City Solutions Database

Welcome to NLC's City Practices Database. Here, you will find examples of initiatives and projects on a variety of topics being implemented now in cities of all sizes across the country.

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Mar 07
  • Food
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Health
  • Community & Housing
  • Land Use
  • Zoning

Local governments can use urban agriculture as a tool to address many financial, health, and environmental issues.  For example, agriculture in and close to major cities can help the environment by, among other things, reducing the distances food travels.  Community gardens can keep people active while providing them with natural, locally grown food.  Municipal policies can help community…

Mar 07
  • Water & Green Infrastructure
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Climate
  • Water Quality
  • Placemaking
  • Community & Housing
  • Open Space
  • Health

Given the water challenges facing many parts of the country, capturing, storing, and using rainwater and stormwater runoff is often an effective way of decreasing stresses on municipal water sources.  "The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting" prepared for the Texas Water Development Board is a good resource for Sustainability Officers interested in learning about small-scale commercial and…

Mar 07
  • Land Use
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Community
  • Zoning
  • Neighborhoods

Many cities in the United States are reassessing their use-based zoning codes in light of the increasing health, environmental, and economic costs of sprawl. To counter the car-centric system of development codified in use-based zoning codes, some pioneering cities have adopted form-based codes that seek to structure cities into compact and walkable neighborhoods.

This template…

Mar 07
  • Land Use
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Community
  • Economic Development
  • Zoning
  • Downtown
  • Neighborhoods

This ordinance is a suitable model for small governments looking to replace their sprawl based ordinance with a relatively simple Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) ordinance. Simple staff review will suffice.

By creating a stand-alone TND zoning district, this ordinance allows for integration of TND principles into almost any zoning ordinance. While omitting the design…

Mar 07
  • Land Use
  • Community & Housing
  • Economic Development
  • Downtown
  • Neighborhoods
  • Zoning
  • Community

A Traditional Neighborhood Development, or TND, also known as a village-style development, includes a variety of housing types, a mixture of land uses, an active center, a walkable design and often a transit option within a compact neighborhood scale area. TNDs can be developed either as infill in an existing developed area or as a new large scale project.

To qualify as a TND, a…

Mar 07
  • Community
  • Transportation
  • Public Transit
  • Zoning
  • Bicycle
  • Bus
  • Land Use

Transit-oriented development, or TOD, is an approach to development that focuses land uses around a transit station or within a transit corridor. Typically, it is characterized by:

A mix of uses Moderate to high density Pedestrian orientation/connectivity Transportation choices Reduced parking High quality design

The rule of thumb is that TOD occurs within one-quarter mile, or a…

Mar 07
  • Brownfields
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Community
  • Neighborhoods
  • Economic Development
  • Zoning
Urban Infill

Urban infill is defined as new development that is sited on vacant or undeveloped land within an existing community, and that is enclosed by other types of development. The term "urban infill" itself  implies that existing land is mostly built-out and what is being built is in effect "filling in" the gaps. The term most commonly refers to building single-family homes in existing…

Mar 07
  • Health
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Community & Housing
  • Open Space
  • Placemaking
  • Water
  • Community & Housing
  • Infrastructure
  • Climate
  • Water & Green Infrastructure

Comprehensive community planning represents the most effective tool available for the implementation of a green infrastructure network. Requirements for community comprehensive plans vary from state to state, and certain regions within states, such as MSAs or other urban areas, can have requirements that are unique to that area. It would be difficult to create a broadly applicable template of…

Mar 06
  • Transportation
  • Land Use
  • Community & Housing
  • Health & Wellness
  • Public Transit
  • Traffic
  • Infrastructure
  • Roads
  • Communities

Before there were cars, there were streets that accommodated multiple modes of travel. After the advent of automobiles, transportation agencies increasingly built streets only for cars. Because these incomplete streets lack sidewalks, raised medians, covered bus stops, and treatments for the disabled, they offer no relatively safe transportation option aside from…

Mar 05
  • Energy
  • Air Quality and Emissions
  • Building
  • Environment & Sustainability

Benchmarking is the process of comparing inputs, processes, or outputs within or between organizations, often to motivate performance improvement. Benchmarking typically measures performance using an indicator per common unit (e.g., cost per unit produced), which allows for comparison over time, to others, or to an applicable standard.

When applied to building…