Smart growth news – December 27, 2011

Byram growth plan honored again
New Jersey Herald, December 23, 2011
Spanning from Maine to Washington state, the 15 chosen communities represent major cities, suburban communities, and rural towns, said Smart Growth America Vice President Roger Millar. The 15 selected communities exhibited the strongest interest in and need for smart growth tools, and demonstrated a commitment from local business, community and political leaders to implement local smart growth solutions, according to Millar.

Tacoma Chosen to Receive Smart Growth Assistance
Exit 133 (Wash.), December 23, 2011
Tacoma has been awarded a grant for free assistance from Smart Growth America. Tacoma is one of 15 communities selected out of a pool of close to 90 applications for the free assistance in implementing the principles of smart growth.

PlanMaryland: A Model for State-Level Smart Growth Planning
Streetsblog DC, December 22, 2011
Parris Glendening, former Maryland governor and smart growth leader explained his support for the plan in blog post for Smart Growth America: “I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty of Patapsco Valley State Park and the bustling downtown of historic Annapolis. I want them to be able to eat food grown in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and to find a job here. I want Maryland to be a place they will love.”

Top 10 Daily Digits from 2011
Governing, December 23, 2011
69,000: The number of bridges that need major repairs or complete replacement in the United States, according to a Transportation for America report. Reuters reported in March that the American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that the nation needs to invest $17 billion yearly to improve current bridge conditions.

Housing the Echo Boomers – Next Big Real Estate Opportunity?
Forbes, December 21, 2011
[W]hether Echo Boomers rent or buy, they will need housing, and there are 80 million of them. In other words, recognizing their demographics and preferences will separate the winners from the losers and that has huge financial implications in a generation as large as the Echo Boomers.

Tax revenue: Housing bust hits home for cities
Washington Post via Seattle Times, December 25, 2011
The nation’s housing crisis is 5 years old, but the worst of the reckoning for local governments might only now be at hand.

US cities struggle to control sewer overflows
Associated Press, December 26, 2011
Thousands of overflows from sewage systems that collect storm water and wastewater are believed to occur each year…But the price of progress is becoming too high for local governments, with the bad economy cutting into tax revenues and residents rebelling against higher water and sewer rates. Responding to pleas for leniency, the Obama administration is promising more flexibility as hard-pressed cities look for less conventional and cheaper ways to reduce overflows.

Neb. state pop. data show modest growth in cities
Associated Press via BusinessWeek, December 23, 2011
The numbers also shape how a city is classified under state law, which in turn can influence the structure of city government. “They’re extremely important,” Rex said. “When cities are close to those thresholds, they watch them very carefully.”

Future of NJ cities: Blank slates allow for redefinition of downtowns
Asbury Park Press (N.J.), December 26, 2011
“If you look at cities challenged by urban problems, most of them have some of the best medical schools,” Katz said. “It does not preclude you from being successful. The impact the medical school will have in the city and in the region is that both will grow over time.”

Coalition News

Smart Coast restructuring to increase focus on Mobile, Baldwin projects
Mobile Press-Register (Ala.), December 20, 2011
Smart Coast, a Fairhope-based nonprofit dedicated to green growth and business sustainability in Mobile and Baldwin counties, has undergone restructuring to bring new efficiency and a new burst of energy to its work, according to a news release by its board of directors.

Local news

Apartment construction takes off across Tulsa
Tulsa World (Okla.), December 25, 2011
While the home market is struggling, apartment companies have been bullish on new construction. As of August, six more complexes or additions were planned, under way or just finished and will add 1,779 units – breaking a drought of new apartment building.

2 studies will consider new transit stations
Stamford Advocate (Conn.), December 24, 2011
Two federally funded studies considering new Stamford and Bridgeport train stations and likely potential to spur transit-friendly housing and commercial space in lower Fairfield County cities are on target to start early next year, officials said.

Activists Launch Yorktown Smart Growth to Monitor Development Projects
Yorktown Patch (N.Y.), December 23, 2011
A group of Yorktown residents, who are concerned about development in town and want to give residents a voice in deciding what gets built, have launched a new organization, Yorktown Smart Growth.

Old North honored for smart growth
St. Louis Beacon, December 26, 2011
Old North St. Louis Restoration Group continues to make strides toward turning a once-declining neighborhood into a sustainable community. That effort won Old North recognition this month from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA honored the north side community as one of five nationwide for using “smart growth to become dynamic places to live, work, and play.”

ESCONDIDO: City merges panels to spur development
North County Times (Calif.), December 26, 2011
Aiming to boost Escondido’s economy by accelerating the approval of commercial and housing developments, the City Council voted Dec. 14 to merge the city’s Design Review Board and Planning Commission.

Deltona looks for theater to spur new development
Daytona Beach News-Journal (Fla.), December 26, 2011
Commissioner Michael Carmolingo said he’s operated with a mantra in recent years he thinks is important for commissioners to consider going forward. “We need them more than they need us,” he said. So city officials have begun studying a variety of mechanisms — including community redevelopment agencies, tax-increment financing and public-infrastructure taxes — that might be applied in different scenarios.

Issaquah poised for another transformation
Seattle Times, December 26, 2011
Issaquah, a suburban city that has sprawled from its old downtown through strip malls to bedroom communities creeping up the surrounding hillsides, has plans for something very different.

Opinion and editorial

Carbondale needs smarter plan for growth
Aspen Times (Colo.), December 27, 2011
When Carbondale voters mail in their ballots next month, they won’t be choosing between growth or no growth — they’ll be choosing between smart growth and not-so-smart growth. The Village at Crystal River project could be a good thing for the town, especially if its construction results in the job creation and increased revenue that the “say yes” group is touting. Unfortunately, their projections are based on flawed assumptions and dependent on favorable variances.

Technical assistance