SGA News Clips, 5/9/11

In Buffalo, Visions, Perhaps Illusions, of a University-Fueled Revitalization
The New York Times, 5/8/11
“This city has lost more than one-tenth of its residents in the last decade, and it shows. Entire neighborhoods are all but abandoned. Stretches of boarded-up bungalows with peeling paint and sagging roofs are interrupted only by grassy lots where decrepit houses have been demolished by the city. And the highest-profile urban renewal effort in recent years — a proposed Bass Pro Shops outdoors superstore that would have anchored a revitalization of the historic waterfront where millions of bushels of grain once began their trip down the Erie Canal — has produced nothing but a muddy crater the size of a city block.”

Public-private toll project nears bidding
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/9/11
“After years of false starts, the state Department of Transportation says it will soon open bidding on the largest transportation contract in state history — a $1 billion project to add 29 miles of reversible lanes alongside I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties. It is the state’s maiden attempt to build public roads with private investment.”

Baltimore Food Scene: How Local Food is Helping Revitalize the City
AOL Travel, 5/8/11
“Perez Klebahn, general manager of Mr. Rain’s Fun House, a unique and contemporary restaurant and bar in Federal Hill, understands the cultural impact restaurants and bars can have on a community. ‘I think food and drink is pertinent to the identity of any city and its culture,’ said Klebahn. ‘[But] for Baltimore to truly revitalize its market and culture, it needs to accept diversity.'”

Amtrak, 15 states get $2 billion that Florida lost
AP, 5/9/11
“Amtrak and rail projects in 15 states are being awarded the $2 billion that Florida lost after the governor canceled plans for high-speed train service, the Department of Transportation said Monday.The largest share of the money — nearly $800 million — will be used to upgrade train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on critical segments of the heavily traveled Northeast corridor, the department said in a statement.”


SGA News Clips, 5/6/11

Washington, D.C. Offers $12,000 to People Who Move Near Work
GOOD Magazine, 5/5/11
“Washington, D.C.’s Office of Planning is launching a pilot program called Live Near Your Work that will match up to $6,000 in incentives that businesses offer to employees to move near work or public transit.”

Street of Greens: A Portland economist discovers a link between density, greenery, and money.
Portland Monthly, May 2011
“Earlier this year, Reed College economist Noelwah Netusil unveiled the first-ever study combining three Portland obsessions: home prices, walkable neighborhoods, and plants. Netusil confirmed that home prices rise when new amenities—stores, restaurants, mass-transit stops—open within walking distance. So far, so obvious in a city that planners envision as a collage of dense urban villages. But she also found that those price increases are greater in neighborhoods thick with trees, parks, lawns, and other greenery—and it’s not just a little boost, but a big one.”

Planning Department Working To Transform Fisherman’s Wharf Before America’s Cup
Bay City News, 5/4/11
“The redesign is part of a national movement to reclaim and beautify urban waterfronts for public use, an urban designer with the city’s Planning Department said today at a presentation hosted by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association.”

Harvard, at least, thinks Oregon’s land-use planning system is great, 5/5/11
“Harvard University believes Oregon’s land-use system is one of the nation’s Top 25 Innovations in Government. The selection makes the state program one of the semi-finalists for Harvard’s American Government Award that will be announced this fall… Harvard said Oregon’s land-use system ‘conserves rural lands while promoting sustainable urban development.'”

MoDot: New state transportation program cut in half
KFVS 12, 5/5/11
“According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, for the past five years, Missouri’s state highway construction program has averaged $1.2 billion a year. MoDot’s director said they have presented a new, five-year construction program to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission that’s only half that amount, or about $600 million a year.”

Neighborhood Main Streets: Lessons from Berkeley, Madison, and Cincinnati
New Urban Network, 5/5/11
“If you live in a walkable neighborhood, you know the value of a neighborhood main street as the place to grab a cup of coffee, meet up with a friend, or — if you are as lucky as I am — buy produce and groceries at a local market. Neighborhood main streets are incubators of small, local businesses, and local economies. Unfortunately, most cities’ use-based zoning, off-street parking requirements, auto-dominated thoroughfare designs — and the land use decisions that have placed large format, auto-dependent retail near or within these main streets — have all but made it impossible for these rich community assets to survive; they are a dying breed.”

Reps Matsui and LaTourette Introduce the Bipartisan Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011
National Complete Streets Coalition Blog, 5/5/11
“Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Steven LaTourette (R-OH) have introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011 into the US House of Representatives. The measure would help ensure safe travel for millions of Americans by directing states and regions to adopt policies to provide for the needs of all users of the transportation system, including people of all ages and abilities who are walking, bicycling, and taking the bus.”

