Smart growth news – December 9

As U.S. road deaths drop, more pedestrians getting struck
USA Today, December 8, 2011
The USA is getting riskier for people on foot, and experts aren’t sure why. New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that pedestrian fatalities rose 4.2% in 2010 over the previous year. The number of pedestrians injured in motor vehicle crashes soared 19%, to 70,000.

Smart Growth conference to focus on sustainability
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 9, 2011
Pittsburgh’s rise from the ashes of a decimated steel industry and collapsed job market has caused some planning experts to refer to its story as a road map for post-industrial recovery. But organizers of the upcoming Southwestern Pennsylvania Smart Growth Conference say sustainable business strategies designed to revitalize existing resources are the models that ultimately will determine the future of the region and nation.

Governor Cuomo Announces $785 Million in Economic Development Funding Through Regional Councils
NBC 34 (N.Y.), December 9, 2011
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $785 million has been awarded through the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, continuing the Governor’s efforts to redesign the way state government works in order to drive economic growth and create jobs. … In its plan, “A Strategy for Prosperity in Western New York,” the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council focused on preparing the region’s workforce for employment in key industry sectors, driving innovation and commercialization, investing in smart growth infrastructure, and attracting more visitors.

Vacant properties on the rise
York Daily Record (Pa.), December 7, 2011
Between 2006 and 2010, the estimated number of vacant homes in York County stood at 9,712 properties, according to the 2006 through 2010 American Community Survey released today. Taking into account that section of the survey’s margin of error, which is 750 homes, that four-year period still accounted for more vacant properties than the 8,501 empty homes reported by the 2000 U.S. Census.

Foreclosures increasingly becoming rentals
Chicago Sun-Times, December 8, 2011
With more than one in 10 houses in Chicago vacant, and experts expecting the foreclosure crisis to continue to grow, nonprofits and the city are renting out more of those properties and offering incentives for those willing to buy. Neighborhood Housing Services, a 35-year-old Chicago non-profit, this year will lend $18 million for single-family home purchases and re-financings of one- to four-unit buildings. The non-profit also is expanding its lending focus to help local residents and/or investors buy vacant foreclosed properties and rent them out, said Ed Jacob, executive director of the Neighborhood Housing Services.

Mixed-Use Project To Bring Brownstones, Healthy Living Retail to S. DeKalb
Stone Mountain-Redan Patch (Ga.), December 7, 2011
A new mixed-use development, complete with brownstones, is in the works near unincorporated Stone Mountain — a $5 million project that its visionaries hope will bring “luxability” to families even in trying economic times and more closer-to-home retail options for South DeKalb residents.

Winners and losers in housing money-go-round
Chicago Tribune, December 9, 2011
The 21/2-year-old federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, however, did not fare so well. Its grant funding was eliminated for fiscal 2012, which means a coalition of west suburban communities is the last local entity to receive a portion of the final $96 million in grants recently awarded to promote neighborhoods with greater access to affordable housing and transportation while protecting the environment. The federal program, begun in June 2009, was an interagency effort of HUD, the Transportation Department and the Environmental Protection Agency. The three-year, $2.96 million grant last month is particularly significant for the five communities — Bellwood, Berwyn, Forest Park, Maywood and Oak Park — because they’ve been working cohesively for some time and unsuccessfully applied for funding last year. “We’re just thankful we got in before the funds were eliminated,” said Tammy Grossman, Oak Park’s housing programs manager. “It was very competitive. For everyone who didn’t get funded, they won’t have this to rely on.”

Groups appeal urban growth expansion near Sumner
The News Tribune (Wash.), December 8, 2011
A coalition of farmland protection advocates has appealed Pierce County’s decision to let Sumner expand its growth boundaries into 182 acres of protected soil. “The county’s own studies show that Sumner and Pierce County already have enough land in the urban growth area for all of their needed growth,” said Tim Trohimovich, planning and legal director for land-use group Futurewise. “There is no need to expand onto prime farmland.”


Subway Riders Get the Shaft
New York Times, December 8, 2011
Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature have forged a new tax structure that is being hailed as good for everyone except those making more than $2 million. Not quite. Apparently forgotten are the millions of low-income New Yorkers who, in addition to getting zero in tax cuts, must now rely on a Metropolitan Transit Authority that lost $250 million in tax revenue in exchange for a pledge that the funds will be made up, but for how long and in what form, no one knows.