Smart Growth News — December 17, 2014

Boomers Seen Boosting New-Home Sales as Millennials Wait
Bloomberg — December 17, 2014
With new-home sales running well below historic levels, older Americans who have had decades to build wealth and credit histories are helping to prop up demand while younger people put off homeownership.
 
Five signs America is falling in love with public transit
CNN — December 17, 2014
You could call it a budding romance with the possibility of a strong, long-lasting relationship. More Americans are riding public transportation. Upwardly trending statistics show it’s not just a meaningless crush.
 
These Cities Might Be Seeing More Power Outages, Thanks To Climate Change
The Huffington Post — December 16, 2014
How likely is it that climate change will leave your city in the dark? Researchers at Johns Hopkins University asked just this question, analyzing which cities will be more likely to suffer from hurricane-related power outages in the future.
 
Opinion: The truth about smart cities
The Guardian (UK) — December 17, 2014
Utopian, urban visions help drive the “smart city” rhetoric that has, for the past decade or so, been promulgated most energetically by big technology, engineering and consulting companies. The movement is predicated on ubiquitous wireless broadband and the embedding of computerised sensors into the urban fabric.

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Mayor Denny Doyle uses community input to improve Beaverton, OR

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A rendering shows possible results of the Creekside Redevelopment Plan via Beaverton Facebook.

Located just seven miles west of Portland, OR, the City of Beaverton is using community input to create an extraordinary small-town experience. Already well-regarded for its great schools and green space, Beaverton is home to Nike Headquarters, Columbia Sports, over 16,000 tech employees, and one of the busiest transit hubs in the metro region. This diversified economy has given rise to a diverse Beaverton: one out of every four city residents was born outside of the U.S., and over 100 different languages are spoken in area homes.

Mayor Denny Doyle, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, has taken all of these important factors into consideration during his six years in office. He considers Beaverton’s diversity a strong asset and works hard to see that every voice is heard. The City’s commitment to community involvement played an essential role in the recently adopted Creekside District Master Plan, which aims to restore three creeks and help create a thriving downtown near the busy transit stop.

The Creekside District Master Plan was started about three years ago. Partially funded by a Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Cities Grant, the plan aims to redevelop a 50-acre area around a local creek and transit center, with the ultimate goal of creating a central downtown where people can live and work near transit. “We want this area to come to life,” says Mayor Doyle of the project’s focal point. “It has been asleep for a long time.” The planned first step involves redeveloping a five-acre area next to Beaverton City Hall, which will serve as a catalyst for the rest of the area.

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Smart Growth News — December 16, 2014

Small cities solving big problems
USA Today — December 15, 2014
When it comes to municipal innovation, the Big Apple, the City of Angels and the Windy City seem to get all the glory, along with the memorable nicknames. But look a little closer at smaller municipalities — where the majority of Americans live — and you might be surprised at how many of them are trying some crazy project or another.

Bloomberg’s Giving 14 Cities Up To $3 Million Each To End Poverty, Spur Job Growth
The Huffington Post — December 15, 2014
Fourteen cities ranging from Long Beach, California, to Jerusalem are getting up to $3 million from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation to create “innovation teams” to jump-start new approaches to poverty, public safety, job growth and other issues, the foundation announced Monday.

Mayors on the Record (Video)
Politico Magazine — December 15, 2014
As part of Politico Magazine’s What Works series, we convened 13 mayors from American cities big and small to talk about the country’s most pressing urban issues—from poverty to sprawl, education to crime. Here’s what they had to say:
How to Rebuild Architecture
The New York Times — December 15, 2014
We’ve confronted this problem before, with the backlash against what was seen as soulless modernism in the 1960s and ’70s. But our response, broadly speaking, was more of the same, dressed differently: postmodernism, deconstructivism and a dozen other -isms that made for vibrant debate among the professionals but pushed everyone else further away.

Architects Aim to Make Us Healthier with “Irresistible Staircases” and Open Layouts
Scientific American — December 15, 2014
Americans, on average, spend around 90 percent of their time indoors, and now the nation’s leading group of architects has found inspiration in this somewhat glum fact. The professionals who design our working and living quarters are starting to see all these confined hours as a major opportunity for them to make a meaningful impact on public health.

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Join us for the fifth annual Complete Streets dinner — January 13, 2015 in Washington, DC

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How can you support safer streets, just by raising your fork? By joining us for the National Complete Streets Coalition’s fifth annual Complete Streets dinner!

Join us on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 in Washington, DC to celebrate partnerships, progress, and over 650 Complete Streets policies nationwide.

