Author Archives: Paige Miller

A view from the river: How the city of Nashville brought a neglected natural asset back to life


Cumberland Park, on Nashville, Tennessee’s Cumberland River waterfront. Photo courtesy of the Nashville Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency.

Nashville, Tennessee’s Cumberland River has long been viewed as an industrial thoroughfare for barges to transport cargo. But as the city looked to improve its downtown in the 1980s, it came to realize that the riverfront could be an incredible asset to its revitalization efforts.

“Riverfront revitalization got started about 25 years ago when we began to realize that the city had turned its back on the river,” said Rick Bernhardt, a Planning Executive at the City of Nashville.

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Smart growth news- June 27, 2012

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Home Prices in U.S. Cities Fall at Slowest Pace Since ’10
Bloomberg- June 26, 2012
Residential real estate prices fell in April at the slowest pace in more than a year, adding to signs the U.S. housing market was firming.

Leaders say Congress close to deal on student loans and transportation bills
The Hill- June 26, 2012
Congressional leaders on Tuesday moved closer to passing two high-profile bills in what could be the final burst of major legislative activity before the 2012 elections.

1,000 Days With No Transpo Bill. How Much Longer Will the Wait Last?
DC Streetsblog- June 26, 2012
Conference negotiations are continuing, Congressional staffers are getting no sleep, legislators could even lose their weekend if they don’t get this transportation bill done. Politico noted this morning a key fact that seems to be flying under the radar: the deadline isn’t really Saturday. It’s actually today, if House members are to have the requisite three days to read the bill. (The GOP made a big deal over not having enough time to read long and complicated bills while the Dems were in charge.)

Tech Boom Hits San Francisco Rental Prices
The Wall Street Journal- June 26, 2012
The latest technology boom is helping to stem a decadelong exodus of residents from San Francisco, but the influx of well-paid workers is driving up already-high housing costs and straining public resources

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Smart growth news- June 26, 2012

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U.S. Highway Talks 97 Percent Done, Boxer Says as Deadline Looms
Bloomberg- June 25, 2012
U.S. House and Senate negotiators have completed 97 percent of their work on a bill that would set highway and transportation policy into next year, Senator Barbara Boxer said.

Calif.’s Stockton faces mediation deadline, weighs becoming biggest US city in bankruptcy
Washington Post- June 26, 2012
Stockton officials continued to grapple with the city’s financial plight, struggling to restructure millions of dollars of debt threatening to turn the city with the nation’s second-highest foreclosure rate into the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.

US DOT Doles Out $500 Million to Transportation Projects Around U.S.
Transportation Nation- June 22, 2012
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is on a conference call right now talking to reporters about the latest round of TIGER grants. Here’s a press release describing some of them. Click here to see a map of their distribution around the country.

Streamlining the process for people-oriented streets
NRDC Blog- June 26, 2012
The city of San Francisco has launched a new website to help residents take advantage of city resources and programs for neighborhood-scaled street improvements such as parklets, bike parking, plantings, art installations, sidewalk fixtures, green infrastructure, and permits for car-free events. The site is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the city’s Planning Department, Department of Public Works, and Public Utilities Commission.

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Using complete streets to fight obesity in Jefferson County, AL

In 2007, over 100 organizations in Jefferson County, Alabama formed the Health Action Partnership, a collective effort aimed at making local neighborhoods healthier places to live, work, learn and play.

Reducing obesity was the Partnership’s main objectives from the outset, as Alabama’s obesity rate is the second highest in the nation. Recognizing that lifestyle change is critical in achieving this goal, the Partnership wanted to increase activity levels in the everyday lives of Jefferson County residents.

The organizations soon realized one answer to reducing obesity had been right beneath their feet all along: Complete Streets.

Making improvements to streets, sidewalks and paths would promote physical activity by making it safe and convenient for residents to walk outside for recreation, and would also makes it easier for them to incorporate functional walking and biking into their day-to-day lives.

