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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Second regional LOCUS Leadership Summit cultivates smart growth deals and introduces new research in Michigan

This week, more than 200 real estate developers and local elected officials convened at the One Woodward Building in downtown Detroit for the first-ever LOCUS Michigan Leadership Summit: Closing the next [Smart Growth] Deal. Attendees represented the private, public, and …

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DRIVE Act could step up Complete Streets implementation

Indy Mass Ave credit Ian FreimuthThe Cultural Trail in Indianapolis, IN exemplifies design flexibility in creating streets that are safe and inviting for walking, bicycling, and driving. Photo by Ian Freimuth.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously approved its draft six-year bill, the DRIVE Act, this week. Included in the bill are several provisions that would provide the long-term stability that states, regions, and local communities need to plan and build good projects and offers important steps forward for safe, multimodal streets.

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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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Senate committee votes “yes” on financing for transit-oriented development

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Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation unanimously approved the Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act (S. 1626). The bill expands the capabilities of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF), a $30 billion loan program to provide needed financing for transit-oriented development infrastructure and development projects near passenger rail stations.

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Indianapolis works to implement its strong Complete Streets policy with Smart Growth America workshop

indy-workshop-borderChallenges and opportunities on the whiteboard at a Complete Streets workshop in Indianapolis last week. Photo by the Indiana Complete Streets Coalition, via Twitter.

In 2012 the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council unanimously passed the Indianapolis Complete Streets ordinance, a policy intended to ensure that streets are designed, built, operated, and maintained to be safe and accessible for everyone, regardless of whether they travel by bus, bike, foot or personal vehicle. Indianapolis’ Complete Streets policy was the best in the nation that year, and remains one of the strongest city ordinances adopted to date.

Since the policy’s passage, Indianapolis staff and Health by Design partners have been working to ensure successful implementation of the policy and to monitor and track related performance measures. To help accelerate the move from policy to implementation, Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition held a Complete Streets implementation workshop on June 10 and 11, 2015, as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop provided additional tools, resources and guidance for policy implementation. It also offered an opportunity to communicate the benefits of Complete Streets and local project examples to the public.

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Transit-oriented development financing included in senate transportation reauthorization bill

Today, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee unanimously approved its six-year, $275 billion transportation reauthorization bill, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. LOCUS Director Christopher Coes made the following statement: “The Senate took …

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Leaders discuss downtown revitalization at Policy Forum 2015

local-leaders_6-23-15_roomParticipants at the second annual Local Leaders Council Policy Forum on June 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. Photo by Aimee Custis.

Earlier this month, local leaders from across the country came together for the 2015 Local Leaders Council Policy Forum in Washington, DC. The over 30 speakers talked about a wide range of smart growth topics, including creating housing options, fighting blight, meeting the needs of new demographics, and walkable design.

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Introducing “The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan Metros”

michigan-metros3

Walkable real estate development projects and places are on the rise nationwide. LOCUS has looked at how these trends are playing out in Atlanta, Washington, DC, and Boston. Today, we’re excited to unveil the fourth report in our WalkUP Wake-Up Call series.

The WalkUP Wake-Up Call: Michigan Metros looks at development in seven Michigan metropolitan areas: Detroit-Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Lansing, Jackson, Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, and Flint. Our analysis of these areas finds that in the most recent real estate cycle, 22 percent of all new income property development located in the 2.7 percent of land that is walkable urban. This share of new development is up from only 6 percent in the 1990s real estate cycle and 12 percent from the 2001-2008 cycle.

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It’s smart growth week in the U.S. Senate

Well, it isn’t really smart growth week in the Senate. But it sure feels that way.

Senate committees will consider three different bills this week that will impact federal housing, transportation, and community development programs.

First, the Environment and Public Works committee will consider the DRIVE Act, the newest version of the federal transportation bill, which will either expand or curtail crucial transit-oriented development and Complete Streets programs. The bill includes several strong points, including making transit-oriented-development eligible for the TIFIA program, and lowering project cost thresholds from $50 million to $10 million. It also requires that all modes of transportation be considered when designing National Highway System projects and improves design standards for all roadways by integrating the NACTO Urban Design Guide into federal design standards. The bill incorporates resilience and system reliability as considerations for regional and statewide transportation and slightly increases the funds provided to local communities and regions by five percent through the Surface Transportation Program, and by fully directing all Transportation Alternative Program funds to locals communities through competition. The bill could do more, and we encourage the Senate to do as much, but this is a solid first draft of the bill.

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