Smart growth news – July 26

The country’s most ambitious smart growth project shows some progress, much remaining potential
NRDC, July 26, 2011
I once called the Atlanta BeltLine “the country’s best smart growth project.” I still haven’t seen one that is better in concept. But now, with a few years of history, how is the implementation coming along? Is the reality matching the vision?

Pittsburgh: a sweet spot for post-young’uns
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 25, 2011
“Pittsburgh’s always behind the national trends.” With a shrug or an eye-roll, that’s our explanation for anything from the lack of gourmet food trucks on city streets to the persistence of mullets on local heads. But every once in a while, lagging behind can mean getting ahead. You examine the trendsetters’ mistakes and correct your own course while there’s still time. What if this were the case with Pittsburgh’s decades-long population loss?

Passing of transportation bill will help economy
The Birmingham News, July 25, 2011
Commerce is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy, and transportation infrastructure is its circulatory system. Without passage of a multiyear surface transportation bill before the current extension expires Sept. 30, American business will suffer as roads become more congested and their conditions continue to deteriorate. All levels of government must make long-term investment in transportation a national priority.

America’s Coming Infrastructure Crash
The Atlantic, July 25, 2011
When President Obama took office in January 2009, he promised that ” to lay a new foundation for growth….we will build the roads and bridges.” And in his 2011 State of the Union address, he promised to “put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.” But as all attention is focused on the debt ceiling battle, here’s what’s happening on the infrastructure front. Highway, street, and bridge construction jobs through the first five months of 2011 are running 18% below 2007 levels, and the stimulus money is fading.

Census: More renters in Ky., more empty homes
Forbes, July 25, 2011
In a spin-off from the sour economy, Kentuckians are increasingly opting to rent and more housing units are empty than a decade ago, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Agency rejects effort to keep EPA in downtown KCK
The Kansas City Star, July 25, 2011
A federal agency has upheld the decision to relocate the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency from downtown Kansas City, Kan. to Lenexa. The Government Accountability Office denied an appeal by UrbanAmerica, the landlord of the office building the EPA and its 600 employees currently occupy at 901 N. Fifth St. The GAO ruling however, is not the final word.

Study: Three More Years Until Home Building Returns to Trend
The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2011
The beleaguered housing construction sector won’t get its groove back until 2014, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco say.


White flight — to the city
Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2011
For nearly half a century, the term “inner city” has been code for poor and minority. But now white flight — the decades-long trend of affluent Anglos leaving the urban core for leafier suburban cul-de-sacs — has run its course. And “inner city” is about to take on a whole new meaning.

Assuring sustainable third places in the city
Myurbanist, July 23, 2011
Last week, while the Seattle City Council gave final approval to more street food vendors in public places, Borders Group Inc. began its liquidation of most remaining Borders bookstores, including locations in destination American downtowns. This is related news, because both items are about how public and private uses and spaces mix in urbanized areas. Both raise questions of “no net loss” of urban, and downtown “third places” and how to make a more livable city.