Smart Growth News- March 20, 2012


Obama urges House GOP to ‘follow the Senate’s lead’ on $109B highway bill
The Hill- March 19, 2012
The White House on Monday continued to pressure the House to accept the $109 billion transportation bill that was passed last week by the Senate, saying that President Obama was ready to sign the measure into law.

GOP paves way for states to retake road funding
Politico- March 19, 2012
Congress may be on the road to re-upping the transportation bill, but there’s still a cadre of lawmakers who say it’s not too late to get the federal government out of the road-building and gas tax business.

Housing Starts in U.S. Fell in February from Three-Year High
Bloomberg- March 20, 2012
Housing starts in the U.S. fell in February from a three-year high, showing the recovery in the residential real estate market will take time to develop.

Ezra Klein: Living large in the big city
The Washington Post- March 12, 2012
The basic driver of remarkable economic growth in China — and India, Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil and pretty much every other developing country — is pretty simple: migration of people from rural areas, where they’re not very productive, to dense cities, where they are very productive. This is a tried-and-true strategy for making people and countries richer. But it’s not just for developing countries.

The U.S. Cities With the Fastest Growing Job Markets
The Atlantic Cities- March 19, 2012
Austin and San Jose led the United States in job growth last year, according to an analysis of the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by Aaron Renn, who blogs as The Urbanophile. Houston, Charlotte, and Nashville round out the top five. And both hard-hit Detroit and Pittsburgh make the top 10, along with Salt Lake City, Dallas, and Raleigh.


Downtown attracts new tenants, keeps others
Dayton Daily News- March 19, 2012
Several businesses and organizations are announcing plans to move downtown, have already moved there or are renewing leases.

FEATURE-Stockton, California: The town the housing boom broke
Reuters- March 19, 2012
For decades, Stockton, California suffered a civic inferiority complex. Los Angeles had celebrities and sunny beaches. San Francisco was awash in tech futurism and post-pubescent billionaires. Stockton was the polyester, buy-generic cousin, a dingy commercial hub for Central Valley farms that was just far enough from the San Francisco Bay area to be an irrelevance for the state’s coastal elites.

GM’s Media-Buying Firm Expected to Bring 200 Jobs to Detroit
Hispanic Business- March 19, 2012
General Motors’ new media-buying company is expected to bring an estimated 200 new jobs to downtown Detroit. Carat, which is owned by the London-headquartered Aegis Group, is opening an office on the 23rd floor of One Detroit Center.

Planners aiming to cluster trails March 18, 2012
A regional planning agency is working to expand networks of pedestrian and bike trails in 13 Greater Boston communities, including Dedham, Westwood, and Quincy, to encourage more people to travel via two legs or two wheels.

City considers how to grow March 17, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. — City Manager Jon Ruiz said the goal in planning for the future of Eugene is to allow residents to work, play, go to school, and live within 20 minutes of their home by bike or by foot. Ruiz said he’s taken in an enormous amount of input and interviews, and boiled it down to recommendations for how Eugene should grow.

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    One Response to Smart Growth News- March 20, 2012

    1. Walter R. Jorgensen says:

      On November 8, 2011 you published an article by Jessica Holmberg headlined “Spotlight on Sustainability: Thurston County, Washington.” As noted in the banner, it was based on an interview with Kathy McCormick, Senior Planner for the Thurston Regional Planning Council.

      This posting appeared today on one of our community’s blogs after many of us had attended the first of seven Sustainable’s hands-on community workshops last Wednesday (3-28-12). I associate myself completely with the following remarks, especially the question, “If this is Smart Growth America’s idea of a success story, then what do the planning failures look like?”

      Like so many out-of-area organizations, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about and your uninformed interference in our local affairs is not welcome. You spoke only with a senior staff member of the organization that can’t wait to spend a million+ dollars on a sham public participation project. Do you want to hear from any of the citizen participants, including many students? If so, give me a contact point and I will make sure that everyone who attended is apprised of the opportunity to tell you what it was really like.

      Thank you.

      Sustainable Thurston thinks highly of itself
      by OlympiaViews

      The national planning group, Smart Growth America, has posted a “success story” about Sustainable Thurston. Do take a read because it illustrates how to paper over the concerns those of us have with attaching the sustainability label to a $1.5 million exercise that is neither sustainable nor reflective of participatory planning principles.

      The story is rich with irony. For example, Thurston Regional Planning Council staff member Cathy McCormick is quoted as saying, “We have a great foundation in the plans that exist from the 90s . . . . But how can we continue to grow if people don’t know about those plans and how can we address the needs of a changing population if we don’t know what those needs are?”

      Is McCormick implying that the county’s implementation of the Growth Management Act in the 1990s represented a “great foundation?” That’s back when the county commission was controlled by allies of the Master Builders. Some would argue that woefully inadequate planning has resulted in chronic problems which a more mainstream county commission is having a hard time cleaning up due to economic hard times and a militant right wing.

      McCormick all but gushes about “the wide variety of people who have come to the table — everyone from School Superintendents to local business owners to the Fire Department have been involved.” Alas, she doesn’t mention how constrained the actual dialogue has been at the LEGO events — particularly about what constitutes sustainable development.

      But no matter. McCormick lauds Sustainable Thurston and concludes, “Without this grant this kind of collaboration would never have happened.”

      The story goes on to state that while “policymakers were aware of the issues facing the region, the solutions lacked community support. Now, with so many new and diverse interests being represented, Thurston County is once again taking ownership over what they want the community to look like for future generations and working to make that vision a reality.”

      Perhaps the author of this story, Jessica Holmberg, might want to hear from those who disagree with this assessment. She can be reached at jholmberg@

      If this is Smart Growth America’s idea of a success story, then what do the planning failures look like? If you’re curious as to who else has received grants from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, check out this map of 2010 recipients. Or go here for more information about the grants and other assistance offered by three federal agencies that make up the partnership.

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