Local, regional, state and federal governments employ smart growth for a wide variety of purposes, yet seldom define it except by example. The current national emphasis on smart growth, great diversity of implementing tools, and frequent confusion with other planning trends suggest a need to analyze this particular planning trend. This paper uses a survey of self-identified smart growth tools to conceptualize and analyze smart growth. The results show smart growth isn’t really new or innovative. While smart growth’s vague appeal to all ideologies currently precludes it from becoming a progressive movement, the trend’s pragmatism could unite these competing interests.