Tag: suburbs

Smart growth news – October 13

Trending: Hard times for small cities

Pennsylvania state capital declares bankruptcy
AFP, October 12, 2011
Pennsylvania’s state capital Harrisburg has declared bankruptcy, according to a court filing seen Wednesday, a rare move that raised the specter of a string of local government defaults.

A City Forced to Turn Out the Lights
Atlantic Cities, October 12, 2011
As cities face continued fiscal troubles, this isn’t the last we’re likely to see of this sort of drastic cost-cutting: the dark financial straits cities face mirrored by their darkened streets.

National news

White House plan for infrastructure bank ‘dead on arrival’
The Hill, October 12, 2011
President Obama’s national infrastructure bank is dead on arrival, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee said Wednesday. At a hearing ostensibly held to discuss the merits of the bank, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) ridiculed the proposal as something that would cost more jobs than it would create.

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Smart growth news – October 4

Build communities around people and their needs
The Grand Rapids Press (Mich.), October 4, 2011
Dan Gilmartin, the executive director and chief executive of the Michigan Municipal League, advocates building communities around people as a means of economic prosperity and sustainability. The league, headquartered in downtown Lansing, is bringing about 500 people to Grand Rapids this week to discuss issues facing municipalities and how to lead the state out of the doldrums.

Study: Transit Ridership Up in 2011
Transportation Nation, October 3, 2011
Transit ridership increased by 85.7 million trips, or 1.7 percent nationwide, in the first six months of 2011, according to a report released today by the American Public Transit Association, the pro-transit lobbying group.

Montgomery legislators to vote on controversial development proposal
Washington Post, October 3, 2011
The plan would help create a string of small, walkable cities in traditionally suburban areas where the county wants mass transit. Supporters say it could usher in a new era of more coordinated growth.

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Smart growth news – October 3

Pasco official says city reaps benefits from smart growth
Tri-City Herald (Wash.), October 1, 2011
Properly managed growth can increase benefits and reduce some of the drawbacks, Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield told about 50 people Friday at the Columbia Basin Badger Forum at the Pasco Red Lion.

Group promotes ‘walkability’ around Kennett Square
The Daily Local News (Pa.), October 3, 2011
Activate Chester County, a local community health initiative, is planning to petition three southern Chester County municipalities to expand the area’s “walkability.”

Has the Renaissance of Downtowns Been Overhyped?
The Atlantic Cities, September 30, 2011
The relative resiliency of many downtowns in face of these problems encouraged some in the national media to announce an unprecedented shift back into central business districts following decades of the suburbanization of employment. After losing a significant share of the market to suburban office parks, could downtowns finally be hitting their stride?

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Smart growth news – September 26

East Liberty finds formula for success
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2011
When East Liberty Development Inc. officials were roughing out strategies to improve the Pittsburgh neighborhood, a big question was what to do with some 50 vacant properties. The properties were robbing tax-paying homeowners of their equity, discouraging investment and exacerbating crime and other factors. This had led the neighborhood to become what Rob Stephany, director of the city Urban Redevelopment Authority, calls “below the line” — a place you don’t visit. They decided to buy them all, rehabilitate some themselves, sell others to rehab-minded buyers and tear down the rest.

Suburban Ghetto: Poverty Rates Soar in Suburbia
Time, September 26, 2011
For well over half a century, the American dream has typically centered on life in the suburbs. A move to the idyllic suburbs—picket fences, sidewalks, cul-de-sacs, the whole deal—has traditionally signified success, a move up the economic ladder. Lately, however, the ‘burbs host millions more residents living below the poverty level than do America’s “poor” inner cities, and poverty rates in suburbia are rising faster than any other residential setting.

In-fill proposal looks to give Stockton a greener image
The Record (Calif.), September 23, 2011
With the right kind of development, downtown Stockton could become the kind of place where people live in apartments or condominiums, commute by train to Silicon Valley jobs before returning home, where they can bike or walk to do their shopping or run other errands.

