Smart growth news – January 3, 2012

The bold urban future starts now
Salon, December 31, 2011
In cities in every region of the country, pie-in-the-sky ideas are moving from brainstorm to blueprint to groundbreaking — and 2012 will prove it.

Oklahoma City reaps positive effects of economic development
The Oklahoman, January 1, 2012
“Downtown Oklahoma City experienced significant changes this year (2011), but probably the most impactful was the renovation and grand reopening of the Myriad Gardens,” Jenkins said. “Construction of the Level Apartments and Aloft Hotel in Deep Deuce have really given that area a dense, urban feel, and the launch of the ‘Downtown It!’ advertising campaign increase awareness of all that downtown Oklahoma City has to offer.”

Study: Cities subsidize townships
Oxford Press (Ohio), January 2, 2012
There is an inequity in government subsidies for roads, police protection and other services that township residents receive compared with city residents, though both groups pay the same taxes, a University of Toledo study shows.

Cities partner to clean up brownfields
Post-Tribune (Ill.), January 1, 2012
Redeveloping brownfields is the aim of a partnership between the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.

NYC helps upstate towns prepare for future floods
Associated Press via Wall Street Journal, January 1, 2012
The mountain-ringed hamlet of Phoenicia, snuggled at the confluence of two world-renowned trout streams, was about to dig out the delta of silt dumped by two previous floods when Hurricane Irene hit at the end of August.

It’s city vs. ‘burb for new stadium
Minneapolis Star Tribune (Minn.), January 1, 2012
For nearly 20 years, far more NFL stadiums have been built in urban than suburban settings…That grew out of a desire to take advantage of infrastructure already in place, which keeps costs down, and rejuvenation of many urban centers as attractive places to live and visit.

Local News

Bay Area tries to rein in greenhouse gases with growth/transportation plans
Contra Costa Times via San Jose Mercury News (Calif.), December 31, 2011
It’s a daunting task: coming up with a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by 7 million Bay Area residents. Regional planners are taking on the challenge, holding public workshops this month with five alternatives for the plan being called One Bay Area.

Shifting landscape creates new Green Bay vision
Green Bay Press-Gazette (Wisc.), December 31, 2011
Ben Heiman, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, said the progress achieved in 2011 to revitalize the city’s central business district has been breathtaking. “It has been nothing but good,” he said. “It’s just been a real delight to be down here.”

Local officials unsure of future after redevelopment ruling
Ventura County Star, December 29, 2011
City officials across Ventura County lamented the decision, which upheld state lawmakers’ right to abolish redevelopment agencies but also in effect killed a compromise that would have allowed the entities to keep operating.

The Grid at 200: Lines That Shaped Manhattan
New York Times, January 2, 2012
The show celebrates the anniversary of what remains not just a landmark in urban history but in many ways the defining feature of the city.

City of Sheboygan wants to track vacant buildings
Sheboygan Press (Wisc.), January 1, 2012
Under a new city ordinance, owners of vacant buildings in Sheboygan must register those buildings with the city by Jan. 15 or face being fined.

Morris County towns join push toward sustainable Jersey
Daily Record (N.J.), December 29, 2011
In Somerset County, stakeholders are discussing “Sustainable Somerset: The Strategic Plan for Somerset County,” a framework to foster the interrelated goals of regional economic growth and infrastructure, sustainable communities and environmental protection.

Central Point starts push for urban renewal
Mail Tribune (Ore.), January 2, 2012
With property values stagnant or dropping in the downtown area, city officials hope a new urban-renewal effort will fund badly needed improvements, attract new businesses and improve aesthetics for the city core.

Mayor predicting progress on downtown
The Sun Chronicle (Mass.), January 1, 2012
By this time next year, streetscape – the city’s downtown beautification project – should have unfolded down Railroad Avenue and a few other streets.

New Ogden mayor plans for focus on economic development
Standard-Examiner (Utah), January 1, 2012
When Mike Caldwell is sworn in Tuesday as Ogden’s new mayor, he will finally get the chance to launch an ambitious plan for his first term: to attract 3,000 jobs to downtown and increase tourism revenue by 25 percent.

Editorial and opinion

Federal Government Needs to Send a Clearer Message — and a Strong One
Huffington Post, January 2, 2012
While forging their own solutions, neighborhoods, towns, cities and states alike are looking to the Federal Government for support in fighting the scourge of abandoned and foreclosed properties that are undermining blocks, neighborhoods and government coffers. Yet in the past month, rather than shed light, messages from Washington have been mixed, at best.

The new economy: work closer, live smaller, connect better
NRDC’s Switchboard blog, December 30, 2011
The Urban Land Institute’s latest forward-looking report for the real estate industry has lots of hopeful news for the environment, if perhaps also some sobering news for the economy.