Jefferson County’s streets are not currently friendly to pedestrians: most of the county’s sidewalks haven’t been updated in the past 50 years, and many are torn up or unsafe. Birmingham, the state’s largest city, also is just beginning to get back on its feet after a series of destructive tornadoes in 2011, which caused more than a billion dollars of property damage. Street safety is no minor problem, either: Alabama ranks fifth in the country for pedestrian deaths.

Since the Partnership came together, it has sought to leverage funding from a variety of sources to address local issues of public health and safety. One of the largest funding sources thus far has been a $13 million Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded in 2010. A portion of this grant is dedicated to fighting obesity in Jefferson County’s 35 municipalities.

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Smart growth news- June 25, 2012

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The week ahead: Decision time for highway bill negotiations
The Hill- June 25, 2012
Negotiations in Congress about a new transportation spending bill are entering their final week, with both sides having something to gain and plenty to lose.

Moving home: The new key to success
Salon- June 23, 2012
After nine years in Brooklyn, N.Y., Emily Farris, Midwestern cuisine queen, decided she was sick of baking tuna casseroles in a kitchen that was also a hallway. “I was sharing a tiny apartment. I wanted to live like an adult,” she says, “and in New York I couldn’t afford to do that.”

Who Will Buy the Boomer’s Homes?
The Daily Beast- June 22, 2012
This week the Housing Commission at the Bipartisan Policy Center issued a report suggesting that there is a growing mismatch between where houses are supplied and where future demand will be.

Turning urban sprawl into sustainable cities
CNN- June 23, 2012
It may seem ironic that one of the most sustainable city infrastructure projects underway in the United States is taking shape in a metropolitan region known best for its traffic congestion and expansive urban sprawl.

Cash-strapped Nevada city declares state of emergency
Fox News- June 23, 2012
There are no signs of rioters, wind-damaged homes or flooding. The brand new City Hall features gleaming marble floors and the public recreation centers offer Zumba, karate and Pilates classes. Despite all of its suburban trimmings, North Las Vegas is officially a disaster area.

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Smart growth news- June 22, 2012

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TIGER 2012 projects highlight critical need for transportation solutions
Department of Transportation Fast Lane blog- June 22, 2012
In this fourth round of our TIGER program, DOT is investing a total of nearly $500 million in 47 projects in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Projects that improve safety, like repairing structurally deficient bridges in Arizona and Maine. Projects that help communities recover, like rebuilding after a devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Projects that give people choices, like developing intermodal facilities in Rochester, NY. Projects that focus on our strengthening our maritime industry, like rehabilitating Tulsa’s Port of Catoosa, one of the largest inland ports in the country.

US lawmakers voice optimism on transportation bill talks
Reuters- June 21, 2012
Prospects for a deal to fund U.S. transportation projects over the long term appeared to brighten somewhat on Thursday as key House and Senate lawmakers described their negotiations in more optimistic terms.

Gas prices could hit $3 by autumn
USA Today- June 21, 2012
The darkening clouds of the slowing economy could provide a bright spot for consumers: gasoline at $3 a gallon — or less — by autumn.

Lawsuits Threaten Light Rail In Los Angeles
NPR- June 21, 2012
Ambitious plans for new public transit across L.A. are inching closer to reality. A comprehensive rail system in this car-centric metropolis seems truly possible. But not everyone shares the vision. Four lawsuits are threatening to halt work on the expansion of rail and subway lines.

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Smart growth news- June 21, 2012

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Optimism sparks up as transportation bill talks get a fresh start
The Hill- June 20, 2012
A new sense of optimism was in the air at transportation negotiations Wednesday as the leaders of House-to-Senate talks resumed their work.

Home Resales Drop
The Wall Street Journal- June 21, 2012
Sales of previously owned homes in the U.S. fell in May, suggesting that economic headwinds and a lack of available lower-priced properties may be holding back housing market’s recovery.

Can You Get People To Walk More, Simply With Smart Signage?
Fast Co Design- June 2012
It all started with a series of unsanctioned signs in Raleigh, North Carolina. Matt Tomasulo wanted to encourage residents to rediscover the joys of walking around town, so he put up notices that stated how long it took to get from here to there–“here” and “there” being any number of specially selected locations–on foot. People paid attention, and Walk [Your City] was born.