Rock N Roll Hotel Revitalizes H Street Corridor
WAMU 88.5, 5/5/11
“If you walk down H Street on a Friday or Saturday night, the once-blighted neighborhood is bustling. Sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians, the restaurants are full and, depending on the time, a line of people waits outside the live music club, the Rock N Roll Hotel.”


SGA News Clips, 5/5/11

11 U.S. cities honored as ‘walk-friendly:’ Seattle ranks first
Grist, 5/4/11
“After evaluating applicant communities in several categories related to walking — including safety, mobility, access, and comfort — the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) last week announced the selection of 11 Walk Friendly Communities across the U.S.”

Obama floats plan to tax cars by the gallon
The Hill, 5/5/11
“The Obama administration has floated a transportation authorization bill that would require the study and implementation of a plan to tax automobile drivers based on how many miles they drive.”

Census: Young adults are responsible for most of D.C.’s growth in past decade
The Washington Post, 5/4/11
“Ed Lazere of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute said the growth in jobs requiring a college education and the city’s investment in Metro and other services are a draw. ‘People are moving to the Washington area, and then deciding they’d love to live in the District because it’s an exciting place to live,’ he said.”

Bus Rapid Transit: ‘Not Your Father’s Bus’
WAMU 88.5, 5/5/11
“Council members in Montgomery County, Md., received an update on plans to build Bus Rapid Transit lines in the county this week. The price tag for the plan is high, but at least one County Council member says it must be built because Montgomery County is losing the transit battle with its neighbors.”

New Homes, Jobs Revitalizing North Tulsa Neighborhood
FOX 23, 5/4/11
“Bluford has worked for years to make the Crutchfield area better. He says letting neighborhoods like his get run down drags down the entire city. ‘It’s Tulsa. That’s what makes Tulsa,’ Bluford said. ‘A neighborhood is Tulsa. If you let the neighborhoods run down and everybody moves out of Tulsa, moves out to the suburbs, there’s no more Tulsa. And Tulsa’s a great city.'”

Cincinnati plans shortened streetcar route, 5/3/11
“Cincinnati’s top leaders unveiled a shortened streetcar route Tuesday that sets the stage for a political and legal showdown over the project’s future likely to dominate the rest of this year – and perhaps beyond.”


SGA News Clips, 5/4/11

San Francisco to LA via Public Transit: Only $45 and 30 Hours of Travel, 5/2/11
“The transit geeks over at CalStreets have figured out a hypothetical San Francisco to Los Angeles travel itinerary that uses public transit exclusively. Thanks to two new bus routes in Monterey, people looking to subject themselves to over 30 hours of travel time at the whims of seven different local transit agencies can (theoretically) do so at the low-low price of $45.25.”

Why the ‘coming housing calamity’ shouldn’t have to be calamitous
Grist, 5/3/11
“Sure, you can see this as calamitous, and for developers who are wedded to extending sprawl, it will be. But instead of wringing our hands over the latest apocalyptarian scenarios, we should be thinking instead of the opportunities presented by the shifting needs and desires of the U.S. population.”

Mayors Rebel Against State-Controlled Highway Expansion, Fight For Transit
Streetsblog Capitol Hill, 5/3/11
“If your roads are congested, your bus lines are getting cut, and money is flowing to brand-new roads to nowhere, don’t blame your mayor. Chances are, he or she is as mad about it as you are. Mayors are speaking out against ineffective transportation funding mechanisms that direct scarce resources to sprawling highways and away from urban transit and safer streets for walking and biking.”

50 Ideas for Better Cities
The Atlantic, 5/3/11
“The Architectural League of New York has come up with 50 catchy ideas for improving New York City—and a website that actually succeeds at explaining them.”

Balto. Co. works to jump start commercial growth on Main Streets
The Baltimore Sun, 5/3/11
“Now, county officials want to spread the success in Catonsville to Perry Hall, Pikesville and other communities that have struggled to find a niche. Aging strip malls dot main corridors in many of the county’s older neighborhoods, and shoppers often complain that too many of the same kinds of businesses — mattress stores, gas stations, laundromats, fast-food joints and dollar stores — are clustered along certain strips. Owings Mills and White Marsh have long been in the forefront of commercial growth efforts, but officials and merchants say the county’s Main Streets need attention now.”

