SGA News Clips, 5/18/11

Keep city’s North Beach open
Asbury Park Press, 5/17/11
“The Smart Growth America coalition states, ‘There is a common myth that development is good for the local bottom line. But in fact, new residential development demands more in services than it contributes in taxes, and existing residents typically foot the bill. Over 70 ‘cost of community services’ studies conducted nationwide show that residential development costs a municipality more in maintenance costs than farmland and open space.'”

City Council Approves Incentives For Third Smart Growth Development In West El Paso
KFOX14, 5/17/11
“‘It’s exciting in that it’s a return to something that really seems to work,’ said O’Rourke. ‘Young people especially expect to see in the cities that they move to or stay in. And I think it’s going to be one part of the strategy in keeping and retaining young people in El Paso and their families, their investment and their careers.'”

Why Aren’t We Building ‘Emotionally “Connected’ Cities? A Guest Post
The Infrastructurist, 5/17/11
“The Gallup Soul of the Community survey from 2008 to 2010 found strong correlations between peoples’ emotional attachment to the communities they lived in, and higher levels of local GDP. They also found a link between passion for and loyalty to places, and the health of the local economy.”

The Health Benefits of Cycling
The Huffington Post, 5/17/11
“The League of American Bicyclists is the national sponsor of Bike Month — and this week, May 16-20 is the official Bike to Work Week. Biking to work can be a cheaper (no gas, tolls or public transportation fees), greener and, yes, healthier option.”

Company’s Arenas Leave Cities With Big Problems
The New York Times, 5/17/11
“The plan sounded great during the real estate boom: build a midsize arena, stuff it with sports, music acts and monster trucks and create a centerpiece for the new city center being developed on a dusty mesa here, 20 miles north of downtown Albuquerque.
But trouble started almost from the day the doors of Santa Ana Star Center opened in 2006.”


Rockefeller and Pew: States need to strengthen performance measures

Crossposted from Transportation for America’s blog.
Written by Sean Barry.

Many states fail to track the results of their transportation dollars, according to a new report by the Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Foundation.

The report, Measuring Transportation Investments: The Road to Results, is quick to tie the timing of its findings to the current debate over including more performance measures in a reauthorization of the nation’s surface transportation law. An unofficial version of the Obama administration bill makes performance and accountability a key component of the federal program.

The report ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia according to six key goals: safety, jobs and commerce, mobility, access, environmental stewardship and infrastructure preservation.


SGA News Clips, 5/17/11

Riverside Hopes New Policies Will Help Curb Sprawl, Obesity
California Healthline, 5/16/11
“The county, the fourth most populous in the state, is ranked near the bottom of the 58 California counties for having physical environments that are conducive to good health, according to the health department. A study by the not-for-profit Smart Growth America ranked the Riverside-San Bernardino metropolitan area No. 1 in the nation for sprawl.”

Study: $2 trillion needed for U.S. infrastructure
Washington Post, 5/16/11
“The United States is falling dramatically behind much of the world in rebuilding and expanding an overloaded and deteriorating transportation network it needs to remain competitive in the global marketplace, according to a new study by the Urban Land Institute. Burdened with soaring deficits and with long-term transportation plans stalled in Congress, the United States has fallen behind three emerging economic competitors — Brazil, China and India, the institute said.”

Group: Fix existing roads and bridges first
The Daily Record, 5/16/11
“A report by a transportation advocacy group said the state Department of Transportation should spend more of its capital budget to improve existing roads and bridges and less on expansion, something the group contends is not what the DOT’s fiscal year 2012 capital plan does.The Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s analysis of NJDOT’s almost $3.5 billion program for major projects on the state’s road, bridge and transit network for the coming year said 44 percent of the budget is being spent on “Fix-It-First” repairs and improvements to existing infrastructure — less than in 2009 — while 11 percent of the budget is being spent to build new lanes, a higher percentage than in the last 10 years.”

Amtrak Sets April Ridership Record
AltTransport, 5/16/11
“Four-dollar gas is bad news for drivers, airlines and pretty much anyone without access to reliable public transportation. But it’s good news for Amtrak, which just reported the biggest April ridership total in its history. According to the industry website Progressive Railroading, the system’s 2.7 million passengers last month represents a ten percent jump over last year, and marks ’18 consecutive months of year-over-year ridership growth.'”

