Monthly Archives: December 2011

Smart growth news – December 30, 2011

Backtracking U.S. Lawmakers Expand Federal Role in Mortgages
Bloomberg News via BusinessWeek, December 30, 2011
Washington lawmakers, who began 2011 with sweeping plans to shrink the U.S. government’s role in mortgage finance, are heading into 2012 after enacting policies that expand it.

Smart growth funds running out
Commonwealth Magazine (Mass.), December 29, 2011
The account that funds the state’s smart growth law is running out of cash, raising the prospect that the state’s first major effort at using incentives to promote housing construction could grind to a halt before it really gets rolling.

Darker Nights as Some Cities Turn Off the Lights
New York Times, December 29, 2011
Cities around the nation, grappling with what is expected to be a fifth consecutive year of declining revenues and having exhausted the predictable budget trims, are increasingly considering something that would once have been untouchable: the lights.



Smart growth news – December 29, 2011

Downtown St. Paul scene gets extra shot from Amsterdam Bar
Minnesota Public Radio, December 27, 2011
“If you’re coming out of MIT, Stanford, and the best colleges in the country, you can go anywhere you want. Why do people choose to live or work in downtown St. Paul?” [Mayor Chris Coleman] asked. “You’ve got to create that vibrancy; you’ve got to create that soul. Otherwise, you’re going to be hard-pressed to compete for a creative class.”

What’s Wrong With American Housing?
Brookings Institution, December 28, 2011
America’s housing industry suffers from nine deficiencies that limit its ability to meet our housing needs. Some of these deficiencies are not widely recognized or are even considered advantages by the housing industry. Until its problems are better and more widely understood, that industry will continue underserving U.S. housing needs.

Seattle’s Land Use Code: Preventing Transit-Oriented Blight
PubliCola (Wash.), December 28, 2011
If [apartment] prices drop, that’s a boon for affordability, welcome news to the 51 percent of Seattle residents who rent, rather than own, their homes.


Ohio selects six communities to participate in the new Brownfields Action Plan Pilot Program

The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) announced last week six communities that will participate in the state’s innovative Brownfields Action Plan Pilot Program, a new initiative designed to help communities with multiple brownfield sites create area-wide plans to address them.

ODOD launched the program in August of this year and selected the pilot communities after a four-month application and review process. The chosen communities will each receive technical assistance and a $50,000 grant to develop and implement their area-wide plans. The six communities selected include the cities of Fairborn, Newark, Piqua, Ravenna and Xenia, as well as the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corporation.

ODOD’s initiative is an exciting milestone for brownfields redevelopment and will provide major benefits to Ohio communities. Area-wide planning is a smart growth strategy that looks at vacant and contaminated sites within a region comprehensively – rather than individually – and allows communities to address each site within the context of broader revitalization and economic development goals. This strategy is particularly helpful for communities plagued by sites that are too small or distressed to be viable for redevelopment individually. Addressed collectively, these sites can all become more attractive to potential developers and can ultimately catalyze community-wide revitalization.


Smart growth news – December 28, 2011

‘Smart Decline’: A Lifeline For Zombie Subdivisions?
NPR, December 28, 2011
Urban planners are floating a radical solution for areas like this. It’s known as “smart decline”…”People are leaving,” Hollander says. “So that means all the houses, all the roads and infrastructure that supports those houses, it doesn’t just disappear.”

St. Louis teams up with LA’s ‘GOOD’ magazine to brainstorm urban solutions
St. Louis Beacon (Mo.), December 28, 2011
St. Louisans groan when local, creative 20-somethings take their talents elsewhere. But the fact that 1995 Parkway West grad Alissa Walker moved to Los Angeles may be a boost for our town.

Plan to use Amtrak as fallback for high-speed rail criticized
Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2011
When the Obama administration gave California $3.4 billion in startup money for a high-speed rail system, it insisted on a guarantee that the project would not become a white elephant — something critics could brand as a train to nowhere.


Smart growth news – December 27, 2011

Byram growth plan honored again
New Jersey Herald, December 23, 2011
Spanning from Maine to Washington state, the 15 chosen communities represent major cities, suburban communities, and rural towns, said Smart Growth America Vice President Roger Millar. The 15 selected communities exhibited the strongest interest in and need for smart growth tools, and demonstrated a commitment from local business, community and political leaders to implement local smart growth solutions, according to Millar.

Tacoma Chosen to Receive Smart Growth Assistance
Exit 133 (Wash.), December 23, 2011
Tacoma has been awarded a grant for free assistance from Smart Growth America. Tacoma is one of 15 communities selected out of a pool of close to 90 applications for the free assistance in implementing the principles of smart growth.

