Monthly Archives: October 2011

Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Bill Moves to Senate Floor [UPDATE]

UPDATE OCT. 31, 2011: No amendments were offered to cut funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities programs at either the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Department of Transportation. The Senate is back from recess this week and is expected to vote on passage.

The following was originally posted on October 13, 2011:

The Senate begins consideration this week of three annual appropriations bills. With the 2012 fiscal year already underway and only one of the twelve appropriations bills approved so far, funding for the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration; Commerce, Justice, and Science; and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) bills will be taken up as a package. The federal government is currently operating on a temporary spending measure that expires on November 18th.


Smart growth news – October 31

San Jose’s updated general plan emphasizes ‘smart growth,’ healthier communities
San Jose Mercury (Calif.), October 31, 2011
Called Envision San Jose 2040, the city’s fourth general plan since the mid-1970s is the community’s land-use constitution. The report lays out a long-term vision for the amount, type and phasing of development needed to meet the city’s social, economic and environmental goals. … For many, he said, it’s not having to drive as much. Horwedel and other planners envision “urban villages” closer to where San Jose residents live that offer a variety of ways to live, work, shop and play all at one location.

Suburban plight for poor
The Buffalo News (N.Y.), October 30, 2011
Buffalo may be one of the poorest cities in America, but a majority of the region’s poor now live in suburbia. Of the 159,000 people in the region living below the poverty line, more than half — 52 percent — reside in the suburbs of Erie and Niagara counties, according to an analysis of 2010 census data by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

What’s up downtown?
The Roanoke News (Va.), October 30, 2011
Downtown Roanoke has seen its population surge from fewer than 50 residents in 2000 to more than 600 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The arrival of new businesses and the expansion of the Jefferson College of Health Sciences show the need for more downtown living spaces, more retail and more office space, Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill said.



Philadelphia: More than just good cheese steaks


Philadelphia’s Girard Avenue, by Flickr user KGradinger.

Philadelphia has given us some of the world’s best cheese steaks, but the city also offers a great example of how smart growth strategies can help rebuild America’s cities.

Philadelphia’s smart growth efforts date back to 1991, when, beginning in his first term, Mayor Ed Rendell focused on revitalizing downtown. In 2001, Mayor John Street unveiled his Neighborhood Transformation Initiative that invested millions of dollars into neighborhood revitalization. And the City’s current mayor, Michael Nutter, is continuing this legacy by targeting the commercial corridors that provide goods, services and jobs to the City’s residents through the ReStore program.

These are great smart growth strategies that are revitalizing Philadelphia’s urban core and creating opportunities in underserved communities, and the efforts are beginning to pay off. For the first time in six decades, the City of Philadelphia has stopped losing population – and may be even growing. The 2010 U.S Census showed that Philadelphia’s population, which has decreased every decade since 1950, has stabilized.


Smart growth news – October 28

Advocates Say Housing Policy Discourages Mixed-Use Development
Governing Magazine, October 27, 2011
Ask members of Generation Y where they want to live, and chances are you’ll hear a common answer: urban environments where there is plenty to do within walking distance. For younger people (and many other Americans, for that matter), the cul-de-sac is no longer key.

Economy Alters How Americans Are Moving
New York Times, October 27, 2011
“When times get really hard it gets really hard for people to up and move,” said Kenneth M. Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute, who conducted the analysis…Mr. Johnson said that the same phenomenon could be seen within states, as the growth began to slow in once rapidly growing suburbs, and shrinking cities like Los Angeles and Chicago began to stabilize.

The Design of Cities, Intelligent or Otherwise
New York Times, October 27, 2011
Those of us who live in cities — more than half the world’s population, according to many recent estimates — experience them mainly at eye and street level. Each urban environment has its own character and can therefore seem more like the result of natural processes than of complex human intentions. A city develops organically, through the complex interplay of economics, biology and countless local, individual decisions, but also by means of planning on the part of architects, engineers and politicians.