Safeway plots mixed-use development in Tenleytown
Washington Post, 5/15/11
“Safeway, one of the area’s top grocers, has updated its stores and solidified its presence in the region by playing the role of co-developer in mixed-use projects. Now the Pleasanton, Calif.-based chain has its sights set on its next project, in Tenleytown, where the chain owns a 34,000-square-foot store off of Wisconsin Avenue NW and is considering a mixed-use project featuring a larger, 58,000-square-foot store, with some 150 apartments on top and 10 to 15 new town homes.”


SGA News Clips, 5/16/11

CDBG Helps Revitalize St. Louis Neighborhood
National League of Cities, 5/16/11
“Thomas said that the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program helped stimulate the neighborhood’s revival and stabilize its growth during a difficult economy. ‘The community had bottomed out. There were vacant buildings and homes throughout the area. It took a lot of work, but we slowly began to build new housing and rehab buildings. Now, people are moving to areas where no one was living 10 years ago. We built it and they came, literally,’ he recalled. ‘We have greatly appreciated access to the federal block grant, which we’ve matched with a number of other resources.'”

Mixing it Up
The Memphis Daily News, 5/15/11
“Scarce new development is providing the retail sector the opportunity to rethink how it delivers its goods and services, moving away from car-dependent models and toward walkable urban centers. This mixed-use, walkable neighborhood concept is something Memphis will see more and more of, especially in the urban core, said Jason Polley, project leasing director for Stonecrest Investments LLC. ‘The people that left and moved out to the suburbs years ago are trying to get back into town because commute times continue to lengthen as people move farther and farther out,’ Polley said. ‘People want a quality of life that allows them to live and to work and have entertainment within a relatively close proximity to each other, which is definitely a different philosophy than what has historically been suburban development in the Memphis area.'”

Bringing the High Line Back to Earth
The New York Times, 5/14/11
“The second phase will undoubtedly receive as much news media hoopla and public enthusiasm as the first, which opened in 2009. But its designers want it to be even more, a model for a new sort of town planning, dubbed “landscape urbanism.” Indeed, High Line-type projects are being discussed for Chicago (the Bloomingdale Trail), Philadelphia (the Reading Viaduct), Jersey City (the Sixth Street Embankment) and St. Louis (the Iron Horse Trestle). Advocates would like to see the High Line model take off nationwide in the same way Central Park was copied in the 19th century. But that’s a tougher proposition than they think, and it probably won’t be worth the effort.”

Does Destroying Highways Solve Urban Traffic Congestion?
Freakonomics blog, 5/13/11
“Studies over the last decade… have pretty much dismantled the theory that more roads equal less traffic congestion. It turns out that the opposite is often true: building more and wider highways can increase traffic congestion.”

Commuters Feel Pinch as Christie Tightens
The New York Times, 5/15/11
“His approach to financing for transportation has led to big increases in transit fares and higher tolls on highways. And according to analysts and some elected officials, it could soon cause tolls on the bridges and tunnels leading to New York City to reach or exceed $10.”

Editorial: Look who’s blazing public transit path
Detroit Free Press, 5/15/11
“Regional cooperation on transit and other issues is one reason Grand Rapids continues to leave southeast Michigan behind. All in all, Michigan’s second largest city is faring better than other urban areas, with far lower rates of poverty and population loss and a thriving downtown.”

Downtown revitalization project wrapping up, 5/13/11
“The City of Marianna’s downtown revitalization project is in its final phase, and the results are showing. Seat walls around the courthouse and brick paver crosswalks on Madison Street are the newest additions. The project placed the overhead utilities near the courthouse underground. The lighting, water, sewer and other infrastructure in the area near the courthouse have been updated. In addition, Madison and Jackson streets near the courthouse were resurfaced.”

Driving Is Why You’re Fat
Fast Company, 5/12/11
“If every licensed driver in the country cut down on travel by just one mile each day, in six years the obesity rate would drop 2.16%–cutting down on the number of obese adults by almost 5 million people, according to PhysOrg… Initiatives like Bike to Work Day make a difference, as do increased public transportation routes and better telecommuting work policies.”


SGA News Clips, 5/13/11

Don’t Hold Your Breath for a White House Transportation Bill
DC Streetsblog, 5/12/11
“Both the House and the Senate have recently stepped back from earlier talk of finalizing a bill by Memorial Day and are now shooting for ‘sometime in June.'”

