Tag: President Obama

What the GROW AMERICA Act would mean for smart growth and community development

Yesterday the Obama Administration sent Congress its proposal for a four-year federal transportation bill—the GROW AMERICA Act. The current bill, MAP-21, is set to expire at the end of September, and the new bill has implications for highway and rail construction as well as economic development programs like TIGER grants. How would these proposals impact community development and smart growth?

The good news
The bill includes several promising policies for smart growth advocates.

First and foremost, it would require cities and states to consider all modes of travel when designing federally funded roads, provisions very similar to those proposed in the Safe Streets Act. This strategy gets the most out of federally funded projects, makes sure a given project best meets a community’s needs, and supports neighborhoods with a wide range of transportation choices—all things that Smart Growth America supports.

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Five Local Leaders Council members join President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Local Leaders Council at the White HouseLocal Leaders Council members Mayor James Brainard and Mayor Ralph Becker (center) at a meeting of the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience last week. Photo via the Office of Governor Neil Abercrombie.

Congratulations to the five members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council who have been appointed to President Obama’s new Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, a group of 26 state, local and tribal leaders from around the country charged with advising the Administration on how the federal government can respond to the needs of communities dealing with the impacts of climate change.

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What President Obama’s budget proposal means for community development programs

Crossposted from The Atlantic Cities

President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014, released this morning, focuses on economic growth and a strong middle class. Better urban development isn’t the first item on that agenda, but it’s an important part of the administration’s priorities for the coming year.

Three agencies in particular are at the core of that work, with offices dedicated to making sure community development contributes to regional and national economic growth. The president’s 2014 budget would change how each of these agencies invest in community development. Here’s how it breaks down:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would see a significant increase in funds for neighborhood revitalization through $400 million in funding for the Choice Neighborhoods program (up from $120 million appropriated in 2012). The budget cuts funding for the Community Development Block Grant program to $2.8 billion (down from $3.241 billion in 2012), but includes $200 million in new competitive funding to reduce and repurpose vacant and blighted properties and create jobs in communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.

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Smart growth and the State of the Union

In advance of President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, we’re taking a look at the state of the administration’s work on development in the United States.

2012 saw a number of stellar advancements in federal policies that coordinate land use, housing and transportation. A number of federal programs as well as improvements to existing ones are helping communities across the country develop in ways that are cost efficient and promote broader economic growth.

The ongoing work of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities is the foremost example of this. The Partnership is an innovative program that helps communities more effectively coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments. This work helps make neighborhoods more economically resilient, allows people to live closer to jobs, saves households time and money, and supports municipal budgets.

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Brownfields and the President’s budget

The President’s budget for fiscal year 2013, released in February, requests $167 million for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields program – a $1.1 million (or 0.7%) cut relative to 2012. The Administration continues “zeroing” the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program, although it also asks for an increase in HUD 108 loan authority to $500 million. The Administration wants to make HUD 108 self-sustaining through increased fees, thereby eliminating the credit subsidy. The HUD Sustainable Communities Program, which Congress did not fund last year, is back in the President’s budget at $100 million.

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Smart growth news – November 3

Obama Says Crumbling Infrastructure Is Costly to Economy, Threatens Growth
Bloomberg, November 2, 2011
President Barack Obama said the deterioration of the nation’s highways, bridges, airports and ports is costly to U.S. business and threatens future economic growth.

US House speaker promotes transportation projects
Businessweek, November 1, 2011
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner spoke in favor Monday of pumping federal money into transportation construction and speeding regulatory review of those projects — comments that seemed to resonate in a region longing for new bridges to ease traffic snarls.

Transportation secretary ‘optimistic’ about infrastructure’s chances in Congress
The Hill, November 2, 2011
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday he’s optimistic legislation funding infrastructure projects could pass the Senate. “I’m optimistic, I think that if senators — both Republicans and Democrats — really are listening to people in their states they know that people are hurting,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC.

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Smart Growth America supports American Jobs Act’s proposal to revitalize vacant properties, build better transit

Washington, DC – Smart Growth America supports President Obama’s call for federal investment strategies that will create jobs, modernize America’s transportation infrastructure and support the country’s economy as part of the American Jobs Act. In particular, Smart Growth America supports the following proposals which use smart growth strategies.

Project Rebuild ($15 billion)
Project Rebuild will connect Americans looking for work in distressed communities with the work needed to repair and repurpose residential and commercial properties.

Project Rebuild includes support for land banking, empowering public-private partnerships to speed up the redevelopment process, and a focus on redeveloping distressed commercial properties. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a state-wide land banking bill into law, enabling New York communities to strategically and swiftly re-purpose abandoned and vacant properties and, in time, lessening blight and bringing revitalization to many New York neighborhoods.

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American Jobs Act should use public transportation and road repair to achieve job creation goals

Washington, DC – In his speech last night before Congress, President Obama outlined the new American Jobs Act, which states among its goals putting construction workers back to work rebuilding the country’s roads and bridges. In response to this call Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, issued the following statement:

Investments in smart growth infrastructure like public transportation and repairing deteriorating infrastructure in existing communities will best achieve the goals outlined in President Obama’s America Jobs Act. Rather than spending millions on land and equipment and obligating taxpayers to additional maintenance, these investments will reduce future costs and put a larger proportion of funds directly into the pockets of American families.

These investment strategies will also create the jobs of the future the president recognizes are key to America’s future economic health. Robust public transportation and roads and bridges in good condition are vital to keeping America competitive in a global 21st century economy, and the American Jobs Act is an excellent opportunity to begin building these important resources.


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Creating jobs and economic growth: Detroit’s Woodward light rail line moves forward

The Woodward light rail project, now under way in Detroit, will give residents better ways to get around and support the city’s business districts at the same time. First discussed by the Detroit Department of Transportation in 2006, the light …

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Obama urges Congress to move quickly on transportation bill

Speaking from the White House Rose Garden today, President Barack Obama urged Congress to move quickly to pass legislation to fund transportation projects.

“Now is the time for Congress to extend the transportation bill, keep our workers on the job,” he said. “Now is the time to put our country before party and give certainty to the people who are trying to get by. There’s work to done. There are workers ready to do it. That’s why I expect Congress to act immediately.”

Smart Growth America President Geoff Anderson attended President Obama’s speech today and was encouraged by his push to fund transportation projects now.

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