Smart growth news – February 16, 2012

Trending: Streetcars

Twin Cities chase a desire named streetcar
Minnesota Star Tribune – February 16, 2012

Since 2010, when President Obama changed the evaluation criteria for transit, nine cities have received federal grants of at least $23 million to build — not just study — streetcar systems. The cities are Dallas, New Orleans, Tucson, Ariz., Portland, Ore., Charlotte, N.C., Cincinnati, Fort Worth, Texas, St. Louis and Atlanta.

Where to build streetcar lines
Washington Post – February 14, 2012

Where should the District build its next streetcars after the H Street and Anacostia lines under construction today? That should depend on which neighborhoods want to help make them succeed.

Oakland to Launch Second $300,000 Streetcar Study
East Bay Express – February 15, 2012

For at least a decade Oakland has pined after a modern streetcar system linking Jack London Square with Uptown and North Oakland along the Broadway corridor. It spent $300,000 studying the viability of such a line between 2003 and 2005, and starting in May it will launch an updated eighteen-month study with an equally hefty price tag.

City streetcar plans represent another developer-fueled heist
San Antonio Current – February 15, 2012

The promises sound great. The San Antonio Express-News offered the editorial judgment that the streetcar could be “a game-changer that sparks inner-city growth and slows the culture of sprawl.”

National News:

Reid blocks amendments to Senate version of Transportation Bill
Politico – February 16, 2012

Things aren’t much rosier over in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid filled the amendment tree — a procedural move that blocks any other amendments and sets up a possible cloture vote this Friday (technically a cloture vote on a Reid amendment that combines the Commerce, Finance and Banking titles). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants to offer an amendment to ban U.S. aid to Egypt until the country releases the 19 Americans it has detained for the past few weeks. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who opposes the amendment, is heading to the region this evening but will not press for their release. Environment and Public Works head Barbara Boxer isn’t happy about another delay. “I think it’s typical of what happens when there’s a lot of dancing around on a bill. But I have to say I think the Republicans are taking an enormous gamble because there is huge support for this bill in the country,” she told MT.

John Boehner Struggles to Secure Support for Transportation Bill
Roll Call – February 16, 2012

Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday struggled to salvage his plan to remake the nation’s transportation policies, temporarily pulling the measure from the House Rules Committee as he worked to shore up eroding GOP support.

House Republicans push off transportation, Keystone bill amid bipartisan grumbling
Fox News – February 15, 2012

Some conservatives in the House GOP caucus oppose the levels of highway spending in the bill, despite efforts by Republican leaders to pay for the provisions and strip out earmarks, as well as include sweeteners like the Keystone rider.

MacArthur Foundation awards organizations around globe for pursuing innovative solutions
Washington Post – February 16, 2012

The work of both of the Chicago nonprofits, the Community Investment Corporation and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, includes projects to improve housing in and around the city, hit hard by foreclosures and scarred by thousands of vacant properties. Their awards are in recognition of the importance the MacArthur Foundation places on the issue of housing and its role in strengthening communities and the economy, said foundation President Robert Gallucci.

The American Dream, Revised
The Atlantic Cities – February 15, 2012

Saving the suburbs might mean starting essentially from scratch.

At Charlotte’s New Walmart, a Transit Promise Unfulfilled
The Atlantic Cities – February 15, 2012

Instead of transit-oriented development, East Charlotte residents have a tangle of automobile congestion, according to several local news reports. The new Walmart is situated on Independence Boulevard just east of a cloverleaf interchange and just west of a major intersection with Albemarle Road. Despite its name, Independence is not a cozy boulevard in the pedestrian sense but a roaring six-lane expressway. That means drivers leaving the Walmart parking lot must merge into speeding traffic, and those who want to make the Albemarle exchange have to cross multiple lanes in about the time it takes to say “low prices.”

The Tea Party’s war on mass transit
Salon – February 13, 2012

House Republicans try to gut federal funds for subways as they extend the culture wars to urban policy issues.

Obama to Cities: Drop Dead—the Life and Death of a Great American Urban Policy
New York Observer – February 15, 2012

Yet for all this work, it is hard to recognize a marquee project, a bright shining beacon of the Obama administration on the scale of those that came before.

Local News:

San Marcos general plan update approved
UT San Diego – February 14, 2012

The plan embraces smart-growth strategies in several areas, including the mobility element, which calls for a “complete street network.” That means streets should provide access for pedestrians, bicycles and transit — not just vehicles.