Agenda21 Sustainable Development,THE 800lb.gorilla in the room.
    A DIOLOGUE.COMMUNITY.ACCOUNTABILITY.If some of you pros blogging here believe that Agenda21 is good,lets TALK.It is time.
    Jason Valez, you rock!

  3. Jason Valez says:

    People don’t like to believe that there is a plan to dismantle and transform our form of government and way of life. I don’t like it either. But to stick your head in the sand and refuse to believe what is taking place all around you is being part of the problem. The citizens of the United States are under seige right now by the internationalists that insist that Americans must downsize their lives ‘to save the planet’. Never mind that they advocate upsizing the government and increasing the national debt to unsustainable levels. We, as a nation are crashing and when the pieces all get put back together we will no longer have the individual liberties we have now. We will have socialism or worse.

    If we don’t resist now, forget about it. At least do yourself a favor and look at the millions of internet entries about it. Saying it doesn’t exist is nonsense. Santa Rosa is a member of ICLEI? Do you know what they are about? Don’t be lazy, you can do it from your easy chair in about 5 minutes. After you’ve learned something get back on here and we shall debate the issues. Maybe we could even get the PD to do a story about ICLEI Sustainable Development and United Nations Agenda 21. Daddy Bush signed us onto it and every president thereafter. It’s not a right left issue. Study up.

  4. Skippy says:

    Note to readers:
    Anytime you hear a liberal/progressive/socialist/elitist poo-poo a concept like “UN Agenda 21″, be very afraid, and research the thing they instructed you to ignore.
    Invariably you will find the viper lurking in the weeds to be Government Control at all its insidious levels.
    “Just ignore the little Stalinist behind the curtain…”
    This Public Service Announcement brought to you by listening to the Left lie for the last 55 years.

  5. Fiscal Conservative says:

    When I hear anything assiciated with Debra Fudge I know to run the other way.
    She is the leader of the red collective in the northern bedroom community.

    This woman would like nothing more than her to be the queen and all of us her servants.( no offence to Kathleen 2001 who is the current queen of Windsor)

    Development needs to be a free enterprise, not a government run scam.

  6. Eric Newman says:

    Note to PD readers: anytime you spot the words “UN Agenda 21″ in the body of the message, that is a signal that you can skip it, because they are the contemporary version of the John Bircher “US out of UN” troglodytes. Same crew, different year.

    Don’t encourage the wing-nuts. It’s like stopping to listen to some crazy character shouting on the street corner, with red-face and bulging eyes. Keep on moving. They are as irrelevant today as they were then.

  7. Eric Newman says:

    “Memo to Deb Fudge:
    You’re on the wrong track”

    The Smart Growth proponents here in the North Bay have spent the entire last election season attempting to break open the false frame that the PD/Argus/North bay Business Journal have been trying to hang on the necks of the progressives.

    The favored frame for the Chamber/Alliance candidates has been “Slow Growth vs. Business-Friendly”. We have insisted that the correct description is “Smart Growth vs. Sprawl Growth”.

    By conceding the central tenet of the opposition, you have paved the way for further marginalization of those of us who have been trying to raise the standards for development and ensure that the public good is served by making sure that green building standards, affordable housing, and living wages are part of every major public project in the region.

    You’re doing the Clintonian flip-flop to appease the unappeasable. This is the bane of liberalism, which is why we have evolved beyond it to a more ideologically coherent progressive movement.

    Yes, we can work with the developers and public agencies to accommodate the economic stresses brought on by the Wall Street speculators. But we will not give away the store, nor will we muddy our political message by adopting the frames of our opponents. I hope that you will clarify what you mean by this unfortunate and ill-timed comment.

  8. Jason Valez says:

    Smart Growth isn’t going anywhere. It was invented to mask the worldwide master plan called UN Agenda 21, a 300 page document put into place in 1992 and ratified by 178 nations including the United States. Smart Growth refers to the land use section of their plan which calls for high density development along train routes. They also promote the elimination of the private vehicle. Why does the UN need a mask for their programs? Because the goals of the UN Agenda 21, are inconsistent with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our form of government.

    Our elected officials don’t like to talk about their alliances to international associations such as their membership to ICLEI, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives Sustainable Development. Nearly every town and county in the Bay Area belongs to this international group. Our taxes pay their membership dues. ICLEI’s mission is to affect land use planning policies in local governments to implement the goals of UN Agenda 21. This information has been blacked out of the media and covered up for years.

