Monthly Archives: July 2011

Complete streets principles in action

Crossing a major arterial can be difficult, if not downright unsafe. That’s why we are so happy to see the completion of some smart pedestrian safety improvements just outside SGA headquarters in Washington D.C. The improvements include a pedestrian-friendly island halfway between the six-lane street, along with a median with beautiful flowers.


Smart growth news – July 29

Blumenauer criticizes cuts to smart growth program
Environment & Energy Daily, July 28, 2011
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) yesterday took aim at language in the U.S. EPA spending bill that would eliminate an agency program that helps communities develop with an eye toward environmental and economic sustainability. The Smart Growth program would see its entire budget slashed in the Interior-EPA 2012 spending bill currently being debated on the House floor. The program offers technical and financial assistance to cities and towns looking to expand their infrastructure to emphasize livability and downplay driving and sprawl.

The Latest Target of House Spending Cuts: EPA’s Smart Growth Office
Streetsblog, July 28, 2011
For much of this week, the House has been debating next year’s appropriations bill for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The bill includes harsh cuts to many key safety and environmental programs, including the EPA’s Smart Growth Office. According to the Obama administration’s statement of policy on the bill, “The bill terminates funding for EPA’s Smart Growth program, which contributes to efforts to assist communities in coordinating infrastructure investments and minimizing environmental impact of development.” Smart Growth America opposes the cut, calling it “shortsighted” and saying it would be “detrimental to economic growth.”

Winning the Future by Supporting Local Innovation
The White House Blog, July 28, 2011
Today, I was proud to announce that we are making $95 million available in Regional and Community Challenge grants to support local efforts to build more livable and sustainable communities that ensure that all Americans can afford to live in places with access to employment, schools and public transit options.

$60.9 billion, 30-year transportation plan approved for region
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 27, 2011
The Atlanta Regional Commission on Wednesday approved the region’s 30-year plan to spend $60.9 billion on transportation projects and manage growth.


HUD releases Notice of Funding Availability for Regional Planning Grants and Community Challenge Grants.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced today in a press release that HUD will be investing $95 million to support stronger, economically competitive communities through their Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. From the release:

This year’s Regional Planning Grant program will encourage grantees to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure developments in a manner that empowers regions to consider how all of these factors work together to bring economic competitiveness and revitalization to a community. The program will place a priority on partnerships, including the collaboration of arts and culture, philanthropy, and innovative ideas to the regional planning process. Recognizing that areas are in different stages of sustainability planning.



Cities versus suburbs is the wrong debate

It is undeniable that demand is growing for walkable neighborhoods and communities with access to public transportation, parks and a range of housing choices.

In a blog post on Forbes, Joel Kotkin argues that as young adults — who are currently moving to cities and walkable neighborhoods — get older they will look to live in a car-dependent suburb.

Evidence from the last Census show the opposite [of growing cities]: a marked acceleration of movement not into cities but toward suburban and exurban locations. The simple, usually inexorable effects of maturation may be one reason for this surprising result. Simply put, when 20-somethings get older, they do things like marry, start businesses, settle down and maybe start having kids.

Kotkin’s argument incorrectly focuses on cities versus suburbs — specifically suburbs that are dominated by “automobiles and single-family houses” — without focusing on the types of communities and neighborhoods where people actually want to live. He also ignores the baby boomers who are beginning to retire and realize a large, suburban, car-dependent lifestyle may no longer be the most appealing option.


New study reveals the economic impact of America’s failing transportation infrastrucuture

The nation’s deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 870,000 jobs, and suppress the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product by $3.1 trillion by 2020 according to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).


Innovative rural transportation projects using TIGER funds

The following guest post, written by Alia Anderson at Reconnecting America, is part of an ongoing series by Smart Growth America and our partner organizations to highlight the unique funding opportunity available to rural communities through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER program. Crossposted from Reconnecting America.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced on July 1, 2011 that it would offer a third round of the popular Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, which fund innovative, job-creating transportation projects. USDOT is authorized to award $526.944 million through the program. At least $141 million of the program funds will be reserved for projects in rural areas. The required set aside for rural communities represents nearly 27% of total TIGER funds, which is an increase from the portion directed toward rural places in the prior two rounds of funding.


