Old Town Hall. Fairfax, Virginia. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Fairfax is a small city, with close to 24,000 residents, located in the heart of Northern Virginia. Built as a historical town center, anchored by the former site of the Fairfax County Courthouse, the city served as a regional hub of economic and civic activity throughout the 19th century. A trolley line built in 1904 connected Fairfax, then an active, urban community, to Washington, DC. But, rapid home growth and the suburban expansion of the 50s and 60s have meant that Fairfax’s 6.3 square miles have largely been built out since the mid 20th century. Today, the city, with an aging population as well as aging infrastructure and housing stock, is on the cusp of some major, needed change.
Cities 3.0: How Cities Are Driving the Revitalization of Our Nation
The Huffington Post — July 14, 2014
The U.S. economy is far from fixed, but recent forecasts indicate a recovery is under way. A new report released last week by the US Conference of Mayors shows that growth in cities will propel nation to levels of economic activity not seen since the early 2000s. Next year, all metros are projected to grow, with half of them growing by more than 3 percent.
What is rural? The definition varies
Calaveras Enterprise — July 15, 2014
Now we talk about how to preserve rural character while we struggle to define what it is and, simultaneously, grapple with the academics of the urban-rural interface, foodsheds, exurbia, rural land use, and a sustainable rural economy. Rural has become difficult to define because the definition changes depending on who you ask.
White House Report: Economic Analysis of Transportation Infrastructure Investment
The White House — July 14, 2014
The White House today released a new report from the Council of Economic Advisers and National Economic Council on the long-term economic benefits of transportation investment and why conditions in the infrastructure sector are ripe for innovation, with new technologies and approaches promising significant gains in productivity, efficiency, and resilience.
Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama DOT Chiefs Outline Impacts of Highway Funding Crisis
For Construction Pros — July 14, 2014
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter to state transportation departments to let them know the steps the Federal Highway Administration will take should the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) drop below a $4 billion balance, which is expected to happen by the end of this month (July, 2014) month without a solution from Congress.
View of Memphis’ South Main Arts District. Photo by Henry Turley Company via henryturley.com
In 2013, Memphis passed the nation’s 500th Complete Streets policy. To help move the policy to implementation, Memphis officials and residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America on June 18 and 19, 2014 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop aimed to provide the City with tools to not only address the various design elements of Complete Streets, but also to directly communicate the benefits of Complete Streets to the public. Complete Streets are planned, designed, operated and maintained to be safe, comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, bicycling, driving, or hopping on public transportation.
Posted in Blog, Complete Streets: Policy Implementation, Technical assistance, Tennessee, Uncategorized, Workshops
Tagged 500 policies, A C Wharton, Building Blocks, Complete Streets, EPA, memphis, technical assistance, Workshop
Cities with the most abandoned homes
USA TODAY — July 13, 2014
While there are a variety of options for homeowners in foreclosure, many have chosen to cut their losses and abandon their property. The housing market has been improving across much of the nation. However, some cities still have a long recovery process ahead of them as the market deals with a glut of homes in foreclosure, which can often stay in the system for several years.
A ‘nationwide gentrification effect’ is segregating us by education
The Washington Post — July 11, 2014
Census data suggests that in 1980 a college graduate could expect to earn about 38 percent more than a worker with only a high-school diploma. Since then, the difference in their wages has only widened as our economy has shifted to bestow greater and greater rewards on the well-educated. By 2000, that number was about 57 percent. By 2011: 73 percent.
How Cities and Businesses Are Working Together to Address Climate Change
Triple Pundit — July 14, 2014
This is a little ironic; no, it’s more than a little ironic. Congress won’t act on climate change for fear of adversely impacting businesses. So, cities and states are picking up the slack, taking aggressive action, in order to protect their… wait for it…businesses.
Some homeowners miss out on housing recovery
Chicago Tribune Business — July 14, 2014
Scott and Caroline Schmauderer know all the acronyms and the nitty-gritty details of the federal government’s various programs to help homeowners like themselves, whose plans were derailed by the housing bust.
Congress is abandoning the principle that drivers should pay for highways
Vox — July 12, 2014
The trust fund that pays for federal transportation spending in the United States is running out of money in August, prompting a big congressional debate over how to refill its coffers. But the the main proposals offered by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee both miss a crucial fact: Americans are driving less than they used to.
Chairman Wyden helped two committees arrive at a short-term fix.
This week, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees moved toward passing a short-term fix for the transportation funding crisis, with each committee passing a complementary bill designed to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through at least early 2015. If passed into law, the bills would transfer $10.8 billion dollars to the trust fund, keeping federal transportation operations in the black for another few months.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan confirmed as director of OMB
HousingWire — July 10, 2014
Donovan’s nomination was confirmed by the Senate Thursday by a 75-22 margin. When Donovan’s nomination was announced, President Obama praised his work over the last six years. Donovan has been a member of President Obama’s cabinet since Obama took office in 2008.
