One of the main reasons Smart Growth America advocates for compact, walkable urban development is because this approach can greatly benefit the finances of municipalities. Smart growth strategies can reduce infrastructure costs and ongoing expenses for cities while also boosting tax revenues. Smart Growth America’s own work has shown that, and we know this to be true too because of the outstanding work of others in the field like Joe Minicozzi, AICP and the principal at Urban3, LLC, a consultancy based out of Asheville, NC. We’re fans of their work and and cite it often as yet another illustration of how good smart growth can be for city finances. We want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the evidence Minicozzi has amassed over the years demonstrating smart growth’s fiscal benefits.
Urban3 has been hired by cities and towns across the United States and Canada to analyze the financial implications of their development strategies. Most city planners and elected officials understand that a city brings in more tax revenue when people shop and eat out, Minicozzi explained in 2012, but they often underestimate just how much more valuable this economic activity is when it happens downtown rather than on a city’s outskirts.
Today, the City of Somerville, MA, and LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors publicly released the results of the progress made to date, as well as the next steps, in the Union Square Strategic Planning and Community Benefits process, a public-private partnership between LOCUS and the City.
The recommendations report identifies a series of priorities for ensuring that social equity goals are interwoven with development goals as the city’s Union Square neighborhood undergoes redevelopment centered around the planned MBTA Green Line light rail extension. Shared priorities including displacement prevention, affordable and attainable housing, jobs and workforce development, sustainability, open space, small businesses supports and more, are identified.
In 2015, more than 80 communities passed Complete Streets policies and this week the National Complete Streets Coalition released a closer look at all of them with The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015, our annual ranking of Complete Streets policies from the last year, including the 16 policies that were the nation’s best.
To kick off the report we hosted an online panel discussion to recognize all last year’s policies as well as the growing movement for safer streets nationwide. Representatives from top-scoring communities shared insight into how they passed the best policies, and ideas for how other communities can create a great policy of their own.
For those who weren’t able to join us on Tuesday, a recording of the webinar is now available.
Smart Growth America is pleased to announce today the hiring of Lynn Peterson, former chief executive officer of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), as senior transportation policy advisor.
During her tenure at WSDOT, Peterson oversaw an agency responsible for 18,600 lane miles of highway, 3,700 bridges, airports, passenger- and freight-rail programs, and the Washington State Ferry system (the nation’s largest). She brought a renewed focus on agency efficiencies, accountability, and investments to the multimodal system, and supported the agency’s partnerships with cities, counties, businesses, transit agencies, and non-motorized transportation groups to cost-effectively build safe and healthy communities everywhere in Washington state.
Peterson is also a nationally recognized transportation and land-use integration expert having worked both as a transportation consultant and as a strategic planning manager for TriMet, Portland, OR’s regional transportation agency.
Oklahoma City, OK – and its project restoring the historic Santa Fe depot, above — is one of nine communities selected to receive technical assistance from the Federal Transit Administration and Smart Growth America.
Nine communities working to support development around planned or existing transit projects will get a big boost this year thanks to newly awarded technical assistance from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in partnership with Smart Growth America.
The National Public Transportation/Transit-Oriented Development Technical Assistance Initiative, which officially launched in December, is a four-year project of FTA in partnership with Smart Growth America to help communities across the country build compact, mixed-use, equitable development around transit stations, with a focus on development in disadvantaged areas.
Guadalupe Street in Austin, TX. Austin had one of the highest-scoring policies of 2014. Which communities will be on the 2015 list? Photo courtesy of the City of Austin.
More than 60 communities passed Complete Streets policies in 2015, and these policies are some of the strongest and most effective ever passed. Which policies stood out as the best? Find out on next month when Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition unveils our annual ranking of the best Complete Streets policies in the nation.
Notably this year, one community has scored a perfect 100 on their Complete Streets policy. In the near decade that we have been tracking policies, this is the first time a community has achieved a perfect score. Which community passed the perfect policy? Join us for the launch of this year’s rankings to find out.
Smart Growth America — along with our signature transportation program Transportation for America — is pleased to announce today the hiring of Ben Stone as director of arts and culture, a new position designed to lead the organization’s broad efforts to help communities across the country better integrate arts, culture, and creative placemaking into neighborhood revitalization, equitable development, and transportation planning efforts.
For the past four-and-a-half years, Ben has served as the executive director of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, a dynamic cultural district in Baltimore, MD. In that role, he helped make Station North a place that supports artists and attracts visitors and residents alike to the lively, creative community surrounding Baltimore’s Penn Station. (Station North was profiled briefly in Transportation for America’s recent online guidebook to creative placemaking, The Scenic Route.)
“Including the arts in neighborhood development can create well-rounded places that are powerful catalysts for smart, new, inclusive growth,” said Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Ben has an incredible wealth of experience in this field, and we look forward to helping him share it with the local elected leaders, real estate developers, and advocates making neighborhoods great across the country.”
“We’re thrilled to bring someone of Ben’s caliber on board to help lead this emerging area of integrating local arts and culture to produce better projects and places through a better process,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. “He’s a respected expert and leader who has on-the-ground experience with creative placemaking, an emerging approach to planning and building transportation projects that taps local culture to produce better projects through a better process.”
Street-level stores with apartments above them, like these along Main Street in Ossining, NY, are one example of the type of development current federal regulations restrict.
A growing number of Americans wanting to live in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods—but arcane federal rules make it unnecessarily difficult to build this type of development. A recent study by the Regional Plan Association, released in partnership with LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, highlights how—and what lawmakers can do to change it.
Looking for the perfect way to say Happy Valentine’s Day to that special smart growth advocate in your life? Whether your Valentine’s a Complete Streets Treat, a Public Transit Treasure, a Beloved Bicyclist, or a Policy Wonk/Wooer, Smart Growth America’s got you covered: Spread …
The annual New Partners for Smart Growth conference brings together public officials, development professionals, advocates, and civic organizations to connect with experts from across the country and catch up on the evolving best practices in smart growth. Hundreds of speakers cross disciplines to share insights, tools and strategies for making smart growth a success in communities across the country.
This year’s conference will take place January 29-31, 2015 in Baltimore, MD, and Smart Growth America is excited to be one of the many organizations participating. If you plan to attend the conference, be sure to catch the following sessions featuring Smart Growth America’s members and staff.