Smart growth news – January 19, 2012

National News

U.S. mayors call for infrastructure spending and protection of grant programs
Orlando Sentinel – January 18, 2012

“The economic recovery is too slow, and it is a direct result of the inaction of this Congress in 2011,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “If we gave the 112th Congress a mid-term report card, the grade would be clear. Congress would get an ‘F.’”

Federal-State Meeting Planned to Rally for Foreclosure Accord
Bloomberg Business Week – January 19, 2012

State attorneys general are being invited to meet with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and a Justice Department official to rally support for a proposed settlement with banks over foreclosure practices, said the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

Local News

Planning workshop brings circus atmosphere to Marin
Marin Independent Journal – January 19, 2012

The video’s narrator concluded with a call to action: “Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and work together to plan how the Bay Area might grow over the next 25 years?” “No,” a chorus of audience members shouted as private security guards and sheriff’s deputies stood by.

Booz Allen: America Needs to Reimagine Transportation Infrastructure
Heavy Trucking Magazine – January 19, 2012

“There is consensus across the political spectrum that infrastructure is critical to economic development, job creation, national security and competitiveness,” says Mark Gerencser, Booz Allen’s executive vice president. “But a lack of harmony in the political process is limiting our ability to accomplish the big things that are required to re-build America’s infrastructure.”

Smart growth conference to showcase San Diego
UT San Diego – January 18, 2012

If your beat is transportation — as mine happens to be — the conference is a mother lode, starting with a Thursday, Feb 2, update on the start-sputter-stall-start mess known as the federal transportation bill. Speakers will be Laura Cohen, Western Region director, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; James Corless, director, Transportation for America; Greg Cox, supervisor, San Diego County; and Shireen Malekafzali, senior associate at Policylink.

How to Entice Car Owners to Switch to Public Transit
The Atlantic Cities – January 18, 2012

The mindset is changing in some cities — in one recent example, reported by our Emily Badger a few months back, Tallahassee decentralized its entire bus system. And generally speaking, these multi-destination transit systems have been much more effective than the downtown-only systems they replaced. They’re generally more productive than their counterparts, according to recent research, carrying more passengers at lower cost.

Maryland Smart Growth Weakness Frustrates Stakeholders: UMD Study
Press Release – January 18, 2012

Maryland planners, developers and land-use advocates consider the state’s smart growth tools too weak, frustrating their desire for development within existing urban areas, finds a new University of Maryland study based on interviews with a representative group of stakeholders.

Tea Party Mayor Loses Battle to Block Troy Transit Center
The Atlantic Cities – January 18, 2012

The measure passed 4 to 3 on Tuesday evening after Troy councilmember and glowing-orange man Wade Fleming cast the crucial vote in support of the oddly controversial multimodal transit facility. Fleming had voted against the project in December, but backed a revised proposal that cut the amount of free, no-strings-attached cash from $8.4 to $6.3 million.

Planning debate focuses on what land should be developed, preserved
NJ Biz – January 19, 2012

Scharfenberger emphasized that the criteria are still a rough draft, and that changes will be made to them based on feedback from the public. He also fought off concerns by residents that the draft state strategic plan is related to “Agenda 21,” a United Nations sustainable development initiative that is opposed by some property owners.

How retail incubator MoDiv is drawing start up and established retailers to downtown Grand Rapids
The Grand Rapids Press – January 17, 2012

“We gave up space for location,” Ables said. “There’s more traffic. We are so glad to be down here.”

Whole Foods plans major downtown expansion
The Austin Statesman – January 18, 2012

It would be the first new downtown office high-rise since the Frost Bank Tower opened in 2004. Planning for the expanded corporate headquarters is still in the early stages: officials don’t yet have a projected cost for the building and no leases are currently signed.

Retailers are embracing urbanism with zeal
Greater Greater Washington – January 18, 2012

Recent news that Bloomingdale’s in White Flint and Macy’s in Laurel will close has little to do with the sales performance of those stores, and everything to do with their host malls being unable to survive. Both have been visibly declining for years, and will soon be redeveloped into mixed-use walkable urban places.

Opinion and Editorial

No wonder businesses don’t come to Vallejo
Times Herald – January 19, 2012

This special interest group that calls itself “Smart Growth Vallejo” isn’t looking at the whole picture. Otherwise, its members might change their minds and actually become smart.