Category: States

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

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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.

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Councilmember Kathy Galvin commits to bringing equitable development to Charlottesville, VA

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Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Bob Mical via Flickr

Charlottesville, VA, is setting itself apart from other college towns through a focus on equitable development. The city, which comprises just 10 square miles in central Virginia’s Albemarle County, boasts a rich heritage with connections to Thomas Jefferson and colonial America. Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia as well as many historic sites, most famously including Monticello.

For nearly 30 years, Albemarle County has protected its rural areas through strong preservation practices—and residents have felt the benefits. The city has a strong downtown and walkable core, including the downtown pedestrian mall—one of the most successful in the country—and much of the city is within a 15-minute drive from nearby natural areas. Councilmember Kathy Galvin, a long time Charlottesville resident and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is committed to further strengthening the city’s core and making sure it in an equitable place for all current and future residents.

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Councilmember Roger Berliner on creating a multimodal boulevard in Montgomery County, MD

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Woodglen Cycle Track in White Flint, MD. Photo courtesy of Dan Reed, via Flickr.

Home to more than one million residents and a thriving high-tech economy, Montgomery County, MD is far from a typical American suburb.

Located adjacent to Washington, DC, the county boasts strong research and biotechnology sectors, backed by one of the region’s mostly highly-educated populations: over half of residents above the age of 25 hold a college degree or higher. Now, thanks to the work of pioneering officials like Councilmember Roger Berliner, a member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Montgomery County has another badge of honor: it’s an emerging smart growth hot-spot.

“We have wonderful schools, wonderful green space, and one third of the county is set aside as an agricultural reserve. We are the economic engine of the state of Maryland,” says Councilmember Berliner. “We have historically been a suburban community and are now experiencing the growth of urban nodes and the benefits of those nodes in areas like Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Germantown.”

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LOCUS Member Benefits: LinkUps


At LOCUS LinkUps, smart growth deals between local leaders and real estate developers and investors get done.

When great new walkable real estate gets built, both communities and developers reap the benefits. But strong relationships are key: Smart growth-minded local leaders must connect with developers and investors—in the right place, at the right time—to get the ball rolling.

That’s where our LOCUS LinkUps come in.

In 2013, LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors launched the LinkUp program to bring smart growth-minded local leaders and real estate professionals together. Through these private networking events, key players get the opportunity to discuss new smart growth deal opportunities and objectives for creating walkable, sustainable development. Every LinkUp features networking opportunities with top real estate CEOs and executives, information about available sites from local officials, and expert guidance on supporting the development of walkable places through policy change.

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Introducing Smart Growth America’s State Resilience Program

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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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East Central Florida hosts workshop on planning for regional resilience

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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.

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Voters strongly support smart growth measures on Election Day 2014

bar-harbor-meMaine’s small businesses, like these in Bar Harbor, will get new help thanks to yesterday’s passage of Question 3. Photo by Duluoz via Flickr.

On Tuesday, voters across America passed statewide, county-wide, and citywide measures in support of smart growth and better development strategies. Here’s a short roundup of what passed, what failed, and what it means for community development.

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Chief Administrative Officer Buddy Boe connects and revitalizes corridors in suburban Louisiana

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Renderings from the Paul Maillard Road Corridor Revitalization Plan. Photo courtesy of St. Charles Parish, LA.

In St. Charles Parish, LA, local officials are betting that two ambitious new projects will spur economic development and noticeably improve connectivity—to a level seldom found in the suburbs.

St. Charles Parish, located 20 miles west of New Orleans, LA on the Mississippi River, boasts a population of 54,000 spread out among several communities. The parish has no concentrated population center, which allows for funding to be spread evenly but creates a unique landscape for smart growth. Buddy Boe, Chief Administrative Officer for the Parish and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working with residents to revitalize existing roads and create central corridors designed to bring the community together and diversify the local economy—currently reliant on industrial and maritime sectors—ensuring a prosperous future for the area.

Like many main thoroughfares in St. Charles Parish, Paul Maillard Road was once a thriving commercial corridor. Despite being home to a local hospital and connecting to one ferry landing and two state highways, the corridor has suffered from several decades of sustained disinvestment and population loss. The street was identified in St. Charles Parish’s Comprehensive Plan as an area ripe for investment and growth. Now, thanks to a 2011 Sustainable Cities Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that vision for revitalization is coming to fruition. Just this week, the Paul Maillard Corridor Revitalization Plan was released to the public.

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