The Future of Smart Growth



Smart Growth and Sustainability in Communities in the U.S.


3:30 Kate explains her passion for her work with the Local Government Commission.

5:37 Matt talks about his motivation to start at The Office of Sustainable Communities.

8:08 The impact that the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference has had over the years.

11:43 What does the Office of Sustainable Communities do for the EPA?

14:33 How does the Smart Growth and Sustainability Act affect how we make community decisions now?

15:50 Where we are now, and where do we need to go?

23:02 One change that Kate and Matt would make.

24:49 Action steps for listeners to take to help their communities.

26:45 What will our country and communities look like 30 years from now?

29:15 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference Information




Kate Meis has served as the Executive Director of the Local Government Commission (LGC) since 2013. Since assuming directorship, her focus has been to strengthen partnerships and capacity to serve a growing number of community leaders across the state and the nation. Kate is a champion for local governments, a catalyst of early local climate change adaptation, mitigation and clean energy efforts, and an ardent coalition builder. Under Kate’s leadership LGC has become a forerunner on climate change – advancing the first California Adaptation Forum, developing a new Governor’s Initiative CivicSpark capacity building program and providing fiscal and staffing support for the new Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation. Kate is driven by the belief that given the right tools and partners people will innovate to improve their communities and respond to pressing challenges. Her unique background in agricultural research, social work, alternative transportation and community development has helped her to establish a rich network of partners and an integrated approach to assisting local governments.



Matthew Dalbey is the Director of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities. The Office of Sustainable Communities (OSC) collaborates with other US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs; federal agencies; regional, state, and local governments; and a broad array of nongovernmental partners to help communities become stronger, healthier, and more sustainable through smarter growth, green building, green infrastructure and related strategies. OSC leads EPA’s participation in the interagency (HUD-DOT-EPA) Partnership for Sustainable Communities, as well as EPA’s cross-Agency focus on Making a Visible Difference in Communities. This work is integral to EPA’s priorities of improving air quality, addressing climate change, protecting America’s waters, cleaning up our communities and promoting environmental justice.


Take Away Quotes:

“The trajectory of growth that we all relied on for generations is not there any longer fundamentally all across this country we are trying to reinvent our economy there are places that have done better since the great recession and there are many places that have not yet begun to move forward. And I think the big challenge for all of us that are working in the smart growth, sustainable communities, environmental justice space is how do we work in our communities to help reinvent the economies that are not the economies of the 20th century but are the economies of the 21st century. I don’t know what that is going to look like but we need to figure it out because the trajectory of growth is just not there any longer. We have to work on economic development in every single one of our communities. We have to become good stewards of not only the environment but the economy in our communities right now. And I think it is a great space for all of us to move into as we continue to work together going forward.”

“For the past 6 years, what I am most proud of, and as an organization, we’re most proud of–and working with partners like you Bernice and Matt, and all of the other partners across the nation–is that we’ve been able to make equity and environmental justice a core of the programming at the conference. I think that has been a huge necessity and it’s really shaped the dialog, and evolved the dialog in some really important ways. Lastly, we’ve been able to not just bring people together but we’ve seen tangible results in the communities, and that’s really what this is all about.”

“If stakeholders in communities could spend some time envisioning what our communities will be looking like in the next 20 or 30 years, have a vision of that, even if it’s in someone’s mind or you could write it down, or draw a picture of it. Spend some time thinking about what you want your community to look like in the next 20 years and stick with it. Then, see what are the pieces that need to be pulled together in order to get there and the pieces have to be thought of very very broadly.”


New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, Portland, Oregon February 11 – 13, 2016

Local Government Commission