Voters worried $5 per gallon gas is coming
The Hill, 5/3/11
“A supermajority of voters think a gallon of regular gas will cost $5 by July 1, according to a new poll released Tuesday.”


SGA News Clips, 5/3/11

LaHood betting on US transportation bill this year
Connecticut Post, 5/2/11
“U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressed confidence Monday that the promise of jobs will help ensure passage of a funding measure this year for this aging chunk of the nation’s infrastructure, despite the divide in Congress over government spending and the federal debt.”

What Rankings Show About Cities
The New York Times, 5/3/11
“Lists of cities have a comparable appeal, and so two recent reports have ranked global cities in some interesting ways. A report by McKinsey’s Global Institute, “Urban World: Mapping the Economic Power of Cities,” provides us with predictions about the economic future of the world’s urban agglomeration. A second report, “Cities of Opportunity,” a joint effort of PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Partnership for New York City, ranks 26 world cities on a large number of factors and names New York the global champion.”

Rep. Mica worried transit systems will be targeted for bin Laden retaliation
The Hill, 5/2/11
“The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said his thoughts immediately turned to the safety of America’s transportation system after President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden. Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) praised the military personnel involved in the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan and said it is important that the U.S. transportation system remain on guard.”

City Prefers Its Own Transportation Census, Thank You
The New York Times, 5/2/11
“The stakes, for urban planners trying to devise smarter ways for millions to move around, can be high. Trust the census, with its one-size-fits-all questions, and risk prescribing policies that ignore the true needs of a mobile city.”


SGA News Clips, 5/2/11

President Obama Expected to Release Proposed Transportation Bill
Streetsblog Capitol Hill, 4/29/11
“The news agency BNA is reporting that the president appears likely to release his proposed draft of a transportation bill soon. The administration is circulating a partial draft of its proposed bill, signaling that a release could be imminent.”

More living downtown, as revitalization efforts pay off
Dayton Daily News, 5/2/11
“There’s a glimmer of light for Dayton in the new census data. While the city as a whole lost almost 15 percent of its population during the last decade, one census tract, which represents most of downtown and includes the Oregon District, added 567 residents. That 17.2 percent change is music to the ears of city officials, who have been saying for more than a decade now that downtown Dayton is going to be reborn as a residential and entertainment center.”

Home tweet home: Twitter chooses the city over sprawl
Grist, 4/29/11
“I spent the last couple of days at a conference about climate, cities, and behavior. One topic that kept coming up among the municipal officials there — from places like New York, Denver, Vancouver, Richmond, and San Francisco — was the importance of walkable downtowns to attracting business and investment. Amenities like good transit, bike infrastructure, and dynamic public spaces are increasingly being seen not as frivolities, but as essential tools in building a city’s economy. In that context, some of us talked about Twitter’s announcement last week that it will be moving to new headquarters in San Francisco’s Central Market neighborhood.”

How New Planning May Help Old Neighborhoods, 4/29/11
“Bill Anderson, San Diego’s outgoing planning director, wanted his department to be a catalyst for the revitalization of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. He hopes that can still happen now that Mayor Jerry Sanders has decided to merge the city’s Planning Department with its Development Services Department… But can Planning Departments really do that? Planners don’t build, after all. Developers do.”

Digging a Hole: What’s Behind America’s Aversion to Fixing It First?
Streetsblog, 4/29/11
“America’s bridges are deficient and its roads are potholed. The gas tax hasn’t been raised in over a decade, leaving revenues insufficient to maintain the infrastructure we have. Yet a strong bias toward new construction persists in American transportation policies.”

Where There Is No Vision, The People Perish
The Huffington Post, 4/29/11
“Back in 1957, Congress had a very good idea: to designate the third week in May each year as National Transportation Week. The goal was to ‘to give complete recognition to the importance to each community and its people of the transportation system of the United States and the maintenance of the facilities of the system in the most modern state of adequacy to serve the needs of the United States in times of peace and in national defense.'”

What Determines the Price of Gas: A Visual Guide
The Atlantic, 4/27/11
“Gas prices are on a collision path with $4, putting additional burden on an economy that’s recovering from a housing bust, credit crunch, and deep recession. What goes into the price of gasoline and why is it rising so fast all of a sudden?”

Gasoline prices dent U.S. consumers’ buying power
Reuters, 4/29/11
“U.S. consumers increased spending for a ninth straight month in March as they stretched to cover higher costs for food and gasoline, with inflation posting its biggest year-on-year gain in 10 months.”


