To effectively address the challenges posed by growth and development, states must put in place programs, policies and structures that allow them to see and respond to the “big picture” of statewide development patterns. State government needs to be structured in ways that foster collaborative policies and investments instead of inhibiting them. Many specific policies must be administered on a department-by-department basis, but states must unify these efforts by adopting comprehensive approaches that not only integrate, but add value to individual department actions.
There is no substitute, of course, for leadership from the top. Beyond that, any State that is serious about improving its land use decisions needs to work with citizens to create a development and preservation vision for the state and a set of development principles that all parties agree to abide by. This vision could include statewide approaches to transportation, housing and job creation, as well as a consistent strategy to communicate these ideas to the public and to local decision makers. Once a program is underway, states need to create realistic goals, develop objective measures of progress toward those goals and report the results periodically to the public.