Land Use

Sustainable Saratoga supports development policies that reduce environmental impacts and make our community more livable for everyone.

Our Land Use Committee is committed to promoting sustainable growth. The guiding principles that drive our advocacy are summarized in the document at right. They include:

  1. Protect the Greenbelt, the area surrounding the core of the city that currently retains a rural, low-density character
  2. Focus growth in the urban core. Guide new development into existing developed areas of the city
  3. Reduce climate impacts of development in the city, and adapt to changing conditions
  4. Support a diverse and resilient local economy
  5. Implement mixed uses where possible in new buildings and within neighborhoods
  6. Promote compact design
  7. Provide affordable and diverse housing options
  8. Support a viable multi-modal transportation system
  9. Engage the public with transparency and inclusivity

To read the full-length version of our “Smart Land Use” principles, click here.

Our Advocacy Work

Our advocacy work focuses on the protection of our natural resources and the promotion of sustainability in government and personal choices. We advocate for issues which often do not have a powerful voice in the community, and we rely on an engaged citizenry to amplify the need for greater inclusion of sustainability principles and goals. Click the links below to scroll to a specific advocacy section.

Development in the City

Saratoga Springs is an attractive place to live, and as a result, development pressures are high within the city. Sustainable Saratoga has consistently advocated for smart, sustainable growth in the city, and has been an active participant in several important processes at the City government level to ensure adequate protection of our natural resources while balancing the need for economic stability that is an essential part of sustainability. The Comprehensive Plan and the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) are two major focuses of our advocacy over the last several years.

The Comprehensive Plan

The Comprehensive Plan was approved in 2015 and its purpose was to guide the future development of the City. This important document reaffirmed the City’s commitment to sustainable development, including the City in the Country vision:

“Saratoga Springs is the “City in the Country.” This concept reflects a city with an intensively developed urban core and an economically vibrant central business district, with well-defined urban edges and an outlying area of rural character, comprised of agriculture, open lands, natural and diverse environmental resources, and low density development.”

Our Actions:

  • We held several community forums before the Comp Plan got started;
  • We developed a long list of policies that we wanted to see in the new Comp Plan;
  • We wrote letters to the City Council asking for the Comp Plan to get underway;
  • We submitted comments for the public hearings; and
  • We endorse the final plan.

Click on the links below to read more:

Land Use Regulations & Development Codes

The Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO, articulates the city’s land use regulations — both conservation and development standards — these rules set the framework for the city’s development, land conservation, aesthetics, and character. The UDO must be based on the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It is intended to coordinate zoning with other city standards and programs, such as the Urban and Community Forestry Master Plan, the Open Space Plan, and the Complete Streets Plan, into a “unified” ordinance.

Development codes can be used to encourage a more aesthetically pleasing but denser urban core; it can also be used to implement sustainability-focused goals of building greener buildings.

Parking management has been a focus of our efforts for over 6 years. We have consistently advocated for greater planning and emphasis on promoting alternative transportation solutions, rather than focusing on automobiles.

The Unified Development Ordinance (UDO)

Building Codes

Flat Rock Centre parking structure
Flat Rock Centre is a taxpayer-owned parcel that includes the recently completed City Center parking structure. Sustainable Saratoga spent many years advocating for a transparent, inclusive planning process for this land, and pushing for a requirement that it follow the City’s own design standards.


Environmental Protection & Open Space

For the past 30 years the “City in the Country” has been the development concept for Saratoga Springs. This vision is one of a city with an intensively developed urban core with an economically vibrant central business district that is surrounded by an outlying rural area comprised of agriculture, natural ecosystems, open space, and low density development. The rural character area around the urban core is the “greenbelt.”

The Greenbelt functions to contain sprawl within the City limits. It is a part of the attractiveness of Saratoga Springs to tourists. The Greenbelt contains large area of wetlands and wildlife habitats that are ecologically critical. The wetlands also filter and improve the water quality of stormwater leaving the urban core before it reaches downstream lakes. Sustainable Saratoga has consistently advocated for the protection of our invaluable natural resources.

You can find out more about our City’s Greenbelt here.

Parking & Alternative Transportation

Sustainable Saratoga has been a vocal supporter of the implementation of the City’s Complete Streets Policy and has long advocated for initiatives that work towards improving the safety and accessibility of a cleaner, greener transportation system. A well-integrated parking and transportation system is critical for the long-term sustainability of the downtown area.

Diverse & Affordable Housing

Sustainable Saratoga has long advocated for more diverse and affordable housing opportunities within Saratoga Springs because we believe that increased diversity brings greater stability, economic resilience, and sustainability. While we are encouraged by some new workforce housing projects, we recognize that the City needs a more diverse portfolio of housing opportunities in the city.

Candidate Surveys on Sustainability Issues

Sustainable Saratoga is a not-for-profit organization and as such, does not endorse any candidates for public office. However, we believe that local elections offer an opportunity to raise and discuss pressing issues relating to sustainability in this region. Every two years, we create and distribute a survey questionnaire on sustainability issues to all of the local candidates running for office in the City. Click on the links below to see previous candidate responses.