SGA News Clips, 4/29/11

Life in the slow lane
The Economist, 4/28/11
“Americans are gloomy about their economy’s ability to produce. Are they right to be? We look at two areas of concern, transport infrastructure and innovation.”

In Defense of Robust Cities
The Wall Street Journal, 4/28/11
“For decades, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association has helped shape the Bay Area’s development. The nonprofit think tank pushed for the creation of San Francisco’s planning department in the 1940s, helped plan for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District in the 1950s and ’60s, and successfully proposed establishing a “rainy day” fund in the San Francisco budget, among other moves. Gabriel Metcalf has been executive director of SPUR since 2005, overseeing efforts to help reform the San Francisco Municipal Railway’s operations and prepare the Bay Area for a major earthquake and rising sea level due to climate change… In a recent interview, Mr. Metcalf discussed the Bay Area’s biggest development challenges and his criticisms of San Francisco’s planning process.”

Creating relevance in the rust belt, 4/27/11
“Battling blight, population loss, crime and criticism are challenges for any mayor to face. But Youngstown, Ohio, Mayor Jay Williams said Wednesday one of the biggest battles he’s had to fight in his two terms is helping to change the mindset of people – especially younger ones – who believe the city isn’t worth saving.”

Large turnout for kickoff of local planning effort
Charlottesville Tomorrow, 4/28/11
“A large crowd of community members, both new and old, gathered at the Albemarle County Office Building on Wednesday to participate in the launch of the Livable Communities Planning Project. Funded by an almost $1 million federal grant, the effort is being coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. The three-year project will contribute to updates of Charlottesville’s and the county’s comprehensive and transportation plans.”

Herbert decries sales-tax earmark to transportation
The Salt Lake Tribune, 4/28/11
“Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that legislation earmarking a portion of sales-tax revenue for transportation is “bad policy” and could deprive other state programs, particularly education.”


Complete Streets Policies Growing Strong

Crossposted from Complete Streets.

New Analysis, Highlights Strongest Policies, Gives Advocates a New Tool

States and local governments in every quadrant of the nation are adopting strong complete streets policies, according to a new analysis by the National Complete Streets Coalition. The new report, “Complete Streets Policy Analysis 2010,” rates the strength of written policies that are designed to ensure that future transportation infrastructure investments provide safe options for everyone using the roadways. Rather than providing a single model policy, the report provides dozens of examples of strong policy language that is actually in use somewhere in the United States. It will serve as a resource to continue the expansion of the complete streets movement.

The report documents the tremendous growth in adoption of policies across the US. The number of policies came close to doubling in each of the last three years. Twenty-three states (and Puerto Rico and DC) and more than 200 smaller jurisdictions now have complete streets policies to ensure that future transportation investments provide safe options for everyone using our roadways.

“Recent polls show that voters’ top priority for infrastructure investments are safer streets for our communities and children,” notes Barbara McCann, National Complete Streets Coalition Executive Director. “Our report shows that this commitment is not only wide, but deep: community leaders and transportation practitioners are rolling up their sleeves and working together in small towns and big cities, in almost every state in the nation, to pass policies that will ensure that future transportation investments create complete streets.”


SGA News Clips, 4/28/11

Fixing Smart Growth
The Baltimore Sun, 4/28/11
“Today the Maryland Department of Planning is unveiling a draft of Maryland’s first state growth plan, which we’re calling PlanMaryland. In 1974, the General Assembly authorized such a plan “to promote the general welfare and prosperity of the people of the state through coordinated development of the state,” but such a plan was never fulfilled. Maryland went on to adopt pioneering policies to promote smart growth, but the results have fallen far short of the original ambition. In fact, since a pioneering law was passed in 1997 to encourage development in areas best equipped for it, more than three-quarters of residential growth in land area has occurred outside those areas in Maryland. Gov. Martin O’Malley directed us to develop the plan to help address this challenge.”

Region needs to plan how to move goods, transportation planners say
The Washington Examiner, 4/27/11
“Washingtonians spend a lot of time worrying about traffic and getting around the region. So do elected officials and regional planners. But few of them spend much time thinking about how to move around anything but people. Transportation officials said Wednesday that it’s crucial for the region to start thinking about how to move freight, which keeps the region functioning but bogs down local roads.”

