Smart growth news – December 6

The future of cities? An unusual way of untangling gridlock
MSNBC, December 2, 2011
Janette Sadik-Khan is on a mission to tame New York’s mean streets. As transportation commissioner for New York City, she’s closed off half of Times Square to traffic and converted 260 miles of city streets into bike lanes. Her goal is to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and manage New York’s notorious traffic, while possibly creating a blueprint for other cities around the world.

Mayor’s goal: Bring 10,000 new families to city in a decade
Baltimore Sun, December 5, 2011
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake hopes to attract 10,000 families to Baltimore in the next decade — which would reverse more than a half-century of population decline — and would like to serve at least one more term beyond the one she begins Tuesday…”If Baltimore is to have a future, the leadership in the city has to focus on making the city a vibrant, growing city,” Rawlings-Blake said in an interview Monday. “If you’re not focused on growing it, you’re resigned to a slow death.”

Riverfront trail is a window to KC’s past
Kansas City Star, December 5, 2011
Kansas City’s Riverfront Heritage Trail has given residents their best chance to practically touch the Missouri River’s edge, at Berkley Park and other downtown destinations. Now, in its latest phases in the West Bottoms, the trail is providing residents with other powerful connections to the city’s history and heritage.

Northside neighborhood doesn’t think gas station is a good fit
Indianapolis Star, December 6, 2011
For nearly 100 years, a gas station has occupied the northwest corner of 16th Street and Central Avenue. Developers want to tear down the old gas station and build a new one. But neighbors say the property, which has been vacant since 2004, might hinder the area’s revitalization if it’s not turned into something better.

LaHood to testify before House panel on rail
The Hill, December 5, 2011
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will defend President Obama’s high-speed rail proposals during a hearing this week in the Republican-controlled House.

Local stories

Availability of small-town loft apartments is on the rise
Democrat and Chronicle (N.Y.), December 1, 2011
In years past, zoning regulations discouraged residential units above storefronts in some towns. In many cases, the cost of creating upper-floor apartments had been prohibitive because of building codes that call for fire escapes, multiple exits and fire suppression systems. As a result, many landlords simply left upper floors vacant, or used them for storage. But tax incentives and government grants in place for about two years — already being used frequently by developers in larger urban centers — are making the renovation of loft apartments on a smaller scale more financially viable in suburban and rural communities.

Clarkstown Presented With Award For Land Use Planning
New City Patch (N.Y.), December 5, 2011
Tiffany Zezula, managing director of the Land Use Law Center of Pace University presented the Town of Clarkstown with its Founders Award on Friday.  The presentation in White Plains was in recognition of the comprehensive plan which was started in 2007 and completed in 2009 as a guide to development and land use in Clarkstown.

Opinion

Land conservation, smart growth and the environment
NRDC Switchboard, December 6, 2011
At its best, smart growth addresses the issue via a tradeoff:  the more development we encourage within our existing communities, the less goes across the countryside.  Both sides are important:  those who want to preserve the landscape must accept development in cities and towns; and those who want to strengthen cities will serve their cause by endorsing conservation outside them.

The 52-Cent Case for ‘Sustainability’
Citiwire, 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 now on raw economics. Check the 52 cent figure, they say. Research shows that for every dollar the average American family has to spend, 52 cents is taken up right away for housing and transportation. That means everything else gets squeezed, sometimes dangerously. And not the least, such essentials as food and clothing.

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