Smart growth news- June 15, 2012

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States, Congress Hampering Recovery in Cities, U.S. Mayors Say
Bloomberg Businessweek- June 15, 2012
U.S. cities recovering from the worst recession since the 1930s are hampered by partisan bickering in Washington, D.C., and pressure from state lawmakers to fill budget shortfalls, U.S. mayors say.

Why Housing Affordability Is a Mirage
The Wall Street Journal- June 14, 2012
Home prices and mortgage rates have made monthly mortgage payments lower than at any time in the past decade. But housing isn’t any more affordable than it was five years ago, during the go-go lending days, after factoring in down payment requirements and other financing terms, according to a new paper.

As Charlotte Expands, A Neighborhood Asks How Best to Urbanize
Next American City- June 14, 2012
More than a half-century after Park Road Shopping Center sprouted at what was then the southern edge of Charlotte, N.C., the Park Road-Woodlawn Road area has held up remarkably well.

Arlington, Alexandria compromise on streetcar line
Washington Post- June 14, 2012
The Arlington County and Alexandria city governments, divided over how best to pay for a streetcar line through the congested corridor between Pentagon City and Potomac Yards, have crafted a compromise aimed funding the project and addressing the expected growth and density in the area.


Smart growth news- June 14, 2012

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Community Planners Essential to Putting America on Road to Economic Recovery
APA Press Release- June 14, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC — With the U.S. economy struggling, Americans believe community planners should play a major role in helping the nation get back on its feet, according to a national poll released today by the American Planning Association (APA). Two-thirds of Americans believe their community needs more planning to promote economic recovery.

Big-Box Space Remains Hard to Fill
The Wall Street Journal- June 12, 2012
Close to a year after Borders Group Inc. collapsed, suburban shopping centers still are struggling to fill the vacated big-box space—and to cope with changes in the way Americans shop.

Expert: LA Public Transit Will Surpass NY
Transportation Nation- June 13, 2012
On The Takeaway this morning, traffic expert Rachel Weinberger says Los Angeles’ public transportation system is poised to overtake New York’s. Other tidbits: NY and LA are so congested, offering money to get people to drive off peak won’t work, because time-shifting really won’t help.

Surging MBTA ridership could overwhelm system, report warns
The Boston Globe- June 14, 2012
By the end of the decade, Boston’s subways could grow so packed that trains would roll past waiting commuters, unable to accommodate more riders, a new report from a leading land-use think tank warns.

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized

Real estate developers gather in Washington for first LOCUS Leadership Summit

Members of LOCUS, Smart Growth America’s coalition of real estate developers and investors, gathered in Washington last week for the 2012 LOCUS Leadership Summit. The three-day event provided a unique opportunity to network, share best practices and rally around the common cause of advocating for Congress to pass a transportation reauthorization that supports the creation of walkable, transit-oriented communities.

The summit commenced with a keynote address from Janice Eberly, Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the US Department of Treasury, who spoke on the state of the U.S. economy and the nation’s real estate and housing markets. Members then explored the shift in market demand for walkable, urban developments through a panel with Patrick Phillips, President of the Urban Land Institute; Aaron Klein, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the US Department of Treasury; and Emerick Corsi of Forest City Enterprises.

In the afternoon, LOCUS members went on a walking tour of metro DC’s booming, mixed-use neighborhoods to see how the shift in market demand for walkable, urban developments is playing out in the nation’s capital. Members visited the Clarendon neighborhood in DC, where they heard from an executive at BF Saul about the firm’s Clarendon Center project, and Capitol Riverfront, where they heard from the director of that neighborhood’s business improvement district about the neighborhood’s incredible transformation in recent years.

On Day Two of the summit, LOCUS members embarked upon what many considered the highlight of the trip to Washington: Hill visits with members of Congress and Obama Administration officials. LOCUS members strongly encouraged these national leaders to pass legislation that would make it easier to build the kinds of transit-oriented, walkable projects in high demand across the country.