Buffalo’s Waterfront Shuffle
The Architect’s Newspaper, 5/11/11
“Buffalo’s historic inner harbor waterfront has changed radically over the past century. The terminus of the legendary Erie Canal was buried, the site filled in, and the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium built on top. A soaring 75-foot tall highway sliced the city off from the water. Now, Buffalo is poised to remake its waterfront with newly approved plans to restore the canal to a 12-acre, walkable, mixed-use neighborhood.”

The Death of the McMansion
Slate, 5/11/11
“What about single-family houses, which will still remain for many people the home of choice? There is some evidence that urban townhomes and infill housing are more popular, as rising gas prices increase the cost of commuting.”

LaHood Says Congress Should Figure Out Details of Transportation Bill
Governing Magazine, 5/12/11
“Since the middle of 2009, when the previous six-year highway bill ended, federal transportation funding has been allocated by a series of temporary spending bills. That process has frustrated state and local transportation leaders to no end, since the ad-hoc funding has made long-term difficult planning nearly impossible. As Congress crafts a new successor to that highway bill, the administration, key congressional leaders, and most transportation officials have made it clear: They want nothing short of a six-year bill this time.”

How Would Blumenauer’s New Commuter Benefit Proposal Work?
DC Streetsblog, 5/11/11
“The privileged position of cars in the employer-benefits paradigm could soon change. As Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) said today, ‘We need to take away subsidies that incentivize people to do just the opposite of what we ought to be doing.’ As a congressman representing the second most congested part of the country, Moran said it was ‘stunning’ that the tax code ‘is designed to subsidize congestion.'”

Metro, Google Transit reach data-sharing deal
The Washington Post, 5/12/11
“Metro and Google have finalized a deal to integrate the transit system’s routes and schedule information with Google’s mapping service, providing the missing link in regionwide public transportation directions.”

GOP leaders cut transit funding by $109M
The Star Tribune, 5/12/11
“Rejecting claims that transit cuts would cripple service, House and Senate leaders Thursday night slashed $109 million from Twin Cities bus and rail funding. Republican leaders said the cuts were needed to plug a projected $5 billion state budget gap, but the decision also underscored their opposition to light rail and commuter rail.”


SGA News Clips, 5/12/11

A Strategic Investment: Getting Americans to Their Jobs
The Huffington Post, 5/12/11
“Two years ago, President Obama asked us to form a Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an interagency effort led by the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. He challenged us to find ways to help build stronger, more economically resilient and competitive communities — and to provide affordable housing that offered residents access to economic opportunity without the need or expense of owning a car. Today, as gas prices hover around four dollars per gallon, that challenge is even more important.”

Many States Fail to Measure Performance of Transportation Dollars
The Pew Center on the States, 5/11/11
“States spent an estimated $131 billion on transportation in fiscal year 2010, but many cannot answer critical questions about what returns this investment is generating, according to a new report by the Pew Center on the States and the Rockefeller Foundation. The study comes at a time when some members of Congress are proposing that the next surface transportation authorization act, the law that governs the largest federal funding streams for states’ transportation systems, more closely tie dollars to performance.”

Dem senators file bill to create $5 billion transportation fund
The Hill, 5/11/11
“A pair of Democratic senators filed legislation Wednesday that would create a transportation infrastructure fund and seed it with $5 billion. The duo, Sens. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) said the fund would be used to attract private investment in transportation through loans and loan guarantees. They argued the initial start-up money from the federal government would create jobs.”

New Reports: Higher Gas Prices Mean Safer Roads
The Infrastructurist, 5/11/11
“Social scientists, meanwhile, continue to explore the potential benefits of higher gas prices. A new report from Canadian researchers connects higher fuel costs with reduced sprawl. A pair of recent studies from Mississippi State (via The Transportationist) link higher gas prices with safer roads.”

Squeezed Cities Ask Nonprofits for More Money
The New York Times, 5/11/11
“As recession-racked cities struggle to balance their budgets with everything short of feeling behind sofa cushions for loose change, a growing number are seeking more money — just don’t use the word taxes — from nonprofit institutions that occupy valuable land but by law do not pay property taxes.”

