Incoming Massachusetts cabinet secretaries top speaker lineup at 2015 New England LOCUS Leadership Summit

The 2015 New England LOCUS Leadership Summit: Closing the Next [Smart Growth] Deal on March 11, 2015 in Boston, MA, will bring together real estate industry leaders and public officials from across the region to advocate, network, makes deals, and connect with …

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Transportation and infrastructure take center stage in President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal


President Obama released his proposal for the fiscal year (FY) 2016 federal budget yesterday, and if passed, it would be an enormous help to communities looking to grow in better, more economically vibrant ways.

Most notably the proposal includes significant investment in transportation and infrastructure programs (there’s even a photo of a bridge on the cover). Building on the Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act, the budget proposes $94.7 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Transportation and sweeping improvements to its programs as part of a six-year, $478 billion surface transportation reauthorization. That would be a $176 billion increase over the last authorization, and $76 billion more than the four-years of funding proposed in the GROW AMERICA Act last spring.

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Nominate an outstanding developer for the 2015 LOCUS New England Leadership Award


Do you know a real estate developer or investor who is creating great walkable places and displays exemplary public leadership in the New England region? If so, nominate them for the 2015 LOCUS New England Leadership Award.

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Smart Growth News — January 30, 2015

How Boomers Will Shape the Future of Our Cities
Metropolis — January 29, 2015
“We will be able to give many people an extra decade of good health, based on what we are able to do in the lab now,” says Brian Kennedy, President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, California. The primary triggers for most disease can be controlled, enabling people to remain productive well into their eighties, nineties, and beyond.

Cities sizzle with more heat waves, hotter nights
LA Times — January 29, 2015
Nearly half the planet’s urban areas experienced a significant rise in the number of extreme heat days and of heat waves that lasted six days or more, according to the study published online Thursday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

8 photos that show how cars seized city streets from pedestrians
Vox — January 29, 2015
In the early 1900s, “pedestrians were walking in the streets anywhere they wanted, whenever they wanted, usually without looking,” Peter Norton, a historian at the University of Virginia, told me for a recent article about the creation of the crime of jaywalking.

Poverty Is Rising Much Faster in Suburbs Than in Cities
Moyers — January 29, 2015
Years into an economic recovery, millions of Americans continue to struggle to make ends meet. In 2013, 48.7 million people — 15.5 percent of the population — lived in poverty, according to a report from the US Census Bureau. And a Brookings Institute analysis of 68 large US metro areas found the poor population increased significantly from 2007-2013 in all but one of them.

America’s legacy cities: What recent research says about best practices for urban regeneration
Journalist’s Resource — January 29, 2015
In the United States the term “legacy cities” is often used for urban centers such as Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland that suffered significant job losses in the 1970s and 1980s as their manufacturing bases declined.

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Smart Growth News — January 29, 2015

DOT chief: Small highway fixes ‘killing our will to build’
The Hill — January 28, 2015
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called Wednesday for lawmakers to pass a multi-year infrastructure funding bill, saying the cycle of temporary extensions is killing states’ willingness for road and transit projects. It has been 10 years since Congress last passed a transportation funding bill of longer than two years.

Better urban design could add years to your life
CBC News (Canada) — January 28, 2015
There’s a mantra in urban planning circles that goes like this: when you design a city for cars, it fails for everyone, including drivers. Our collective problem is that we have done just that, designing most of our suburbs for automobiles and inadvertently designing out the necessity to move our bodies.

A 3-D Visualization Engine For Reimagining Cities
Fast Co.Exist — January 28, 2015
If you want to think about the future of a city, 3-D is better than 2-D. You can see how streets, buildings, and transportation fit together in ways maps can’t really show you. That’s why developers have long developed physical 3-D models of their plans. Better to show the world what’s coming.

Guardian ‘mayors for a day’ demand more public spaces in their cities
The Guardian (UK) — January 29, 2015
Demands for more open, public spaces for cities top the wishlist of Guardian Cities’ network of urban bloggers, collated to mark the first anniversary of the website.

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U.S. Transportation Anthony Foxx voices support for transit-oriented development before Senate EPW Committee


U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works this morning on a number of issues related to the next transportation bill. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) asked the Secretary what role, if any, transit-oriented development should play.

“When you build a transit station, it captures the imagination of real estate developers,” Secretary Foxx replied, “and they start to build dense developments and bring amenities to communities. I would urge that we do more to partner with local communities, and to help them develop the tools to utilize land use opportunities.”