Blumenauer criticizes cuts to smart growth program

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) yesterday took aim at language in the U.S. EPA spending bill that would eliminate an agency program that helps communities develop with an eye toward environmental and economic sustainability.

The Smart Growth program would see its entire budget slashed in the Interior-EPA 2012 spending bill currently being debated on the House floor. The program offers technical and financial assistance to cities and towns looking to expand their infrastructure to emphasize livability and downplay driving and sprawl.

“Eliminating funding for Smart Growth programs would be devastating for communities across the country,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “Even more important in today’s tight budget environment, they leverage additional funding through public-private partnerships to help revitalize communities, grow businesses and create jobs.”


Smart growth news – July 28

Maybe It’s Time to Start Listening to Tom Low
Charlotte Magazine, July 2011
Charlotte has been called a “foreclosure hot spot” and one of the nation’s worst gas-guzzling cities. Meanwhile, fuel prices continue to climb, single-family home sales continue to dip, and developers still exert undue influence over the planning process.

Decaying infrastructure costs U.S. billions each year, report says
The Washington Post, July 27, 2011
As Congress debates how to meet the nation’s long-term transportation needs, decaying roads, bridges, railroads and transit systems are costing the United States $129 billion a year, according to a report issued Wednesday by a professional group whose members are responsible for designing and building such infrastructure.

Federal Regulations at Odds with Demand for Urban Housing
Streetsblog, July 26, 2011
The real estate market is undergoing the most rapid period of change in a generation — and the shift is decidedly urban. A succession of recent studies have found there is an under-supply of urban-style housing — attached and small-lot, single-family homes — on the scale of about 13 million units. On the other hand, there is an estimated oversupply of detached housing in the car-based suburbs of about 28 million units.

Rural US disappearing? Population share hits low
AP, July 28, 2011
Rural America now accounts for just 16 percent of the nation’s population, the lowest ever. The latest 2010 census numbers hint at an emerging America where, by midcentury, city boundaries become indistinct and rural areas grow ever less relevant. Many communities could shrink to virtual ghost towns as they shutter businesses and close down schools, demographers say.


House prepares to vote on bill that would eliminate funding for EPA Office of Smart Growth

Members of the House of Representatives are debating the Interior-Environment appropriations bill this week, legislation that would significantly cut funding the the U.S. Environmental Protection agency and completely eliminate funding for the Agency’s Office of Smart Growth. Smart Growth America strongly opposes these proposed budget cuts, and encourages Members of the House to vote “NO” on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill this week.

Tell your Representative to oppose these cuts: click here to send a letter now.


LOCUS President Chris Leinberger promotes increased transit investment in Georgia

Last Wednesday, LOCUS President Christopher Leinberger traveled throughout the Atlanta metropolitan region meeting with political and business leaders to lend support for the upcoming Transportation Investment Act referendum and to advocate for public transportation’s unique role as a driver of the region’s economic development.

In 2010, Georgia lawmakers passed the Transportation Investment Act, which calls for a statewide vote on whether to raise sales taxes one cent in order to fund mass transit, road, and other transportation projects in the state. The legislation divides the state into 12 regions and allows elected officials from each region to choose certain transportation projects to be funded by the tax. Currently, regions are compiling their list of transportation projects to be placed for a vote in 2012 voters.

Joined by Ray Christman, Director of Livable Communities Coalition at a Georgia Passenger Rail Coalition sponsored press conference in downtown Atlanta overlooking the future Multi-modal Passenger Terminal, Leinberger delivered a presentation on the latest trends in real estate and how demographic shifts are pushing demand toward transit-oriented, walkable development, which, as Leinberger concludes, is the next critical component of metro Atlanta’s economic development portfolio.