Category: Partnership and Main

What smart growth advocates need to know about the omnibus appropriations bill

Congress
Last night, Congress released a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014, which lays out funding for agencies and their programs working to help communities build in smarter, stronger ways.

The bill contains many high points for smart growth advocates, and if you were one of the many people who encouraged Congress to pass a strong appropriations bill in the past few days, thank you. Your voices were heard!

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Congress is nearing a budget deal – speak out today

This is a crucial time for national community development programs.

Today, committees in both the House and Senate are working on bills to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year—including key programs at the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. How much these programs receive in the coming year is currently under debate.

The bills will soon go to a vote, and so now is the time to speak out for these important programs.

Tell Congress to support community development in this year’s budget: Send a letter to your representatives today.

Together we can help communities clean up brownfields, reuse already developed land, revitalize neighborhoods and expand transportation options.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ planning grants, brownfields assessment and clean up assistance, and the innovative TIGER program are all critical to this work. These programs get more out of public investment and help communities build in ways that will support local economies for decades to come—but Congress needs to hear from you.

Tell Congress to fund community development programs: Send a letter to your members today.

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Spotlight on sustainability: Doña Ana County, NM prepares comprehensive plan for sustainable development

Las Cruces, NM train station. Photo via Flickr
New Mexico’s Doña Ana County is facing a number of challenges as it plans for the future. Compared to the rest of New Mexico, the county has a younger population, higher poverty rate, larger Hispanic population and higher combined transportation and housing costs. Now, Doña Anna County is implementing a new plan to address these challenges, made possible through a grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The project is called Camino Real: Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, and it will address the county’s long-term growth trends, capacity of infrastructure, and the ability of the county to serve its residents.

In 2012, the region adopted One Valley, One Vision 2040, the first ever comprehensive plan encompassing Doña Ana County, the City of Las Cruces and other municipalities within the county. However, this plan dates back to 1995 and did not anticipate factors including a nearly 25% growth in population and major investments in multi-modal rail in surrounding areas. In order for Doña Ana County to realize it’s goals of sustainable growth over the next 25 years, a new comprehensive plan was needed in preparation.

Doña Ana County is expected to grow by nearly 90,000 residents by 2040 and nearly half of it’s current residents are under the age of 30. A future development plan will account for a range of housing choices connected to regional transportation networks and consider ways to ensure mobility for an aging population, expanding rural transportation, providing low-cost and efficient transportation and better integration of transportation and land use.

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Partnership in the news: Smart Growth in the Military

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In 2010 the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) was awarded $640,000 for the Planning for Livable Military Communities project to provide improved transportation and housing conditions for families in the US armed forces. The award comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Challenge Grant, which is an initiative of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
North Central Texas is home to Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Joint Reserve Base. Many of the military families live off base, in surrounding communities including Fort Worth, White Settlement, Westworth Village and River Oaks. Planners intend to use the community challenge grant in a number of studies aimed at integrating smart growth strategies in the surrounding communities.

The NCTCOG will conduct a number studies that will create short- and long-term recommendations to improve transportation options, establish a model building code for greater energy efficiency, and update the City’s zoning, ordinances and comprehensive plan.

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Partnership in the news: Re-imagining the Washtenaw Avenue corridor

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Later this month planners in Washtenaw County, Michigan will unveil a plan for a re-imagined Washtenaw Avenue, a 4.5-mile corridor connecting Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, MI. The corridor will undergo a makeover to better support all modes of travel and mixed-use development, thanks in part to a $3 million grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Washtenaw Avenue is the busiest corridor in in the county, averaging between 28,000 to 40,000 vehicle trips per day. However, the auto-centric pattern of parking lots and strip malls lacks mixed-use development and is not safe for pedestrians and bicyclists using the roadway. Planners evaluated different strategies for improvements to the corridor and will reveal their detailed plan to the public on December 11, 2013.

