The Ahwahnee Principles for Resource-Efficient Communities, written in 1991 by the Local Government Commission, paved the way for the Smart Growth movement and New Urbanism. These principles provide a blueprint for elected officials to create compact, mixed-use, walkable, transit-oriented developments in their local communities. Cities and counties across the nation have adopted them to break the cycle of sprawl.
If you like the newly emerging downtowns across the nation – full of people, activities and great public spaces – that’s the Ahwahnee Principles in action. Since then, the Ahwahnee Principles for Economic Development in 1997, the Ahwahnee Water Principles in 2005, and the Ahwahnee Principles for Climate Change in 2008 have been developed to complement this pioneering vision.
Existing patterns of urban and suburban development seriously impair our quality of life. The symptoms are: more congestion and air pollution resulting from our increased dependence on automobiles, the loss of precious open space, the need for costly improvements to roads and public services, the inequitable distribution of economic resources, and the loss of a sense of community. By drawing upon the best from the past and the present, we can plan communities that will more successfully serve the needs of those who live and work within them. Such planning should adhere to certain fundamental principles.