Smart Growth News- February 29, 2012

National news

Case-Shiller: U.S. Home Prices Wrapped Up 2011 At Fresh Lows
Forbes- February 27, 2012

Only one city in the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index of home prices showed an annual gain last year, and it was not one you would expect. Detroit was up 0.5% in December compared with the same month in 2010, while cities like Atlanta, Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa all made fresh lows as the 20-city index dropped 4% from a year earlier. The 10-city and national composite were 3.9% and 4% from the fourth quarter of 2010.

Case-Shiller: Home prices drop again — How does your city stack up?
The Washington Post- February 28, 2012

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index offers a monthly assessment of how home prices are faring from city to city. In the most recent report, only two cities saw an increase in prices from the previous month.

Long-term transportation bill faces detours
Politico – February 27, 2012

The machinations of transportation bills in Congress may seem like the kind of inside-the-Beltway politics that make the rest of the country snooze.

Fannie to sell 2,500 foreclosed properties
MarketWatch- February 27, 2012

Fannie Mae is offering to sell nearly 2,500 foreclosed properties to investors as part of a new federal initiative to aid the housing market by selling off distressed properties in bulk, the company’s regulator said Monday.


Smart Growth News- February 28, 2012

National news

Mica still pressing for five-year bill, Murky schedule for Senate amendment votes
Politico Morning Transportation – February 27, 2012

Transportation Committee head John Mica told reporters that “it would be a disappointment to have a shorter” version of the five-year transportation bill that came out of his committee.

Pressure Grows on Fannie and Freddie to Cut Principal on Loans
New York Times – February 27, 2012

California’s attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, has ratcheted up the pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to allow debt reduction on their home loans by asking the mortgage finance giants to halt foreclosures in the state.

With Gas Tax on Empty U.S. Must Find New Way to Fund Roads
Bloomberg News – Feb 26, 2012

Washington is now arguing over several bad new ways to pay for transportation infrastructure in the U.S. But despite their deficiencies, recent proposals from the White House, the Senate and the House offer a few ideas worth considering as part of a more ambitious funding bill down the road, when a looming election isn’t inducing timidity and self-delusion.

In Manufacturing, Blue-Collar Jobs Need White-Collar Training
National Journal- February 27, 2012

Jack Schron has shaken hands with a lot of politicians. His factory in Cleveland is campaign-backdrop gold: a midsized, family-owned, high-tech facility, built on a reclaimed brownfield site.


Deerfield Beach participates in “complete streets” policy workshop with help from Smart Growth America

On February 15, 2012, 40 community stakeholders from Deerfield Beach, Florida met with representatives from the National Complete Streets Coalition and Smart Growth America as part of a free program helping their city develop “complete streets” policies. In this interactive, day-long workshop, city staff and residents learned how everyday transportation decisions can promote streets that are designed to allow safe access for all users. Complete Streets workshops aim to draw on the experience of community stakeholders and offer new opportunities for them to work together.

The City of Deerfield Beach learned of the economic and fiscal benefits of smart growth in June of 2011 through a workshop with the Environmental Protection Agency. A product of that workshop was a commitment to support a thriving local economy by creating a more walkable community following the guidelines of Complete Streets. The City was able to pursue this goal after being granted a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America. Having established a foundation of smart growth basics, the city was equipped for a policy development workshop, where attendees learned the Complete Streets concept and began developing a customized draft policy.

Complete Streets Technical assistance

Smart Growth News- February 27, 2012


Transportation Bill Faces a Wall of Opposition From Both Parties
The New York Times- February 24, 2012

In contrast to the hundreds of pieces of legislation that cleave Congressional Republicans and Democrats, the one that pays for transportation projects has traditionally drawn a warm embrace from both parties, largely because of the giant piles of cash it bestows on states and communities to repair and maintain their roads, bridges and transit systems. So it was noteworthy that three House members — two Republicans and a Democrat, all from Illinois — gathered here for a news conference this week to denounce the latest House transportation bill, one championed by the House speaker, John A. Boehner.