House Dems introduce housing finance reform measure
The Hill — July 10, 2014
Three House Democrats introduced on Thursday the latest legislative volley aimed at overhauling the housing finance system. Reps. John Delaney (Md.), John Carney (Del.), and Jim Himes (Conn.) offered a bill that preserves the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and uses private-sector pricing to reduce the risk of future bailouts for taxpayers.
Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years
The Guardian — July 10, 2014
The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.
No gridlock: Highway deal nears
The Hill — July 10, 2014
House and Senate committees both approved measures on Thursday to fund highway projects into next year, raising hopes that Congress could soon reach a deal to prevent sidelining construction projects this summer. The two measures rely on similar provisions to provide roughly the same amount of money — just under $10 billion — for highway projects.
New urbanism isn’t just for liberals — conservatives should embrace it too
The Week — July 10, 2014
Conservatism has somehow become associated in the popular imagination with sterile suburbia, obnoxiously large McMansions, and gas-guzzling SUVs, while liberalism evokes images of city-living in close quarters, with public transportation or bicycle commutes from high-rise lofts to open-floor workspaces.
Julián Castro Confirmed by the Senate as the Next HUD Secretary
Whitehouse.gov — July 9, 2014
This afternoon, the Senate overwhelmingly approved San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to be the next Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The vote was 71-26. As mayor of San Antonio, Castro revitalized the city, implementing housing and economic development projects that have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investments.
Not an urban legend: Cities are hotter, and we know why
USA TODAY — July 9, 2014
Scientists, for the first time, have a clearer picture of what causes the “urban heat island” effect, a common phenomenon that makes cities swelter by as much as 22 degrees more than the nearby countryside, especially at night in the summer.
Senate Committee Said to Agree on Highway Trust Funding
Bloomberg — July 10, 2014
Lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate plan to advance measures that would provide short-term infusions of cash into the Highway Trust Fund, setting up a clash over their dueling approaches. The biggest difference between the proposals is the Senate plan’s inclusion of two tax-compliance changes projected to generate $3.4 billion over the next decade, according to a summary released by the Joint Committee on Taxation today.
The Conservatism of New Urbanism
The American Conservative — July 9, 2014
Urban planning can indeed have more relevance to our daily lives than most federal government programs. It determines the shape of our communities, and the patterns of our movement. And that is why New Urbanism is such an important conservative movement.
America’s cities are increasingly segregated by education, research says
Stanford News — July 8, 2014
Rebecca Diamond’s research found that college-educated workers are increasingly attracted to “high skill cities” where the wages are higher and the quality of living better. This education and wage inequality reflects diverging economic growth – a nationwide “gentrification effect” – across America’s urban landscape.
New EPA Tool Paves the Way for Communities to Become More Flood Resilient
EPA.Gov — July 8, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new tool today to help communities prepare for, deal with and recover from floods. The Flood Resilience Checklist offers strategies that communities can consider, such as conserving land in flood-prone areas; directing new development to safer areas; and using green infrastructure approaches, such as installing rain gardens, to manage stormwater.
House Republicans Propose $10 Billion Highway Fund Boost
Bloomberg — July 9, 2014
A proposal late yesterday for a $10 billion infusion to the U.S. Highway Trust Fund highlights divisions in Congress over how to replenish the main source of federal money for state road, bridge and mass-transit projects.
Ten Questions We Should Be Asking About Our Communities
The Huffington Post — July 8, 2014
We still have a long way to go, but central cities have stopped hollowing out; sprawl is slowing; and big cities all across the nation are thinking about light rail, streetcars, bus rapid transit, and/or better bicycling infrastructure. I feel good to have been part of these changes.
Why cars remain so appealing even in cities with decent public transit
The Washington Post — July 7, 2014
I keep stumbling across a great transportation visualization project from the Social Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab, most recently in this Washington City Paper post. In a series of interactive maps, covering a dozen cities, the Media Lab has mapped the most efficient mode of transportation — by car, bike, foot or transit — between any two points in a city.
With historic influx of urban residents, cities are seeing growth in amenities
Soapbox Cincinnati — July 8, 2014
Downtown areas are on the rebound. With that comeback, they’re bringing new development, including a surge in downtown retail that’s unlike anything we’ve seen in the past 30 years.
Coalition Prods Congress on Transportation Fund
The New York Times — July 7, 2014
With both the legislative calendar and the Highway Trust Fund nearly exhausted, a broad coalition of business groups and labor unions will push this week to shake Congress from its stasis and approve federal infrastructure spending before transportation projects begin to dry up in August.
Smart Growth America seeks a Communications and Policy Fellow to support LOCUS, a national network of smart growth real estate developers and investors. The Fellow will be a core member of the LOCUS team and provide direct support to the LOCUS network of real estate developers and investors advocating for smart growth policies at the federal and regional levels.