Smart Growth News — October 30, 2014

These Are the Wealthiest Cities in America
TIME — October 30, 2014
The city proper has seen its fair share of change over the years. One facet of that change has been the creation of wealth. Defining a wealthy household as one with an income of more than $150,000, we lined up U.S. cities with more than 500,000 people in them to see how America’s biggest cities compare.

Poll: ‘Social resilience’ is key in coping with disasters
Crain’s New York Business — October 29, 2014
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey suggests that residents in areas where people say their neighbors actively seek to fix problems are three times more likely to say their community is extremely or very prepared for a disaster.

Which Calls for More Regulation, Sprawl or Smart Growth?
Bacon’s Rebellion — October 30, 2014
One of the more potent criticisms of the Smart Growth movement is that smart growthers implement policies that restrict development. But there is more than one way to achieve Smart Growth, at least in theory. One way is is libertarian in inspiration: rolling back the suburban-inspired zoning codes that segregate land uses, cap density restrictions and impose minimum parking requirements on property owners.

Rents are soaring — and so are evictions
CNN Money — October 29, 2014
In cities across the United States, millions of people will be kicked out of their homes this year. Some can’t afford their soaring rent, others are getting evicted over minor violations by landlords eager to get higher paying tenants in place.

Foxx: Congress failed on highway funds
The Hill — October 29, 2014
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is reminding voters that this Congress failed to pass a long-term highway funding bill in the final days leading up to the hotly contested midterms. “A lot of focus is on the election. That trumps everything for the next couple of days,” Foxx said in an interview with The Hill after a speech in his native North Carolina on Wednesday. “But I do sense, whether it’s local Chambers of Commerce or [Metropolitan Planning Organizations], that there’s a growing recognition that the accumulation of short-term measures are doing damage to our system.”

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New walkable places research awaits developers at New England LinkUP

Looking forward to the real estate and local leaders networking opportunities at the upcoming LOCUS LinkUP in Boston, MA on November 20? Now, there’s even more to be excited about.

Representatives from LOCUS and the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis at The George Washington University (GWU) will provide an update to attendees on their ongoing research of Walkable Urban Places (WalkUPs) across the metropolitan Boston area. This presentation will give developers unique insight into where New England’s next walkable places will be built.

The new Boston research to be presented builds on the growing body of work on Walkable Urban Places that LOCUS and The George Washington University have pioneered. Earlier this year, the two partnered to release Foot Traffic Ahead, a report by LOCUS President Christopher Leinberger ranking metropolitan areas by current and future walkable urbanism. In that report, the Boston metropolitan area ranked third.

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Smart Growth News — October 29, 2014

FHA Policies Discourage Density
Governing — October 29, 2014
After decades of suburban flight, the city is king again. Economists view it as essential for sparking innovation and growth. Environmentalists consider it key to getting people out of their automobiles. And urbanites, many of whom suffered through decades of decline in their cities, view it as a symbol of long-anticipated revitalization.

Why Middle-Class Americans Can’t Afford to Live in Liberal Cities
The Atlantic — October 29, 2014
Among the 100 largest U.S. metros, 63 percent of homes are “within reach” for a middle-class family, according to Trulia. But among the 20 richest U.S. metros, just 47 percent of homes are affordable, including a national low of 14 percent in San Francisco.

These Images Show Just How Much Some Neighborhoods Were Changed By Hurricane Sandy
The Huffington Post — October 29, 2014
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy two years ago, shocking photos showed the huge extent of the destruction caused by the storm. Only days after the storm struck, before and after satellite images from Google revealed the widespread damage to coastal areas of New York and New Jersey. Last year, before and after photos showed progress but still a lot of work to be done.

Recent college graduates are pushing lower-income African Americans out of cities
The Washington Post — October 29, 2014
Between 2000 and 2010, cities like Austin, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco—places that vote majority Democrat, consider themselves socially and culturally progressive, and boast racial diversity—all lost unprecedented numbers of African Americans. San Francisco, for instance, saw a staggering 20.4 percent loss in its African American population between 2000 and 2010. Chicago and Washington D.C. also experienced double-digit losses.

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Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner is helping people stop, sit, and shop in Solana Beach, CA

Solana Beach, CASolana Beach, CA’s Cedros Avenue Design District. Photo via the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Solana Beach, CA is not your average beach town. By combining smart street design and placemaking strategies, the city is creating economic growth and drawing residents and visitors downtown.