House unlikely to vote on reworked highway bill upon return from recess
The Hill- February 24, 2012

The House is unlikely to consider a new version of a Republican highway bill when lawmakers return next week, as Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) revamps the legislation to attract more support.

Street economists back action on housing
Market Watch- Feb 24, 2012

The weak housing market is holding back the economic recovery, and the federal government should consider a variety of policies to get the sector back on its feet, according to a new paper by a team of leading Wall Street and academic economists released Friday.

New Home Sales Data Point to Stabilizing Market
Bloomberg- Feb 24, 2012

Purchases of new homes in the U.S. exceeded forecasts in January after climbing a month earlier to a one-year high, more evidence the housing market is stabilizing.


Smart Growth News- February 24, 2012


House to rework transportation bill
Politico- February 24, 2012

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: We had heard rumors that something was up but weren’t expecting this. Major news broke late Thursday when House leadership revealed it is considering a redo on its transportation bill. Speaker John Boehner’s signature proposal will likely see: a shorter length, (maybe) reduced overall funding levels and a reversal on the decision to divorce federal transit funding from the Highway Trust Fund.

Gas tax falling short in paying for transportation needs
USA Today- February 24, 2012

The USA is at a critical juncture in how it pays for roads, bridges and transit. That’s because the federal tax on gasoline, the primary method since 1956, has lost one-third of its buying power since it was last raised in 1993. States add their own tax on top of that, but the federal tax accounts for about 45%-50% of capital spending for transportation.

Sales of New Homes in the U.S. Probably Rose to Nine-Month High
Bloomberg- February 24, 2012

Purchases of new homes in the U.S. probably rose in January to a nine-month high, more evidence the housing market is improving, economists said before a report today.

More households spend half of pay on housing: Renters hit hardest, with rent costs rising as income falls
Market Watch- February 24, 2012

In 2010, about 24% of U.S. households paid more than half of their income on housing costs, compared with about 22% in 2008, the report said.


Smart Growth News – February 23, 2012

National News

As the House Transportation Bill Languishes, There’s Still Time to ‘Fix It First’
Huffington Post- February 22, 2012, Geoffrey Anderson

Americans are ready for an economically sound, people-friendly, and bipartisan transportation bill. Current revisions should restore guaranteed funding for public transportation, put more emphasis on bridge and road repair, reinstate measures that provide funding to pedestrian and bicycling safety programs, and put transportation first (meaning no partisan add-ons).

Taking heat on gas prices, Obama to defend energy policy but offer ‘no quick fixes’
Washington Post- February 23, 2012

President Obama will take the stage at the University of Miami on Thursday to defend his energy policy at a time when gas prices are on the rise, Republicans are blaming him for it and even some Democrats are pressing him to take stronger action to protect consumers.

Analysis: Can U.S. economy withstand gasoline price curse?
Reuters- February 23, 2012

Could history repeat itself? That is a question uppermost in the minds of many Americans as they warily watch gasoline prices at the pump rise week after week.

The new transportation bill will only make a bad situation worse
The Hill- February 21, 2012

As introduced, HR 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, is so ill-conceived and poorly crafted there is little support for it — even from within Republican ranks.


Fighting blight in Pennsylvania: State House of Representatives passes land bank bill

In Pennsylvania today, more than 300,000 properties stand vacant. These properties cost municipalities millions of dollars each year in maintenance costs and even more in lost revenue. In Philadelphia alone – which has some 40,000 vacant properties – the City pays $20 million each year just to maintain those properties.

Last week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives took a major step toward turning the state’s vacant properties back into homes and businesses. On Wednesday the House passed HB 1682, a bill that would allow counties and municipalities in Pennsylvania to create land banks. Land banks are entities that can hold and manage vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties, making it faster, easier and cheaper for prospective new owners to purchase these properties and get them back into productive re-use.