Smart growth news – December 5

Ventura mayor plans to move to D.C. after leaving office
Ventura County Star (Calif.), December 2, 2011
Bill Fulton, whose term as mayor of Ventura ends Monday, will leave town in the spring for a job with an urban planning think tank in Washington, D.C.

A new challenge for this politician
Los Angeles Times, December 5, 2011
Fulton announced in July he wouldn’t seek reelection when his term was up this year. In a few months he will move to Washington, D.C., where he’ll work for Smart Growth America, a think tank that advises cities and counties on development issues.

‘Smart growth’ advocates study Williamson’s efforts
The Tennessean, November 30, 2011
Quality-growth experts from throughout the country visited Williamson County as part of a three-day visit to Nashville to learn about successful quality-growth models and best practices in Middle Tennessee…A model region is selected every year by the Smart Growth America network as part of its convention. Smart Growth America is a national organization that works with communities to implement smart growth planning and development.

GrowSmart Maine Announces Smart Growth Technical Assistance Award Winners
The Valley Voice (Maine), December 2, 2011
GrowSmart Maine, in partnership with Smart Growth America, is pleased to announce two out of the 15 communities that have been selected to receive this year’s free smart growth technical assistance are from Maine – the City of Eastport and the Northern Maine Development Commission.

Treasuring Urban Oases
New York Times, December 2, 2011
Writing in The New York Times last week, Christopher B. Leinberger, a professor of urban planning, took note of “a profound structural shift” in America during the last decade or so, “a reversal of what took place in the 1950s.” Back then drivable suburbs boomed while center cities decayed. Now more and more people want to settle in “a walkable urban downtown.” The most expensive housing in the country, and not just New York City, is in “high-density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods,” he said. But what makes high-density neighborhoods pedestrian friendly? Good public space, for starters.

After Tolls Rise, Less Traffic and More Train Riders Into Manhattan
New York Times, December 2, 2011
The rise in tolls on Port Authority of New York and New Jersey bridges and tunnels in September may have caused many commuters to leave their cars at home and switch to public transportation, early reports from the agency show.

Comprehensive plans seek to address area housing goals
Charlottesville Tomorrow (Va.), December 4, 2011
As Charlottesville and Albemarle County prepare to update their comprehensive plans, the conversation turned last week to how both communities will meet future housing demands. “There’s really a need for a diverse mix of housing types in the city and the county,” said Charlie Armstrong, a vice president at Southern Development.

Walk, Bike to Work in Salt Lake City’s Leap Away From Suburban Nightmares
Bloomberg, December 5, 2011
The Salt Lake City area is piloting a federal program called Sustainable Communities that could help cities uncover underserved markets and devise developments that serve them. Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, worked on the program with Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Ray LaHood, who heads the Department of Transportation.

Despite progress, vacant buildings dot downtown
The Detroit News, December 5, 2011
Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert’s accumulation of downtown properties might soon restore life in several big, empty buildings in Detroit. But vacant, blighted structures will dot the central business district for years to come, real estate analysts say. The number of empty buildings with at least five floors or 10,000 square feet in the city’s core stands at 49, one more than The Detroit News found in an August 2009 survey.

Are urban bicyclists just elite snobs?
Salon, December 4, 2011
Welcome to the new urban order: the Jag-driving New Yorker columnist is a philistine better suited to the suburbs of Wichita. Meanwhile, the city’s bicyclists are an entitled, imperial cabal cruising around on Trek Bellville three-speeds, an insidious locus of unchecked power and influence. How is this possible? As the blog Bike Snob NYC put it, someday in the future, “humanity will marvel that there was once an age in which a mode of transportation as inexpensive and accessible as the bicycle was considered ‘elitist.’”

Opinion and Editorial

Iowa cities need lawmakers’ help in 2012
Des Moines Register (Iowa), Decemeber 2, 2011
Most of the post-recession economic growth in Iowa will occur in the state’s urban centers. Therefore, the state needs to know what will help those communities grow. One place to look is the legislative wish list of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, a consortium of business and economic development groups in Iowa’s 16 largest cities.

Planning a new role for Tampa’s urban core
St. Petersburg Times (Fla.), December 4, 2011
For years, area residents and urban planners have complained that downtown Tampa is isolated from the neighborhoods around it. But a new effort under way could change all that. Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced last week that the city would hire a Los Angeles firm to develop a master plan for the urban core. The move could bring new vibrancy to the city center for generations.

Planning a bright future for Austin
The Austin American-Statesman, December 3, 2011
To address this growth, Imagine Austin advocates that new development be focused in centers — places to concentrate new residents and for economic growth. This concept has evolved from the efforts of Envision Central Texas (a nonprofit organization organized in 2001 to develop a common vision for future growth in the Central Texas region), which first proposed the “centers” concept in its 2004 regional vision.

Pivot away from yesterday’s sprawl patterns
Richmond Times-Dispatch (Va.), December 4, 2011
For clarity and to stress the timeliness of their work, the managers of the Obama administration’s Sustainable Communities program are switching strategies. Competitive planning grants for cities and regions are still the top goals. But instead of talking first about more efficient land-use, transit or town planning, the new focus is on raw economics.

Our view: City planning classes help Erie neighborhoods
Erie Times-News (Ohio), December 5, 2011
To make sure our neighborhoods stay safe and remain vibrant, we need dedicated citizens like those who participate in Neighborhood Watch. But Tom Maggio says that Neighborhood Watch volunteers also need something else: lessons on policies and plans to keep neighborhoods intact and to rebuild those in decline.