Smart growth news – December 15

Study: Single-Family Homes May Be History
KPBS (Calif.), December 14, 2011
A new study from the Urban Land Institute suggests single-family homes, the largest contributor to urban sprawl, may be a thing of the past. The study looked at California’s major metropolitan areas — including San Diego — and found that by 2035 the supply of homes in conventional subdivisions will far exceed demand.

How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning
Atlantic Cities, December 14, 2011
Across the country, Tea Party activists have been storming planning meetings of all kinds, opposing various plans by local and regional government having anything to do with density, smart growth, sustainability or urbanism. In California, Tea Party activists gained enough signatures for a ballot measure repealing the state’s baseline environmental regulations, while also targeting the Senate Bill 375, the 2008 law that seeks to combat climate change by promoting density and regional planning.

Beyond Sprawl: Rethinking Development in Tucson
Arizona Public Media, December 15, 2011
Tucson and the city’s outskirts were riding high on growth several years ago, with developments seeming to pop up everywhere there was empty land. But that all changed when the housing bust and recession took hold. The Tucson area continues to suffer from the downturn, but does that mean we did something wrong?

Roosevelt-area height limit lifted by City Council panel
Seattle Times, December 14, 2011
Over the objections of many Roosevelt neighbors, a committee of the Seattle City Council Wednesday voted to allow six-story buildings across from historic Roosevelt High School as part of a larger rezone package that adds density around a future light-rail station.

Park Plan Gives Added Access to East River
Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2011
Design proposals for a new waterfront park on Manhattan’s East Side are beginning to take shape as an urban-planning organization submits its recommendations to the city. The planned park is slated to be built on a pier previously used as a parking lot by Consolidated Edison on the East River between 38th and 41st streets. That would mark the first section for a stretch of park land that will eventually extend from 38th to 60th streets along the East River.

Downtown post office site to be sold; redevelopment options under discussion
Austin American-Statesman (Texas), December 14, 2011
The U.S. Postal Service said Tuesday that it plans to sell its downtown station at West Sixth and Guadalupe streets to Atlanta-based Novare Group and its Austin partner, Andrews Urban, the firms that developed the nearby 44-story condominium high-rise called the 360. The post office would relocate in early 2013 to a yet-to-be-determined site, which “very likely” will be downtown, said Sam Bolen, a Postal Service spokesman.

Downtown Dublin Development Rolls Forward
WMAZ (Ga.), December 14, 2011
The 85-year-old Fred Roberts Hotel in downtown Dublin is new again. It has been transformed into a mixed-use building with restaurant, retail and office spaces on the bottom two floors and condominiums on the two upper floors.

Task Force Recommends $20B for Transportation
Publicola (Wash.), December 13, 2011
The Connecting Washington Task Force, a group appointed by Gov. Chris Gregoire to come up with recommendations for a statewide transportation funding package, formally recommended a $20 billion package yesterday, along with a list of potential local funding options that could be funded either by city councils directly or by city voters. The $20 billion would be focused on maintaining and operating the state and cities’ existing transportation infrastructure, with some new investments in key economic corridors.

Coalition news

Bus Rapid Transit: A real alternative to light rail, or just a lovely parting gift?, December 14, 2011
BRT’s initial cost is significantly less than a light rail system, according to Richard Murphy, transit director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, but he says there are diminishing returns. “As for the capital costs, BRT has an advantage over light rail on a per mile basis,” Murphy said. “There is a point where ridership levels plateau, meaning light rail makes more sense in the long run. Most of the BRT systems in the United States are still fairly young and so we haven’t the chance to see if they have the level of economic development benefit as light rail.”

Fighting Job Sprawl
Atlantic Cities, December 13, 2011
In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are three main downtowns: San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. And while these are still civic and even cultural centers, they’ve been losing jobs for years. The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) is trying to find ways to lure those jobs back. Much of the issue pulling jobs out of the centers of these cities has to do with transportation, and access to public transit.

Opinion and editorial

Detroit is a loser, once again, with end of light rail project
Detroit Free Press, December 15, 2011
The death of the Woodward light rail project is a huge blow to the region’s ego and aspirations, a setback for all the energy and excitement about the burgeoning activity in downtown and Midtown. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess a deep and abiding disappointment that Detroit, which hasn’t had its transit act together in more than 40 years, is a loser again — unable to get a simple train running along the region’s most vital corridor.

We must get serious about pedestrian safety
Reno News & Review (Nev.), December 15, 2011
Washoe County has seen 11 pedestrian deaths this year. In Las Vegas, the number is almost 30. To put these figures in perspective, this means that more than 20 percent of all the traffic deaths in Las Vegas are pedestrian fatalities. That makes it one of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the country and Nevada one of the most dangerous states.