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Smart Growth America ranks Chicago region among national leaders in effective patterns of land use

Metropolitan Chicago's land-use trends are among the top U.S. regions according to a new national report on smart growth patterns of 221 major metropolitan areas.

Measuring Sprawl 2014, released on April 2, 2014, by national advocacy group Smart Growth America, ranks the most sprawling and most compact areas of the country. The new report evaluates development patterns in 221 major metropolitan areas and their counties based on four factors: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering. Each metro area received a Sprawl Index score based on these factors. The report ranks the Chicago region 26th nationally.  See full rankings at the Smart Growth America website.

The study also examines how different development patterns relate to the quality of life in these areas—and the differences are startling. People in compact, connected areas have greater upward economic mobility than their peers in sprawling areas. That is, a child born in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale has a better chance of rising to the top 20 percent of the income scale by age 30.

"Based on our findings, metropolitan Chicago is among the country's leaders in promoting growth in developed areas of the region," said Ilana Preuss, vice president and chief of staff for Smart Growth America. "A critical element of the GO TO 2040 comprehensive plan is to encourage development in existing communities, where infrastructure to support it is already available. This strategy is off to a good start, but the region needs to continue to make smart investment and planning decisions to reach its goals."