Upcoming Webinars: April 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012, 12:30- 1:00pm ET. Housing and Urban Development Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities: Broad Stakeholder Call. RSVP here by Monday, April 2nd at 10am.

Thursday, April 5, 2012, 1:30- 3:00pm ET. New Tools in Scenario Planning: Denver Region’s Metro Vision 2040 Update. Register here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 3:00- 4:00pm ET. Creating a Unique Public Space: The Uptown Roundabout in Normal, Illinois. No registration required. More information.


Smart Growth News- March 29, 2012


Road bill gridlock worries states
Politico- March 28, 2012
The doomsday clock is ticking down on a Sunday expiration of surface transportation programs, and there’s nowhere those bells are tolling as loudly as back home in lawmakers’ districts.

The True Cost of Unwalkable Streets
The Atlantic Cities- March 28, 2012
Perhaps the single most alarming public health trend in the United States today is the dramatic rise in the number of people who are overweight and obese, bringing serious risks of heart disease, diabetes and other consequences leading to life impairment and premature death. This is bad enough as it is, but I contend that it is particularly unfortunate that we do not sufficiently recognize the extent to which these trends are caused by environmental factors, particularly the shape of our built environment.

Public transit holds key to America’s hidden energy reserve
The Hill- March 28, 2012
With gasoline prices barreling upward, policymakers will undoubtedly continue debating the search for new North American oils. But this focus is misplaced. The real debate should be about our future mobility or how Washington can better manage federal transportation and oil investments. Ushering in a low-carbon, integrated transportation system is the key to navigating the pitfalls of global oil markets.

Don’t Count On Millennials To Save The Housing Market
Business Insider- March 28, 2012
The report that got us started on this tangent: Home prices in 20 U.S. metro areas are now as low as they were nine years ago, according to yesterday’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index.


Smart Growth News- March 28, 2012


Highway vote punt complicates Hill timing
Politico- March 27, 2012
The House is once again at a standstill on the highway bill, just days before federal funding would be shut off and Congress skips town for its two-week recess.

Denser, More Efficient Cities Key To Coping With Population Explosion: Experts
International Business Times- March 27, 2012
Cities are expected to expand the combined size of Texas, California and Montana in the next 20 years, adding environmental and cultural strains from population growth and shifts away from rural living, experts said Tuesday at a conference in London called “Planet Under Pressure.”

Why Community-Based Planning Works Better Than Anything Else
The Atlantic Cities- March 26, 2012
About a decade ago, three NRDC colleagues – Jutka Terris, Nancy Vorsanger and myself – published a book of early examples of smart growth that had sprung up across the country and were beginning to serve as models for how America could simultaneously become more beautiful, more livable, and more environmentally sound. We called our book Solving Sprawl, and it detailed projects and initiatives in cities, suburbs, and in rural conservation.

When a Parking Lot Is So Much More
The New York Times- March 25, 2012
NO ONE loves a parking lot. In her song “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell laments, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” The parking lot is the antithesis of nature’s fields and forests, an ugly reminder of the costs of our automobile-oriented society. But as long as we prefer to get around by car (whether powered by fossil fuel, solar energy or hydrogen), the parking lot is here to stay. It’s hard to imagine an alternative.


EPA Announces 2012 Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Recipients

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the 2012 recipients of the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance (SGIA) program. SGIA will provide technical assistance to five communities nationwide that request the EPA’s help in finding the best strategies for sustainable growth. As part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the EPA will be working along with the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The 2012 recipients are: the state of Vermont; Madison County, NY; San Francisco, CA; Spokane Tribe of Indians, WA; and Billings, MT.


Smart Growth News- March 27, 2012


Tuesday: House tries again on transportation extension
The Hill- March 26, 2012
The House meets at noon for legislative work, and will try again to pass a bill authorizing the short-term extension of federal highway programs.

New report: Road congestion wastes 1.9 billion gallons of gas
USA Today- March 26, 2012
As Americans pay about $4 per gallon for gasoline, they’re wasting 1.9 billion gallons of it annually in traffic on congested roads, a new Treasury Department report says.

Housing market recovery hits pothole in Feb
Reuters- March 26, 2012
(Reuters) – Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly fell in February, suggesting a loss of momentum in the housing market after recent signs of improvement.

