Community Development: Local Growth Issues: Federal Opportunities and Challenges
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Community Development: Local Growth Issues: Federal Opportunities and Challenges

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    Faced with a projected 50-percent increase in the U.S. population in the next 50 years, communities across the nation must address the challenges of planning for and managing growth. State and local governments are balancing the need for sustainable economic growth with the need to maintain a quality of life, deliver key services, and confront fiscal constraints. Meanwhile, Americans are increasingly frustrated with traffic congestion, declining older neighborhoods, and the loss of open space. Each community has its own growth-related challenges and unique circumstances that affect its response to the pressures of growth. These pressures are forcing decisionmakers at all levels of government to improve development decisions and find better ways of delivering services and assisting communities. Concerned about how federal programs and policies affect the ability of state and local governments to plan for and manage growth, Congress asked the GAO to identify (1) growth-related challenges facing local communities, (2) tools and techniques that state and local governments are using to help plan for and manage growth in their communities, and (3) federal programs and policies that state and local governments believe serve as barriers or aids in their efforts to plan more effectively for and manage growth. To accomplish these objectives, the GAO surveyed nearly 2,000 city and county governments; all U.S. cities with populations of more than 25,000 and all counties located within U.S. metropolitan areas. The rate of response to our survey was 81 percent. See appendixes I and II for the survey questions and the responses of cities and counties, respectively. Full survey results are available at
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