Friends walking together on the sidewalk of a public park

Plan Compact Growth in Existing Cities and Towns

Direct new growth to existing urban areas and take advantage of existing infrastructure, complete streets, transit, walkable areas, a mix of land uses, and proximity to jobs.

Issue Brief

How Can Cities and Counties Plan for Street Network Connectivity?
A well-connected network has many short links, numerous intersections, and minimal dead-ends. Where a road connection may not make sense, a pedestrian or bicycle connection may still be considered. As connectivity increases, travel distances decrease and route options increase. The result is more direct travel between destinations and a more accessible system. Read the brief.

Best Practice Actions

  1. Plan for attractive and walkable activity centers in your community.
  2. Plan for density and intensity around transit routes and increase alternative transportation mode opportunities that reduce the need to drive.
  3. Plan for housing that is affordable to all segments of the population and near job centers.
  4. Address urban design and provide amenities that make urban areas places where people want to live, work, and socialize.
  5. Use incentives to encourage higher density development and efficient infrastructure service (consider level of service standards, impact fees and regional stormwater facilities).
  6. Consider all opportunities for additional infill before considering expansion of Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) to accommodate new growth.
  7. Delay UGAs expansions until a city or jurisdiction is able to provide the additional area(s) with a full range of urban governmental services.

Benefits of Compact Growth

  • Reduces the costs of public services such as water, sewer, road infrastructure, police, fire, and emergency services.
  • Supports mass transit and a wider array of non-motorized transportation options.
  • Improves ambient air quality because vehicle-miles travelled generally decrease.
  • Helps decrease fossil fuel consumption.
  • Increases economic productivity by creating an employment density that attracts additional investment.
  • Improves productivity by providing businesses with easier access to labor, suppliers, and supporting businesses.
  • Helps businesses compete for labor because many professionals and recent college graduates prefer to live near their work and walk to shops, restaurants, and entertainment.
  • Provides low-wage workers better access to affordable housing near jobs and transportation options.
  • Helps businesses attract customers because people can reach their location in multiple ways.

Tools & Resources

Growth Mgmt. Services
Washington Department of Commerce
Commerce Growth Mgmt. Services- Housing
Washington Department of Commerce
SEPA -Planned Actions (Ch 7.4)
Washington State Department of Ecology
PSRC Centers
Puget Sound Regional Council
WA Tracking Network Healthy Communities Indicators
WA State DOH
Smart Growth Assessment for Rural Communities


Bellingham North State Street Design Concept

A good example of place making and walkability planning along a commercial corridor.


Kenmore Town Center

2016 Governors Smart Community Award Winner.



Share your example of a transportation efficient community.