Free smart growth tools that local governments can use now

The application period for Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance closed yesterday, but we still offer a number of free tools for communities interested in smart growth strategies.

Smart Growth America’s Smart Growth Implementation Toolkit was published in 2007 and provides detailed guidelines for community leaders to examine zoning, policies, incentives and other regulations that influence development. The toolkit is free and available to everyone.

These tools can be used to help communities develop their own assessments and strategic plans related to growth. Read on to find out more about the available tools.


Transit Campaign Planner provides guidance for public transportation advocates

Legislators on both sides of the aisle agree that public transportation systems provide many benefits to the communities they serve, and ballot measures across the country this year have revealed strong public support for public transportation. For communities interested in bringing services like these to their area, a focused, organized transit campaign can make all the difference.

Transit Campaign Planning: A strategy template for organizers (PDF) is intended to help advocates interested in supporting public transportation do so more effectively. Originally published in 2009 and updated for 2011, this campaign template provides strategy guidance and suggestions for organizations large and small interested in establishing local and state-based funding streams for transit.

The template encourages advocates to answer questions familiar to any seasoned campaigner, with guidelines for doing a situation analysis, defining specific goals and objectives, identifying important decision-makers, laying out strategies and creating a campaign structure. Ultimately, this template is meant to help advocates create an original campaign plan that responds to the priorities, needs and interests of their community.


“Brownfields Redevelopment, Community Revitalization, and Regional Planning: Making It Work Together” webinar materials now available

Thank you to everyone who attended SGA’s Sustainable Communities Network “Brownfields Redevelopment, Community Revitalization, and Regional Planning: Making It Work Together” earlier this week.

We heard from Adhir Kackar and Stacy Swartwood of the Environmental Protection Agency on how the federal government is working to streamline investments in community brownfield redevelopment and regional planning efforts, particularly through the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. We then heard the stories and lessons learned from the community of Ranson, West Virginia already working on brownfield cleanup in conjunction with other economic development projects from Dawn Seeburger, Environmental Resources & Consulting.


Smart growth news – October 27

Apartment Values Rise, as Do Rents
Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2011
While concerns about the economy are cooling the market for most other types of commercial real estate, apartment rents and occupancies continue to be boosted by demand from millions of people who are victims of foreclosure or are unwilling or unable to buy their own homes.

NYU eyes former MTA headquarters for urban grad school in Bloomberg’s contest for new university
New York Daily News, October 26, 2011
Downtown Brooklyn would become a global hub for urban sciences if a noted local university wins a contest to develop a new applied sciences graduate school in the city.

A new look for East Riverside? Austin to highlight plan
American-Statesman (Texas), October 26, 2011
“The vision is to transform the area from an auto-dominated, aging corridor to a people-oriented destination with lots of people living, working and playing within walking distance of transit,” said Erica Leak with the city’s Planning and Development Review Department.


Smart growth news – October 26

The 19 Building Types That Caused the Recession
The Atlantic Cities, October 25, 2011
Among his favorite examples of all the standard real-estate products built ad nauseum across the country over the last half-century, Christopher Leinberger likes to point to the Grocery Anchored Neighborhood Center. This creation is generally about 12 to 15 acres in size on a plot of land that’s 80 percent covered in asphalt. It’s located on the going-home side of a major four-to-eight lane arterial road, where it catches people when they’re most likely to be thinking about what to buy for dinner.

The Federal Government’s Smart Growth-Inspired Landlord
Streetsblog, October 25, 2011
Robert Peck says he’ll gladly pay more to locate office buildings near transit – the time saved commuting makes it worthwhile.

WNY development panel airs plan
Buffalo News (N.Y.), October 25, 2011
Creating jobs and finding ways to get the biggest bang for the buck out of investments made in Western New York are emerging as top priorities in the strategic plan being developed by a state-backed economic development council. … It encourages “smart growth” that minimizes sprawl and leads to investment in the region’s cities and town centers.