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Smart growth news – September 22

Select Cities See Brain Gain
Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2011
Despite a decade of technological advances that make it possible to work almost anywhere, many of the nation’s most educated people continue to cluster in a handful of dominant metropolitan areas such as Boston, New York and California’s Silicon Valley, according to census data released Thursday.

Which Is America’s Best City?
Business Week, September 20
Ask most people which city they would most want to live in and usually their answers would be shaped by such realities as proximity to their jobs and what they can afford. But suppose you could choose to live anywhere you wanted regardless of cost? What if you could live in a city that offered a wealth of culture, entertainment, good schools, low crime, and plenty of green space? Many people might opt for obvious choices such as New York or San Francisco, but great as they are, data reveal other cities are even better.

Cleveland and Cincinnati among poorest big cities
Houston Chronicle, September 22, 2011
A new census report shows two out of the 10 poorest big cities in the U.S. are in Ohio. The American Community Survey released Thursday shows Cleveland has a 34 percent poverty rate. That makes it the No. 3 poorest city with a population of 200,000 or more, behind Detroit and San Bernardino, Calif.

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Smart growth news – September 15

Americans Are Driving Less. Washington Should Pay Attention.
Huffington Post, September 14, 2011
Americans are hungering for more and better transportation choices. Cities and states have proposals for new transit lines, passenger rail service, bike lanes and sidewalks that are stuck on the drawing board for lack of funds. And if the objective is job creation, there is really no contest: a recent report by Smart Growth America found that public transportation projects funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created 70 percent more jobs per dollar than highway projects funded under the law.

Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Hylton talks smart growth
WITF (Pa.), September 14, 2011
There are certain areas of the midstate that have exploded in growth over the past 20 years. Early on, suburbs grew with housing developments and shopping centers almost unchecked. Later on, many communities realized planning for the future was warranted and took “smart growth” seriously. Thomas Hylton, our guest on Thursday’s Radio Smart Talk, has been a internationally recognized advocate of smart growth for decades. In fact, Hylton won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for columns he wrote for the Pottstown Mercury on farmland preservation.

Politicians, activists plug Obama jobs act in Hill District
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 15, 2011
The growl of construction equipment and buzz of power tools heard along Dinwiddie Street and Centre Avenue could fall silent if Congress doesn’t pass President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act, a Cabinet member said Wednesday as he toured the Hill District. Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary, picked the neighborhood to showcase Project Rebuild, a $15 billion sliver of the administration’s $447 billion bid to right the economy. His immediate audience was a small group of aides, reporters and neighborhood activists, but the ultimate target was Congress.

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Smart growth news – August 30

As Detroit’s offices fill up, suburbs feel pain
The Detroit News, August 29, 2011
When MyInsuranceExpert.com announced last week it is moving its headquarters and 85 workers from Troy to one of the downtown Detroit office buildings bought by entrepreneur Dan Gilbert, the online life insurance brokerage firm joined a growing trend. And most of downtown Detroit’s gain is amounting to some pain for the suburban office market.

‘Land Bank’ Knocks Out Some Foreclosure Problems
NPR, August 30, 2011
Cities have been tearing down crumbling, vacant houses for decades. The money for municipal demolition bills usually comes out of city budgets, but in Cleveland the housing crisis has started to change that equation.

Regional planners to apply for $5 million Sustainable Communities grant
The Tennessean, August 29, 2011
The Metropolitan Planning Organization and other regional planning groups have given notice to the federal government that the coalition intends to apply for a $5 million Sustainable Communities grant.

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Smart growth news – August 17

Transportation bill falls short of repairing our infrastructure
Orlando Sentinel (Fla.), August 17, 2011
A report from Smart Growth America says that 21 percent of Florida’s roads have fallen out of good condition. Yes, we need to make difficult decisions to get our nation’s fiscal house back in order; however, transit, active transportation programs, and repair of our roads and bridges should not be on the chopping block. Experts warn that America’s infrastructure is deteriorating so rapidly that it could undermine our ability to compete in a global economy. Spending $1 today to repair a road saves us $6 to $14 to rebuild that road in the future.

