Author Archives: Jessica Holmberg

Maryland leaders meet to form the first state chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council

llc-md-chapter
Maryland leaders met at the state capitol to discuss the Maryland Chapter of the Local Leaders Council.

Elected officials from towns and counties across Maryland gathered in Annapolis on November 8, 2013 for the first Advisory Board meeting of the Maryland chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. The Council’s Maryland chapter, a joint effort of Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland, will foster collaboration among leaders in Maryland and promote state-wide smart growth issues.

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Mayor Ralph Becker on building a prosperous Salt Lake City, UT

TRAX SLC
Salt Lake City’s TRAX light rail line, one of Salt Lake City’s many innovative transportation projects. Photo by Matt Johnson via Flickr.

Mayor Ralph Becker, a charter member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is turning Salt Lake City, UT into one of this nation’s most prosperous urban centers. And he’s doing it by building accessibility, sustainability and livability into many city policies.

Becker’s efforts are evident across Salt Lake City. He has spearheaded one of the most ambitious rail systems in the country, building new light rail, bus rapid transit, streetcar AND commuter rail systems. He’s also made the city accessible for all users by more than doubling the number of bike lanes, launching a bike share program and focusing on walkability and pedestrian safety.

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Vice-mayor Hannah McKinney on saving municipal budgets through smarter growth in Kalamazoo, MI

Hannah McKinney believes that to create strong metropolitan areas in this country we have to focus on creating strong neighborhoods. As Vice Mayor of Kalamazoo, Michigan; she’s working to make that happen in her region.

“That sense of being tied to a physical location is something that, for many people doesn’t exist anymore,” says McKinney, “We need to create neighborhoods that are unique, that are livable.”

An Advisory Board member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Hannah McKinney has served on the City Commission for 16 years. She has a long history of working to make Kalamazoo a great place to live, work, and visit. In 2003, McKinney co-chaired the Convening our Community project; a community-building initiative focused on creating a smart growth report to guide land use decisions. McKinney worked on the city’s Comprehensive Plan update, Downtown Plan, and the creation of a 2010 Master Plan to guide future growth and development, all while protecting Kalamazoo’s unique character – – and that’s only part of it.

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Councilmember Hans Riemer on the challenge of creating attractive urban areas in Montgomery County, MD

Rockville Town Square
Rockville Town Square, in Councilmember Riemer’s district of Montgomery County, MD. Photo by Dan Reed via Flickr.

Councilmember Hans Riemer has a problem. Residents of the greater Washington, DC metro area increasingly want to live in attractive, high quality, urban neighborhoods—but there aren’t enough of those neighborhoods in his home district of Montgomery County, MD, to meet the demand.

“Cities are reviving and becoming incredibly attractive places to live,” says Riemer, a charter member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “We’re seeing the impacts of that in Montgomery County. Where people used to prefer the suburbs, they now want to live in cities.”

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Upcoming Webinars: July 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

Adopting CSS: The Florida Greenbook
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 – 2:30-4:00 PM EDT
Click here to register
In May of 2011, the Florida Department of Transportation revised their Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways, commonly referred to as the Florida Greenbook. The addition of Chapter 19: Traditional Neighborhood Development adopts a context sensitive approach to transportation and land use as standard practice, focusing on network functionality and design standards that support communities.

FDOT District One Secretary Billy Hattaway will discuss Chapter 19 and explain how CSS is essential to diverse projects from maintenance to major construction, in settings both urban and rural. Florida’s experience provides clear direction for other states striving towards safety and livability outcomes in a 21st Century transportation system.

Green Infrastructure: Achieving Stormwater Management, Neighborhood Stabilization, and Complete Streets Using Formula Funds
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 – 2:30-3:45 PM EDT
Join here, no pre-registration necessary
Experts from HUD, DOT, EPA, and the city of Indianapolis will discuss ways communities can use green infrastructure to manage stormwater, help revitalize neighborhoods, and create complete streets, and how federal formula funds can be used to finance green infrastructure.

Green infrastructure involves using landscape features to store, infiltrate, and evaporate stormwater. This reduces the amount of water draining into sewers and helps reduce the discharge of pollut¬ants into water bodies. Examples of green infrastructure include rain gardens, swales, constructed wetlands, and permeable pavements. Green infrastructure solutions can cost less than typical grey infrastructure solutions, such as installing large drainage pipes, and can be equally effective.

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Upcoming Webinars: June 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

Climate Change Adaptation Webinar Series
Monday, June 3, 2013 – Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Click here to find out more
Hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency and North Carolina State University, the series will bring together tribal, state and local stakeholders, EPA representatives, and experts from a variety of sectors to consider the impact of EPA’s new Climate Change Adaptation Plan on the implementation of federal environmental programs, and to present case studies, tools and solutions to some of the most pressing climate change adaptation challenges.

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Senators and Representatives sign on to letter supporting the Partnership for Sustainable Communities

Senator Reed
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, is one of the recipients of this week’s letters. Photo via the Committee on Appropriations.

Last month we asked smart growth advocates to speak out in support of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Hundreds of supporters sent letters to their members of Congress, and Congress listened.

If you were one of the many people who sent letters to your members of Congress, thank you. Your voice was heard and Congress is taking action to support these important programs. In total, 29 members of Congress signed letters championing better development programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in fiscal year 2014’s budget.

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Upcoming Webinars: May 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

School Siting: Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities for Communities and Decision-makers
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 – 1:00-2:15 PM EDT
Click here to register
This webinar will help districts, schools, and communities understand the importance of school siting and the impacts on economic development, public health, and the environment. A panel of experts, including Suzi Ruhl, Senior Attorney Policy Advisor in the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice; Regina Langton, Senior Policy Analyst, EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities; and Katherine Moore, Manager of Georgia Conservancy’s Sustainable Growth program, will provide participants with information and tools with school siting decisions.

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Partnership in the News: Bergen County, NJ wants transportation choices, less traffic, more walking and biking

Together North Jersey

At a recent public workshop, residents of Bergen County noted that sitting in traffic, few transportation choices, and the lack of affordable housing are things they’d like to see changed.

Together North Jersey, a partnership between 60 local governments, public agencies, non-profits, and others, held the workshop to begin to find out what residents of the 13-county region like about where they live and what they would change. Eventually that input will be turned into a development plan to deal with uneven job growth, high taxes, and an aging population among other regional concerns.

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DOT announces fifth round of TIGER grants

On Monday the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the availability of $474 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for 2013.

DOT is looking for surface transportation projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a region, or a metropolitan area and projects, such as:

  • Improve existing transportation facilities and systems;
  • Contribute to American economic competitiveness;
  • Create and preserve jobs;
  • Increase transportation choices and access to transportation services for people in communities across the U.S.;
  • Improve energy efficiency, reduce dependence on oil, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Improve safety.


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