Tag: technical assistance

Changing zoning codes to make Charlottesville, VA more vibrant and sustainable

charlottesvilleDowntown Pedestrian Mall in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Abi Bhattachan via Flickr.

Charlottesville, VA has ambitious plans to grow its economy while becoming a healthier, more sustainable place to live. In 1998, Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County adopted Sustainability Accords and in 2013 completed a regional livability plan. These plans have put forth an ambitious vision and to help achieve those goals, Charlottesville brought in some expert help.

On April 28 and 29, 2015, a technical assistance team from Smart Growth America visited Charlottesville to conduct a Sustainable Land Use Code Audit workshop. Our instructors met with community members to review key portions of the zoning code and to identify zoning changes that could help the city become more sustainable, healthy, and economically vibrant.

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Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization focuses on long-term development goals during Smart Growth America workshop

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Downtown Cheyenne, WY. Photo via Flickr.

Cheyenne, WY is working to grow in ways that support the community’s economy as well as the quality of life for residents, and as part of that work the Cheyenne Metropolitan Planning Organization welcomed experts from Smart Growth America on April 21 and 22, 2015 for a “Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health” technical assistance workshop.

Cheyenne-area residents joined the workshop’s first day for an introductory presentation that featured an overview of the relationship between how a community grows and the health of its economy and local finances.

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Since the workshop: Region-wide prosperity is collaborative effort in Graham County, NC

graham-county-ncA new regional vision will help Graham County, NC and its neighbors work together to achieve shared goals.

In April 2013, Smart Growth America traveled to Graham County, NC to hold a “Smart Growth 101″ workshop for county staff. The workshop was designed to provide an introduction to smart growth development strategies, including ideas about how the county could work with other jurisdictions in the region to achieve its long-term goals.

This past January that work took a big step forward with the release of Opt-In SWNC: The Regional Vision. The report was authored by the Southwestern North Carolina Planning and Economic Development Commission, which represents a seven-county region in southwest North Carolina that includes Graham County.

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Bentonville, AR workshop will inform the city’s comprehensive plan update

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Smart Growth America staff lead a technical assistance workshop in Bentonville, AR. Photo courtesy of the City of Bentonville.

Smart Growth America traveled to Bentonville, AR on April 1 and 2, 2015, to hold a workshop for city staff on “Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health.” The workshop, which was part of our 2015 free technical assistance program, was designed to help Bentonville plan for development in ways that support long term prosperity.

Bentonville is just beginning the process of updating the city’s comprehensive plan, which will guide development in the city for years to come. City officials will use what they learned in this month’s workshop to inform their work on the comprehensive plan moving forward. Bentonville was one of just 14 communities nationwide awarded a free workshop as part of this competitive program.

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Person County, NC plans for residential and economic growth

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Uptown Roxboro, NC. Picture via Roxboro Development Group.

Person County, NC’s community’s workshop goal: “To help local leaders and community members identify how Person County can manage growth and economic development in such a way that our strategies for these two issues complement one another and both contribute to the vision set forth for Person County in the Person Futures Strategic Plan.”

On December 2 and 3, representatives from Smart Growth America (SGA) met with county and municipal leaders and residents to provide assistance under the Planning for Fiscal and Economic Health tool, supported by a grant from the U.S. EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program.

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Anderson, CA works to build a resilient economic identity

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Impressive natural features such as Lake Shasta surround Anderson, CA. Photo by U.S. Forest Service via Flickr.

Like many small cities in America, Anderson, CA is proud of its unique and welcoming character. Also like many cities, however, the commuter town of 9,900 residents is reliant on local revenue—and needs to ensure dependable revenue growth without sacrificing that character. A former hub of mining and timber activity, Anderson now largely functions as a bedroom community for nearby Redding. But local officials and community members alike aspire to carve out a more coherent and resilient niche in the regional economy. That’s where Smart Growth America came in.

To begin articulating a vision for the city’s long-term economic development, Anderson officials and residents welcomed experts from Smart Growth America on October 14 and 15, 2014. Over the course of a two-day technical assistance workshop, Smart Growth America provided local stakeholders with the tools to begin thinking through scenarios for Anderson’s future economic identity.

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San Diego works to align zoning laws with sustainability goals

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A mixed-use development in San Diego, CA’s Little Italy. Image by Chris via Flickr.

If all goes according to plan, San Diego, CA will soon pass a Climate Action Plan full of ambitious goals for reducing emissions. Integral to the plan is a vision of smart growth: adopting more sustainable land use patterns, particularly through walkable mixed-use, transit-oriented development.

In advance of the plan’s passage, the City of San Diego suspected that its zoning code could be doing more to encourage sustainable development. So they brought in the experts.

On October 9, 2014, a technical assistance team from Smart Growth America and Clarion visited San Diego for a Sustainable Land Use Code Audit workshop. The instructors worked with stakeholders to review key portions of the zoning code to identify how they could better support the mixed-use and transit-oriented development envisioned by the City’s General Plan and made all the more urgent by the anticipated Climate Action Plan.

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Complete Streets workshop helps Hot Springs, AR improve public health

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Bird’s eye view of downtown Hot Springs, AR. Photo by Samuel Grant via Wikipedia Commons.

Thanks to its thermal springs and mountainous setting, Hot Springs, AR, has long been a destination for health, wellness, and recreation. Over the years, however, the city has largely built a street network designed for the needs of automobiles—with little regard for the mobility of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders. Now, local officials in Hot Springs are recognizing that prioritizing car and truck travel to the exclusion of these other users has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of its community—and they’re working to make a change.

On September 17 and 18, 2014, Smart Growth America visited Hot Springs for a two-day workshop on drafting a Complete Streets policy—a package of codes and laws ensuring that streets are designed for community members of all ages and abilities. Provided as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program, the workshop helped provide Hot Springs with the tools to write a comprehensive policy and develop a plan to implement it.

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Harris County, TX works to align economic growth and public health

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A bird’s eye rendering of Pasadena’s growing local economy. Graphic via the City of Pasadena.

In Harris County, TX, the Department of Public Health and Environmental Services (HCPHES) knew that encouraging smarter development could benefit both public health and the local economy. But creating real change meant more than just having the knowledge. If smart growth was to become a reality, local officials, business leaders, and interested citizens needed to join the process and feel ownership.

So HCPHES brought in the experts.

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East Central Florida hosts workshop on planning for regional resilience

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Downtown Orlando, FL. Photo by Mandi Roberts of Otak, Inc.

Last month, a coalition of local leaders in Florida met with smart growth experts to confront an unusually global concern: climate change.

On September 10, thanks to a grant-funded technical assistance workshop, East Central Florida officials and residents sat down with representatives from Smart Growth America and Otak, Inc. on to focus on the topic of “cool planning.” The workshop complemented the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council’s efforts to develop and implement a Regional Resiliency Initiative (RRI) by providing the community with tools and techniques to achieve the RRI’s vision of resilient communities and economies.

In particular, the workshop examined the environmental footprint of various land-use and building practices to help Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia counties find ways to engage in development without accelerating climate change.

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