On Wide Florida Roads, Running for Dear Life
The New York Times, August 16, 2011
It is no wonder that four Florida metropolitan areas, led by the Orlando region, ranked as the most dangerous places to walk in the country, according to a recent survey by Transportation for America, a nonprofit safety advocacy organization.

Can Suburbs Be Designed to Do Away with the Car?
Scientific American, August 16, 2011
As a result of the new design sensibilities, the Congress for the New Urbanism highlighted King Farm in 2008 as an “exciting” development, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited it as an example of “smart growth.” The planned community checked off all the boxes of the “new urbanist” manifesto: a mix of housing types paired with centrally located amenities, designed for pedestrians and cars as well as public transport–oriented. Instead of embracing that transportation vision, however, the residents of King Farm and the Rockville City Council recently rejected the proposed transit plan—specifically, any light-rail line that would travel down the swath of green explicitly designed to host such a system.

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Smart growth news – July 21

Economy could hamper Indy’s plans to redevelop 4 sites
Indianapolis Star (Ind.), July 19, 2011
On the edge of an eye-catching Downtown, they are among the eyesores — the empty Bush Stadium, the idled GM stamping plant, the crumbling Keystone Towers and a no-man’s land near Eli Lilly and Co. headquarters. In the past year, Mayor Greg Ballard has announced plans to redevelop those sites into new neighborhoods, with homes within walking distance of jobs, restaurants and stores.

Envisioning a new ‘old’ downtown Fayetteville
The Citizen (Ga.), July 20, 2011
“A History with a Future” may turn out to be more than the slogan associated with Fayetteville. A recently unveiled conceptual plan for “Fayetteville Downtown West” represents what organizers call a long-term development vision that would bring historically-oriented, pedestrian-friendly commercial and residential development to the 9.1-acre area immediately west of downtown between Stonewall Avenue and Lanier Avenue and extending to Tiger Trail.

Post-Katrina Rebuilding Includes Wider, Greener Transit Options
The Huffington Post, July 19, 2011
New Orleans–never a candidate for an underground, subway system–has had on-and-off success with public transit. But as roads became clogged and full of fumes in the post-Katrina era, the city and entrepreneurs have explored ways to expand streetcar lines, make buses greener and restore ferry service on Lake Pontchartrain.

Airports authority endorses aboveground Dulles rail station
The Washington Post, July 20, 2011
Washington’s airports authority Wednesday abandoned plans to build an underground Metro station at Dulles International Airport after months of bitter debate with the governments helping to fund the project to extend rail service to Loudoun County.

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“Slugging” saves DC/VA Drivers and Riders Time and Money

David LeBlanc started slugging in 1997 and has been doing it ever since. He’s such a strong slugging supporter that he wrote a short guide and system map for users and now runs the Slug Lines website which is dedicated to the idea.

“Slugging” is an innovative, grassroots form of commuting in Washington DC and Northern Virginia that helps commuters get in and out of the city easily and efficiently. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which require two or more passengers to use, provided the inspiration: drivers who would like to use the more efficient lanes pick up passengers – nicknamed “slugs” – and passengers, for their part, get a free and easy ride into the city. People almost always ride with strangers, but there’s a thriving community of devoted “sluggers.”

No one regulates or manages slugging; it’s a grassroots community of commuters who create carpools on the fly. A few other cities around the country have tried it to varying degrees, but it’s uniquely successful in the DC metro area. No one has ever conducted a formal survey or tally, but in 2007 the Virginia DOT pegged the number of daily sluggers at approximately 10,000 commuters.

LeBlanc visited Smart Growth America’s headquarters this week to discuss some of the frequently asked questions about slugging.

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