Leaders discuss strategies for supporting local smart growth

Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council Advisory Board met in Washington, DC to discuss strategy and local progress.

On November 10, the Advisory Board of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council gathered for its third Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. The central topic of discussion was how to support local leaders who are striving to build great communities through smart growth strategies.

“Interest in the Local Leaders Council has been impressive, and the incoming stories about local smart growth work are inspiring,” said Mark Mallory, former mayor of Cincinnati. “Opportunities for mayors, council members, commissioners, and other leaders to connect and support one another make a difference. As a leader, you know you are not alone and that you have smart colleagues in other communities who are willing to help you.”

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Smart Growth News — November 18, 2014

Wherever American cities are going, the battle will be won or lost in Newark, not New York
The Guardian (UK) — November 18, 2014
Newark is New York’s rough cousin, its poor relation, sat just 10 miles west of the Manhattan skyline. It is a bullish industrial city marooned in a post-industrial era; scarred by its past and full of unquiet ghosts. But maybe it points the way to the future as well.

What the shape of our cities says about the way that we live
Salon — November 16, 2014
Even a roaming cartophile, looking through an airplane window at night, would be challenged to identify a city by its sodium-glow footprint. There are exceptions, like peninsular San Francisco or the archipelago of New York. But few cities can be said to have more famous footprints than skylines.

Cities Find Rewards in Cheap Technologies
MIT Technology Review — November 18, 2014
Cities around the globe, whether rich or poor, are in the midst of a technology experiment. Urban planners are pulling data from inexpensive sensors mounted on traffic lights and park benches, and from mobile apps on citizens’ smartphones, to analyze how their cities really operate.

The major cities where homeownership is the most — and least — affordable
The Washington Post — November 17, 2014
The hurdles to homeownership are many. On top of saving for the down payment, some people are too busy stressing about other debt to want to take on a mortgage. Others are better off stashing the money away for retirement. But all that aside, many people living in large cities couldn’t afford to buy a house even if they wanted to.

Upending Urbanism: How New Postgrad Programs are Revolutionizing the Way We Create Cities
ThisBigCity — November 17, 2014
For students interested in becoming professional urban practitioners, postgraduate options have expanded similarly, perhaps in response to the changing landscape of urbanism. Educational options for would-be urban world-changers were once comprised of architecture, planning, design, and urban studies. Today, prospective students have the opportunity to pursue an MA or MSc in everything from Sustainable Environmental Systems to City Design and Social Science or Urban Strategies and Design.

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Councilmember Roger Berliner on creating a multimodal boulevard in Montgomery County, MD

Woodglen Cycle Track in White Flint, MD. Photo courtesy of Dan Reed, via Flickr.

Home to more than one million residents and a thriving high-tech economy, Montgomery County, MD is far from a typical American suburb.

Located adjacent to Washington, DC, the county boasts strong research and biotechnology sectors, backed by one of the region’s mostly highly-educated populations: over half of residents above the age of 25 hold a college degree or higher. Now, thanks to the work of pioneering officials like Councilmember Roger Berliner, a member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Montgomery County has another badge of honor: it’s an emerging smart growth hot-spot.

“We have wonderful schools, wonderful green space, and one third of the county is set aside as an agricultural reserve. We are the economic engine of the state of Maryland,” says Councilmember Berliner. “We have historically been a suburban community and are now experiencing the growth of urban nodes and the benefits of those nodes in areas like Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Germantown.”

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Smart Growth News — November 17, 2014

White House turns climate change spotlight to U.S. cities, towns
Reuters — November 17, 2014
After announcing a major deal with China to curb emissions and a $3 billion pledge into a fund to help poor countries fight climate change last week, the Obama administration will turn its focus to American towns and cities to help them adapt to the impacts of global warming.

Riding light rail and streetcars into better communities
The Washington Post — November 14, 2014
Students of how cities have been built throughout history know that transportation drives development. The transportation systems a society chooses dictate the form of their cities. Area civic leaders recognized that dictum when they built the freeways in the 1960s, radiating from the District to surrounding counties.

5 ways to make a city more walkable
Marketplace Weekend — November 14, 2014
For about half a century, American cities and suburbs were built as car towns – with long stretches of road. And sometimes without sidewalks. But lately, things have been changing. Americans are seeking more intimate city spaces and putting a high premium on good public transportation. Millennials don’t seem to want to buy cars, or drive much. In their quest for more walkable cities, they are teaming up with some unlikely allies: Retirees.

Walkable neighborhoods don’t just offer convenience. They’re also great for health
NWI Times — November 16, 2014
An increasing number of studies are showing that walkable communities boost physical activity on a daily basis. In fact, the American Diabetes Association even reported this year that people who live in neighborhoods that encourage walking experienced a substantially lower rate of obesity, being overweight and diabetes than those who lived in more neighborhoods that depended on the use of cars.

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Apply now for free technical assistance from Project for Public Spaces

pps walk audit
Instructor Dan Burden leads a walkability audit workshop in Bryant, AR. Photo via Project for Public Spaces.

Did your community miss the chance to apply for one of our 2015 free workshops? Now, Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is offering another opportunity to bring in the smart growth experts. PPS is accepting technical assistance applications as part of the same EPA program—Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities—that funds Smart Growth America’s workshops.