“A sense of community really comes from the people, but can be promoted by the place. That’s why we are trying to create places in our downtown area,” says Lesa Heebner, the Deputy Mayor of Solana Beach and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. Solana Beach is the second smallest city in the region, but that does not mean it lacks flavor. “We’re aiming to create quality locations that serve our residents and where visitors are welcome,” Heebner adds.

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Smart Growth News — October 28, 2014

Reinventing American Cities: Knight Asks You
Forbes — October 28, 2014
Millennials are looking at where they want to live, and then picking a career or job, says Carol Coletta, Vice President of Community and National Initiatives at the Knight Foundation. Essentially, quality of life matters. According to her, 64% of Millennials (ages 25-34) focus on picking a place to live before a job.
 
Watch As The World’s Biggest Cities Explode In Size Over The Last 200 Years
Fast Co.Exist — October 28, 2014
To help cities better plan for the future, researchers at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the NYU Stern Urbanization Project took a look at exactly how much cities have sprawled so far. Their Atlas of Urban Expansion maps out the recent growth of 120 cities. In a series of mesmerizing videos, the team mapped the growth of 30 of those cities in detail.
 
The future of innovation belongs to the mega-city
The Washington Post — October 28, 2014
By 2030, according to the UN, there will be 41 mega-cities around the world with populations of greater than 10 million people. Not only will these mega-cities control the lion’s share of the world’s global economic and financial resources, they will also largely determine the future of innovation — and that could have a major impact on how we think about America’s hub-and-spoke model of innovation.
 
3 States Consider Ways to Maximize Existing Transportation Money
Governing — October 27, 2014
Next month’s transportation- and infrastructure-related ballot measures conveniently fall into two categories. The first, which Governing has covered extensively, involves dedicating new money for infrastructure. The second, though, deals with how states spend the money they’re already collecting.

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Local leaders discuss engagement and regionalism at Leadership Academy for Sustainable Communities

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Cable car tracks in San Francisco, CA. Image by Prayitno, via Flickr.

Last week in Oakland, CA, Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council hosted a special track for local elected and appointed officials during the Leadership Academy for Sustainable Communities. Organized by the Institute for Sustainable Communities and sponsored by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the three-day workshop emphasized implementation strategies for recently completed regional sustainability plans. One dozen communities sent teams to the event, including local leaders seeking to help their communities achieve the visions outlined in their sustainability plans.

The Local Leaders Council–hosted track focused on developing an effective policy agenda that supports regional vision, building coalitions and partnerships to help move that vision forward, and talking publically about sustainability and infrastructure issues in ways that highlight local priorities. One of the primary takeaways was the need for a big-tent approach.

“Establishing a relationship with everybody, no matter what side of the aisle they’re on, is an important step in the process,” said Commissioner Yousef Rabhi of Washtenaw County, MI. Leaders in the room agreed that working toward a joint regional vision requires going beyond partisan thinking and keeping focused on positive, relatable economic and quality-of-life goals.

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Smart Growth News — October 27, 2014

Building for the Next Big Storm: After Hurricane Sandy, New York Rebuilds for the Future
The New York Times — October 25, 2014
“All of this was hit pretty hard,” said Kai-Uwe Bergmann, sweeping his arm from the East River toward the looming sprawl of the Baruch Houses, a public housing complex that sits along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive on the Lower East Side. “If another storm hits here in the future, it will be just as bad, probably worse.”

Could we plan our cities using Twitter?
The Guardian (UK) — October 24, 2014
This week’s best city stories think about Twitter as a tool for urban planners and local governments, take a look at New Mexico’s behaviour-changing musical road and find out the six safest junction designs for walkable cities.

As Downtown LA Grows, So Does Urgency To Fix Skid Row
NPR — October 26, 2014
In Los Angeles, more than a thousand people sleep on the street in cardboard boxes and tents — just a mile away from City Hall. This is Skid Row, and compared to the affluent downtown areas that practically surround it, the area is like a different planet. Fifty blocks of sidewalk are jammed with people who live on the street, with all of their worldly possessions crammed into shopping carts and crates.

