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Stop Sprawl
Smart Growth/ Environmental Justice Principles

Challenge to Sprawl Campaign Committee
Environmental Justice Committee

To: Sierra Club Leaders

Re: Environmental Justice and Sprawl 

The National Neighborhood Coalition has spearheaded the development of a set of principles that address the social justice issues associated with sprawl and smart growth. They did so in consultation with a broad array of groups including the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club's Challenge to Sprawl Campaign and Environmental Justice Committees are both extremely pleased with the product. 

Our committees recommend that Groups and Chapters and other Sierra Club entities discuss these principles and pass resolutions in the form of the sample we have included at the bottom of this memo. Please ask the entities you are involved with to act on this at their next opportunity, and let us know the results of your discussion. You can direct your correspondence to Tim Frank or Kirstin Replogle ( or 

These are not intended as a comprehensive set of smart growth principles. Instead, they are intended as a complement to the principles already espoused by groups like the Sierra Club. 

As we promote things like infill development and redevelopment, it is important that we be mindful of the potential impacts on low income communities. Poorly managed gentrification, for instance, will simply displace the poor. At the same time, new economic development in blighted areas is critically important. 

We also need to encourage wealthier communities to accept their fair share of affordable housing. The common practice of excluding affordable housing puts a considerable strain on those who work in wealthier areas but have to commute from areas of concentrated poverty. For a variety of reasons, exclusionary practices put a strain on the environment too (more congestion, loss of openspace...).

Over the last 50 years, sprawl has undermined social justice every bit as much as it has degraded the environment. Therein lies a tremendous opportunity. The very best responses to both the social justice and environmental problems associated with sprawl are those that solve 
both problems at once. These are the solutions we call smart growth.

Our adopting the principles enumerated below will send an important signal that the Sierra Club is dedicated to combating sprawl in a manner that advances social justice. 

For a thorough analysis of the principles enumerated below, the NNC has prepared a concept paper that you can find at: review.pdf

If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to either Kirstin or Tim. You will find our email addresses below. Please let us know if you pass a resolution on this issue. In addition, if you could identify someone from your chapter or group who is interested in the social justice issues associated with sprawl, please send us their contact information (if you have several names, go ahead and send them, but please do this right now). 


Tim Frank
Challenge to Sprawl Campaign Committee

Kirstin Replogle
Environmental Justice Committee


Whereas environmental justice is a critical issue for the Club; and 

Whereas Sprawl and Smart Growth are issues powerfully entwined with social justice; 

The ______ Chapter (or Group) joins the Sierra Club's National Challenge to Sprawl Campaign and Environmental Justice Committees in recommending that the Board of Directors adopt the Neighborhood Principles for Smart Growth.


1. All neighborhoods should have a fair share of the benefits as well as responsibilities of growth.

2. Growth should meet the economic, environmental, and social needs of low-income and other communities.

3. Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color should have a strong voice in decisions about growth.

4. Growth should not displace low-income residents or people of color in urban or rural areas from their homes, livelihoods, or communities.

5. Growth strategies should promote racial, economic, and ethnic integration.

6. Growth strategies should make use of the human, economic, and physical assets within communities.

NOTE: So far, the New Columbia Chapter (D.C.), the New Hampshire Chapter, the Houston Group of the Texas Chapter, and the Connecticut Chapter have adopted these principles.  Please write us if your Chapter or Group is considering adopting, or has adopted, a similar resolution.


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