Category: California

EPA recognizes seven communities with National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

Atlanta BeltlineThe Atlanta Beltline, one of this year’s award winners. Photo by Christoper T. Martin, courtesy of Atlanta Beltline.

This morning in Washington, DC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recognize some of the best examples of smart growth projects in the country today.

The annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, established in 2002, recognizes exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, enhance quality of life, and provide new opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

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Vice-Mayor Anu Natarajan on building better in Fremont, CA

Vice-Mayor Anu Natarajan believes her city of Fremont, CA, can be an economic leader in the region and the country. Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council sat down with Vice-Mayor Natarajan to learn more about her ideas for building on the city’s existing diversity to make Fremont more vibrant and economically competitive.

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Partnership in the News: Bike advocates win big in Bay Area

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 11.04.06 AM

In 2010 the East Bay Regional Park District received a $10.2 million TIGER II grant to fill the gaps in bike and pedestrian trails in Northern California and connect more than 200 miles of existing trial.

Greater San Francisco has some of the most congested roads and highways in the country and the population is expected to grow significantly over the next few decades – only adding to the problem. Providing residents  safe, alternative modes of transportation will be critical to reduce future traffic congestion.

Existing trails in the district often parallel major roads and are used extensively by commuters seeking alternatives to congested freeways. One section of the new trails will run adjacent to the region’s metro system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and will connect some economically distressed neighborhoods. Often times these neighborhoods lack access to safe and affordable transportation. Protected bike lanes and sidewalks will provide residents in these areas with safe routes to get around town.

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Chula Vista, CA hosts Smart Growth America workshop on sustainable building practices through LEED ND

Chula Vista, CA
Third Avenue in Chula Vista, CA. Photo by the City of Chula Vista via Facebook.

Smart Growth America visited Chula Vista, CA this week to meet with residents and local officials, and to explore together the city’s options for incorporating sustainable practices in the community, through the lens of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) program.

The City of Chula Vista is working toward its sustainability goals with its Climate Action Plan and other initiatives. This week’s workshop was designed to help City officials understand how neighborhood development can contribute to that vision.

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Southeastern San Diego to replace brownfields area with community’s smart growth vision

Community members help plan the Village at Market Creek development. Image courtesy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.
Community members plan the Village at Market Creek development. Image courtesy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

After extensive planning and dozens of community meetings, the Village at Market Creek in San Diego, CA, is ready to break ground on the next phase of a visionary smart growth project.

For two decades, San Diego has been working to remediate and redevelop the former home of aerospace manufacturer Langley Corp. The company left San Diego in the 1990s, but leaking underground storage tanks and other potentially hazardous materials on the numerous factory sites remained. That meant the 60 acres were not only blighted, but potentially dangerous to redevelop.

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Officials aim to unleash economic potential of Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley

Fulton Mail in Downtown Fresno. Photograph courtesy chris.jackson on Flickr. Fulton Mail in Downtown Fresno. Photograph courtesy chris.jackson on Flickr.

Local leaders across in California’s San Joaquin Valley are working together to bring economic growth to the entire region.

Officials from fourteen different municipalities in California’s San Joaquin Valley, along with California State University – Fresno, the California Central Valley Economic Development Corporation and the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council have partnered to create Smart Valley Places, a coalition working to transform the Valley from one of the most economically challenged and underserved areas of the country into a thriving place to live, work and play.

“It’s almost as if they’ve found the balance,” said John Lehn, President and CEO of the Kings County Economic Development Corporation, part of the Smart Valley Places group. “Let’s focus on the things we do have in common. That has resulted in both state and federal officials really opening their eyes to the cooperation that’s happened in the Central Valley.”

The centerpiece of Smart Valley Places’ work is a single integrated plan for regional growth that will guide the San Joaquin Valley for the next 20 years and even beyond. The plan will span eight counties and over a dozen cities to preserve agricultural land, focus development near economic centers and address local and regional mass transit, energy and housing issues. Smart Valley Places projects vary across the region, from transit-oriented development in Tulare, to downtown revitalization in Hanford, all fitting into a “single integrated plan for regional growth.”

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A new bill in Congress would make streets safer and more accessible nationwide

Phoo courtesy Michigan Municipal League (MML) via FlickrPhoto courtesy Michigan Municipal League (MML) via Flickr.

Complete Streets are designed with all users in mind. Complete Streets strategies help everyone, no matter of age, ability or how they chose to travel, get where they need to go quickly, easily and safely. Nationwide, nearly 500 states and localities have adopted a Complete Streets Policy directing their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation.

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A regional effort in southern California helps three cities pass top-scoring Complete Streets policies

Downtown Hermosa Beach, CA
Downtown Hermosa Beach, CA, home to one of the top 10 best Complete Streets policies of 2012. Photo via Wikimedia.

On Monday, the National Complete Streets Coalition released its annual analysis of the best Complete Streets policies of the past year. The 10 diverse communities with the best policies of the year include three California cities in the Los Angeles metro area: Hermosa Beach, Huntington Park, and Rancho Cucamonga. Hermosa Beach and Huntington Park tied for second place on our list of top policies, and Rancho Cucamonga came in at number 10.

Part of their success stems from an initiative to improve public health through better street design across the entire Los Angeles region. With the help of federal funds, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health launched its RENEW Los Angeles County initiative, which significantly supported communities that wanted to focus on multimodal, sustainable, equitable transportation. Other public health funds including through the Healthy Kids Healthy Communities program run by Active Living by Design, provided support to other communities in the region.

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