Smart growth news – July 1, 2011

Mapping Home-Value Drops by Zip Code
Wall Street Journal Developments blog, June 28, 2011
Zillow’s maps show that poorer center-city neighborhoods and far-flung suburbs tended to fare worse even as trendy urban neighborhoods or established suburbs managed to either weather the storm with limited damage or see losses half that of other zip codes with 50% or 60% declines.

Transportation: Collapse of a Big Tent?
Roll Call, June 16, 2011
They could have battled among themselves for slices of the federal transportation budget. Instead, they have always pressed for a bigger pie — and bigger slices for everyone. The big-tent approach has largely worked. The past three highway bills (1991, 1998 and 2005) were enacted with broad support from all corners of the transportation lobby, with overwhelming bipartisan backing and with more money for everyone.

U.S. opens new round of transportation grants
Reuters, June 30, 2011
States, cities and local governments can now compete for $527 million in transportation grants, the federal government said on Thursday. The budget passed in April provided money for another round of the popular TIGER program created in the 2009 economic stimulus plan to grant money for road, bridge, rail and public transportation projects as well as streetcars and bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Residents and officials seek reforms to fund local public transportation
WAMC (N.Y.), June 30, 2011
“These efficiencies will impact existing routes by adjusting their runs to reflect the times of higher utilization by the public. We are looking to minimize impact on individuals by adjusting routes with route deviation where possible. Our goal is to streamline our times or our services, not so much to change service.”

Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert picks up baton for downtown Detroit development
Detroit Free-Press (Mich.), June 30, 2011
Business leaders have always played key roles in rebuilding downtown Detroit. Henry Ford II pushed to build the Renaissance Center, Mike and Marian Ilitch revitalized the theater district, and Max Fisher, Al Taubman and Peter Stroh boosted the riverfront. Now, in a remarkably short span of time, Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert has emerged as their successor.

Complex system leaves thousands of foreclosure properties to become eyesores
Washington Post, June 30, 2011
This slice of central Florida has been battered particularly hard by the fallout of the foreclosure crisis. But thousands of abandoned and vacant properties, many stuck in an ongoing legal limbo, are plaguing neighborhoods across the country. The result has weighed down already falling home values, attracted crime and vagrancy and forced cash-strapped municipalities to tap dwindling budgets to care for decaying houses.

China, U.K. to Shoot Stuff Into Space in Name of Urban Planning
The Atlantic, June 29, 2011
The observation spacecraft will help China’s local governments do better urban planning, and the deal was so important that it was part of the recent $2.25 billion trade deal between the two countries.

One Big Idea: An Airline-Style Loyalty Program for Public Transit
The Atlantic, June 30, 2011
His big idea is to create “frequent commuter programs” in which people who travel on public transit would be rewarded for patronizing the system varying amounts depending on when and how far they travel. Prabhakar thinks the system could help create greater public transit usage and simultaneously decrease congestion. And he’s deploying behavioral economics to transform the small monetary rewards a city could offer into something more.

Smart growth around the country

New York: Several downtown housing developments in the pipeline
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (N.Y.), June 30, 2011
“I can see housing coming everywhere downtown,” said James Philippone, who spoke during a Downtown Rising luncheon on Wednesday about converting the former Central Trust Bank building at 44 Exchange St. into 25 apartments. “Downtown is the place to be.”

Texas: Sun Metro Offers Free Rides All Day
KVIA (El Paso, Texas), June 30, 2011
The complimentary rides come after the American Public Transportation Association named Sun Metro “Outstanding Public Transit System of the Year” for a bus service of its size. The APTA ratings are based on the bus system’s safety record, operating procedures, customer service and financial management over the last three years.

Texas: Missouri City’s mayor details smart growth in “state of the city” address
Fort Bend News (Texas), June 30, 2011
In the past five years, the commercial tax base in Missouri City “has grown from 15 percent to 23 percent.” The growth is promising and complements Council’s vision to ensure strong business gains not only to diversify the tax base but to increase jobs for residents.

Florida: City participates in smart growth seminar
Sun-Sentinel (Fla.), June 30, 2011
Smarter growth could translate to create high-density living, specifically taller residential buildings juxtaposed with commercial and retail development in a single location.

North Carolina: Study: The Raleigh area will be the nation’s fastest growing in next decade
The Examiner (N.C.), June 29, 2011
“That study is a major wake-up call for all of us that we have to pay attention to growth,” said Karen Rindge, executive director of WakeUp Wake County, an organization dedicated to bringing about public policies that effectively deal with growth. “We have to make the decisions to plan for growth in a way that’s sustainable and that maintains our quality of life.”

America’s Interstate Highway System celebrates 55 years
DOT Fastlane blog, June 29, 2011
The Act proposed a length of 41,000 miles of limited-access roads linking 90 percent of all cities with populations of more than 50,000, and directed the federal government to distribute $25 billion among the states over 13 years to meet 90 percent of the cost. In addition to the original 41,000 miles, several complete Interstate Highways have since been added to the original system, which is currently about 47,000 miles long.


How Metro expansion might make sense
Washington Post, June 24, 2011
In fact, under the right financial and operational scenario, Metro’s expansion could make sense and be good for the regional economy. The changes necessary to make these plans reality would be far-reaching, even radical, but they would also re-ground Metro in a way that could make it financially sustainable and a model for managing transit worldwide.