Smart growth news – December 22

What the End of the Sustainable Communities Grants Means For Planning
Governing Magazine, December 21, 2011
One reason the program may have suffered is a general lack of appreciation for planning. “It’s a hard thing to defend in the sense that it’s not putting a piece of infrastructure in the ground,” said Geoffrey Anderson, head of Smart Growth America. “But then you think about building a building without planning. The idea is absurd.” Indeed, a different Sustainable Communities initiative, the Transportation Department’s TIGER grants, survived. It provides over $500 million to highways, transit, bridges and ports.

Cities Face Tough Choices as U.S. Slashes Block Grants Program
New York Times, December 21, 2011
The shrinking federal program, called Community Development Block Grants, was devised by the Nixon administration to bypass state governments and send money directly to big cities, which were given broad leeway to decide how to spend it. This year the federal government is giving out just $2.9 billion — a billion dollars less than it gave two years ago, and even less than it gave during the Carter administration, when the money went much further.

Transit as a Stepping Stone to Prosperity
Regional Plan Association Blog, December 21, 2011
Christmas came early to the tri-state region this year. In the span of a week, two high-profile, competitive awards landed on Long Island and in Stamford, Conn. While they have different objectives and scopes, both should help further the twin goals of revitalizing the metropolitan economy and supporting more sustainable, transit-oriented development.

Local News

Deal to bring Zappos to downtown Las Vegas is complete
Las Vegas Sun, December 20, 2011
Las Vegas Councilman Bob Coffin, who represents part of downtown, said “it’s a big deal that guarantees now that something will be developed downtown.” That’s important, in part, Coffin said, because he was never convinced of the city’s plan to build a new city hall in the first place.

Mixed-Use Development Pushed for Route 1
Fort Hunt Patch (Va.), December 21, 2011
The plan characterizes the corridor as disjointed, with viable retail space mingling with obsolete or blighted commercial properties resulting from decades of unplanned development. It discourages small commercial and isolated parcels, as well as car washes, pawn shops and drive-throughs. It promotes improving the corridor’s image through streetscaping, tree cover, modern urban design principles, and the consolidation of existing commercial properties into larger, mixed-use developments.

Kochville Township approves ordinance aimed at making businesses more pedestrian friendly
The Saginaw News (Mich.), December 21, 2011
“There’s a desire to have a more walkable community,” Treasurer Steve Yanca said. The new ordinance requires new developments to provide parking in the back instead of the front of their buildings, or to conceal some parking with walls or berms or landscaping.

Opinion and Editorial

Guest commentary: Region needs rapid bus lines AND light rail
Detroit Free Press, December 22, 2011
Greater Detroit must have a successful Woodward Light Rail Project to provide high quality transit, attract new development and catalyze Detroit’s revitalization. Our region also must have an effective regional bus system that quickly and affordably takes people to work, school and other daily needs throughout the region. We can and must have both.

Applying Intermodal Strategies to Urban Planning
D Magazine (Texas), December 21, 2011
Like many others, I understand DFW’s appeal to companies seeking an ideal location for new manufacturing and distribution centers, and I am rooting for the region to attract new investments. The success of our ability to utilize various methods of transportation as the foundation of commerce will substantiate our regional growth and establishment of the metroplex as a key southwestern transportation hub.

Get behind Busway project
West Hartford News (Conn.), December 22, 2011
It’s time to get behind it and make it work, not just because of the $500 million price tag, but because public transportation has the power to change the capital region and West Hartford with it, for the better, for years to come.