Introducing “The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns”

A smart growth approach can help municipalities support their long term financial health, and a new tool will help local leaders understand specific ways this approach can help their community.

The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns, released today by Smart Growth America and real estate advisors RCLCO, is a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development.

It is designed to help towns, cities, and counties understand what financial returns their development currently generates—and what strategies could generate better returns in the future.

This new model is unique in that it is sensitive to both geography and density. We allow municipal costs per capita to vary based on these factors.

Join today’s kickoff event

Smart Growth America will be presenting this new tool at a live event today at 2:00 PM EDT in Madison, WI. The event will also be live streamed on the web, and we invite you to watch.

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Madison is the first city in the country to use our new model, and today’s event will also include a demonstration of how the model applies to Madison’s development specifically.

Smart Growth America is always working to help towns and cities better understand the impacts of their development choices. Our new model is the most recent in this line of work and we look forward to sharing it with you. Join us later today to learn all about the new resource.

P.S.—Want to conduct this analysis in your town, city, or county? Contact us to learn about our consulting services.

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Get the recap: “Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners” webinar and discussion

On Tuesday, the National Complete Streets Coalition hosted a webinar on our newest resource, Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners. The new guide is designed to help transportation professionals understand and use new measures of success, and provides an introduction to performance measurement for Complete Streets projects. The recording of Tuesday’s webinar is now available.

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“Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners” now available

ecsp-coverCommunities have seen amazing results from their Complete Streets projects. These projects have made streets safer, increased the number of people biking, walking, and taking transit, and have been related to broader economic gains. But too few communities measure these results.

Our newest guide is designed to make it easier for transportation professionals to understand and use new measures of success. Evaluating Complete Streets Projects: A guide for practitioners is a beginners guide to performance measures for Complete Streets projects published today by the National Complete Streets Coalition.

Meant for agencies interested in but just beginning their project evaluation efforts, this resource provides general first steps to take in evaluating projects, useful measures and metrics for common Complete Streets goals, tips for sharing successes, and further resources for those ready to dive deeper into the why and how of performance measurement for Complete Streets.

Measuring project performance can help transportation agencies understand what’s working and what’s not. It’s a crucial way for agencies to align project decisions with established goals, and can clearly demonstrate a project’s success. All of this can help transportation agencies build public support for their work and get the most out of their investments. Our new guide is a great first step in achieving these goals.

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A new model for analyzing city development

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Madison, WI, is the first city to use a forthcoming analysis model from Smart Growth America and RCLCO.

Every town and city makes decisions about how to grow and what kind of development to build. These decisions shape entire neighborhoods, and form the foundation of American communities as we know them.

These decisions also impact a city’s finances. Some development patterns generate net revenue, others run a deficit. A smart growth approach can help cities build in ways that support long term fiscal health, and a new tool will help local leaders understand specific ways this approach can help their community.

Next week Smart Growth America and RCLCO will unveil a new model for analyzing the fiscal performance of urban development. This new model will be applicable in every town or city across the country, and is designed to help cities understand what financial returns their development currently generates—and what strategies could generate better returns in the future.

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Register for today’s webinar on “Evaluating Complete Streets Projects”

Communities have seen amazing results from their Complete Streets projects. These projects have made streets safer, increased the number of people biking, walking, and taking transit, and have been related to broader economic gains. But too few communities measure these results.

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Vermont Agency of Transportation sets new standards for excellence

vermont-state-standardsThe Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is working to create a safe, efficient, multimodal transportation system that supports the state’s growing economy. A new report released today will help VTrans do this even better in coming years.

VTrans, in partnership with Smart Growth America, has unveiled a work program for revising the Vermont State Standards, which provide VTrans staff and other partners with direction in designing roadway transportation projects.

The new report, Revising the Vermont State Standards; M2D2: Multimodal Development and Delivery, identifies specific modifications to the Vermont State Standards, recommends changes to other related VTrans guidelines and policies, and presents an implementation plan and schedule for conducting the revisions. The new revisions will help VTrans keep pace with the state of the practice in highway engineering and better meet and balance the diverse needs of Vermont residents and communities.

“An enormous amount of our work is influenced by the Vermont State Standards,” said Vermont Transportation Secretary Sue Minter. “Updating these standards will help the work of the entire Agency be more efficient and more effective. The recommended revisions were informed by some of the most innovative transportation agencies in the country. This work program will help guide our design decisions as we face new challenges in the coming decades.”

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Tell Congress to support transit oriented development

Communities across the country are eager to build more homes and offices near transit stations. These projects can create walkable neighborhoods, and great returns on public investment, but are often complicated and difficult to finance. 

A new bill in Congress could make financing these projects easier. The Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act would add new provision to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to include financing for transit oriented development projects. 

TIFIA already provides loans, not subsidies, to eligible transportation projects. The new provision would go a step further to make loans available for transit oriented development infrastructure projects as well. 

The Senate needs to hear your support for this program. In the coming weeks, Congress will consider whether or not this provision should be included in the next federal transportation bill.

Send a letter to your Senators now >>

Transit oriented development is a fiscally sound way to leverage private sector dollars and create new homes and office space near transit. These projects can revitalize neighborhoods and support broader economic growth, but we need innovative programs like this to make it happen.

As Congress prepares to consider the next federal transportation bill, now is the time to voice your support for development near transit. Send a letter to your Senators today.

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Senators Schatz, Markey, and Merkley introduce Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act

A new bill introduced today in the Senate would help local communities better capitalize on development opportunities near public transportation by providing financing support in the form of loans or loan guarantees under the highly successful the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act, a bill which would add a new provision to TIFIA to include financing for transit-oriented development projects. In response, Christopher Coes, Director of LOCUS, released the following statement.

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A transportation engineer on what convinced him to use a Complete Streets approach

west-jefferson“Crazy ideas” in action: Complete Streets features in downtown West Jefferson, NC.

On Tuesday we hosted a panel discussion about Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, new research from the National Complete Streets Coalition on the outcomes of Complete Streets projects across the country. If you missed the event, read our full recap and watch the recorded webinar.

Dean Ledbetter, a Senior Engineer at the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), joined the panel to discuss the Complete Streets project in downtown West Jefferson, NC. There were so many questions about working with transportation engineers, and for Dean specifically, that we said down with him for a follow-up conversation.

Alex Dodds: You mentioned that you initially thought that Complete Streets was a “crazy idea,” but that eventually you changed your mind. What convinced you?
Dean Ledbetter: I don’t know if there was one specific thing. I think I had to go through the [Federal Highway Administration’s] training several times for the reality of something new to overpower the existing “knowledge” I had about what my job was supposed to be. And I have to admit that we only went to those classes to get the free Professional Development Hours not because we really expected to learn anything useful.

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Get the recap: “Safer Streets, Stronger Economies” webinar and discussion

On Tuesday, the National Complete Streets Coalition released Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, new research that analyzes data from 37 Complete Streets projects across the country, and explores the outcomes communities got for their investment. As part of the release the Coalition hosted a panel discussion to discuss the findings, and to highlight communities included in the report. A recording of the webinar is now available.

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