Specifically during their meetings with members of Congress and the Administration, LOCUS members encouraged senators to support transportation bill changes proposed by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mark Warner (D-VA), which would create a credit enhancement for transit-oriented development (TOD) projects. This amendment is one of many being considered as both houses of Congress work to find common ground on a final version of the bill.


Smart growth news- June 13, 2012

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Incentives for Drivers Who Avoid Traffic Jams
New York Times- June 11, 2012
London, Singapore, Stockholm and a few other cities around the world battle heavy traffic with a “congestion charge,” a stiff fee for driving in crowded areas at peak hours. But drivers generally hate the idea, and efforts to impose it in this country have failed.

Why Congress Must Save the American Community Survey
Streetblog DC – June 12, 2012
No other survey done by the government – or anyone else – provides such a rich source of information about the economy and American society.

Transportation Secretary: ‘America is one big pothole right now’
MSNBC – June 12, 2012
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood appeared on Tuesday’s edition of Hardball to urge Congress to invest in repairing America’s crumbling infrastructure.

Campbell Soup buys building it wants to raze
Businessweek – June 11, 2012
The Campbell Soup Co. on Monday purchased a landmark building in the impoverished city of Camden as part of a plan to redevelop the neighborhood surrounding the corporate headquarters of the Fortune 500 company.

What’s better for old people: city or suburb?
Minnpost (MN) – June 11, 2012
Which environment is friendlier to the elderly: city or suburb? That wasn’t the question directly addressed by “What’s Next? Boomer Generation Housing,” a recent seminar sponsored by the Urban Land Institute Minnesota, a group of public and private movers and shakers who work on community improvement strategies.


Smart growth news- June 12, 2012

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Echo Boomers to Shape Housing Market for Next 2 Decades
US News- June 11, 2012
When it comes to the swooning housing market, sometimes it seems only a knight in shining armor can save it, and according to some experts, that salvation could come in the form of the so-called echo boomer generation.

Rust Belt Reboot Has Downtown Cleveland Rocking
NPR- June 11, 2012
“Downtown has a new energy, a new vitality; things that we really didn’t see a few years ago,” Alexander says. It sure doesn’t sound like the place that was long the butt of jokes by late-night comics, and there are similar stories coming out of Detroit, St. Louis and Buffalo. Blue-collar towns seem to be attracting a new generation of residents looking for an affordable urban lifestyle.

The Future of Detroit
The Atlantic Cities- June 12, 2012
“If you think of a place that was close to death and is now entering into a new life, that’s Detroit. Why does that happen? Well there’s great space available, there’s affordability. But cities attract different people … Detroit is a place where anything goes. It’s a place that’s open to people.”

For TxDOT, a $2 Billion “Perception Problem”
Texas Tribune- June 11, 2012
The Texas Department of Transportation, which often argues that it lacks the money to properly maintain its network of roads, surprised many state leaders in March when it announced it had an extra $2 billion.


Livable MHT interviews Bill Fulton on smart growth and prosperity in Manchester, NH

Crossposted from LivableMHT.

Boasting the Millyard and an accessible downtown, Manchester has a beautiful built environment that most cities would love to have. The city’s challenge now and in coming years, said Smart Growth America Vice President for Policy and Programs William Fulton, is how to best take advantage of our built environment and other assets.

In his keynote talk, “Pursuing Prosperity: Smart Growth in Manchester,” delivered Wednesday, June 6, as part of the 2012 Intown Manchester Annual Luncheon, the former Ventura, Calif., mayor said New Hampshire’s Queen City is positioned better than most cities to capitalize on our assets, but that we must focus on creating a quality of place where people want to live if we want to attract the high end talent and capital necessary to thrive new economy.

“Money and talent can and do go anywhere. The key is to create a desirable quality of place that can’t be moved and can’t be easily replicated,” he said.

Boomers and Millennials — the two groups driving both the housing and the jobs markets — are trending away from suburban living, he said. Cities that want to attract them must create environments in which it is possible to live in close proximity to all aspects of their lives — work, recreation, shopping, etc.


