Best Practices

Making Smart Growth Policy Accessible

Smart Growth is a set of principles that guides development into more compact, interconnected, mixed use patterns. This pattern produces more vibrant communities, healthier land and has proven to be more sustainable. Smart growth development has been shown to reduce the number of miles that people travel by vehicle every day and it has also proven to use less energy overall than more sprawling communities.

caldwell_master_mapCompact development does not mean exclusively high-rise or even uniform high density. It does mean higher average densities from a mix of housing types. Compact development features a mix of land uses, strong population and employment centers, interconnected streets, and design of both structures and public realm at a human scale.

As a tool for neighborhoods, planners, decision makers, and developers, Idaho Smart Growth has developed a matrix of smart growth best practices. These practices concentrate on land use policies and regulations that can lead to sustainable smart growth communities while supporting good development, good developers and great neighborhoods. It features real examples of those practices as they are being used and especially includes Idaho examples.

» Download detailed best practices matrix
» Commercial Development Scorecard
» Neighborhood Development Scorecard

Safe Routes to Schools

Idaho Smart Growth, through funding from the Idaho Department of Transportation and the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health, Inc., has compiled a review of city policies relating to Safe Routes to Schools and published a guide on Safe Routes to Schools Best practices in Idaho. If you would like a hard copy of the Best Practices, call our office at 208-333-8066 to arrange a time to pick one up.

Idaho Smart Growth also worked with health educators and educational transportation professionals to develop suggested Model School Policies changes for school districts to consider in support of safer walking and biking for students.

Idaho Smart Growth conducts workshops around the state on policy and practices that affect Safe Routes to Schools. If you are interested in a workshop, please contact Elaine Clegg at

Reports from completed Safe Routes to Schools workshops are available; contact us for more information.

Here are some of the resources from the workshops:

Safe Routes to Schools Workshop-Tools
Local strategies for supporting community-centered schools

Code Reform – Model Codes

Idaho Smart Growth is committed to supporting Idaho citizens and, local officials and lawmakers as they work to make Idaho a better, smarter place to live.

We have developed a suite of model codes and policies that help you meet smart growth principles with standards that protect the existing community while enabling development where it’s appropriate. Explore the Introduction to zoning for smart growth to using the model codes; updating Comprehensive Planning Policies, zoning for a Neighborhood Market Place District – a small mixed use center, and for larger Mixed Use Activity Center Zone, allowing Accessory Dwelling Units, and developing Connectivity Standards.

Areas of City Impact

Idaho Smart Growth partnered with the Idaho chapter of the American Planning Association, the University of Idaho College of Law, the Idaho Association of Counties, the Association of Idaho Cities and others, to complete a study on land use planning and area of city impact in Idaho. Through surveys, focus groups, comprehensive plan analysis, and lessons learned from other states, a series of recommendations for action were developed. To read our discussion paper, click here.

As a resource, Idaho AOI agreements are listed below. To download the Area of City Impact Toolkit, click here. University of Idaho College of Law 2012 AOI Compilation.

To schedule a training on Area of City Impacts, email or call 208-333-8066.