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Smart Growth News — January 28, 2015

Sen. Sanders files $1T infrastructure bill
The Hill — January 27, 2015
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is introducing a bill to spend $1 trillion over the next five years to boost the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The measure, which has been dubbed “Rebuild America Act,” comes as lawmakers have been discussing the possibility of raising the federal gas tax to help pay for a new round of transportation spending, prices at the pump having reached their lowest levels in years.

Suburbs of Survival, and the Democracy of Placemaking
The Huffington Post — January 28, 2015
Those of us who style ourselves as “urbanists” — myself included, much of the time – tend to get a bit snobbish and condescending about, you know, ordinary people: folks who live in suburbs, drive cars out of some combination of necessity and choice, and haven’t the slightest interest in what the “creative class” might be. I’m not sure that we’re even aware of it.

How Low Gas Prices Could Spike Obama’s Climate Plan
National Journal — January 25, 2015
President Obama may have talked up the benefits of low gas prices in his State of the Union address, but they could also spell trouble for a tent pole of his climate plan. When gas prices are low, car buyers have traditionally ditched small cars in favor of trucks, which become less expensive to fill up.

‘World can cut carbon emissions and live well’
BBC News — January 28, 2015
Forests around the world will need to be expanded by 5-15% to limit global temperature rises to 2C. And crop yields must rise by 40-60%. These are just two predictions for 2050 of an online tool developed by the government to consider options for cutting carbon emissions.

Google Fiber confirmed for four new metro areas, 18 cities
Ars Technica — January 27, 2015
Google just announced that Google Fiber will be coming to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham, with the gigabit Internet service hitting 18 cities across those four metro areas.

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Since the workshop: Charlotte moves forward planning $120 million neighborhood investment

charlotte, nc
Charlotte, NC skyline via Flickr.

The last time we checked in with Charlotte, we learned that the City Council had approved a Capital Investment Plan for $120 million for catalytic economic development and community reinvestment projects.

Now, the public has given their go-ahead. This November, voters approved the first two-year, $20 million investment in the program.

These funds will go to high-impact projects in five targeted areas of the city, namely Whitehall/Ayrsley, Prosperity Village, West Trade/Rozelles Ferry, Sunset/Beattie’s Ford and Central/Abermarle/Shamrock. The goal? To strengthen these neighborhood by making them more desirable for commercial and retail development and mixed-income housing.

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Smart Growth News — January 27, 2015

The Suburbs Aren’t Dying — They’re Growing Differently
Streetsblog USA — January 26, 2015
Sommer Mathis said much of what needed to be said about the recent round of “the suburbs are back, baby!” stories on housing trends, including this analysis from Jed Kolko, housing economist at, and the related commentary from Matt Yglesias at Vox.

Young Americans: Yearning for the Suburbs, Stuck in the City
The Atlantic — January 27, 2015
It’s true that cities have a generous amount of the shop-restaurant-office medleys that young people desire, but it’s also true that metropolitan areas boast many of the highest-paying jobs—which is probably a bigger draw for a generation that was starting or just settling into their careers when the recession hit.

The Striking Decline in African-American Household Mobility
Citylab — January 27, 2015
As we’ve learned since the most recent economic crisis, the inability of Americans to pick up and move for new jobs or new housing often comes hand in hand with an inability to climb up the socio-economic ladder. Now new research finds that even before the recession, black households in the U.S. experienced a stark slowdown in their mobility.

AAA, Chamber, truckers: Raise the gas tax now
The Hill — January 26, 2015
A trio of influential lobbying groups is pushing lawmakers to increase the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax to pay for a new transportation bill.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AAA auto club and American Trucking Association said in a letter to members of Congress on Monday that raising the gas tax would be the easiest way to close a transportation funding shortfall that has reached an estimated $16 billion per year.

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Learn all about the third edition of “The Innovative DOT”

innovative-dot3-cover-thumbEarlier this month we released the third edition of The Innovative DOT: A handbook of policy and practice. The new and improved guide includes tools for state DOTs working to improve safety, alleviate congestion, improve system reliability, accelerate project delivery, preserve valuable assets, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance economic opportunities—all in an era of constrained budgets.

We want to make it as easy as possible to use the new guide, so Smart Growth America and our co-authors the State Smart Transportation Initiative are hosting a free webinar all about it.

Join us tomorrow, January 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM EST to learn about new features of the 2015 edition and to discuss how transportation professionals have applied the manual. Hear from panelists Billy Fields, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas State University; Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America and Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute; Adetokunbo “Toks” Omishakin, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Environment & Planning at the Tennessee DOT; and Chris Spahr, SSTI Project Assistant. The speakers will highlight new features in the third edition, and how state DOTs across the country are already putting the manual into action.

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