Category: Resources

Join us for the launch of (Re)Building Downtown


You’ve read the research about downtown development. More and more Americans want to live in walkable, downtown neighborhoods, and companies want to locate in these places too. These neighborhoods generate strong tax revenues and have lower municipal costs per capita. And they are the often the heart of a town or region’s economic activity.

But one big question remains in your mind. How could my town do it?

(Re)Building Downtown:A Guidebook for Revitalization is a new guide coming out from Smart Growth America on December 14, 2015, and it’s a resource designed to be used by any community, no matter their size, to bring people and businesses back to downtown.

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Get your copy of the 2015 LOCUS Federal Financing Toolkit

locus-toolkit-coverAs demand for walkable urban places rises across the country, real estate developers and investors are looking for ways to finance these complex projects. State and federal programs can help but understanding them all can be tough. A new resource from LOCUS provides an overview of these programs and what they can do.

The LOCUS Federal Financing Toolkit is a guide to over 40 federal financing opportunities, designed to help real estate developers and investors as well as local elected officials take advantage of these programs. The toolkit provides an overview and analysis of programs at over a dozen federal agencies, designed to support new projects related to Brownfields, Community Development, Pollution and the Environment, Housing, Transit and Transportation, and Food Access.

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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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Third edition of “The Innovative DOT” provides new tools for states looking to improve transportation while reducing costs

innovative-dot3-cover-thumbState transportation officials across the country are facing the same challenges: Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking but transportation demands are continuing to grow.

Innovative approaches can help transportation officials succeed in the face of these challenges, and an updated resource from Smart Growth America and the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) outlines how.

The third edition of The Innovative DOT, released today, provides 34 strategies that transportation officials can use to position their agencies for success in a new era of constrained budgets. Originally released in 2012 and developed with input from top transportation professionals and agency staff from around the nation, the handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied. The second edition was released in January 2014, and provided three additional tools and 20 new case studies.

“State DOTs across the country are using the tools in this guidebook with great success,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America. “The third edition contains even more ideas for how DOT staff can lead and improve their agencies’ work.”

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Introducing Smart Growth America’s State Resilience Program

Resilience-based land use planning can help communities weather hazards like the wildfires that struck Bastrop, TX in 2011. Photo by Joe Wolf, via Flickr.

State governments play a key role in addressing the immediate aftermath of disasters. But what can they do to reduce risks before disasters happen—and how can they guide rebuilding to reduce future risks? State leaders sit at the intersection of policy and investment decisions that can ensure long-term state resilience and economic growth.

Smart Growth America’s new State Resilience Program, launching today, is a first-of-its-kind initiative offering resources, tools, and guidance for state leaders working to build more resilient places and reduce the risk that natural hazards pose to vulnerable populations and local economies. Drawing on the innovative work of state leaders, federal agencies, and national experts, the State Resilience Program offers resources and guidance representing the cutting edge of land use and engagement strategies for hazard resilience.

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New tool kit highlights Complete Streets lessons from the southeast that any community can learn from

cs-se-toolkit-coverThink you need to look to the west coast or the northeast for Complete Streets best practices? Think again. The southeastern United States gets the spotlight in a new tool kit developed by AARP and the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America.

Communities in the southeastern United States are home to one in five of the nation’s 600+ Complete Streets policies, and transportation agencies, community leaders and residents are actively implementing Complete Streets practices. This new tool kit takes a comprehensive look at those efforts and distills advice and lessons for others in the region. Readers will find success stories from several of these communities, template presentation and media materials, and activities to help make multimodal accommodations become a routine part of project development.

The information and stories in this tool kit are not just great examples for communities in the southeast: they are great examples for any community. Any community can find inspiration for their own Complete Streets efforts from project development processes used in Charlotte, NC, from the detailed implementation reports issued by Lee County, FL, or from the strong connections between community organizations and city departments in Greenville, NC. With this tool kit, communities across the country will be better equipped to create age-friendly communities.

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How much would your state need to spend to repair its roads?

VDOTA crew from the Virginia Department of Transportation fills potholes. Photo by VDOT via Flickr.

How much would your state need to spend to repair its roads? Most likely the answer to that question is “a lot.” In some cases, state DOTs could spend their entire annual budget on repair and maintenance and still have work left to do. So why are many states making the problem even worse by continuing to spend scarce transportation dollars expanding their road networks?

In two weeks, Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense will address this question with the release of the 2014 edition of Repair Priorities.

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Announcing the best Complete Streets policies of 2013

Livermore, CALivermore, CA is included among the top of The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013.

A total of 83 communities adopted Complete Streets policies in the United States in 2013. These laws, resolutions and planning and design documents encourage and provide for the safe access to destinations for everyone, regardless of age, ability, income or ethnicity, and no matter how they travel.

The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013, released today by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition examines and scores each Complete Streets policy enacted in 2013. The report outlines ten ideal elements of a Complete Streets policy and scores individual policies based on these ideals. Policy elements refine a community’s vision for transportation, provide for many types of users, complement community needs and establish a flexible approach necessary for an effective Complete Streets process and outcome.

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