Five teams of graduate students in the Urban Design and Land Use Planning Studio class at San Diego State University prepared design concepts for various project sites around National City, California. In this project, students and faculty collaborated with city representatives to identify core areas of potential “smart growth” development opportunities within National City. The paper provides a description of existing conditions within National City, including land use and socio–economic conditions. These data were analyzed as part of the design process, along with input from National City personnel and design professionals. The designs generated in this class were intended to provide a vision of what existing areas of the city could look like in the future with funding initiatives and correctly implemented smart growth development techniques. Several key themes emerged while preparing the designs for each site, including the importance of National City’s need for historic preservation of important sites and roadway, a lack of affordable and available housing for all population demographics, a lack of employment opportunities within the city, safety issues associated with auto–dominated roadways and underutilized public transportation, and a lack of parks and green space for residents and visitors. Ten major design recommendations are provided, based on an analysis of the five groups’ project site designs. These recommendations include the creation of transit–oriented–development sites, affordable housing units, green streets and park spaces, pedestrian corridors, and pedestrian paseos. Similarly, designs advocate for the creation of a lifestyle center, access and activity to civic and historic areas, and redesigns of several roadways and intersections. The designs also stress the importance of natural resource restoration to attract residents and visitors to the city. A brief discussion describes funding mechanisms for smart growth initiatives, and an analysis of existing and underutilized resources within National City. Specific funding alternatives, such as a military private–public partnership, smart growth grants, and Low Income Investment Funds are described. The paper concludes with a section that contains feedback from the design jury panel with their specific recommendations for the student projects and development opportunities within National City.