The scenarios are not plans for us to follow, but instead are possible virtual futures based on current-day market trends and assumptions. Taking this into account, we can still attempt to compare the scenarios and learn some basic lessons, which are also outlined in the powerpoints at the bottom of the page.
1. Creating mixed-use centers around major transportation areas is the primary driver of improved transportation performance
Integrating land use and the transportation system is far more beneficial than increasing density in improving transportation performance. Scenario B showed us that mixed-use, walkable centers located around transit and road system nodes could move destinations closer to homes. In addition, this scenario provided more jobs within the Vistas to decrease long-distance commutes.
The higher density scenarios of Scenarios C and D achieved additional marginal reductions in auto use, however the two changes alone from A to B produced most of the quantum improvement in transportation impacts across all scenarios. These improved development patterns probably are more easily implemented than efficiency improvements in buildings and cars, since such places have proven market demand.
2. All components of sustainability — a vibrant local economy, equitable and marketable housing, and good environmental design — must be balanced
A balance of all three sustainability components, and none at the expense of another, is the key to a sustainable community in Superstition Vistas. True sustainability involves ensuring that there is a balance of social, environmental and economic priorities, while respecting what makes the region special. If the economy doesn’t grow or provide sufficient local services, people will drive farther and use more energy, creating a less livable community. If natural resources are not protected and conserved, the community could become cost prohibitive and out of sync with the national and regional sustainability movement.
3. The lifeblood of any sustainable community is a vibrant economy
A critical component of sustainability is a strong local economy through reduced vehicle travel, high quality of life, thoughtful planning, economic catalysts. A balance of jobs, retail and housing located near one another can reduce vehicle travel and increase quality of life. An environmentally-oriented planned community without sufficient local employment will lose the environmental benefits as people travel long distances to work or shopping.
Early and aggressive economic development of the Vistas is essential to creating a sustainable place across all three sustainability goals. Superstition Vistas should attract investments from catalysts such as a university or similar institution, or regional headquarters of global businesses, among others. Factors that attract these catalysts include efficient transportation networks, “shovel-ready” entitled land and a swift, predictable development process, all of which require forethought and strategic planning for development. From the perspective of a landowner, in this case the Arizona State Land Department, early economic catalyzation drives and improves overall financial return.
4. The Arizona Trust Land System must change to build a smart and sustainable future
Laws need to be changed and Arizona State Land Department resources increased in order to maximize the agency’s ability to achieve the Superstition Vistas vision. This will result in a higher return for Arizona’s schoolchildren and allow for more comprehensive planning of the Superstition Vistas community. A few key actions would include enhancing the ability of the State to: implement plans at the scale of Superstition Vistas, participate as a partner in the development of the community, reallocate land values and participate in alternative methods of infrastructure financing. Governance of Superstition Vistas also must be designed in collaboration with public and private partners to realize the potential and maintain the long-range vision for this unique community.
5. Provide a full spectrum of housing that matches community needs and market demand
To be truly sustainable for its residents and economic vitality, Superstition Vistas should have housing options near employment and services for a broad spectrum of people. A broad mix of housing will attract a diversity of ages and incomes, improving the business climate (through affordable workforce housing). Such a mix can accommodate the changing needs of a community over time — Superstition Vistas will be a place that attracts young people to their first job, a place where new families can purchase their first home, and where older adults can live in an easy-to-maintain townhome. Since a mixture of housing is both more livable and more energy efficient, it creates a complete communities while saving on energy costs.
6. Build green and promote auto efficiency
Increasing the efficiency of buildings and cars has a greater potential impact on carbon emissions than urban form, although it could come at a prohibitive cost. The best development program will include a balance between urban design principles that produce a livable community and those that increase water and energy conservation. Cultural norms change slowly, so the development should consider contemporary tastes but also develop buildings that are cost-effective and resource efficient. Efforts also should be made to facilitate and promote the use of more efficient cars. By constantly tracking the changing expectations of communities and changing building and transportation technology, new developments such as Superstition Vistas can incorporate the latest green design and appeal to current tastes.
7. Superstition Vistas will need connectivity to the region and the super-region
All of the scenarios assumed excellent local and regional connectivity, with Superstition Vistas a key central piece in the Phoenix- Tucson megaregion. This connectivity is critical for the development of the Vistas. If Superstition Vistas is instead a cul-de-sac at the eastern edge of the Phoenix area without major transportation infrastructure connections, it will become a low-density suburb with poor transportation systems. These connections must include both roads and transit. The best scenarios had between 350,000 and 400,000 daily transit riders — more than twice the daily ridership of Phoenix and nearly twice as much as Dallas. To grow in a sustainable way, the transit system must start small and mature in size and service as more people move to the area. The local transit system also must tie into the regional commuter rail service.