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LOCUS Member Benefits: LinkUps

At LOCUS LinkUps, smart growth deals between local leaders and real estate developers and investors get done.

When great new walkable real estate gets built, both communities and developers reap the benefits. But strong relationships are key: Smart growth-minded local leaders must connect with developers and investors—in the right place, at the right time—to get the ball rolling.

That’s where our LOCUS LinkUps come in.

In 2013, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors launched the LinkUp program to bring smart growth-minded local leaders and real estate professionals together. Through these private networking events, key players get the opportunity to discuss new smart growth deal opportunities and objectives for creating walkable, sustainable development. Every LinkUp features networking opportunities with top real estate CEOs and executives, information about available sites from local officials, and expert guidance on supporting the development of walkable places through policy change.

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Smart Growth News — November 14, 2014

The Unfinished Suburbs of America
The Atlantic — November 14, 2014
There are hundreds of zombie subdivisions like this one scattered across the country. They’re one of the most visible reminders of the housing boom and bust, planned and paved in the heady days where it seemed that everybody wanted a home in the suburbs, and could afford it, too. But when the economy tanked, many of the developers behind these subdivisions went belly-up, and construction stopped.

Is manufacturing moving back to cities?
CityMetric — November 14, 2014
One transition common to most world cities, especially in the developed world, is the shift from industrialisation to post-industralisation. As service economies became more profitable, “making stuff” became less fashionable. In 1960, manufacturing accounted for 30 per cent of London’s wealth; by 1990 it was less than 11 per cent. But new technologies might be changing things yet again.

These Are the Poorest Cities in America
TIME — November 14, 2014
One potential reason for the geographic split could be the role public transportation plays in bringing poorer people to city centers, which is exactly what Edward Glaeser, Matthew Kahn, and Jordan Rappaport argued in 2000 in a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The Human Dimension of Mixed-Use Development
The Huffington Post — November 13, 2014
On a walk from Fréjus to Saint-Raphaël last week, an elderly man asked us, in French, why I had just taken a photograph of his house. I offered to erase the photograph, which was intended to show, in modern urbanist visual language, the delight of a stamp and coin shop as first floor retail at an intersection across the world from our hometown.

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Introducing Smart Growth America’s State Resilience Program

Resilience-based land use planning can help communities weather hazards like the wildfires that struck Bastrop, TX in 2011. Photo by Joe Wolf, via Flickr.

State governments play a key role in addressing the immediate aftermath of disasters. But what can they do to reduce risks before disasters happen—and how can they guide rebuilding to reduce future risks? State leaders sit at the intersection of policy and investment decisions that can ensure long-term state resilience and economic growth.

Smart Growth America’s new State Resilience Program, launching today, is a first-of-its-kind initiative offering resources, tools, and guidance for state leaders working to build more resilient places and reduce the risk that natural hazards pose to vulnerable populations and local economies. Drawing on the innovative work of state leaders, federal agencies, and national experts, the State Resilience Program offers resources and guidance representing the cutting edge of land use and engagement strategies for hazard resilience.

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Smart Growth News — November 13, 2014

The Rise of Urban Innovation Districts
Harvard Business Review — November 12, 2014
The geography of innovation is shifting. For proof, start with Google, which over the past 10 years has taken the core R&D and innovation-oriented activities it once housed only in Silicon Valley and extended them into cities.
What happens when housing for the poor is remodeled as luxury studios
The Washington Post — November 12, 2014
For years, this brown-brick building near Wrigley Field housed people who had nowhere else to go. It had peeling walls and broken smoke detectors. But its tiny one-room apartments offered homes to residents too poor for a one-bedroom, too risky to pass a credit check, too vulnerable — on the perpetual edge of homelessness — to sign a one-year lease.
Faith in land trusts: Time to consider the middle ground of housing
The Boston Globe — November 13, 2014
In the aftermath of 2008, a pall has been cast on home ownership. And justifiably so — Americans lost trillions in wealth. Now rentals are the new hot thing. Yet the truth remains that we don’t have a system that can adequately house the population, especially those of modest means, in either the owner-occupied or rental markets.
Gas Prices Are Too Damn Low
US News and World Report — November 12, 2014
Yes, the recent drop in oil prices – and subsequent fall in gas prices to, on average, below $3 per gallon, their lowest level in four years – can provide a boost to the economy and help households whose wages have been stagnant for years feel like they have a little extra cash during the holiday season. But in the long run, America’s addiction to low-cost fuel will do it a lot more harm than good, and such low prices are not helping break the country of its bad habits.

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East Central Florida hosts workshop on planning for regional resilience

Downtown Orlando, FL. Photo by Mandi Roberts of Otak, Inc.

Last month, a coalition of local leaders in Florida met with smart growth experts to confront an unusually global concern: climate change.

On September 10, thanks to a grant-funded technical assistance workshop, East Central Florida officials and residents sat down with representatives from Smart Growth America and Otak, Inc. on to focus on the topic of “cool planning.” The workshop complemented the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council’s efforts to develop and implement a Regional Resiliency Initiative (RRI) by providing the community with tools and techniques to achieve the RRI’s vision of resilient communities and economies.

In particular, the workshop examined the environmental footprint of various land-use and building practices to help Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties find ways to engage in development without accelerating climate change.

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