Newly awarded technical assistance will help nine communities make the most of their transit projects

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Oklahoma City, OK – and its project restoring the historic Santa Fe depot, above — is one of nine communities selected to receive technical assistance from the Federal Transit Administration and Smart Growth America.

Nine communities working to support development around planned or existing transit projects will get a big boost this year thanks to newly awarded technical assistance from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in partnership with Smart Growth America.

The National Public Transportation/Transit-Oriented Development Technical Assistance Initiative, which officially launched in December, is a four-year project of FTA in partnership with Smart Growth America to help communities across the country build compact, mixed-use, equitable development around transit stations, with a focus on development in disadvantaged areas.

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The “Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015” comes out April 12

best-cs-policies-2015-blog-bannerGuadalupe Street in Austin, TX. Austin had one of the highest-scoring policies of 2014. Which communities will be on the 2015 list? Photo courtesy of the City of Austin.

More than 60 communities passed Complete Streets policies in 2015, and these policies are some of the strongest and most effective ever passed. Which policies stood out as the best? Find out on next month when Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition unveils our annual ranking of the best Complete Streets policies in the nation.

Notably this year, one community has scored a perfect 100 on their Complete Streets policy. In the near decade that we have been tracking policies, this is the first time a community has achieved a perfect score. Which community passed the perfect policy? Join us for the launch of this year’s rankings to find out.

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Smart Growth America and Transportation for America welcome a new director of arts & culture

Smart Growth America — along with our signature transportation program Transportation for America — is pleased to announce today the hiring of Ben Stone as director of arts and culture, a new position designed to lead the organization’s broad efforts to help communities across the country better integrate arts, culture, and creative placemaking into neighborhood revitalization, equitable development, and transportation planning efforts.

stoneFor the past four-and-a-half years, Ben has served as the executive director of the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, a dynamic cultural district in Baltimore, MD. In that role, he helped make Station North a place that supports artists and attracts visitors and residents alike to the lively, creative community surrounding Baltimore’s Penn Station. (Station North was profiled briefly in Transportation for America’s recent online guidebook to creative placemaking, The Scenic Route.)

“Including the arts in neighborhood development can create well-rounded places that are powerful catalysts for smart, new, inclusive growth,” said Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Ben has an incredible wealth of experience in this field, and we look forward to helping him share it with the local elected leaders, real estate developers, and advocates making neighborhoods great across the country.”

“We’re thrilled to bring someone of Ben’s caliber on board to help lead this emerging area of integrating local arts and culture to produce better projects and places through a better process,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. “He’s a respected expert and leader who has on-the-ground experience with creative placemaking, an emerging approach to planning and building transportation projects that taps local culture to produce better projects through a better process.”

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Complete Streets News — March 2016


Supporters spoke out for safer streets,  USDOT listened — Thanks to advocates like you, all Americans will be safer on our streets. Yesterday the U.S. Department of Transportation released a much-improved ruling for how states and metro areas should measure — and be held accountable for improving — the safety of streets for everyone that uses them. Learn more >>

Submitting a great TIGER grant application— Is your community thinking about applying for a 2016 TIGER grant? Get tips about how to submit a great application during a free webinar with Smart Growth America next Thursday, March 24 at 4:00pm EDT. Register to join >>

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Supporters spoke out for safer streets, and USDOT listened

Thanks to the action of supporters like you, all Americans will be safer on our streets. Yesterday the U.S. Department of Transportation released a much-improved ruling for how states and metro areas should measure — and be held accountable for …

Posted in Blog, Complete Streets, DOT | 2 Comments

Calling all elected leaders of rural communities

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Being a small, rural community hasn’t stopped Pelahatchie, MS from creating a great downtown. Photo via the Pelahatchie Comprehensive Plan.

Are you a local elected official in a rural community and interested in smart growth strategies? If so, we want to hear from you.

Later this spring, Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council will launch our new Rural Leaders Network, a group of elected and appointed leaders from rural communities across the country. The Network will be an opportunity for rural leaders to share ideas, collaborate, network, and learn how a smart growth approach can work in rural places.

Many rural communities are facing declining populations and faltering local economies. Others are struggling to preserve their identity in the path of expanding urban regions or demand for development near natural resources. Smart growth strategies can help with both these sets of challenges, and connecting with fellow rural leaders is a great way to learn how.

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Registration now open for Local Leaders Council Policy Forum 2016

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Registration is now open for our Local Leaders Council‘s Policy Forum 2016, taking place July 18-19, 2016 at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health in Washington, DC.

This annual conference gives local elected and appointed officials a chance to learn about some of the most innovative smart growth projects in the country. This year’s theme — “Solutions for Local Success” — will focus on allowing local leaders from communities of all sizes to share their stories and find tools to solve current challenges. The Forum is a unique opportunity to explore the latest policy solutions and network with like-minded colleagues who are making smart growth happen throughout the country.

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Why are federal programs restricting mixed-use development?

uchf-bannerStreet-level stores with apartments above them, like these along Main Street in Ossining, NY, are one example of the type of development current federal regulations restrict.

A growing number of Americans wanting to live in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods—but arcane federal rules make it unnecessarily difficult to build this type of development. A recent study by the Regional Plan Association, released in partnership with LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, highlights how—and what lawmakers can do to change it.

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Complete Streets News — February 2016


Complete Streets at New Partners for Smart Growth — The National Complete Streets Coalition hosted a networking breakfast last week at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Portland, OR. More than 30 smart growth advocates gathered to hear about local successes and new opportunities in creative placemaking and Complete Streets from Chris Rall, Pacific Northwest Field Organizer at Transportation for America, and the Coalition’s own Emiko Atherton.

Bartlow, FL hosts Complete Streets workshop — The National Complete Streets Coalition visited Bartlow, FL to conduct an Advanced Complete Streets Design for Professionals workshop with Florida’s Department of Transportation District 1 staff. Through hands-on coaching, the workshop built Complete Streets design expertise among participants and assisted the District 1 design team in incorporating the most current context-sensitive design practices into their roadway project development process moving forward.

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Mayor Paul Soglin works to make sure Madison, WI’s independent businesses serve visitors AND residents

Many cities envy Madison, WI’s thriving State Street retail corridor. After being converted from a four-lane road to a pedestrian-focused thoroughfare in 1974, State Street has become synonymous with funky retail stores and welcoming locals. It’s a draw for University of Wisconsin students, residents, and visitors alike, and an important economic and cultural asset for the city. According to Downtown Madison Inc.’s latest State of Downtown report, Madison’s Central Business Improvement District (BID), which contains State Street, saw vacancy rates decline from 7.5 percent in 2012 to just 4.6 percent in 2014.

In recent years, however, the mix of retail on State Street has trended toward businesses focused more on food and drink and less on goods and services. According to Downtown Madison, Inc., 40 percent of businesses in the Central BID are food and drink businesses—but only 25 percent are other types of retail. Local leaders are concerned that if this shift continues, the area will fail to meet the everyday needs of local residents.

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