Smart growth news – June 27, 2011

Champion of Cities
Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
Chairing the City Planning Commission since 2002, Burden, age 67, has revolutionized its role in the city, transforming a once-sleepy bureaucratic agency into an activist department championing good design by using zoning as a weapon to enforce her vision. In her second-floor office near New York’s City Hall, she reviews applications for all new buildings that come before the commission, instructing developers and architects on what they can and cannot do—something that comes as a dramatic shift in the order of business to executives accustomed to getting their way.

Committee Poised to Introduce Transportation Bill
Journal of Commerce, June 23, 2011
Leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are ready to introduce a new surface transportation bill, but want a commitment from the Senate Finance Committee to find a way to pay for it, a Capitol Hill source said this morning. The committee will propose a two-year transportation bill that will cost $12 billion more than anticipated revenue from the Highway Trust Fund. Committee leaders believe it has a better chance of passing than the traditional six-year bill.

Group working across state to aid vacancies
The Newark Advocate (Ohio), June 26, 2011
Smart-growth advocate Greater Ohio has been pushing for redevelopment of abandoned properties and keeping vacant properties from blight through policy and code enforcement. They’ve put the housing stock of Akron, Youngstown and other large cities under the microscope, but Lavea Brachman, executive director, said the same basic strategy applies for a mid-sized or small city.

Cleaning the Central Corridor in St. Paul, courtesy of the EPA
Twin Cities Daily Planet, June 24, 2011
The construction-burdened Central Corridor can seem like a messy ordeal to drivers, walkers, bikers, and bus riders, but a cleaner future lies ahead. University Avenue property owners in St. Paul could receive aid to get the ball rolling on future developments due to a $1 million grant awarded through the EPA’s Brownfield Program.

Charlotte and Seattle, tales of two cities
Seattle Times (Wash.), June 24, 2011
Two cities could not be more different. Although Charlotte is more populous (731,524 vs. 608,660), Seattle seems like the bigger city, partly because Seattle is denser and Charlotte is sprawled out and car-dependent. So lessons for Charlotte? Continuous reinvention and economic diversity (don’t be dependent on the banks), stewardship and nonprofit strength, seek global business and love your downtown. The Queen City, as Charlotte styles itself (ironic, given our former monicker), is not going to get Bill Gates or Bill Boeing or world-class software, bio-tech and world health clusters. It won’t get a port. The suburban University of North Carolina at Charlotte is no UW.

Vacant: Number of empty homes on rise in state and locally, according to 2010 Census
The News-Messenger (Ohio), June 25, 2011
Smart-growth advocate Greater Ohio has been pushing for redevelopment of abandoned properties and keeping vacant properties from blight through policy and code enforcement. They’ve put the housing stock of Akron, Youngstown and other large cities under the microscope, but Executive Director Lavea Brachman said the same basic strategy applies for a mid- or small-sized city. Leaders must recognize that resources are limited and that areas with more potential for stability must be given preference, she said.

Bikes, peds & cars: a clash of cultures on Main St.
KVAL (Eugene, Ore.), June 26, 2011
A new study found Eugene-Springfield is Oregon’s most dangerous spots for pedestrians. The advocacy group ‘Transportation for America’ found that 63 pedestrians died over the last decade. According to the data, a total of four cyclists or pedestrians have died after being hit on Main Street, including Sells. Eight others have died since 1997.

NoVa needs mobility most, makes projects difficult
Associated Press via Ventura County Star (Calif.), June 26, 2011
Nowhere in Virginia do drivers forfeit more hours to traffic jams than on the freeways and byways of Washington, D.C.’s teeming suburbs and sprawling exurbs. Commuters stew in gridlocked traffic for hours every day. So why is it tougher in northern Virginia than anyplace in Virginia to get a transportation project off the drawing boards, much less into service?

Smart growth across the country

Colorado: Vision for growth continues
The Daily Sentinel (Colo.), June 24, 2011
The recession led to many changes in various local planning departments, which will ultimately make life easier for builders, developers and residents. “The time to do long-range planning is when you can think about ramifications and make decisions to prepare for the next boom,” said Dave Thornton, senior planner with the City of Grand Junction.

Colorado: Thoughtful folks see smart growth setback
The Coloradoan, June 25, 2011
While Campus Crest takes a premature victory lap, it should be noted that approval of the development plans marks a dramatic retreat from the high standards Fort Collins set for community growth. The amended overall development plan will allow the majority of the buildable CSURF Centre for Advanced Technology employment district to be developed for non-employment uses. Prohibi-tions imposed in 2003 on excessively intense use and building in the floodplain have disappeared.

Oklahoma: Development plans along new roadway stall
The Oklahoman (Okla.), June 25, 2011
When Kirk and Grant Humphreys bought the former downtown airpark along Western Avenue a few years ago, they stood alone in announcing intentions to create a new commercial development along the realigned Interstate 40 Crosstown Expressway. Drawings of “The Waterfront” released in early 2009 showed the development along Western Avenue, the new I-40 and the Oklahoma River would consist of hotels, restaurants, housing and shops…But with the highway set to open in 2012, the father and son are focused on a housing development at Lake Eufaula, and they are taking a wait-and-see approach before proceeding with the airpark.

Massachusetts: Roxbury chosen to participate in Great Neighborhoods program
Boston Globe, June 27, 2011
The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance last week announced Roxbury as one five Massachusetts communities chosen to take part in the innovative Great Neighborhoods program, a comprehensive regional and community planning initiative that will transform the lives of more than 100,000 residents.

Maryland: Montgomery residents worry over new neighborhood zoning
Washington Examiner (DC), June 23, 2011
A proposal intended to soften the development transition between neighborhoods and commercial areas in Montgomery County is turning into the most controversial part of a new mixed-use zoning package…But longtime residents say they’re worried about the range of businesses allowed, even though a lengthier site plan approval process would be installed for certain establishments.


Opinion: Get on board with comments
South Bend Tribune (Ind.), June 26, 2011
In the abstract, having a reliable public transportation system is a very good idea. But in real terms, for those who actually depend upon it for traveling to work, school and other essentials, who plan their day’s agenda with an eye on the bus schedule, the value goes much deeper. For them, public transportation serves as a vital link to the community.

Essay : Where to from here for Martha’s Vineyard Housing Fund
The Martha’s Vineyard Times, June 24, 2011
“The Martha’s Vineyard Housing Fund (MVHF) raises money from individuals, businesses, and foundations to provide grants to organizations working to increase the supply of year-round housing options on Martha’s Vineyard. The MVHF promotes an integrated approach to housing and land conservation. MVHF advocates for smart growth, the use of existing structures as much as possible, economic development and perpetual affordability through the protection of deed restrictions and other tools of land stewardship.”