Road builders link Reagan, Clinton in push for transportation bill
The Hill, 5/12/11
“The unlikely duo of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton is featured in a new ad campaign from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. The group is using the former presidents from opposite ends of the political spectrum to try to build bipartisan support for a six-year transportation spending bill. The radio spot features Reagan making the case for spending more on transportation.”

Oberstar blames partnership for the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, 5/11/11
“Oberstar took on both issues — infrastructure and national focus — in his lecture last week. I’m sympathetic to Oberstar’s arguments: That it’s hard to imagine deficit reduction without a recovering economy; and it’s hard to imagine a recovering, competitive economy without an upgrade in infrastructure.”


Register now for the 2011 Land Bank Conference in Detroit, MI

In many places across the country, land banking is becoming an integral part of community revitalization efforts, especially as America’s cities and towns have struggled to keep ahead of the foreclosure crisis and the resulting economic impacts over the past few years. Today more communities than ever are developing and strengthening land banking efforts to increase affordable housing, create market-based development opportunities, and implement alternative land reuses.

The Center for Community Progress invites elected officials, business owners, developers and anyone else interested in land banking issues to the 2011 Land Bank Conference from June 5-7 in Detroit, MI. The conference will help participants identify how land banking and tax foreclosure strategies can catalyze development of effective solutions to unlocking the value of vacant, abandoned and problem properties. Highlights of this two-day event include training seminars, breakout sessions, bus tours and networking opportunities.

The conference attracts hundreds of professionals from across the country and from diverse backgrounds including: elected officials, land bank staff and board members, for-profit and non-profit developers and the real estate industry, community foundations, greening initiatives, neighborhood and civic leaders, and local and state government officials.

Click here for registration and more information.


What does post-Katrina New Orleans say about cities? About America? (NOLA resilience part 1)

Crossposted from NRDC Switchboard Staff Blog
Written by Kaid Benfield

You are looking at a photo of Congo Square, in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, adjacent to and just northwest of the French Quarter. Slaves once gathered here on Sunday afternoons to dance and make music, and some say it is the birthplace of jazz. I’m certainly not going to romanticize slavery, but one has to admire the resilience of those forced to endure it, claiming a day and a place for themselves and their culture. More recently, Congo Square was the site of the annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, until Jazzfest outgrew the space and moved to the fairgrounds.

I’m headed to New Orleans today to take part in the annual convention of the American Institute of Architects. As a non-architect, I take a certain pride in being invited into their circle. I’m looking forward to being on a panel with my friends David Dixon and Laurie Volk. And I’m also looking forward to returning to New Orleans, for what I think will be the third time since Katrina.


SGA News Clips, 5/11/11

The Rejected Windfall
The New York Times, 5/9/11
“After Gov. Rick Scott of Florida thoughtlessly rejected $2.4 billion in federal aid for a high-speed rail line, he claimed last month that he was doing a huge favor for the national Treasury, which he expected would give away the money in tax cuts. That was nonsense, of course; Mr. Scott was really doing a favor for train passengers in the Northeast, Midwest and California, which were given $2 billion of his money on Monday for better service.”

Public transit group: Reports of declining gas prices may be premature
The Hill, 5/10/11
“Gas prices might — or might not — drop this summer, but savings from taking public transportation are being realized immediately, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said Tuesday. Analysts have predicted that gas prices could decline by up to 50 cents per gallon, but APTA said Tuesday the average price nationwide for a gallon of regular-grade gas is still $3.95. Those who abandon their cars for buses or trains are already saving $853 a month and as much as $10,230 per year, the group said.”

More than 50 U.S. Cities Competing to Increase College Degree Earners, Win $1 Million
CEOs for Cities, 5/9/11
“More than 50 U.S. cities today officially entered the competition to increase the number of residents with a college degree and win $1 million. The Talent Dividend Prize will be awarded by CEOs for Cities to the metropolitan area that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of post-secondary degrees granted per capita over a three-year period.”

Rezoning of former Consol HQ sparks sprawl concerns
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 5/6/11
“A proposal to rezone the former Consol Energy headquarters in Upper St. Clair was delayed again on Thursday night, during a meeting where dozens of people spoke out against the traffic, sprawl and big-box development they feared such a decision could bring.”

