Category: Blog

North Central TX tweaks development codes for transit readiness

NL_College_DART_Station
A station on the DART orange line. Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

The Dallas, TX light rail network (DART) is expected to add more suburban stations over the next decade, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) wants these communities to be transit-ready.

Transit works best when the stations are within easy walking distance of a mix of homes, jobs and shops—but when a station is planned for a suburban community, this compact, walkable development is rarely present. In fact, the zoning code often prohibits it.

To identify priority zoning code fixes that can encourage more mixed-use, transit-oriented development in proposed light rail station areas, NCTCOG brought in Smart Growth America to provide our Smart Growth Zoning Codes for Small Cities technical assistance tool.

Posted in Blog, Smart growth zoning codes for small cities, Technical assistance, Texas, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anderson, CA works build a resilient economic identity

lake shasta
Impressive natural features such as Lake Shasta surround Anderson, CA. Photo by U.S. Forest Service via Flickr.

Like many small cities in America, Anderson, CA is proud of its unique and welcoming character. Also like many cities, however, the commuter town of 9,900 residents is reliant on local revenue—and needs to ensure dependable revenue growth without sacrificing that character. A former hub of mining and timber activity, Anderson now largely functions as a bedroom community for nearby Redding. But local officials and community members alike aspire to carve out a more coherent and resilient niche in the regional economy. That’s where Smart Growth America came in.

To begin articulating a vision for the city’s long-term economic development, Anderson officials and residents welcomed experts from Smart Growth America on October 14 and 15, 2014. Over the course of a two-day technical assistance workshop, Smart Growth America provided local stakeholders with the tools to begin thinking through scenarios for Anderson’s future economic identity.

Posted in Blog, California, Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health, Technical assistance, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Diego works to align zoning laws with sustainability goals

Little Italy
A mixed-use development in San Diego, CA’s Little Italy. Image by Chris via Flickr.

If all goes according to plan, San Diego, CA will soon pass a Climate Action Plan full of ambitious goals for reducing emissions. Integral to the plan is a vision of smart growth: adopting more sustainable land use patterns, particularly through walkable mixed-use, transit-oriented development.

In advance of the plan’s passage, the City of San Diego suspected that its zoning code could be doing more to encourage sustainable development. So they brought in the experts.

On October 9, 2014, a technical assistance team from Smart Growth America and Clarion visited San Diego for a Sustainable Land Use Code Audit workshop. The instructors worked with stakeholders to review key portions of the zoning code to identify how they could better support the mixed-use and transit-oriented development envisioned by the City’s General Plan and made all the more urgent by the anticipated Climate Action Plan.

Posted in Blog, California, Sustainable land use code audit, Technical assistance, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Complete Streets workshop helps Hot Springs, AR improve public health

Downtown_Hot_Springs,_Arkansas_(aerial)
Bird’s eye view of downtown Hot Springs, AR. Photo by Samuel Grant via Wikipedia Commons.

Thanks to its thermal springs and mountainous setting, Hot Springs, AR, has long been a destination for health, wellness, and recreation. Over the years, however, the city has largely built a street network designed for the needs of automobiles—with little regard for the mobility of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. Now, local officials in Hot Springs are recognizing that prioritizing car and truck travel to the exclusion of these other users has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of its community—and they’re working to make a change.

On September 17 and 18, 2014, Smart Growth America visited Hot Springs for a two-day workshop on drafting a Complete Streets policy—a package of codes and laws ensuring that streets are designed for community members of all ages and abilities. Provided as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program, the workshop helped provide Hot Springs with the tools to write a comprehensive policy and develop a plan to implement it.

Posted in Arkansas, Blog, Complete Streets: Policy Development, Technical assistance, Workshops | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harris County, TX works to align economic growth and public health

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 9.49.13 AM
A bird’s eye rendering of Pasadena’s growing local economy. Graphic via the City of Pasadena.

In Harris County, TX, the Department of Public Health and Environmental Services (HCPHES) knew that encouraging smarter development could benefit both public health and the local economy. But creating real change meant more than just having the knowledge. If smart growth was to become a reality, local officials, business leaders, and interested citizens needed to join the process and feel ownership.

So HCPHES brought in the experts.

Posted in Blog, Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health, Technical assistance, Texas, Workshops | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Blog | Leave a comment

East Central Florida hosts workshop on planning for regional resilience

Orlando-Cropped
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.

Posted in Blog, Cool planning, Florida, Technical assistance, Workshops | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

State and local partnerships prove essential at State Resilience Summit

080609-F-6967G-196Flooding in places like Lake Delton, WI prompted the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to focus on local disaster recovery strategies. Photo by Paul Gormond, via Wikimedia Commons.

How can states partner with local authorities to improve disaster resilience, while also addressing local economic, environmental and equity concerns?

An expert panel tackled this question earlier this week at the Governors’ Institute on Community Design State Resilience and Economic Growth Summit in Washington, DC. The two-day event brought together experts on disaster recovery and long-term resilience to discuss best practices and new strategies with state and federal leaders. The Governors’ Institute on Community Design is an initiative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation administered by Smart Growth America.

In a day two breakout session on “The Role of State and Local Partnerships”, participants heard from leaders on the challenges of building strong state-local partnerships for resilience implementation.

Posted in Blog, Events, GICD, Resilience | Tagged , | Leave a comment