In New Drainage Projects, Long-Buried Urban Streams See the Light Again
National Geographic — November 26, 2014
When the little stream and its tributary in the Rock Creek area of northwest Washington were channeled into a buried pipe, they carried away not only the runoff from this leafy section of the city but also pollution, which would make its way to the beleaguered Chesapeake Bay. Other cities saw similar problems. What’s more, paving and piping often make flooding worse.
How Political Leadership Makes City Streets Bikeable
The Atlantic — November 25, 2014
Becoming more bikeable: That seems to be a must for any self-respecting major American city these days. But what does it take to achieve that goal? Resources, of course—the funds to create the infrastructure for safe and comfortable bikeways. But the most important thing is political will. It takes real political leadership to overcome opposition to change.
Lewis Baltz, Photographer of American Landscapes, Dies at 69
The New York Times — November 25, 2014
Lewis Baltz, whose caustic but formally beautiful black-and-white images of parking lots, office parks, industrial garage doors and the backs of anonymous warehouses helped forge a new tradition of American landscape photography in an age of urban sprawl, died on Saturday in Paris. He was 69.
Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure
60 Minutes — November 23, 2014
There are a lot of people in the United States right now who think the country is falling apart, and at least in one respect they’re correct. Our roads and bridges are crumbling, our airports are out of date and the vast majority of our seaports are in danger of becoming obsolete. All the result of decades of neglect.
Humans Are Becoming City-Dwelling “Metro Sapiens”
Smithsonian Magazine — November 24, 2014
Cities have been around for thousands of years, since the first were settled in Mesopotamia between 4000 and 3000 B.C. But only over the last several centuries have humans moved into cities en masse. Now more than half the world’s population can be found in urban areas. “Cities are very much the dominant habitat of our species,” writes Jason Vargo in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.
Our transit future in peril: How idealism is threatening to derail vital projects
Salon — November 23, 2014
Rest in peace, Arlington streetcars. We hardly knew ye. The longtime plan to build rail transit on two of the major roads in this Washington, D.C., suburb officially died on Tuesday, thanks to a gradual but decisive shift in the political control of the county.
Wanted: More (and Better) Discourse on Designing Diverse Communities
Citylab — November 24, 2014
Scientists have proved that the way our brains are wired plays into how we engage with the physical spaces around us. But so, surely, do our life experiences—where we come from, and our cultural values make a difference in how we perceive space and utilize it.
A bird’s eye rendering of Pasadena’s growing local economy. Graphic via the City of Pasadena.
In Harris County, TX, the Department of Public Health and Environmental Services (HCPHES) knew that encouraging smarter development could benefit both public health and the local economy. But creating real change meant more than just having the knowledge. If smart growth was to become a reality, local officials, business leaders, and interested citizens needed to join the process and feel ownership.
So HCPHES brought in the experts.
What Millennials Love About Pittsburgh
The Atlantic — November 22, 2014
It’s a very good time to be in Pittsburgh if you’re a young person (need we really call them “millennials”?). So, if you’re roughly in that age cohort and now living somewhere else—in a place where opportunities seem limited—consider a move to the City of Bridges. It would be a wise decision for a whole bunch of reasons, the least of which is that Pittsburgh is a really beautiful city.
Salt Lake City mayor named president of Nat’l League of Cities
KSL Utah — November 22, 2014
As its newest president, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is hoping to give the National League of Cities more pull in Washington, D.C. “It is in our municipalities and communities where real innovation, real action and real decisions are being made,” he said. “We are driving not just our local and regional economies, but we are driving progress in our country overall.”
Urban Acupuncture Is Coming to America
Governing — December 2014
A little more than 100 years ago, the celebrated architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham offered his famously bombastic advice to those who wished to change the face of America’s cities. “Make no little plans,” he said. “They have no magic to stir men’s blood. … Make big plans; aim high in hope and work.”
Anthony Foxx: Funding bill needed to keep pace with growth
Charlotte Observer — November 23, 2014
U.S. Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx asked national transportation leaders on Sunday to help pass a long-term transportation funding bill, saying the current funding system is short-term and prevents states from keeping up with population growth.
Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Bob Mical via Flickr
Charlottesville, VA, is setting itself apart from other college towns through a focus on equitable development. The city, which comprises just 10 square miles in central Virginia’s Albemarle County, boasts a rich heritage with connections to Thomas Jefferson and colonial America. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia as well as many historic sites, most famously including Monticello.
For nearly 30 years, Albemarle County has protected its rural areas through strong preservation practices—and residents have felt the benefits. The city has a strong downtown and walkable core, including the downtown pedestrian mall—one of the most successful in the country—and much of the city is within a 15-minute drive from nearby natural areas. Councilmember Kathy Galvin, a long time Charlottesville resident and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is committed to further strengthening the city’s core and making sure it in an equitable place for all current and future residents.
Smart Growth America is seeking a Policy Fellow to support the Local Leaders Council, a national network of elected and appointed leaders in cities across the nation.
The Policy Fellow will be a core member of the Local Leaders Council team and will help develop tools and resources especially designed to support top municipal decision makers. Main responsibilities will include research on best policies and practices; interviewing city leaders and staff regarding implementation lessons and effectiveness of initiatives; drafting of briefs and presentations; and supporting events related to the Local Leaders Council project.
