Author Archives: Smart Growth America

Making Complete Streets real in Maryland

Maryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MDMaryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MD.

Maryland members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council met last Thursday for a workshop titled “Making Complete Streets Real,” sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Councilmember Brent Bolin hosted the event at the Mount Rainer City Hall and gave an insider’s tour of local smart growth initiatives after the workshop.

Many of the leaders who attended the workshop are currently developing new Complete Streets policies, and the conversation focused heavily on how to move from policy adoption to effective implementation and talking publicly about the value of this work. Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening noted, “It is important to make clear how Complete Streets relate to larger and deeper community goals.”

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Hear the recap: “Measuring Sprawl 2014″ online discussion

Yesterday Smart Growth America released Measuring Sprawl 2014, a look at sprawl in the United States and what it means for Americans’ day-to-day lives.

To launch the new findings we hosted an online panel discussion with the report’s authors and local leaders from across the country. If you weren’t able to join yesterday’s event, the recorded version is now available.

Watch the archived webinar

Speaking on yesterday’s call were Alex Dodds, Deputy Director of Communications, Smart Growth America; Ilana Preuss, Vice President and Chief of Staff at Smart Growth America; Reid Ewing, Professor at the University of Utah and researcher at the Metropolitan Research Center; David Berrigan, Program Director at National Institutes of Health’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences; Elizabeth Tyler, Community Development Director of Urbana, IL; Bill Fruhling, Principal Planner for the city of Madison, WI; Mayor Ken Moore of Franklin, TN; and Ralph Schulz, President of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

Thank you to everyone who participated in yesterday’s call. The event provided great information for experts and newcomers alike about how better development decisions can help Americans live healthier, safer, more prosperous lives.

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Where America is sprawling and what it means

Measuring Sprawl 2014

Some regions in the United States are sprawling, some are building in compact and connected ways, and the difference between the two strategies has huge implications for the day-to-day lives of millions of Americans.

Measuring Sprawl 2014, released today Smart Growth America in partnership with the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, ranks the most sprawling and most compact areas of the country. The new report evaluates development patterns in 221 major metropolitan areas and their counties based on four factors: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering. Each metro area received a Sprawl Index score based on these factors.

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A new measure of sprawl in America

Measuring Sprawl

In 2001, Smart Growth America released the landmark study Measuring Sprawl and its Impact. On Wednesday, April 2, we’ll release the next edition of this flagship report with new information about the state of development in the United States.

Measuring Sprawl 2014 will look at development patterns in 221 metropolitan areas across the country and evaluate which communities are the least and most sprawling in the country. The report will score and rank every metropolitan area in the country based on its development, using a four-factor system developed by researchers at the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center.

Join us for the launch of Measuring Sprawl 2014. Smart Growth America and the Metropolitan Research Center will hold an online event to detail the findings of the new report and to discuss growth strategies with communities highlighted in the new analysis. Join us for this free event on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 11:00 AM EDT.

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New report examines the fiscal implications of chronic underinvestment in road repair

Repair Priorities

State departments of transportation (DOTs) are spending more money building new roads than maintaining the ones they have—despite the fact that roads are crumbling, financial liabilities are mounting and conditions are not improving for America’s drivers.

$45.2 billion
The amount states would need to spend to bring roads in poor condition into a state of good repair while also maintaining their existing systems.

Those are the findings of Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads, a new report out today from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report examines road conditions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, how much states currently invest in road repair and how much they would need to spend to adequately maintain America’s roads.

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Developers see new opportunities at the intersection of brownfields redevelopment and public health

Harbor Oaks Shopping Center, Clearwater, FL.On the left: A former car dealership in Clearwater, FL became a designated brownfield after the dealership closed. On the right: Today the site is home to the Harbor Oaks shopping center, complete with a new grocery store for the community.

You might be familiar with the concept of brownfields—vacant sites that are known or suspected to be contaminated and which must be remediated before they can be reused. A related, but less well-known concept is healthfields, which turn former brownfields into community health facilities. Healthfields are gaining wide support within regulatory and policy circles, and their popularity opens up new opportunities for real estate developers in these fields.

In many markets today brownfields are unfortunately common enough that land-use-related companies have evolved to specialize in brownfields redevelopment. These companies—including real estate developers, law firms and engineering firms, among others—have learned to navigate the complex regime of rules, procedures and standards that govern the redevelopment of brownfield sites. These companies have also become experts in the web of federal, state and local programs available for brownfields redevelopment, which are often what make brownfield site redevelopment financially feasible.

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How much would your state need to spend to repair its roads?

VDOTA crew from the Virginia Department of Transportation fills potholes. Photo by VDOT via Flickr.

How much would your state need to spend to repair its roads? Most likely the answer to that question is “a lot.” In some cases, state DOTs could spend their entire annual budget on repair and maintenance and still have work left to do. So why are many states making the problem even worse by continuing to spend scarce transportation dollars expanding their road networks?

In two weeks, Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense will address this question with the release of the 2014 edition of Repair Priorities.

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Announcing the best Complete Streets policies of 2013

Livermore, CALivermore, CA is included among the top of The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013.

A total of 83 communities adopted Complete Streets policies in the United States in 2013. These laws, resolutions and planning and design documents encourage and provide for the safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income or ethnicity, and no matter how they travel.

The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013, released today by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition examines and scores each Complete Streets policy enacted in 2013. The report outlines ten ideal elements of a Complete Streets policy and scores individual policies based on these ideals. Policy elements refine a community’s vision for transportation, provide for many types of users, complement community needs and establish a flexible approach necessary for an effective Complete Streets process and outcome.

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Registration now open for 2014 LOCUS Leadership Summit

2014 LOCUS Leadership Summit

Real estate developers and investors interested in building walkable neighborhoods are invited to participate in the 2014 LOCUS Leadership Summit: Closing the next [Smart Growth] deal.

The 2014 Summit will take place on June 17-18, 2014 in Washington, DC. Real estate developers, investors, members of Congress and Washington’s thought leaders will come together to discuss cutting edge design, planning, finance and management ideas you won’t find anywhere else.

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National Complete Streets Coalition to unveil top Complete Streets policies of 2013

Indianapolis, INIndianapolis, IN had the highest scoring Complete Streets policy of 2012. Photo by Ian Freimuth via Flickr.

More than 80 communities passed Complete Streets policies in 2013, and on February 18, Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition will unveil which ones were the best.

Each year, the Coalition analyzes Complete Streets policies enacted in the past year. These laws, resolutions, executive orders, policies and planning and design documents encourage and provide safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income, ethnicity or how they travel.

Join us for an online event to celebrate this year’s best policies and to hear how communities everywhere can create streets that are safer and more convenient for everyone who uses them.

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