    However, the internet yields a wealth of information on these very important subjects. The cat is out of the bag and people need to decide if they are willing to go along with the many changes that they are trying to implement. The more you know about it, the more frightening it becomes because it strikes at the heart of the freedoms we take for granted. People need to wake up and smell the socialist/communist/fascist/communitarian/fake utopian plan to take us back into time when we were merely subjects of the state.

    Smart Growth is ‘green’ because it concentrates people into small areas, limits mobility, and reduces their use of energy. The more they restrict us, the greener things will be, therefore they are justified in taking away everything they deem unnecessary to staying alive. We are just one short step away from living under dictatorship.

    Green is the great deception.

  9. Rick Deringer says:

    I have known and worked with Andres Duany in the past. He is a great architect for the type of projects he specializes in but he is not a Developer or a person who does much work in California. He has been and remains a strong advocate for Smart Growth and Green Technology principals. He has not advocating anything less but is caustioning about creating projects that can not be built in these economic times due to overthinking Green goals. But as one of the largest mixed-use Smart Growth Grenn Developers in the North Bay I can assure all that Green is not dead, it can be included in developments especially if conceived and promoted properly and to start compromising on such critical issues at this time seems not the appropriate or best course in Development at this time, and Andres would be the first to state this. Downtown urban Smart Growth Transit Village development should be encouraged and endorsed by all officials and compromising due to economic concerns is like stating lets give up on alternative energy principals and go back to concentrating on gasoline and suburban housing. We have the opportunity of creating great Smart projects, especially with the current goals of creating Green Technology jobs and Green Technology concepts that come with Zero Air Polution and even come with considerable rebates and grants from the government. Maybe we need to start asking Developers who build these housing projects, not architects looking for work, to find ways that best serve our communities and best serve the goal of eliminating gas powered cars, creating walkable communities and creating trnaist village especially for the trains that are coming. Lets hope these City officials look in this direction and not go backwards. After all we learn from our mistakes of the past and we look forward to better times and hopefully we do not compromise with the health or comfort of our citizens. Thanks for allowing my thoughts.

  10. bear says:

    Current problems with local government finances have nothing to do with local government, or with the pennies it took to send a few decision-makers somewhere to learn something. We elect a lot of people who seemingly have no clue about government or how it works or how it is financed. Why not pay a pittance to educate them? At least find out what it actually cost before you speak, which should be public record.

    Our economic problems stem from deregulatory policies supported by both parties that have allowed financial criminals to scam the system. Haven’t heard of but one or two indictments yet. And that’s across the entire nation.

    “Smart growth” doesn’t worry me, because it will happen all by itself as energy costs skyrocket and after corporations beat down personnel costs to the level where we’re competitive with China and India. Then everyone will have a job, everyone will bike or use transit and everyone will conserve energy. But your grandkids may not enjoy the lifestyle.

    My definition of a “lemming” is someone who doesn’t admit a problem until they’re falling off a cliff. Only then will people consider the merits of parachutes and a soft landing.

    Meanwhile I’d suggest junkets to LA. There you’ll see real traffic (12 packed freeway lanes at 1 am), real water shortages, real urban sprawl, real air pollution and a lot of cheap labor provided by immigrants for the benefit of employers who break the law every day. All the result of unregulated markets and elected officials who are not educated in anything but the latest catchphrase – whether from the left or the right.

    Most of this can’t be found in Sonoma County, where some wise past decisions have moderated the impacts of unregulated markets seen in LA. If Sonoma County were covered by cheap development, would it actually solve any problems mentioned here? Or simply create more problems that are more difficult to solve? My guess is that about 90% of the world’s population would LOVE to live in Sonoma. Want to make room for them?

    Good government is the result of intelligent decisions made by elected officials who are educated on the issues, see the future and are willing to compromise. And that includes their supporters. Otherwise, it is simply a case of the blind leading the blind. That will all change when there are no other choices.

  11. Steve Klausner says:

    Ok, I want to be a social engineer too. Here’s my Smart idea. Good for the goose, good for the gander. As publicly owned lands around SMART stations will not be used for commuter parking, SMART rather build high end condos (commuters can get to their train by bus or bike) how about no carports or parking in the new condos? Really make it a true transit village. Just give them little boxes to secure their bicycles in. That way when 6,000 new residents move into Railroad Square at one of the most congested intersections in Sonoma County, Highway 12 and 101, there would be no impact! Besides, the way things are going, by the time these folks move in (and most likely refuges from San Francisco) the tax that will make the transit lifestyle possible will have expired.