Amtrak Seeking Florida’s Rail Funds
Wall Street Journal, 4/28/11
“Amtrak, previously blocked from receiving federal money for high-speed rail, is now in the running for a big chunk of the $2 billion in funds freed up by Florida’s decision to cancel a fast-train project earlier this year. The federally subsidized railroad, formally the National Railroad Passenger Corp., is lobbying for $1.3 billion in federal money to upgrade service on its Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington so that trains could eventually reach 160 miles an hour. Amtrak’s fastest Acela trains now average 85 miles an hour between New York and Washington.”

New Report: Higher gas prices mean less sprawl
The Infrastructurist, 4/27/11
“Earlier this month a pair of researchers at the University of Quebec in Montreal released a working paper that examined the link between gas prices and urban sprawl (pdf). Georges Tanguay and Ian Gingras analyzed data from the 12 largest metropolitan region in Canada for the period of 1986 to 2006 and found that higher gas prices “contributed significantly” to less sprawl: ‘On average, a 1% increase in gas prices has caused: i) a .32% increase in the population living in the inner city and ii) a 1.28% decrease in low-density housing units.'”

Main Street communities learn from each other’s successes
NewsOK, 4/28/11
“When communities look to revitalize their Main Streets, retail is a huge piece of the puzzle. Retail generates the sales tax revenue that keeps many cities humming. And with the digital revolution and changing demographics, communities are searching for tips on how to adapt. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Main Street Center hosted Main Street 101 to help downtowns attract retailers, connect with Hispanic community members and thrive.”

Membership encourages community-wide effort in downtown revitalization
Norfolk Daily News, 4/27/11
“Norfolk recently joined the ranks of other progressive Nebraska communities working to revitalize its downtown areas by becoming an affiliate member of the Heritage Nebraska Main Street Program. The multi-tier Main Street program was designed to educate and support Nebraska communities in their efforts to revitalize historic business districts through economic development and historic preservation.”

Helvetia remains the battleground for Washington County urban growth plan, 4/27/11
“The emerald quilt of farms and fields blanketing Helvetia doesn’t form an obvious final battleground in the region’s four-year effort to determine where it will and won’t grow over the next half century. But Washington County’s decision to tap a 352-acre chunk of open land north of U.S. 26 for future industrial growth has now set just that stage. So the nation’s first regional effort to plan growth for the next 50 years comes down to a scenic slice of rural land that presents Oregon’s land-use planning system in starkest relief.”


SGA News Clips, 4/27/11

Suburban growth focused on inner and outer communities
USA Today, 4/27/11
“Almost 85% of the nation’s 308.7 million people live in metropolitan areas, and more than half are in ever-expanding suburban rings that encircle major cities. A new pattern is emerging this century. Most of the growth is happening on opposite ends of the suburban expanse: in older communities closest to the city and in the newer ones that are the farthest out.”

Desperate sprawl developer gives away cars with houses
Grist, 4/26/11
“My head nearly exploded at the breakfast table on Saturday morning. I was reading a piece in The New York Times about an Illinois developer who has finally found a way to unload the new houses he has built some 50 miles from downtown Chicago, in a place he has seen fit to dub a ‘Village of Yesteryear.’ When drastic price cuts weren’t enough to entice buyers, he decided to throw in $17,000 cash toward the purchase of a car with every house.”

Feds to sign commitment to MN light rail funding, 4/26/11
“Federal officials plan to sign a formal funding commitment for the Central Corridor light rail line Tuesday in St. Paul. The Federal Transit Administration is providing $478 million for the 11-mile light rail line between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. The $957 million project is about 12 percent complete. The Met Council awarded construction contracts last year after local funding partners committed to the project. So far, it’s created about 570 jobs. Trains are expected to run beginning in 2014.”

Storyboard: Cityscapes Shows How Buildings Shape Culture
Wired Magazine, 4/26/11
“Think of a city — Chicago, Los Angeles, New York. What defines it? The climate? The people? The food? Maybe it’s buildings. That’s the idea that John King, urban design critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, explores in this edition of the Storyboard podcast with host Adam Rogers. The physical character of a city helps shape its culture, King says: ‘The kind of person who wants a city like San Francisco’ — with its cafe culture and dense low-rises — ‘is very different than the person who wants a Los Angeles kind of life.’ Not that one is better than the other, he’s quick to add.”

Cleaner, greener and more sustainable communities: What is your jurisdiction doing to help?
The Washington Post, 4/27/11
“Interested in learning more about what your jurisdiction is doing to make a cleaner, greener and sustainable community? Maybe you’d like to know more on what you can do to help. Stuart Freudberg, director of Environmental programs at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government will be online with The Washington Post Thursday, April 28 at 11 a.m. ET to answer your questions. Ask now. “