County planners took a careful look at redeveloping the corridor through a mixed-use, transit-oriented development lens in order to capitalize on the avenue’s potential for economic development. Their strategy is to promote infill development at key locations, foster new mixed-use neighborhoods, revitalize existing neighborhoods, improve alternative transit choices, and promote an active urban setting. They will also make significant roadway improvements including dedicated bus lanes, buffered bike lanes, wider sidewalks and landscaped green spaces that will make for a more attractive and safer roadway for all users.

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New tool reveals combined costs of housing and transportation in regions across the country

Housing and transportation costs nationwide

How much does housing and transportation cost your family each month? These two items are typically a family’s largest expenses. Together they take up almost half of the average household’s budget, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). How does your family’s housing and transportation costs compare to the rest of the region? And how would living in a different neighborhood or commuting in different ways affect your monthly budget? A new tool is designed to help you find out.

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Upcoming Webinars: December 2013

Want to learn about new, innovative strategies for creating great places? Several upcoming webinars provide ideas and inspiration for local leaders.

A Conversation with Barbara McCann
December 4, 2013 — 1:15 PM EST
Join the Security and Sustainability Forum to discuss smart urban transportation practices with Barbara McCann, the founding Executive Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. More than 500 jurisdictions, including more than half the states, have now adopted Complete Streets policies to make streets safe for all users. Register >>

Are ‘Green’ Cities Sustainable?
December 4, 2013
Countries in which many of the “green” cities are located include those with the world’s heaviest ecological footprints. This webinar will explore some reasons for this apparent disconnect between “green” cities and the “bigfoot countries” in which they are located. It will critique the utility of ecological footprint calculation to assess a nation’s “sustainability.” And it will conclude with some contrasting views on how nations and the global community can secure a future in which we earthlings are living within the earth’s capacity to support us. Learn more >>

Tips for Successful Brownfields Grant Proposals
December 4, 2013 — 2:00 PM EST
Join NALGEP, the Center for Creative Land Recycling, and the KSU Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program for a webinar to get the latest advice on preparing a successful application. This webinar will walk listeners through basic (but surprisingly often overlooked) advice for applicants, as well as new changes in grant guidelines, and funding trends. Speakers will provide special tips for small and rural communities and lend their insight into common mistakes and special advantages for these applicants. Register >>

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Partnership in the news: Dallas seeks to improve and expand regional transit network


With assistance from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the city of Dallas, TX will make significant improvements to its downtown transit system over the next few years with the construction of the Modern Streetcar and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Orange Line extension. Both projects received funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

Modern Streetcar

With a $23 million TIGER I grant and additional funding from the City of Dallas, North Central Texas Council of Governments and DART, Dallas will soon have a streetcar network that connects residents and visitors to core areas of the city. Dallas’ modern streetcar network will be a 1.6 mile route connecting various downtown districts and destinations including Union Station, with connections to the DART Red and Blue lines and the Dallas Convention Center. The streetcar will connect walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods in the urban core, act as a catalyst for economic development and serve as a quick, efficient and cost-effective means of transportation. The street car is currently in the environmental review phase but is on track for beginning operation in 2017.

DART Orange Line Extension

DART, the region’s rapid transit agency, will soon extended its light rail service to over 90 miles of track in 2014 with the completion of the 14.5 mile Orange Line extension to the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. DART operates both rail and bus services for downtown Dallas and 12 surrounding cities. Ridership on the DART light rail is among the busiest in the country with over 27.7 million passenger trips in 2012 and the extension of the Orange line will provide a much needed alternative transit option for residents and visitors. Part of the $5 million TIGER grant will go towards the construction of a rail terminal at the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW), which will include a train platform, passenger walkways, and a bus transfer station. This terminal will also be a connection to the TEX commuter rail system, expected to be completed in 2016. DFW is a major employer for the region and these projects will ensure that residents can get to and from work with a reliable, safe and affordable transit system.

Together, these projects are going to enhance the accessibility of the Dallas/Fort Worth region, making it easier for residents to be connected to where they live, work and play.

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