Smart growth news – July 11, 2011

Fire departments and new urbanism’s village design at odds
USA Today, July 6, 2011
Urban villages, quaint and pedestrian-friendly developments embraced by environmentalists, are sparking opposition from fire officials who say the streets are too narrow for their fire engines.

Two roads to traffic relief for D.C. area
The Washington Post, July 9, 2011
We’re stuck in traffic and jammed aboard trains, and we really want to know if anybody has a way out of this mess, a road map for solutions within our lifetimes. I asked Richard Parsons, president of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, and Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, to define the problem, propose solutions and tell us how we would know if their ideas worked. Their routes to relief follow different maps.

N.J. development sprawl has continued, study says, July 9, 2011
“Large-lot subdivisions lock in a residential land-use pattern that excludes many New Jersey residents that can’t afford large single-family homes and often prevents those people from living near their jobs,” Hasse said. “When housing growth doesn’t keep up with job growth, that’s inconsistent with the goals of smart growth and it means gridlock traffic with people having to travel to their jobs.”

The Costs of Smart Growth Revisited: A 40 Year Perspective
New Geography, July 8, 2011
“Soaring” land and house prices “certainly represent the biggest single failure” of smart growth, which has contributed to an increase in prices that is unprecedented in history. This finding could well have been from our new The Housing Crash and Smart Growth, but this observation was made by one of the world’s leading urbanologists, Sir Peter Hall, in a classic work 40 years ago.

US Household Shifts Could Impact Housing Recovery
CNBC, July 8, 2011
We’ve also talked a lot about the surge in renting; we’ve blamed it on the housing crash, fear of buying into a depreciating market and the tight credit conditions that are pricing many potential buyers out. Perhaps there’s more to it than that as well. Perhaps with fewer large family households and less desire for a big space, smaller, full-service rental apartments are more desirable to a growing segment of the population.

Examination of Cleveland-area land bank shows hope for area properties
Dayton Daily News, July 10, 2011
Vacant and abandoned properties emerging from Ohio’s foreclosure meltdown threaten to overtake entire city neighborhoods and are creeping into once stable suburbs. Last week, Montgomery County leaders took the first steps to create a land bank, with the authority to acquire abandoned properties, clear the titles of delinquent taxes and liens, then find new users who will make them tax producing again.

The State of the Union’s Roads: An Investigative Report
Car and Driver, July 2011
This is the era of the worn-out highway, of the traffic jam, of endless commutes, of road rage. Beltways and bypasses will not help you. We demand more, far more, than the interstates were built to withstand. The 2009 Infrastructure Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave American highways a grade of D-minus for a good reason. In 2008, a government-appointed blue-ribbon panel suggested that the U.S. needed to invest $130 billion ­annually to maintain the current level of interstate performance. That’s roughly $100 ­billion more than transportation outlays that year. The tipping point has arrived: We either have to figure out a way to rebuild the interstates or watch them fall apart.

Survey: Public transportation support high
The Walton Sun (Fla.), July 7, 2011
The survey, conducted by the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, probed participants on their support for public transportation, how it should be funded and prospective routes. The results will be integral in forming a Transit Development Plan, which the Florida Department of Transportation requires to be filed every five years. According to survey results, riders and nonriders of the trolley support public transportation and its financing, said senior transportation researcher Bill Morris. But the topic becomes considerably more complicated when asked how it should be funded.

Cathedral Place TIF funds eyed for streetcar line
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wis.), July 8, 2011
A proposed modern streetcar line in downtown Milwaukee could be funded partly by a tax-incremental financing district originally formed for the Cathedral Place mixed-use development, under a draft plan released by city officials.


High-speed rail and the culture war
Merced Sun-Star (Calif.), June 25, 2011
Is the way you travel a cultural issue? A growing number of politicians would like for you to think it is. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee presented a plan to privatize the national rail system. The plan is light on substance, but does offer the chairman a platform from which to kill Amtrak-which he says is a “soviet-style train system.”