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North Central TX tweaks development codes for transit readiness

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A station on the DART orange line. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

The Dallas, TX light rail network (DART) is expected to add more suburban stations over the next decade, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) wants these communities to be transit-ready.

Transit works best when the stations are within easy walking distance of a mix of homes, jobs and shops—but when a station is planned for a suburban community, this compact, walkable development is rarely present. In fact, the zoning code often prohibits it.

To identify priority zoning code fixes that can encourage more mixed-use, transit-oriented development in proposed light rail station areas, NCTCOG brought in Smart Growth America to provide our Smart Growth Zoning Codes for Small Cities technical assistance tool.

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Smart Growth News — December 15, 2014

Cities drive innovation
CNN — December 15, 2014
Albert Einstein once said that if he was given an hour to solve a problem, he’d spend the first 55 minutes thinking about it and five minutes coming up with solutions. But in government, there is a tendency to reach immediately for the first available solution, without spending any time thinking about different ways to approach the problem.
 
For Millennials, Home Might Be a Moving Target
The New York Times — December 11, 2014
In metros with higher millennial shares, homeownership tends to be less affordable for this group. For instance, in Austin, Honolulu, New York, and San Diego, 20-34-year-olds account for at least 23.5 percent of the population, putting those metros in the top 10 for millennial share.
 
Stockholm’s Housing Shortage Threatens to Stifle Fast-Growing Start-Ups
The New York Times — December 14, 2014
Tyler Faux thought finding a place to live in New York City was tough. But when Mr. Faux, a 24-year-old New York native, moved here recently to work for one of the city’s fast-growing start-ups, he was in for a rude awakening.
 
Boehner, McConnell face big to-do list in next Congress
USA Today — December 14, 2014
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and incoming Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are working in tandem to tee up Republican bills for quick action in the next Congress, getting legislative proposals lined up and ready to go.

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Using accessory dwelling units to bolster affordable housing

ADU 4
Accessory Dwelling Units, such as this one in Northern California, can provide affordable housing and rental income for homeowners. Photo via Forbes.

Creating affordable rental housing in a community is often a long and arduous process. One strategy to combat this is for cities to allow the creation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) through amended zoning codes. ADUs, also known as “granny flats” are small apartments built on a property with a preexisting home as the primary structure. Units typically function as studio apartments and tend to accommodate one or two people. ADUs can allow for seniors to age in place, provide homeowners with extra rental income, and fill a gap in affordable rental units.

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Smart Growth News — December 12, 2014

Walkability Is Good for You
Citylab — December 12, 2014
Ever since Jane Jacobs’ classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urbanists have extolled the ideal of the dense, mixed-used, walkable neighborhood, contrasting it with the dull and deadly cul-de-sacs of car-oriented suburbs.
 
2014′s Best and Worst Cities for an Active Lifestyle
WalletHub — December 11, 2014
A winter holiday celebration in the U.S. is never complete without a gorgefest. On Thanksgiving Day alone, the average person consumes more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat, according to the Calorie Control Council. And many of us justify overeating by crowning our list of New Year’s resolutions with a promise to “lose weight and get fit.”
 
UCS Analysis Finds U.S. Has Greatest Potential for Mitigation
Union of Concerned Scientists — December 11, 2014
Initial findings from a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report indicate that of the eight countries that make up 57 percent of all land use emissions, the United States has the greatest potential for emission reductions in this sector.
 
What funding method should lawmakers prioritize to meet transportation needs?
The New Orleans Times-Picayune — December 11, 2014
Lawmakers and other transportation advocates have held a series of meetings over the last few months to examine ways to better fund Louisiana’s infrastructure needs as the state faces a $12 billion backlog of projects.

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Webinar Recap: Benefits of Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure

DID YOU KNOW: Low impact development and green infrastructure can increase rents, property values, retail sales, and energy savings? Participants learned about these benefits and more during our LOCUS Wednesday Webinar: Benefits of Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure.

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What the ‘cromnibus’ would mean for federal community development programs

fed-budget

On Tuesday, the House released its plan to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. The bill is part omnibus, part continuing resolution—hence the nickname “cromnibus”—and sets discretionary federal spending at close to $1.01 trillion for the rest of fiscal year 2015. The House is expected to take up passage of the bill by tomorrow and the Senate is expected to follow soon after, in hopes of avoiding a potential federal shutdown when the current funding bill expires this week.

The good news is that nearly all federal community development programs would be funded as part of this bill. The bad news is that the majority of those programs would face cuts of some kind.

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