Category: California

Since the workshop: Chula Vista, CA strives for energy efficiency and sustainable development

chula vistaThe farmers market at the Otay Ranch Town Center in Chula Vista, CA. Photo by Kurt Bunch

Last fall, Smart Growth America visited the City of Chula Vista, the second-largest city in San Diego County, CA, to deliver technical assistance on using the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating system as a framework for pursuing sustainable development at the neighborhood scale. The workshop helped inform Chula Vista staff, developers and the community on the energy saving benefits of smart growth site design.

Since the early 1990s, Chula Vista has been working to address climate change and reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions through a number of programs and policies. Its Climate Action Plan (CAP) was one of the first of its kind in the State of California. The City has partnered with its local utility for the past five years to explore ways to reduce GHGs and improve energy efficiency in new development. Smart Growth America’s technical assistance workshop gave the City the opportunity to explore LEED-ND as an approach, in terms of energy efficiency and green site design, to achieving the sustainability goals outlined in its CAP.

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Councilmember Steve Hansen is working with community members to create a vibrant and healthy Sacramento, CA

sacramento-urban-agA community garden in Sacramento, CA. Photo by Annie & John via flickr.

Councilmember Steve Hansen has a history of advocating for and working with community members in Sacramento, CA’s historic downtown neighborhoods, serving in recent years on his neighborhood association, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership Board of Directors, and the Sacramento Redistricting Citizens Advisory Committee. Now, just one-and-a-half years into his first term in elected office, Councilmember Hansen is working to promote policies and encourage development that will make Sacramento’s downtown more vibrant for residents.

“We have such an opportunity – particularly in the older parts of the city – to build housing, to bring vitality back, and ultimately to create a vibrant modern city,” says Councilmember Hansen, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “We want to respect historic structures but revitalize them, and to bring communities that were displaced by redevelopment and highway construction back to life.”

Hansen explains that redevelopment projects in Sacramento’s downtown neighborhoods currently face a number of barriers, including policies and standards that make infill development and redevelopment complicated and costly compared to new development in the city’s outer suburbs.

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Biking means business in Long Beach, CA

Long Beach, a city of more than 460,000 people in Southern California, has a goal to become “the most bicycle-friendly city in America.” The city is so committed to this idea that the slogan is even inscribed on the city hall building itself. Bike Long Beach, a program of the city’s Public Works Department, estimates that the number of people who bike or walk to work in Long Beach has tripled since 2012. A local commitment to safe and convenient bike facilities preceded this increase; under the leadership of its former mobility coordinator, Charles Grandy, the city pledged more then $20 million for bike-related projects.

Bike Long Beach also notes a 50 percent increase in cycling citywide, and local businesses are reaping the benefits. “The increase in ridership is in our business areas — it’s Retro Row, it’s Second Street, it’s the corner at Broadway and Pine,” said Alan Crawford, Bicycle Coordinator for the City of Long Beach, in an interview with the Long Beach Gazette. “That’s what we want, because if they come by bike, they are not parking cars and we now free up that parking space for people who live further away.”

These trends also reflect an ongoing effort to build stronger connections between the city’s cycling and business communities. In 2010, Long Beach pioneered the concept of Bike Friendly Business Districts, districts where merchants actively incorporate cycling into events, promotions, services and day-to-day business operations. According to April Economides, President of Green Octopus Consulting, “If we can bike there instead of drive there, we’re healthier, we’re happier, we’re opening up car parking spaces for folks who need it and we’re helping our local businesses. It just gets to the heart of everything that’s most important about creating a healthy community.”
Long Beach, a city of more than 460,000 people in Southern California, has a goal to become “The Most Bicycle-Friendly City in America.” The city is so committed to this idea that the slogan is even inscribed on the city hall building itself. Bike Long Beach, a program of the city’s Public Works Department, estimates that the number of people who bike or walk to work in Long Beach has tripled since 2012. A local commitment to safe and convenient bike facilities preceded this increase; under the leadership of its former mobility coordinator, Charles Grandy, the city pledged more then $20 million for bike-related projects.

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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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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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