Smart growth news- June 5, 2012

Top Stories

Give the people what they want: A walkable city
WBEZ (IL) – June 4, 2012
Christopher Leinberger, author of the new report, is a firm believer that the field of urbanism lacks the quantifiable, underlying principles that other sciences have. With his study of metropolitan Washington, DC, he hoped to find a way to prove that an important change was taking place in neighborhoods that city dwellers “basically threw away” twenty years ago. When they abandoned those neighborhoods, Leinberger said, boomers move to the outer suburbs, but now they want that walkable lifestyle back, and what’s important is that they’re willing to pay for it.

Transit Ridership Surges, Despite Fare Increases and Service Cuts
Governing – June 4, 2012
“Buses typically cover a larger space than trains, geographically,” said David Goldberg, a spokesman for advoacy group Transportation for America. “They do the heavy lifting. That’s why buses are getting a larger share of this increased ridership.”

FRA Chief: America Is Driving Less and Congress Needs to Catch Up
Streetsblog DC – June 4, 2012
Speaking to reporters earlier today, Federal Railroad Administration chief Joe Szabo said that people are driving less and using transit more — and that those changes are permanent. “America’s travel habits are undergoing rapid change,” he said. It’s a fact, he said (“not opinion — statistically proven”), calling on Congress to show that it understands these changes by moving in a new direction.

DOT official: Obama support of high-speed rail ‘remains as strong as ever’
The Hill – June 4, 2012
Federal Railroad Administration chief Joseph Szabo said Monday that President Obama is unwavering in his support for high-speed rail projects.

City Tax Flexibility Backed by U.S. Supreme Court in Ruling
Businessweek – June 4, 2012
The U.S. Supreme Court buttressed the flexibility cities and states have to make changes in their financing systems, ruling in favor of Indianapolis in a tax fight with a group of homeowners.

US officials seek answers on Detroit rail project
Associated Press via Businessweek – June 4, 2012
Many leaders say that for Detroit to grow, public transportation has to improve. A light rail along Woodward, the city’s primary business and commercial corridor, has been discussed for years, but some say it has become a necessity with recent moves of thousands of jobs downtown by Quicken Loans and other employers…”If you go to Denver. If you go to San Diego, to Minneapolis, this is a proven formula,” Gilbert told The Associated Press in recent interview at his office downtown. “If you put this light rail in, it is an economic boom … almost automatically.”

3 Burning Questions about House’s Soon-To-Come 2013 Spending Bill
Transportation Issues Daily – June 4, 2012
The House Subcommittee on Transportation-Housing Appropriations has scheduled a meeting for Thursday (10am ET) to consider its draft transportation spending bill for fiscal year 2013 (October 2012 > September 2013).

States explore new ways to tax motorists for road repair
USA Today – June 3, 2012
States are looking for new ways of taxing motorists as they seek to pay for highway and bridge repair and improvements without relying on the per-gallon gasoline tax widely viewed as all but obsolete.

Housing Mismatch: Boomers Sell, Millennials Rent
The Fiscal Times- June 4, 2012
Christopher Habig, 25, and Anne Weingarten, 58, don’t know each other, but they represent two sides of a perplexing new problem that could roil the housing market in years to come. Back in the fall of 2009, Habig, a marketing consultant in Indianapolis, was on the verge of buying a home with savings and mortgage financing after graduating from Butler University.

Coalition members in the news

Empire State Future releases “Smarter Growth: The Implementation of the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Act”
Empire State Future blog (NY) – June 4, 2012
Today Empire State Future, released a report on the implementation of the New York State Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Priority Act (PIPA).

Local News

Public land deals give hot neighborhoods affordable housing
Greater Greater Washington- June 4, 2012
Someone sitting in the lively plaza in the heart of Columbia Heights or enjoying a bite to eat at 5th & K’s Busboys and Poets might not know that the shiny new apartment buildings nearby house both well-off residents and and those earning modest to very low incomes. The new mixed-income buildings, built on formerly city-owned land, contain 20-35% affordable housing that reaches down to deeply affordable levels.

Fort Lee development will help improve “tired” downtown, mayor says
The Record (NJ)- June 4, 2012
FORT LEE — Hudson Lights, the western half of a $1 billion mixed-use development, will raise the aesthetic standard for the borough’s downtown streetscape, Mayor Mark Sokolich said at a public hearing on Monday night.

Stalled Grand Avenue development may get a second look
Los Angeles Times (CA) – June 3, 2012
The Grand Avenue project was born a decade ago amid the real estate boom and the belief that downtown could support high-end retailers and multimillion-dollar housing. But it’s been stalled for years by the recession.

Moving Towards A Car-Free D.C.
WAMU (DC) – June 4, 2012
D.C. residents and workers are increasingly opting out of traveling by car. Both city government and businesses are facilitating helping to this transition.

Metro’s Silver Line expansion plan draws scores of speakers to Loudoun meeting
Washington Post – June 4, 2012
Susan Wolford, a part owner of a Leesburg business, said Loudoun should rely more on public transportation. “The Silver Line would be an economic engine that would stimulate smart growth and be a positive asset to the county,” she said.

Summit speeds up land bank effort
Akron Beacon Journal (OH) – June 3, 2012
Summit County is speeding up plans to launch a land bank program so it can nab $3.78 million in state money available to demolish vacant and abandoned properties.

Editorial and Opinion

Placemaking concept: Vision into action
Petoskey News-Review (MI) – June 4, 2012
We’re pleased to see the attention that’s recently been given to placemaking in Northern Michigan, and believe this concept offers some potential to help local communities thrive.