Planning for Sustainability
Resource Management
Regulatory & Growth Systems


Local governments need to develop new policies and refine existing development regulations to address environmental sustainability. This means that the physical resources of this earth should be used in a way that maintains the ability of natural systems to support human and other life. This should be done while meeting basic human needs, being fair, and respecting cultural and social differences.

The problems with incorporating sustainability into the planning and development process include the lack of a framework for defining sustainability, a lack of a methodology for applying sustainability principles to the project at hand, and a lack of understanding the continuum from principles to policies to desired outcomes.
The starting point for the effort should be scientifically and ecologically based—preventing the accumulation of substances in places and in quantities that cannot be absorbed by natural systems, ensuring the continued productivity of natural renewable systems, using non-renewable resources efficiently while developing alternatives, and preserving ecological diversity.
These scientific principles must be applied in a fair and equitable manner and should be integrated into good planning practice, including the concepts of Smart Growth (limiting low intensity growth and placing more emphasis on collaborative decision making), The New Urbanism (emphasizing urban design, including form-based principles, within a regional context), and Permaculture (emphasizing sustainable agriculture, design with nature, and appropriate materials). Sustainability indicators should be considered for inclusion in the implementation program and, where used, should be integrated with quality-of-life and other indicators.
As a start, local sustainability programs must include provisions that lead to better designed, more compact communities. The most effective way of achieving efficient land use patterns is to make compact communities more desirable places to live so people will have little incentive to move farther and farther away. Compact communities will reduce vehicle miles traveled, reduce energy and materials used for infrastructure, and preserve land for recreation, agriculture, and habitat.
After more than 30 years of professional practice, Robert Odland Consulting is now focusing its efforts on implementation programs and development regulations in the following areas:
• Comprehensive Sustainability Programs
• Integrated Sustainability Regulations
• LEED for Neighborhood Development
• Downtown Revitalization
• Land Use & Renewable Energy
• Environmental Conservation
• Community Design in Extreme Climates
• Growth Management Systems
• Intergovernmental Coordination
Bob Odland possesses a unique background that enables him to deal with these diverse issues of sustainability. His interests and career combine a broad body of professional knowledge, an ability to synthesize input from varied disciplines, and an ability to deal with the transition between vision and reality.
Early in his professional career, his work focused on resource and environmental management. He was the coastal planner for the Association of Bay Area Governments and then worked with the California Coastal Commission in its initial year of operation. Subsequent coastal work included managing the coastal plan for Volusia County, Florida, and preparing the implementing ordinance for the Pacific Grove coastal program.
Other resource management work included serving on the staff of the California Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee, where he worked on agricultural land preservation. Bob also incorporated agricultural lands preservation and other environmental issues into general plan and regulatory projects he managed. One notable example was the Comprehensive Plan and Development Regulations for the Disney World area, which dealt in detail with development on sensitive land, habitat protection, stormwater runoff, construction wastes, wellhead protection, and other environmental issues.
Bob was one of the original staff members of the Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), now renamed the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where he first began his work of pulling the various parts of good planning and management practices into coordinated systems at the local level. He was responsible for the creation of the Community and Consumers Affairs Branch, and became its Branch Chief.
During his tenure at SERI, he became a member of the National Review Board for the Community Technology Assessment Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, one of the first programs at any government level to recognize the significance of an interdisciplinary systems approach to land use, environmental protection, housing, utilities, resource conservation, and energy use. He also organized and was chair of two national conferences on community-scale energy systems.
After leaving SERI he co-managed the first EIR/EIS in the country on wind energy production and analyzed wind energy opportunities in Montana and Colorado. He then worked for a European wind and photovoltaic energy manufacturing company for two years. Subsequent energy work included managing one of the first studies of the relationship of energy use to land-use patterns, carried out for the Southern California region, with assistance from the California Energy Commission.
Bob was the project manager and author of “The Sustainable City,” a proposed chapter of the City of Los Angeles General Plan Framework, to which he contributed. He also was the sustainable development consultant to the East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission, which dealt with military base conversions.
Bob has prepared downtown mixed-use ordinances for many cities, such as Anaheim and Oakland. He also worked with the Los Angeles Central City Association to identify barriers to residential development in downtown Los Angeles and with the City of Denver in assuring that changes to the downtown regulations will enable Denver to implement its new Downtown Plan, part of the mayor’s sustainability program. Bob is currently preparing the downtown development regulations for Anchorage, which are based on form-based principles.

Bob was a member of the team that developed the Pajaro Valley Growth Strategy, a successful intergovernmental effort to save agricultural land by focusing more development within the City of Watsonville. He prepared environmentally sensitive ordinances for the portion of Douglas County, Nevada, within the Lake Tahoe Basin and for hillside development in Pittsburg, California. He is currently preparing a model sustainable land use code for Taos County, New Mexico.
He was on the board of Urban Ecology for ten years and managed the initial phases of its award-winning Blueprint for a Sustainable Bay Area before he left to begin work in Eastern Europe on land use issues, including advising the Union of Russian Cities on implementing sustainable development. While working in Europe, he participated in the United Nations Habitat II Conference at Istanbul, which addressed housing and sustainable development.
Upon returning from Europe in 1996, he was a consultant to the Association of Bay Area Governments in support of the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development, a regional offshoot of the President’s Council of Sustainable Development; a consultant to the North State Institute for Sustainable Communities; and a sustainability consultant to the OZ Entertainment Company.
Bob has made presentations on sustainability at the National APA Conference, CNU Congress, and CCAPA Conference. He has also made lectured on the subject at UC Berkeley, UCLA School of Law, Sonoma State University, University of Colorado, and the University of New Mexico.



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