In the mid-90s in the USA, the smart growth movement emerged, promoting a blended approach to urban sprawl management. This paper aims to explore the potential of smart growth to contribute in the achievement of effective urban sprawl management. To do that, it investigates the incentive-based, regionally-led approach undertaken in the San Diego region. In this example, a regional comprehensive plan which embeds smart growth concepts is currently carried out by an association of governments (SANDAG). Although lacking in land-use powers, SANDAG rests on a wide range of incentives, which should encourage recalcitrant local authorities to put the regional plan forward. The paper concludes that an incentive-based approach can lead to very positive results. However, it can work even better in conjunction with a regulatory framework in order to fill some specific gaps which can occur during the implementation process of the plan.
Keywords: smart growth, growth management, incentive-based approach, San Diego region, sustainable urban form, urban sprawl management