Building a Community on Polluted Land: Ex-Shipyard in Amsterdam Houses Shops and Offices
The New York Times — November 19, 2014
Although Amsterdam’s latest urban experiment, De Ceuvel, is built on solid ground, there’s much that reminds its denizens — artists, entrepreneurs, designers, sustainability experts — of its past as a commercial shipyard. Converted rowboats serve as benches, stranded houseboats are used as buildings and — raised 90 centimeters, or 35 inches, off the polluted ground — a quay-like walkway constitutes the sidewalk.
Can the Urban Dream Work in the Suburbs?
Vegas Seven — November 19, 2014
There’s a distinct difference between charisma and character. Character is earned, not instantaneously created. Charisma is charming, but often fleeting. Downtown Summerlin aims to blend both qualities with an ambitious plan to create a culturally vibrant center in an otherwise manicured HOA-driven sprawl.
Urban neighborhoods are getting more diverse. But what are they losing?
The Washington Post — November 20, 2014
Within recent memory, the neighborhoods north of downtown Portland, Ore., were among the most segregated in the Pacific Northwest. By 1970, violence and discrimination helped create large areas where African Americans made up as much as 84 percent of the population.
Foxx cautious on Amtrak reauthorization
USA Today — November 19, 2014
Administration officials see a bright future for high-speed passenger rail, despite a House bill that would send federal money for those trains only to the Northeast Corridor, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Wednesday.
Watershed Conservation a ‘Positive’ for Cities: Report
Bloomberg — November 18, 2014
One-fourth of cities would see a “positive return on investment” if spending was directed at conserving and protecting vital watershed sources, according to The Nature Conservancy. Preventing pollution and sediment from reaching potable sources often costs less than later treating that water, the Arlington, Virginia-based organization said today in a report that analyzed 2,000 sources of drinking water for 534 cities.
Why It’s So Hard for Millennials to Find a Place to Live and Work
The Atlantic — November 19, 2014
The cities with the least affordable housing often have the best social mobility. And the cities with the worst social mobility often have the most affordable housing. When good jobs for the middle class and affordable homes are living in different cities, it represents a slow-motion splintering of the American Dream.
Good data make better cities
The Boston Globe — November 18, 2014
According to a recent Harris poll, Americans ages 18 to 44 believe that five years from now most interactions with cashiers, cab drivers, and waiters will be handled by online apps. They think there will be “big data” health services that provide real-time medical monitoring and alert their doctors when they’re in danger. And they’re confident they will be asking for help from companies who can send them needed products before they have to order them.
Transportation secretary: U.S. needs major highway bill
USA Today — November 19, 2014
The nation’s transportation system is threatened by short-term federal funding measures and will be “in trouble” unless it gets more money, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told USA TODAY reporters Wednesday.
Photo by Michael Hicks, via Flickr
Save the Date for our Annual Dinner — Join the National Complete Streets Coalition as we celebrate the successes of the Complete Streets movement at our fifth annual dinner! The dinner, an intimate event that brings together the top transportation minds for food and conversation, will be on Tuesday, January 13, during the Transportation Research Board’s 2015 meeting. Stay tuned for more information about this year’s featured speaker and how to purchase seats. Interested in sponsoring the event? Get in touch! Read more >>
Congratulations to Secretary Billy Hattaway! — Governing Magazine has named Florida Department of Transportation District 1 Secretary Hattaway one of its Public Officials of the Year. Governing focuses on Hattaway’s work to make Florida’s transportation network safer and friendlier for residents and visitors traveling by foot and bicycle. “Hattaway has traveled across the state, talking to staff and leading training sessions on road design and fixing problem areas…. Rather than issuing general guidelines, Hattaway is revising the technical documents used by engineers to incorporate updated requirements, such as increased sidewalk widths.” Read more >>
Report: Blame Uncle Sam for congestion on your commute
WTOP — November 18, 2014
A report released Tuesday blames the federal government for congested commutes, saying they offer too many incentives to drive and too few to use mass transit. The federal government offers up to $250 per month for employer-provided or employer-paid parking each month, whereas it only offers $130 per month for transit benefits.
Here Are The Best Cities For Successful Aging
Forbes — November 18, 2014
“No city has the top score in everything,” says economist Anusuya Chatterjee, who was in charge of the survey’s methodology. “The common theme among the winners is: economic strength, an abundance of health care services, an active lifestyle, access to amenities and intellectual stimulation.”
Warren, Warner urge action on housing finance reform
The Hill — November 18, 2014
Two Senate Democrats are urging one of the nation’s top housing regulators to move toward eliminating mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and setting up a new housing finance framework. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Mark Warner (Va.) said Tuesday that while Congress must pass comprehensive housing finance reform, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) can take steps now to overhaul the system.
Smart Cities Will Take Many Forms
MIT Technology Review — November 18, 2014
A very promising development is we’re seeing mayors and other civic leaders take on the challenge of figuring out what the vision of the smart city should be and how to draw on all of the different resources that can provide technical expertise and innovations that will allow it to happen.
How Cities and States Are Fighting Gentrification’s Displacement Factor
Next City — November 18, 2014
In cities all across America, neighborhoods are gentrifying and rising home prices and rents make it difficult for low- and moderate-income residents to find places to live or remain in their homes. Meanwhile, in many of these same cities, other neighborhoods remain plagued by blight and abandoned properties that could be returned to productive use, easing the affordability crisis at the same time.