  12. brotha tuna says:

    All the info was available on line.Why send polls across country?Did taxpayers pay transportation and per diem? Then they remind us how broke we all are?
    I believe in smart growth, as in thoughtful growth. Anyone been through Los Banos? Great example of leaving it to the marketplace. As to LEEDS, money spent up front can to value later.
    Sure, share ideas, but enough with the junkets!

  13. Ray M. says:

    The worst part is, we the citizens, paid for this luxurious trip to North Carolina for these politicians. I guess they still believe that they won a comp’d life when they won election. The madness will never end, as long as the citizens (lemmings) remain blind and continue to return them to office.

  14. The Hammer says:

    ‘Smart Growth” is a term the consultants are now using to generate revenue. And what makes a consultant an expert at anything? Especially back east where everything is different. You’d better watch these people you elected to office, they will bleed you dry.

  15. Mike says:

    “Smart growth” is another way of saying small growth. It all ends up at the same place, a very expensive, no growth economy accomplished by government regulation.

    Fudge and the Windsor city council have created a small downtown that resembles a movie set more than a real town where commerce takes place. Is it thriving, no? Shops are closing and business is bad.

    Fudge and Mackenzie are also on the SMART Train Board of Directors. Is that unwanted train another example of smart growth?

    Fudge and Mackenzie don’t need trips to North Carolina or Japan to learn about urban planning, building codes or diesel trains. If they are curious, they could take a class or read a book.

    Smart growth has brought us CFL light bulbs and controversial smart meters. Are our lives better for this?

  16. I’m with you Beef King,(boy that sounds weird).When I see that faux quaint Disneyland look I think about all the fascist inequitable baggage that goes with it.I think of the Agenda21 vision that has us corralled in these human settlements(near Smart trains).We paid for this nice lady to go to school on how to implement more of this dark Agenda.’Smart is just another word these people have hijacked.I’m glad they use pet names,so we know what to oppose.

  17. ASEF says:

    Considering current slow development ‘smart growth’ should be combining the cities and centralizing them and cutting cost of operation of cities.

  18. Dan Delgado says:

    Reminds me of the definition of “expert” as someone who lives at least 100 miles away. Did we really need to go back to D.C. just to learn some of this LEEDs stuff is just too expensive?

  19. Facts says:

    Engineering cost are eating up 40% of all projects, more if your given all the numbers. That is just something that is completed, What about projects that are 8 years away? By the time you build that project someone will require new engineering to be done. At $75 an HR. and up to $175 HR. Someone is getting fat in these hard times and it is not the workers of this state. It is a waste of money if your short of it.

  20. Steve Klausner says:

    Ah give me the good old days when we argued for no growth. I’d rather live in a trailer park then a condo.

  21. sue says:

    Who paid for this trip? I hope the people in Windsor wake up before they start telling us were out of money. This group is still spending plenty of cash on”Smart Growth” studies/conferences. Didn’t they just tell us that they will have problems future with pension funding. They have full staffs at town hall in this down economy. How many people have the town laid off? This is being run as business as usual, but they will be crying the money blues soon!

    PS Look at the buildings aand businesses downtown and tell me just how “Smart” these people are.

  22. Hina says:

    Beef King, costs are both obvious & hidden & where you start informs which is which. Your embrace of the “market” – the myth that has resulted in hideous development across Sonoma Co – is supported by a mortgage interest tax deduction costing us $100-130 Billon/year. That’s a number greater then ALL of HUD’s affordable Housing programs combined. Great outcomes require great planning. Sonoma Co might try it instead of continuing down the blind alley of “growth” it has embraced.

  23. Joe Modderatz says:

    A good time was had by all at the “deaf leading the blind’ conference!

    But the so called “expert speakers” bureau managed to dig deep to come up their speakers.

    As you recall, it was from these same experts that we received 12% unemployment, trains that go nowhere, mismangement of federal and state funds, a judiciary that is the most corrupt in the west, schools that cant teach, plus 30 million or more illegals in our country.

    Give me a break! The problem with local government is local government, and its unions!

    Who paid for these dumbocrats to attend> Hopefully no the taxpayers!

  24. Beef King says:

    Yes, ‘smart growth’ is passe. In fact, it was never smart at all.
    True smart growth does not require social engineering or wealth re-distribution, but instead fosters growth that is sponsored by consumer/citizen need and desire.
    The quotes from Fudge and Salmon are so absurd and disconnected from reality they read like something from The Onion.

  25. NOTUTOO says:

    ““It cost us a lot.”