Green River, WY hosts workshop to align development code with master plan

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The sun sets over Tollgate Rock in Green River, WY. Photo by Jonathan Percy, via Flickr.

When a small town has big plans for changing its development patterns, how does it put them into action? From fixing restrictive codes to working with the real estate community—what the first steps to smart growth?

On August 27 and 28, 2014, officials and residents from Green River, WY met with representatives from Smart Growth America for an expert-led workshop focused on implementing the ambitious vision inside the new Green River Comprehensive Master Plan. Provided as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program, the two-day event was designed to provide the City with tools to modernize its development codes so that they encourage the types of growth outlined in the plan’s vision.

The Green River Comprehensive Master Plan was adopted in January 2013 after a year-long public input process. The plan lays out the community’s long-term vision and serves as a blueprint for future growth and investment within the city and surrounding areas. For the implementation process, Green River leaders sought technical assistance from Smart Growth America, hoping to bring the city’s development codes into better alignment with the master plan’s principles. The resulting two-day workshop helped Green River identify high-priority code fixes to promote infill development and redevelopment, preserve and revitalize existing neighborhoods, and promote orderly development in suitable outlying areas.

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Smart Growth News — October 21, 2014

Where Young College Graduates Are Choosing to Live
The New York Times — October 20, 2014
When young college graduates decide where to move, they are not just looking at the usual suspects, like New York, Washington and San Francisco. Other cities are increasing their share of these valuable residents at an even higher rate and have reached a high overall percentage, led by Denver, San Diego, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore., according to a report published Monday by City Observatory, a new think tank.

Millennials Continue Urbanization Of America, Leaving Small Towns
North Carolina Public Radio — October 21, 2014
It turns out the millennial generation is only accelerating the demographic shift toward urban living. In fact, this may be the most “bright lights, big city” generation in history. While the number of millennials is ticking slightly upward in small towns and rural areas, it’s nothing compared with the growth of their numbers in suburbs and cities.

When Planning for Retirement, Consider Transportation
The New York Times — October 17, 2014
According to the American Journal of Public Health, Americans are outliving their ability to drive safely — a woman, on average, by 10 years, a man by seven. Over all, the ability to drive safely as one ages depends on health. Some people can drive into their 90s while others begin to cut back at 65.

In Texas, Toll Roads Proliferate—and a Backlash Builds
The Wall Street Journal — October 20, 2014
Toll roads are experiencing a growth spurt around the U.S. as states strapped for cash look to relieve traffic congestion without raising taxes. But a political backlash is rising in Texas, one of the states that most aggressively encouraged toll-road construction, as residents realize that many major urban freeways are increasingly no longer free.

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Introducing the Urbanful Marketplace

district-marketplace

In July, we announced the launch of Urbanful, an urban culture magazine highlighting the innovations in design, technology, culture, and transportation that are changing how we live in cities. Urbanful’s stories highlight social entrepreneurs, planning innovations, arts, and culture in American cities large and small.

Now, we’re excited to announce the launch of Urbanful’s Marketplace, a one-stop shop for innovative products by urban manufacturers and artisans. The new Marketplace will make it much easier to connect directly with makers, their stories and their products.

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Commissioner Conan Smith aims to improve opportunities for all residents in Washtenaw County, MI

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Downtown Ann Arbor in Washtenaw County, MI. Photo by the Michigan Municipal League, via Flickr.

Washtenaw County, MI is located immediately west of the Detroit metropolitan area, with a population of just over 350,000 residents. A former manufacturing region, the county currently houses several major institutions that are playing a growing role in shaping the region’s economy and development patterns. The seat of Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor, MI, is home to the University of Michigan, which employs more than 30,000 people and has contributed to the growth of a vibrant, walkable business and entertainment district in Ann Arbor’s downtown. The county also houses Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and a major U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical center.

While Washtenaw County has seen significant job growth over the past several years—a recent economic forecasting study estimates that between 2009 and 2016 the region will have gained 31,147 additional jobs—economic inequality is a growing challenge for the community. County Commissioner Conan Smith, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to address this issue by promoting economic development strategies that provide all county residents with greater access to opportunities.

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Smart Growth News — October 20, 2014

How Walkable Communities Are Good for Us
The Huffington Post — October 20, 2014
We know from exhaustive past research that walkable neighborhoods and cities reduce driving, associated emissions, and living costs. Three important academic studies published earlier this year demonstrate that they are good for our health, too.

Cities Left Behind By Economic Change
Forbes — October 20, 2014
When I was a child, my family visited the Calico ghost town in the California desert. A half century after the silver mines closed, Walter Knott (founder of Knott’s Berry Farm) purchased the town, restored the buildings, and operated it as an amusement park.

