For example, "number of permits issued," and "number of housing
starts," although good measures for a housing department or a real
estate developer, do not address carrying
capacity or have links to other aspects of the community. Some
aspects that are missing include: how much land is being used up in
creating new houses, whether those houses are affordable to people
living in the area or only to people moving in from outside the area,
whether the housing results in more transportation needs or whether the
housing is close to existing places of employment, shopping,
education, and recreation.
"Change in urban area versus change in population" addresses "carrying
capacity" in that many communities have increased the amount of land
that they use at a much greater rate than the population is increasing.
Clearly this is not a sustainable trend.
"Acres of farmland lost to development" and "land per capita used for
transportation" also address carrying capacity in that there is a fixed
amount of land available. These indicators also link land use to
other areas, specifically food production and transportation.
"Change in the amount of impervious surfaces" links transportation and
land use to water quality and addresses carrying capacity in that the
impervious surfaces do not absorb water and increase the risk of
(If there is time, ask the participants for additional ideas for better