PlanMaryland: A Model for State-Level Smart Growth Planning
Streetsblog DC, December 22, 2011
Parris Glendening, former Maryland governor and smart growth leader explained his support for the plan in blog post for Smart Growth America: “I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty of Patapsco Valley State Park and the bustling downtown of historic Annapolis. I want them to be able to eat food grown in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and to find a job here. I want Maryland to be a place they will love.”

Top 10 Daily Digits from 2011
Governing, December 23, 2011
69,000: The number of bridges that need major repairs or complete replacement in the United States, according to a Transportation for America report. Reuters reported in March that the American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that the nation needs to invest $17 billion yearly to improve current bridge conditions.

Housing the Echo Boomers – Next Big Real Estate Opportunity?
Forbes, December 21, 2011
[W]hether Echo Boomers rent or buy, they will need housing, and there are 80 million of them. In other words, recognizing their demographics and preferences will separate the winners from the losers and that has huge financial implications in a generation as large as the Echo Boomers.


Smart growth news – December 22

What the End of the Sustainable Communities Grants Means For Planning
Governing Magazine, December 21, 2011
One reason the program may have suffered is a general lack of appreciation for planning. “It’s a hard thing to defend in the sense that it’s not putting a piece of infrastructure in the ground,” said Geoffrey Anderson, head of Smart Growth America. “But then you think about building a building without planning. The idea is absurd.” Indeed, a different Sustainable Communities initiative, the Transportation Department’s TIGER grants, survived. It provides over $500 million to highways, transit, bridges and ports.

Cities Face Tough Choices as U.S. Slashes Block Grants Program
New York Times, December 21, 2011
The shrinking federal program, called Community Development Block Grants, was devised by the Nixon administration to bypass state governments and send money directly to big cities, which were given broad leeway to decide how to spend it. This year the federal government is giving out just $2.9 billion — a billion dollars less than it gave two years ago, and even less than it gave during the Carter administration, when the money went much further.

Transit as a Stepping Stone to Prosperity
Regional Plan Association Blog, December 21, 2011
Christmas came early to the tri-state region this year. In the span of a week, two high-profile, competitive awards landed on Long Island and in Stamford, Conn. While they have different objectives and scopes, both should help further the twin goals of revitalizing the metropolitan economy and supporting more sustainable, transit-oriented development.


Welcome to the coalition: Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation


Smart Growth America is proud to welcome Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation to our coalition of state and national allied organizations.

Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation is a national non-profit organization formed to create and preserve affordable multifamily housing for low-income families throughout the United States. Rainbow renovates and rehabilitate housing that will be a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization.

Formed in 2002, Rainbow creates and preserves affordable housing for families throughout the United States. The organization renovates and rehabilitates distressed properties with the goal of being a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. Rainbow has successfully turned around formerly distressed properties, preserving affordable housing opportunities for thousands of low-income households.


Smart growth news – December 21

Morning Read: Smart Growth, or “War on Rural Maryland”?
Baltimore Sun, December 19, 2011
Glendening, 69, praised Plan Maryland as a “major movement ahead.” The plan spells out criteria for judging which types of development projects are viewed as desirable — and worthy of state infrastructure spending. “Land use planning is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for people who are anxious to get things done quickly,” said Glendening.

Maryland To Offer Preferential Funding For Smart Growth
WAMU (DC), December 21, 2011
The rate of land consumption in Maryland is three times the rate of population growth, according to the state’s department of planning. That’s a lot of urban sprawl for a small state. Governor Martin O’Malley issued an executive order for a strategy called PlanMaryland, which is designed to limit sprawl, but it’s set up tensions around the state.

The Future of Retail
BusinessWeek, December 20, 2011
Modernize our nation’s aging infrastructure: It is critical that the US transportation infrastructure — including our ports, airports, rail lines and roads — can meet future demands. We need a national freight policy that will support US competitiveness, economic growth and job creation.


PlanMaryland the fiscally responsible way to build a better Maryland

Years from now, I want my grandchildren to enjoy living in Maryland as much as I do. That’s why I support PlanMaryland.

I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty of Patapsco Valley State Park and the bustling downtown of historic Annapolis. I want them to be able to eat food grown in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and to find a job in Maryland. I want Maryland to be a place they will love.

PlanMaryland will help make sure all these things are possible. On Monday, Governor Martin O’Malley signed an executive order on this long-term growth plan for the state, and I completely support his action.

PlanMaryland will save Maryland taxpayers billions of dollars of infrastructure costs, including $1.5 billion on necessary road repair. In addition, the Plan will help Maryland avoid $29 billion in road and school construction costs over the next 25 years, which would be needed to keep pace with current trends.

PlanMaryland will stimulate economic development and revitalization in towns, cities and other existing communities. Many of Maryland’s communities have empty storefronts and vacant homes, and PlanMaryland will help bring people back to these places. The Plan will also support 600,000 new jobs in Maryland by the year 2035.