Housing First: the ‘counterintuitive’ method for solving urban homelessness
The Guardian (UK) — October 20, 2014
Despite the Great Recession, the gutting of the auto industry and the city’s much-publicised bankruptcy, homelessness in Detroit has actually fallen (albeit by less than 1%) since 2010, according to the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries. Nor is it the only city. Across the US, homelessness in cities is dropping almost across the board.

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Smart Growth News — October 17, 2014

Do the Most Hipster Thing Possible—Move to Des Moines
National Journal — October 16, 2014
Ambitious minds are in the process of building a new Des Moines, a tech hub in Silicon Prairie, an artistic center in the Heartland, a destination for people who want to create something meaningful outside of the limits imposed by an oversaturated city like Chicago or New York.

The link between housing policy and student achievement
Washington Post — October 16, 2014
It is impossible to divorce a student’s life outside of school with how well he or she does in class.

A Chat with Amtrak’s CEO on the State of U.S. Passenger Rail
City Lab — October 16, 2014
Year after year, Amtrak sets ridership records along with the pace of intercity travel in the all-important Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston via New York, where it reaps big profits. And year after year, Amtrak gets hammered for needing huge amounts of federal taxpayer money to maintain costly (yet mandatory) long-distance operations—even as highways require far, far greater subsidies.

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El primer congreso de Calles Completas en Puerto Rico

AARP PR Director Jose AcaronJosé Acaron, director of AARP Puerto Rico, speaks before the Puerto Rico Complete Streets Congress. Photo by AARP Puerto Rico, via Facebook.

The first-ever Puerto Rico Complete Streets Congress for Professionals, presented by AARP Puerto Rico on October 3, convened 160 transportation, public health, and other community leaders who want to elevate Complete Streets policies and strategies across the island.

Covering topics ranging from the benefits of Complete Streets to best practices in implementation to design guidance, the event was featured insights from Complete Streets workshops instructor Paul Zykofsky; Ana Rius, Secretary of Health Department for Puerto Rico; Miguel Torres, Secretary of Transportation and Public Works for Puerto Rico; Zaki Mustafa, past present of Institute of Transportation Engineers, a National Complete Streets Coalition Steering Committee member; and long-time Complete Streets advocate Dan Burden.

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Smart Growth News — October 16, 2014

The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs
The American Conservative — October 15, 2014
America’s suburban experiment is a radical, government-led re-engineering of society, one that artificially inverted millennia of accumulated wisdom and practice in building human habitats.

TOD biggest trend of century, says new report
Real Estate Weekly — October 15, 2014
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) has emerged as the most substantial development trend of the early 21st century, according to real estate experts.

Foxx: Lame Duck Session An Opportunity To Fix Highway Trust Fund
WAMU (DC) — October 16, 2014
The Obama administration’s top transportation official said the coming lame duck session of Congress will present an opportunity to pass an elusive multi-year road and transit funding bill to end the cycle of short-term patches that keep the Highway Trust Fund from going broke.

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Smart Growth News — October 15, 2014

The Return of the American Streetcar
WNPR (Conn.) — October 14, 2014
Could streetcars be the mass transit solution we’ve been waiting for?

Scrunched in Seattle
Politico — October 14, 2014
The country’s fastest growing city (population 640,500), Seattle is the pioneer of micro-housing—tiny, one-room dwellings that are in turn hailed as an affordable, sustainable alternative to the high cost of city living, and disparaged as an inhuman experiment in downsizing.

Crumbling U.S. Fix Seen With Global Trillions of Dollars
Bloomberg News — October 15, 2014
“America needs the upgrade and modernization of our infrastructure, and I don’t think you’ll get there if you keep excluding, or at least discouraging, private capital.”

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Resilience summit discusses how states can help vulnerable populations prepare for and recover from disaster

Hurricane KatrinaThousands of people were unable to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina due to lack of access to transportation. These individuals were disproportionately elderly, low-income African Americans. Photo by Andrea Booher, via the FEMA Photo Library.

A community is only as resilient as its most vulnerable residents. States can do more to define who is most at risk in the face of natural hazards, and can begin to take steps to address these populations’ needs.

That was the takeaway from the panel of environmental justice experts who spoke at the Governors’ Institute on Community Design State Resilience and Economic Growth Summit in Washington, DC, last week. The panel discussion was part of a a two-day event that brought together experts on disaster recovery and long-term resilience to discuss best practices and new strategies for states.

“You can’t just talk about the general population and resilience and expect resilience to spread to all communities,” began Matthew Tejada, Director of the Office of Environmental Justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “It’s important that we save a special place to talk about resilience for those communities that are overburdened, that are vulnerable.”

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