A collaborative blueprint for smart growth in Concord, CA

Photo of the Concord Naval Weapons Station. Photo by the Greenbelt Alliance via Flickr.

Thanks to feedback from community residents, business owners and environmental organizations, eight square miles of land in Concord, CA, which was slated for sprawling development will instead become home to a vibrant, transit-oriented and walkable neighborhood and protected open space.

The land in question was formerly the site of the Concord Naval Weapons Station, which closed in 2005. When the base was shuttered, Concord officials made plans to repurpose the site, which is adjacent to an underused transit station. The area includes several brownfield sites as well as stunning tracts of open space.

The City’s original plan was to develop homes in a manner consistent with the past five decades of exurban sprawl. But when word of the plan began to spread to local newspapers, residents North Contra Costa County spoke up.

“We raised our hands and said ‘We don’t want you to do that,’” says Rosanne Nieto, who lives near the former weapons station.

In turn, these neighborhood activists caught the attention of local groups, including Greenbelt Alliance, a nonprofit organization that brings stakeholders together to find innovative solutions to the Bay Area’s growth challenges.


Smart growth news- June 11, 2012

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What it Means – House Votes on Three Transportation Proposals
Transportation Issues Daily – June 10, 2012
Last week the House had three votes related to transportation funding and policy. Here is a recap of each one.

The week ahead: Highway bill talks enter week five
The Hill’s Transportation blog – June 11, 2012
The talks in Congress about a possible new multiyear transportation are entering their fifth week.

The siren song of downtown as companies seek young tech workers
Crain’s Chicgao Business (IL) – June 11, 2012
Motorola Mobility and Sara Lee Corp. are willing to trade the suburbs for the city because workers like Nina Bieliauskas, a 37-year-old manager in Sears Holdings Corp.’s e-commerce business, live downtown and want to work there, too.

Coalition members in the news

Issaquah receives assistance to plan for long-term growth
Issaquah Press (WA) – June 9, 2012
Issaquah is receiving technical assistance to plan for long-term growth, through to a program at a nonprofit organization and a federal grant. Forterra, the former Cascade Land Conservancy, announced the technical assistance for Issaquah and other Washington communities Wednesday.


Smart growth news- June 8, 2012

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Boehner floats 6-month US transport funding extension
Reuters- June 7, 2012
Signaling that hopes for a deal on a transportation construction bill may be fading, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday floated the idea of a six-month extension of current funding to push the issue past the November elections.

Affordable Housing Back in Play
New York Times- June 7, 2012
After a long recessionary torpor, an incentive program intended to help communities create affordable housing appears to be on the verge of revival.

Welcome to the Sunbust
Next American City- June 2012
In this story, journalist Thomas Wheatley asks what’s next for Atlanta and other Sun Belt cities grappling with similar post-boom fates. Wheatley provides thoughtful analysis of the polices and projects driving recovery in Atlanta and across the region, paying close attention to the smart growth trends reshaping the nation’s sprawl capital.

Report: Transit Fares High and Rising? Blame Bailed-Out Banks
Transportation Nation- June 7, 2012
A transit union says in a report that one cause of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s recent fare hikes and service cuts has been hiding in plain sight: financial arrangements called interest rate swaps. Those are deals the authority made with banks on 10 percent of its $33 billion of debt —deals that have gone against the authority and in favor of the banks.


Senators Warner and Bennet honored for their work promoting walkable communities at LOCUS Leadership Summit

LOCUS, Smart Growth America’s coalition of real estate developers and investors, met in Washington DC this week to push for improvements in the federal transportation bill that will help create more walkable communities across the country.

During the three-day event, LOCUS also recognized two Senators who have championed legislation that would support great neighborhoods and strong local economies across the country.

“It is with great pleasure that we honor Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Mark Warner with the first annual LOCUS Leadership Award,” said LOCUS President Chris Leinberger at a ceremony Wednesday evening. “They have been integral in strengthening our efforts to build transit-oriented and walkable development projects across the country.”