Author Archives: Smart Growth America

Senate reaches preliminary agreement on a long-term transportation bill

The following is a cross-post from Transportation for America.
A group of key Senate leaders announced just a few moments ago that they’d reached agreement on a bipartisan six-year transportation bill with three years of guaranteed funding.

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Houston, we have a solution

TX Houston bus Roy Luck flickrPhoto: Roy Luck via Flickr

This post is the first in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks!

Houston’s bold plan to redesign its bus system—the System Reimagining Project—is akin to a prima-ballerina dancing the final act of Swan Lake. The plan is so elegant, the results so awe-inspiring, that it’s easy to miss all the hard work that led to this moment. A comprehensive, creative, and thoughtful public input and outreach process led to broad support for this revolutionary new bus system.

Let’s start with the magic. In 2012, Houston and Harris County’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, or METRO, recognized its bus system needed an update. No one had taken a hard look at the system in three decades, even though Houston had grown into a more polycentric city and METRO had built the first of several planned light rail lanes. Instead of making minor adjustments, METRO’s board, with the nudging of board member Christof Spieler, an urban planner and transit advocate, decided to see what the system could look like if it were designed from scratch. The new plan, an almost complete remodel of Houston’s current bus system, was approved by METRO’s board just three years later, in February of 2015.

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Farewell from a smart growth communications veteran

This post, crossposted from Transportation for America, is a personal farewell from our friend and colleague David Goldberg, who was the founding communications director for Smart Growth America in 2002 and helped get Transportation for America off the ground in 2008-2009 as communications director. Other than former Gov. Parris Glendening at SGA, David was the longest tenured SGA/T4A employee, helping to steer this small part of the larger movement for transportation reform and creating better places over the last thirteen years. We’ll miss him deeply, and wish him the best in his new endeavors. Here are few thoughts directly from David as he departs. –Ed.


David Goldberg

After 13 great years with Smart Growth America and Transportation for America, I am moving on to a new challenge. For two decades I worked on addressing the consequences of our 20th century efforts to re-engineer our human habitat. Now I’m joining a new group that is grappling with the after-effects of industrializing the American diet during that same period.

The change is bittersweet. We’ve had a great ride since starting SGA in the early 2000s, bringing attention to the problems associated with out-of-control development patterns and helping to reshape policies, practices and even consumer preferences toward more walkable — and workable — neighborhoods and transportation networks.

We’ve seen enormous change over the last 13 years, with the arc of planning, development and transportation trends bending ever more in the direction this movement has worked for. Smart Growth America can’t claim credit for all that of course, but the organization and its allies clearly had a hand in helping communities adjust to shifting patterns of growth. In many places across the country, “Sprawl is out, compact is in.”

I think it was fitting that on my last day in the office with my D.C. colleagues, we released Core Values: Why American Companies are Moving Downtown, shepherded into existence by the incomparable Alex Dodds, the communications director for Smart Growth America. After all, it was when executives started moving their companies and families to the outskirts in the late 20th century that the country launched into hyper-sprawl; a reversal of that trend is significant, indeed.

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“THUD bill is a non-starter,” says Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoff Anderson

Earlier today the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies passed its fiscal year 2016 funding bill. In response, Smart Growth America’s President and CEO Geoff Anderson issued the following statement.

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Coming soon: “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan”

On June 23, LOCUS will unveil a new analysis of which walkable urban places—or “walkUPs”—are changing the real estate landscape in seven metropolitan areas in Michigan.

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Get the recap: “Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners” webinar and discussion

On Tuesday, the National Complete Streets Coalition hosted a webinar on our newest resource, Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners. The new guide is designed to help transportation professionals understand and use new measures of success, and provides an introduction to performance measurement for Complete Streets projects. The recording of Tuesday’s webinar is now available.

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Now Hiring: Communications Fellow for LOCUS Coalition

Smart Growth America seeks a Communications and Policy Fellow to support LOCUS, a national network of smart growth real estate developers and investors. The Fellow will be a core member of the LOCUS team and provide direct support to the LOCUS network of real estate developers and investors advocating for smart growth policies at the federal and regional levels.

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Inside “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston”

walkup-boston-coverMetropolitan Boston is poised to be one of the most walkable metro areas in the country. This is one of the exciting findings of The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston, a new report unveiled in Boston today at LOCUS’s first-ever New England Leadership Summit.

The new research defines—for the first time—the form and function of all land use in metropolitan Boston’s 3,100 square miles, identifying 57 regionally significant walkable urban places (or “WalkUPs”) in metro Boston and ranking them based on economic performance, measured by the real estate valuations for each product type and the fiscal revenues generated for local governments, and by social equity performance, measured by accessibility, opportunity, and affordability for residents. Looking ahead to future opportunities, the report also identifies emerging and potential WalkUPs where new development could go.

As shown by substantial and increasing real estate valuation premiums in all real estate product types (office, hotel, rental apartment, retail, and for-sale residential), the report found strong and growing signs of pent-up demand for walkable urban neighborhoods in the Boston area—marking a reversal in real estate development that has long followed the drivable suburban model. Even more remarkable is the fact that these WalkUPs, account for just 6% of the total land area in the Boston metro region.

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Coming soon: “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston”

cambridge-700px

Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide. Over the past year, LOCUS has looked at how these trends are playing out in Atlanta and Washington, DC.

On March 11, we’ll reveal new analysis of which walkable urban places—or “walkUPs”—are changing the real estate landscape in another major American city: Boston

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Boston will, for the first time ever, analyze the different forms and economic use of all land use across metro Boston and rank Boston-area communities based on economic and social equity metrics. 

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Hear the recap: The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014

On Tuesday we revealed The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014, and to celebrate we hosted an online discussion with representatives from a few of this year’s top-scoring communities. If you missed the discussion, here’s a recap of the kickoff event.

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