Wheeler 1998 defines sustainable urban development as “development that improves the long-term social and ecological health of cities and towns.” He sketches a ‘sustainable’ city’s features: compact, efficient land use; less automobile use, yet better access; efficient resource use; less pollution and waste; the restoration of natural systems; good housing and living environments; a healthy social ecology; a sustainable economy; community participation and involvement; and preservation of local culture and wisdom (Snyder, 1988). To compliment this many countries and states sought to use collaborative planning in order to ensure sustainability. This involves empowering stakeholders by uplifting them into decision-makers by directly engaging them through dialogue with public agencies.
The California environmental quality act was adopted by the state of California in 1970 shortly after the federal government initiated the national environmental policy act. The main purpose of the act was to a policy for environmental protection. The act does not directly regulate, instead it agencies within California to follow a certain protocol involving public disclosures potential impacts of any development projects.