Storefront for Community Design aims to make over Richmond communities
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/11/11
“The Storefront, which is being funded by the city along with individuals, companies and organizations, operates on the notion that the quality of a neighborhood is determined in part by its design. The center tries to help by matching prospective projects with professionals who can help navigate the city’s bureaucracy and shed light on possibilities.”

Union Station Can’t Get It Together
Washington City Paper, 5/10/11
“The transit world was abuzz yesterday with news of the Obama administration’s $2 billion worth of improvements for high-speed rail service in the Northeast Corridor, Midwest, and California. Guess who missed out? The District, of course. Specifically, Union Station, which hasn’t had major infrastructure improvements since the 1980s, and has only increased Metro station capacity by one escalator and one elevator since 1976.”


SGA News Clips, 5/10/11

Avondale residents, business owners join to create ideal communities, 5/6/11
“The building blocks of a city were collected from an assortment of oddities such as Legos, plastic curlers, play blocks and string, but what they eventually represented were ideal communities as envisioned by Old Town Avondale residents and business owners. About 40 residents, business owners and others showed up at the Tri-City West/Thornwood Branch of the Boys & Girls Club, 301 E. Western Ave., earlier this week for a “re-visioning session” in which they played the part of urban planners. James Rojas, a Los Angeles-based urban planner, guided exercises in which participants gathered at separate tables and built their ideal communities and later the focal points of their communities.”

U.S. Government Loves Sustainable Transportation, Issues Stamps To Prove It
AltTransport, 5/9/11
“If you’re still using those plain ol’ American flag stamps, you are losing the future. The United States Postal Service recently issued their new “Go Green” stamps illustrating simple lifestyle changes all of us can make in order to help the environment. Each sheet features 16 different tips, five of which are transportation related: ‘Share rides,’ ‘Choose to walk,’ ‘Ride a bike,’ ‘Use public transportation,’ and ‘Maintain tire pressure.'”

Cities roll out bike-sharing programs
USA Today, 5/9/11
“Several other U.S. cities — including Chicago, Denver, Des Moines, Miami Beach and Minneapolis — launched programs last year, and Boston, New York and San Francisco plan to follow soon. Others are studying the idea, which has proved especially popular on the dozens of college campuses that now offer low-cost bike-sharing options… Several cities, such as Washington, are tapping a Federal Highway Administration fund aimed at relieving congestion and improving air quality to kick-start their programs.”

Residents enlist Sprawl-Busters to fight big box, 5/9/11
“Who ya gonna call? Sprawl-Busters. That’s who some Copley-Fairlawn residents are calling to help in their ongoing effort to stop Walmart from building a megastore in their neighborhood. The man behind Sprawl-Busters is Al Norman. A 64-year-old citizen activist from Massachusetts, Norman has been described as ”the guru of the anti-Walmart movement” by 60 Minutes. Forbes magazine has called him ‘Wal-Mart’s No. 1 Enemy.'”

Greater New Haven’s ‘Brownfields’ sit in costly limbo
The Register Citizen, 5/9/11
“English Station is one of 27 brownfields on a list that cities and towns in Greater New Haven identified to the Connecticut Brownfields Redevelopment Authority as priority sites for reuse. Many are situated near major routes, highways and existing commercial hubs. Some are more isolated. ‘It’s really a positive to be on the list because it attracts developers,’ said Cynthia Petruzzello, vice president and redevelopment project manager for CBRA.”

Asheville’s Strive Not to Drive encourages active transportation for workers, seniors
The Asheville Citizen-Times, 5/6/11
“Organizers of this year’s Strive Not to Drive hope more seniors… trade in their cars for sneakers, bikes and a bus pass. The annual event, which starts May 16, encourages residents to get around town without cars. This year, organizers are organizing walks and bicycle workshops aimed at seniors.Strive Not to Drive is also targeting local businesses. So far, 22 local businesses have agreed to encourage their employees to walk, bike or take the bus during the week.”

Temporium does more for Mount Pleasant than years of VAs
Greater Greater Washington, 5/9/11
“The Temporium capitalized on a key quality of urban living… Its organizers understood that people love living in cities not only because of the convenience of living close to downtown or because of bike lanes, green space, and transit, but because of the rich and multilayered social opportunities and cultural venues available close to home. A 2008 Knight Foundation study found that most of its 46,000 respondents chose the availability of spaces for socialization and entertainment venues as the most significant qualities connecting them to their urban neighborhoods.”