America’s Housing Shortage
Slate Moneybox- June 21, 2012
One of the most tenacious myths of the Great Recession is the idea that the downturn is some important sense caused by an oversupply of houses built up during the great boom. In fact, construction activity fell off the cliff in 2006 years before we started being plagued by mass unemployment. And as new Census data (PDF) confirms, America is substantially under-housed at this point:

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Smart growth news- June 20, 2012

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New offer from Senate Dems in highway talks
The Hill- June 19, 2012
Senate Democrats made a new offer for a long-term highway bill to House Republicans on Tuesday as leaders of both parties intervened in the stalled talks in a last-ditch effort to salvage them.

L.A. council OKs plan to concentrate growth in Hollywood
LA Times- June 19, 2012
A plan that could dramatically remake the Hollywood skyline and form the blueprint for denser development around the city’s growing rail network has won unanimous approval from the Los Angeles City Council.

U.S. Mayors Urge Congress to Preserve Funding for Bike/Ped Programs
League of American Bicyclists blog- June 2012
Adding a very powerful voice to the call for continued federal funding for sidewalks and bikeways, the U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution at its annual meeting last weekend that urges Congress to “protect and increase funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs in the next transportation reauthorization law.”

Cities Lead Effort to Curb Climate Change as Nations Lag
Bloomberg- June 19, 2012
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leading an effort by 58 of the world’s largest cities to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while federal governments struggle to meet global targets following two decades of discussions.

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Smart growth news- June 19, 2012

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Lawmakers try to save transportation bill, their best bet for passing a jobs bill
Associated Press via Washington Post – June 19, 2012
House and Senate leaders are making a last-ditch effort to revive stalled legislation to overhaul federal transportation programs — Congress’ best bet for passage of a major jobs bill this year — but prospects for passage before the November election are dimming.

Built on sinking ground, Norfolk tries to hold back tide amid sea-level rise
Washington Post- June 17, 2012
NORFOLK — At her cozy house by the river, Julie Faella spoke as though a monster lurks nearby. It rises under a tidal moon, she said, or when the winds howl, or when rains crash down.

Public transit ills called a health issue
Boston Globe- June 19, 2012
Massachusetts has made modest improvements in services to keep residents healthy, such as providing better bikeways and walking paths, but ­serious financial problems with its mass transit system could undermine those gains, warns a report by a coalition of health and community advocates.

Capital Bikeshare Users Say They Save Over $800 a Year in Transportation Costs, Have Reduced Car Use
DCist- June 18, 2012
Capital Bikeshare users reported annual transportation savings of $819, according to the results of a 2011 survey released today. The survey of the system’s 18,000 annual users—over 5,600 of which responded—found that weekly savings amounted to $15.75, and that Bikeshare users saved a collective $15 million a year by jumping on one of the distinctive red bikes.

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Smart growth news- June 18, 2012

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Transforming historic buildings into magnets for future growth
Buffalo News (NY) – June 17, 2012
Renovation of historic buildings is gaining momentum in downtown Buffalo, as derelict buildings like the AM&A warehouse, Hotel Lafayette and others are revived by developers to meet demand for innovative living and office space.

30-year growth blueprint approved
KXAN (TX) – June 15, 2012
A plan to shape the city’s growth and development throughout the next 30 years has been set into motion after Austin City Council unanimously approved — very early Friday morning — the comprehensive blueprint for growth.

Highway negotiations approaching a dead end
The Hill’s Transportation blog – June 18, 2012
The congressional negotiations about a new transportation bill are entering their sixth week with most observers thinking there is no longer hope for lawmakers to reach a deal on a possible compromise.

Stop thinking big
Salon – June 16, 2012
For a long time, tactical urbanism was associated with guerrilla gardeners and fly-by-night pop-up parks, whereas large-scale “city planning” was seen as the job of bureaucrats with blueprints. But more and more often, City Hall is taking a more active (as opposed to purely reactive) role in these types of smaller, cheaper, localized efforts, and sometimes even leading them.

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