Category: Local Leaders Council

Alderman Jane Grover is working to make Evanston, IL “the most livable city” in America

A cycle track on Church St. in Evanston, IL.A cycle track on Church Street in Evanston, IL. Photo by Steven Vance, via Flickr.

“Our vision is to be the most livable city,” says Alderman Jane Grover of Evanston, IL. A member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Grover is full of enthusiasm for her city and the work being done there.

Evanston, IL is an urban community with a population of 74,000 located north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. Northwestern University, a major institutional anchor in the city, has helped spawn businesses and contributes to the culture and demographics of this progressive community.

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Making Complete Streets real in Maryland

Maryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MDMaryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MD.

Maryland members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council met last Thursday for a workshop titled “Making Complete Streets Real,” sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Councilmember Brent Bolin hosted the event at the Mount Rainer City Hall and gave an insider’s tour of local smart growth initiatives after the workshop.

Many of the leaders who attended the workshop are currently developing new Complete Streets policies, and the conversation focused heavily on how to move from policy adoption to effective implementation and talking publicly about the value of this work. Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening noted, “It is important to make clear how Complete Streets relate to larger and deeper community goals.”

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Councilman Jon Snyder on how Complete Streets are helping to improve Spokane, WA

Bike lanes in downtown Spokane. Photo by Orin Blomberg, via FlickrBike lanes in downtown Spokane. Photo by Orin Blomberg, via Flickr.

During his first term on the Spokane, WA City Council, Councilman Jon Snyder, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, experienced a lesson that he has carried with him since. “As a leader, you need to understand the difference between a policy that may take several years to develop, and those that represent a flaw in the system that should be called out and remedied quickly.”

Councilman Snyder worked for two years to pass a Complete Streets ordinance (PDF) in Spokane, a process that took time, perseverance and creativity. Snyder credits a broad coalition of support to the ordinance’s eventual passage in 2011: During the meeting where the City Council approved the ordinance, a diverse group of community members, including representatives from schools, older adults, persons with disabilities, the local farmers’ market, and businesses all spoke in favor of policy adoption.

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Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams on the challenges and opportunities of governing a rapidly urbanizing area

rsz_1rsz_6281804196_d5c3f601f2_bSalt Lake County, Utah. Photo by Photo Dean via Flickr.

Not every mayor can say that they govern nearly half of a state’s population in one single county. But that’s exactly the case for Ben McAdams, Mayor of Salt Lake County, Utah and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

Salt Lake County, with a population of over 1 million people, is located in a narrow valley sandwiched between two mountain ranges. Population growth over the past decade has reshaped the County, particularly following the 2002 Winter Olympics. Throughout the county, isolated pockets of development amidst farmlands and open space has evolved into an interconnected urban area that is populated from north to south and east to west. That population is projected to double in the next 20 to 30 years.

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Mayor Pro Tem Miguel Canales has big ideas to support small town life in Artesia, CA

Artesia, CA residents at the 2013 Diwali Street Festival. Photo by The City of Artesia, CA via Facebook.

Mayor Pro Tem Miguel Canales, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, hopes employing smart growth strategies now will help protect and shape Artesia, CA for the next generation. For Canales, serving on the city council is a natural extension of a career spent educating students about the political process in his job teaching high school social science, economics and government courses.

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How a single parking space represents change in Ithaca, NY

Smart growth strategies are helping improve economic mobility in Ithaca, NY.Smart growth strategies at work in downtown in Ithaca, NY.

If you walk by the mayor’s office building in Ithaca, NY, you might notice a curious sight. Outside in the parking lot, in what once was a parking space reserved for the mayor, now lies what appears to be a small park—complete with benches, plantings and nearby bicycle parking. It may seem odd that a standing mayor would forgo his or her own reserved parking space to make way for a park, but that’s exactly what Mayor Svante Myrick did. The unconventional move is just one indication of Myrick’s commitment to smart growth strategies and how they can benefit all residents of the city.

Myrick is the mayor of Ithaca and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. First elected to Ithaca’s city council at the age of 20 and then to the mayor’s office in 2011 at the age of 24, Myrick saw the parking space outside his office as an opportunity to show residents it’s possible to think differently about their community—especially the role of public space, mobility and active streets.

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Attend the 2014 Local Leaders Policy Forum

policy-forum

Elected and high-level appointed leaders in local government are invited to attend Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Policy Forum on June 15-16, 2014, in Washington, DC.

The Policy Forum will provide a unique opportunity to meet fellow leaders from around the country who are using smart growth strategies to help their communities compete and grow in today’s economy, to provide housing and transportation choices for residents and to create great places to live, work and play.

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Local Leaders Council members convene at National League of Cities conference

Members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council gathered in Washington, DC on Sunday for a reception at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. Local Leaders Council members from communities around the country had the opportunity to connect with Smart Growth America staff and introduce fellow colleagues who are passionate about building great communities to the benefits of the Local Leaders Council.

After a welcome from Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoff Anderson and Transportation for America co-chair John Robert Smith, two Local Leaders Council members discussed how the Council has helped them to address issues in their communities. Bill Fulton, Director of Planning for the City of San Diego, CA (and former Vice President of Smart Growth America) explained how both Democratic and Republican mayors in San Diego were supportive of smart growth strategies. This approach is crucial as San Diego aims to attract aging baby boomers looking for more walkable, convenient neighborhoods while also appealing to younger millennials, Fulton explained.

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