What is Smart Growth and What it Means for Sacramento

A rendering of future development at The Railyards, part of Sacramento's Smart Growth plan.

What is Smart Growth and What it Means for Sacramento

January 28, 2022 | By The Railyards

Sacramentans driving past Richards Blvd off of I-5 may notice some new changes at The Railyards. This once disused space is seeing new life as construction takes place on projects such as The A.J. and the new Courthouse. But all of this development is more than just an exciting change of scenery -- it has real environmental and economic benefits. 
Learn more about Smart Growth, the community planning technique that’s transforming The Railyards and Sacramento as a whole.

What is Smart Growth?

Smart growth is an approach to planning communities that focuses on creating compact, walkable areas that combat urban sprawl and create more environmentally friendly communities. This approach encompasses an array of development and conservation strategies that aim to protect community health and our natural environment.

Ten core principles guide smart growth developments like The Railyards. They include:

  1. Mixed land use that offers residential, commercial, and recreational spaces close to each other.
  2. Compact building design that preserves urban space and prevents urban sprawl.
  3. Providing housing opportunities and choices for multiple income levels.
  4. Create walkable neighborhoods.
  5. Build distinct, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
  6. Preserve open space and natural beauty.
  7. Combat sprawl by directing development towards existing communities.
  8. Provide a variety of transportation choices.
  9. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost-effective.
  10. Encourage community collaboration in development decisions.

What Does Smart Growth Look Like for The Railyards?

The City of Sacramento anticipates 1 million new residents by 2030. To accommodate these new Sacramentans in a sustainable, efficient way the City is embracing Smart Growth with projects like The Railyards. This focus on Smart Growth will allow Sacramento to grow in a way that minimizes urban sprawl, increases the role of public transit, and reinvests in the Downtown area.

Two of the core tenants of Smart Growth call for the preservation of open space and combatting urban sprawl by investing in existing communities. Brownfield redevelopment and infill development projects like The Railyards are an ideal way to achieve this goal. These projects focus on redeveloping contaminated or unused spaces to reimagine them as modern, thriving community centers.

This reuse of existing spaces supports Sacramento's community and environmentally-friendly Smart Growth strategy in a multitude of ways. By focusing growth on reusing previously developed spaces, we can help preserve our area's wild spaces.

Additionally, The Railyards' plan calls for mixed-use spaces and housing options at various price points. Mixed-use land with affordable housing options creates intimate, walkable communities with commercial and residential spaces in convenient proximity to each other, at price points that accommodate a variety of income levels.

How Will This Change Sacramento Communities?

The Smart Growth techniques implemented at The Railyards help to create a Sacramento that's stronger economically, environmentally, and as a community. Smart Growth projects like this one offer very real benefits, such as:

  • Improved air quality thanks to the walkability created by mixed-use spaces and proximity to transit options.
  • Improved water quality by preserving open spaces and reducing the amount of paved surface, allowing natural land to filter rainwater and runoff. 
  • Lower environmental impact thanks to improved transportation options, more open space, and green building techniques.
  • More convenient commutes by creating housing opportunities that are closer to transit and employment options in Downtown Sacramento.

Learn more about how The Railyards is working to preserve and improve environmental and community health. Discover our commitment to the Sacramento community.

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