Former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx faces challenges at DOT
Charlotte Observer — October 25, 2014
In his first 15 months as U.S. transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx has dealt with plane crashes, a train explosion and a crisis with America’s biggest car-maker. It’s the latest challenge for Charlotte’s former mayor who, since his 2013 appointment by President Barack Obama, has managed a sprawling department that faces daunting challenges and scarce resources.

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EPA accepting proposals for Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Grants

texaco-brownfieldThe Double Wide Grill in Pittsburgh, PA was built in a former gas station building with help from the EPA Brownfields Program. Photo by EPA Smart Growth via Flickr.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced three grant programs for 2015 to help clean up land contaminated by petroleum and hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants.

Brownfields Assessment Grants provide funding for developing inventories of brownfields, prioritizing sites, conducting community involvement activities and conducting site assessments and cleanup planning related to brownfield sites. Individual grants go up to $200,000.

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Smart Growth News — October 24, 2014

‘New Urbanism’ Hits the Suburbs
The Wall Street Journal — October 23, 2014
Long Island, whose neat rows of single-family homes came to symbolize the American dream in postwar suburbia, is showing signs of change. For 36 years, Marlene Leichter and her husband, Morty, have lived in the same sprawling three-level house in Great Neck, but now they have had enough of traditional suburban life.

EPA Invites Communities to Apply for Assistance to Build Resilience, Pursue Revitalization
EPA.Gov — October 23, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday invited communities to apply for technical assistance to implement smart growth development approaches. EPA is offering this technical assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program to help communities across the country, including underserved communities, coastal communities, small cities and rural areas, adopt sustainable growth strategies.

The Case for Trailer Parks
The Atlantic — October 24, 2014
The snobs among us may judge these pre-fab homes as shoddily built, cheap eyesores in a country that’s increasingly eschewing the suburbs for walkable urban areas. But pre-fabricated homes just might be part of the solution to America’s affordable housing crisis.

Six Ways to Free Up Land for Desperately Needed Housing
Businessweek — October 23, 2014
Perfectly good lots aren’t being developed for homes, even though hundreds of millions of people worldwide live in homes that are unsafe, inadequate, or barely affordable, says a new report by McKinsey Global Institute. Even in densely populated New York City, the report says, one of every 10 acres of land zoned for residential development is vacant. “Unlocking land supply at the right location is the most critical step in providing affordable housing,” the report’s authors write.

Amtrak Considers Selling Real Estate for Development
Bloomberg — October 23, 2014
Amtrak will consider selling or leasing real estate it owns in New York, Washington, Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia as part of a plan to raise money, the U.S. passenger rail operator’s chairman said. The intercity railroad needs funds to keep up with a system that has seen record ridership, Chairman Anthony Coscia said during a panel discussion at a Manhattan conference sponsored by the Urban Land Institute. Among the sites under review is Sunnyside Yard in western Queens, which is used by Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit.

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Smart Growth News — October 23, 2014

No Picket Fence: Younger Adults Opting to Rent
The New York Times — October 22, 2014
On a recent sunny afternoon, a half-dozen grinding and spinning cement trucks helped lay the foundation for what many real estate developers see as the most promising housing opportunity in postrecession America: apartment living. Here in suburban Vienna, about 16 miles west of downtown Washington, Joshua Solomon’s DSF Group is remaking a congested but nondescript intersection into a haven for young adults of the millennial generation.
 
6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal
The Ocean Beach Rag — October 21, 2014
For the last half century, cities have attempted to repair the damage to their urban cores from migration to suburbs and exurbs. However, while cities get the big picture, too often in my 25 years as a land use attorney, I have seen the same mistakes repeated.
 
Redfin Buys Walkability Startup to Make Online Home-Hunting a Little Less Maddening
Wired — October 23, 2014
If you’ve ever spent time looking at houses, you know how wildly a listing can differ from reality. In many cases, the text exaggerates the charm of decaying old homes. Photos make rooms look bigger than they actually are, while deftly avoiding problem areas. And the “great neighborhood” promised by a listing turns out to be anything but.
 
Bullet Trains Aren’t Magic
Bloomberg View — October 22, 2014
Forget the ideological arguments about cars versus mass transit, sprawl versus density: These cities are getting to the point where it is lot less physically possible to move more people around without putting in dedicated bus lanes or more rail.

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