Category: States

A closer look at Measuring Sprawl: Land use mix in Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara, CA’s high score for land mix use—the diversity of jobs, homes, and services within its neighborhoods—helped it land near the top of our recent Measuring Sprawl 2014 report’s rankings for American cities. As Measuring Sprawl 2014 explores, a high overall rating for connectivity and compactness is linked to improved health outcomes, greater economic mobility, and lower combined spending on housing and transportation costs.

Santa Barbara’s outstanding level of land use mixture is the result of 25 years of planning, design, and implementation driven by both community and local government leaders. But the city’s key policies and strategies hold lessons for every community, no matter what size or how far along in the process.

Factor in focus: Land Use Mix
Measuring Sprawl 2014 used four factors to evaluate development: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering. Every major metro area in the country was evaluated on these factors, which were then combined to create a metro area’s overall Sprawl Index score.

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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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A closer look at “Measuring Sprawl”: Street connectivity in Trenton, NJ

trenton-njThe Trenton, NJ MSA has a strong legacy of transportation investment. Photo via Flickr.

Trenton, NJ, received high marks for compactness and connectivity in our recent report, Measuring Sprawl 2014, and stood out as number one overall in street accessibility, one of four key factors examined in the report. As Measuring Sprawl 2014 explores, a high rating for compactness and connectivity correlates to a rise in several quality of life factors, including greater economic mobility, lower combined spending on housing and transportation costs and greater options for the type of transportation to take.

How did Trenton build and sustain its accomplishments in street accessibility? And how can other cities learn from Trenton’s successes?

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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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A closer look at “Measuring Sprawl”: Activity centering in Madison, WI

madison-wiMadison, WI has attracted businesses and residents to locate in its downtown by making it a great place to live, work and relax. Photo via Flickr.

Madison, WI, received high marks in our recent report Measuring Sprawl 2014—thanks in large part to the city’s efforts to focus development near downtown. How did the city achieve this success? And what can other communities learn from Madison’s example?

Factor in focus: Activity centering
Measuring Sprawl 2014 used four factors to evaluate development: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering. Every major metro area in the country was evaluated on these factors, which were then combined to create a metro area’s overall Sprawl Index score.

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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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West Baltimore, MD hosts workshop on preparing for the Red Line and future transit-oriented development

harlem-parkWest Baltimore could see a lot of changes with the proposed Red Line stations. Harlem Park station model via baltimoreredline.com

A new transit line is slated to be built in West Baltimore, MD, and on March 15, 2014 Smart Growth America met with West Baltimore leaders to discuss how the community can make the most of this new neighborhood asset.

The March 15 workshop was designed to help West Baltimore plan for better development around several proposed Red Line stations. At the meeting public officials presented on programs targeted to address the existing challenges residents see in the neighborhood. Much of the discussion centered on how to attract development to the corridor in conjunction with the planned Red Line stations, as well as how to ensure that development is equitable, and serves the neighborhood’s current residents as well as the community’s broader needs.

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