Smart growth news – February 6, 2012

National News:

Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot
New York Times – February 3, 2012

Ilana Preuss, vice president of Smart Growth America, a national coalition of nonprofits that supports economic development while conserving open spaces and farmland, said, “The real danger is not that they will get rid of some piece of software from Iclei” but that “people will be too scared to have a conversation about local development. And that is an important conversation to be having.”

House GOP Takes Aim At Safe Routes To School, Mass Transit
Huffington Post – February 3, 2012

“The leadership of the House is looking to support highways. It seems that they’re not wanting to support bicycle, pedestrian or transit use,” said Deb Hubsmith, director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The decision was particularly disappointing, she said, because “one of the biggest problems facing America right now is childhood obesity.”

U.S. overbuilt in big houses, planners find
San Diego Union Tribune – February 2, 2012

America has too many big houses — 40 million, to be exact — because consumers are shifting preferences to condos, apartments and small homes, experts told the New Partners for Smart Growth Thursday, holding its 11th annual conference in San Diego through Sunday.

“Smart Growth” Experts Tout San Diego
NBC News – February 2, 2012

“San Diego is investing in the right things,” said Ilana Preuss, vice president of Washington D.C.-based Smart Growth America. “Looking at how you create whole neighborhoods where people can live near where they work, have jobs near shops and schools. We’ve found that that’s really a key to the economic development of the 21st century.”

Road, rail bill hailed, scorned
Washington Times – February 5, 2012

Mr. Mica’s bill did generate support from some conservative allies and transportation industry groups, including the American Trucking Associations and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Infrastructure Problems In U.S. Go Far Beyond Dollars
Huffington Post – February 2, 2012

When travelers from abroad come to this city, the financial and cultural capital of the world’s richest nation, two dilapidated and depressing airports greet them. The clogged runways, the leaking roofs, the maddening taxi lines, the lost travelers bumping into each other — all these depredations are just part of flying the friendly skies to JFK or LaGuardia.

Foreclosure Deal Gets Closer
Wall Street Journal – February 6, 2012

They’ve been here before, but this time, they say it is for real. After a yearlong haul that has featured numerous false starts, federal and state officials aim to wrap up this week a multibillion-dollar agreement with five major banks to settle probes of alleged foreclosure abuses.

Federal transit funding is threatened
Better Cities and Towns – February 4, 2012

That move came under attack Thursday from the advocacy group Smart Growth America, which said “public transportation would lose the guaranteed funding it has had since the Reagan Administration.”

Now We’re Getting Political
National Journal – February 6, 2012

Is it worth it? Does the forthcoming political brawl offer enough attention to a long-neglected infrastructure bill to make up for the twists of logic that surely will accompany the fight? When the finger-pointing dies down, will the surface transportation measure have made any progress?

Local News:

The Greening of Houston
The Atlantic Cities – February 3, 2012

The 10-square-mile Brownfields restoration in the front yard of downtown Houston is a collection of parks, walkways, a performance center, botanical gardens, boat landings, and residential development, all along the waterway that winds in from the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the kind of neighborhood revitalization project, complete with retooling freeway corridors and re-using vacant and industrial land, that one might see in Portland, Oregon.

Tony Hsieh of Zappos bets big on Las Vegas
San Francisco Chronicle – February 5, 2012

It’s one of the most unconventional redevelopment efforts in any American city, ever. Instead of soliciting public funds, Hsieh is spending $350 million of his own money to buy empty lots, seed new businesses and subsidize schools. Next year he’ll move his company’s 1,400 local employees from suburban offices into the 11-story former City Hall (complete with jail cells on the second floor that may become meeting rooms).

Governor Quinn Announces Plan to Revitalize Vacant, Foreclosed Homes in Six Communities
Press Release – February 3, 2012

An initiative laid out in the Governor’s State of the State address earlier this week, the Illinois Building Blocks Pilot Program will rehabilitate vacant properties and increase affordable housing in the communities of Berwyn, Chicago Heights, Maywood, Park Forest, Riverdale and South Holland.

Opinion and Editorial:

Fulton: Tools can help cities cope after redevelopment
Sacramento Bee – February 4, 2012

So the question is not whether redevelopment will come back, but how and in what form. And the fact is that both the state government and California’s cities can take steps right now to encourage infill development and urban revitalization without going back to redevelopment.