U.S. Urban Population Is Up … But What Does ‘Urban’ Really Mean?
The Atlantic Cities- March 26, 2012
America has grown even more urban. According to new numbers just released from the U.S. Census Bureau, 80.7 percent of the U.S. population lived in urban areas as of the 2010 Census, a boost from the 79 percent counted in 2000. That brings the country’s total urban population to 249,253,271, a number attained via a growth rate of 12.1 percent between 2000 and 2010, outpacing the nation as a whole, which grew at 9.7


Smart Growth News- March 26, 2012


House votes today on 90-day extension – But Senate eyeing shorter stopgap – Obama jumps into transport fray
The Hill- March 26, 2012
HOUSE VOTES ON EXTENSION TODAY: Members will take up a 90-day transportation stopgap under suspension of the rules — two-thirds of the chamber must approve it. Republicans seem to acknowledge the vote might fail: They would need dozens of Democratic votes despite vocal opposition, and the Monday vote leaves time for leaders to bring it up later in the week under a rule that would only require a simple majority.

Gas price debate complicates Dems’ case against short-term highway bill
The Hill- March 24, 2012
The political debate over gas prices appears to be complicating Democratic efforts to compare the standoff over federal transportation spending to last year’s shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.

In U.S. Cities, Unemployment Rate Easing
Fox Business- March 23, 2012
The unemployment rates in almost all metropolitan areas dropped in January from a year earlier, and a majority were lower than the national rate, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Both Coasts Watch Closely as San Francisco Faces Erosion
The New York Times- March 24, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — The explosive waves of Ocean Beach, a 3.5-mile stretch separating the city from the gray edge of the Pacific Ocean, have long been a draw for tourists, local families and an international tribe of surfers.


Still time to apply for EPA's 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently accepting applications for its annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, due April 6th, 2012.

The award recognizes communities nationwide that have developed successful strategies for promoting and implementing sustainable practices in the economy, housing, transportation, and the environment.


Partnership in the News: Agencies Participate in USDA Rural Roundtable Discussion

The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office recently held a roundtable discussion in Ogden, Iowa with local residents and representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency’s field offices. Bill Menner, the USDA Director of Rural Development for Iowa, described the roundtable in his blog on March 16th as, “A great opportunity to talk with rural residents, business owners, and leaders about the issues facing their communities – and the opportunities that exist.”

It was also an opportunity to speak with Steve Eggleston, HUD’s Iowa and Nebraska Field Office Director, and David Doyle, Sustainable Communities Coordinator for EPA Region 7; continuing the collaboration between USDA and Partnership agencies.


Smart Growth News- March 23, 2012


GOP lawmaker: Senate Republicans would back short-term highway bill
The Hill- March 22, 2012
A key member of Republican leadership in the Senate said Thursday that GOP members of the upper chamber will likely accept a short-term extension of federal transportation funding.

U.S. drilling won’t lower gas prices, study shows
San Francisco Chronicle- March 22, 2012
It’s the political cure-all for high gas prices: Drill here, drill now. But more U.S. drilling has not changed how deeply the gas pump drills into your wallet, according to an Associated Press statistical analysis of 36 years of data.

Economic Uplift May Be Drag on Housing
The Wall Street Journal- March 22, 2012
A firmer economy doesn’t immediately translate into a more robust housing market. It could actually prove an impediment.

D.C. is one of America’s least stressed out cities
Washington Post- March 22, 2012
D.C. is among the nation’s least stressed out cities, according to a new study. In Sperling’s Best Places list of “Stressful Cities,” Washington placed 44th out of 50 large cities. Stress levels in metro areas across the country were evaluated based on factors including divorce, crime and unemployment rates as well as commute length.


Smart growth equips cities for business growth, job creation

What makes a city good for business? To get a sense, we looked two prominent business magazines that recently ranked cities all across America for their business climates. Four cities made it to both lists’ top ten: Washington, D.C.; New York City, New York; Austin, Texas; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

What do these “best for business cities have in common? They’re all using smart growth strategies.

“Great neighborhoods and great cities are where employees want to be and where businesses want to move,” said Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, “That’s why smart growth strategies are good for economic development – it helps businesses connect with workers and customers.”