A strong city or town needs to make sure that its land use is productive: that is, that the activity taking place on that city's land is creating enough wealth to support the infrastructure and services needed for that place to continue to exist and thrive.
But far too few places actually do that math. And when you do it, you often find things that run counter to conventional wisdom about where your city's wealth is coming from.
Strong Towns was founded on the core insight that we must do the math on our developments and infrastructure. Strong Towns president, Charles Marohn, conducted a well-known "value per acre" analysis comparing an "old and blighted" block in his town of Brainerd, MN with a "shiny and new" block.
This type of analysis is comparable to measuring the fuel efficiency of your car in terms of miles per gallon—which is meaningful—rather than miles per tank, which isn't, since tank capacity varies from one vehicle to another. Value per acre is a measure of your town's land-use efficiency.
We constantly hear from readers who want to do similar analyses, so we have we put together a guide to help you do just that.