Smart growth news – May 21, 2012

Missouri lawmakers pass bill supporting land banks
Kansas City Business Journal (MO) – May 17, 2012
The Missouri General Assembly on Wednesday passed land bank legislation that would let Kansas City buy and sell swaths of abandoned land.

Firms shifting from suburbs to downtown
Minneapolis Star-Tribune (MN) – May 19, 2012
The allure of the big city is pulling at businesses that previously called suburban office parks home.

City’s urban center has good bones, consultant says
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (WI) – May 19, 2012
[D]owntown Milwaukee “is exceptionally well-positioned” to tap into such long-term trends as baby boom empty nesters and young professionals wanting to live, work and play there, says Segal, a well-known consultant to downtown development groups.

BR-N.O. rail link study gets local funds
The Advocate (LA) – May 21, 2012
Baton Rouge and New Orleans are still pursuing plans to establish a passenger rail service linking the two major metropolitan areas. This past week, the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Planning Organization approved spending $105,000 in federal money for a feasibility study of a commuter rail service to New Orleans.

Urban entertainment districts: Blocks where no one has fun
Salon – May 19, 2012
If you took all the clichés about horrible urban design and shoved them into 75 acres, you’d probably end up with something pretty close to Dallas’ Victory Park.

Arizona DOT Study: Compact, Mixed-Use Development Leads to Less Traffic
Streetsblog DC – May 18, 2012
A recent study by the Arizona Department of Transportation [PDF] found that neighborhoods where houses are closer together actually have freer-flowing traffic.

For Official, 19 Months Left to Remake New York
New York Times – May 20, 2012
Now, in Year 11 of Ms. Burden’s likely 12-year tenure, she is pushing through her final priorities, which could affect the way New Yorkers live, work and play well into the 21st century and long after she and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have left office.

Coalition members in the news

Alachua County honored for its ‘smart growth’
Gainesville Sun (FL) – May 19, 2012
Alachua County has won top recognition from a statewide growth-management watchdog organization for its mobility plan that combines land use with transportation to guide future development.

New focus on adding bike lanes
Boston Globe – May 20, 2012
The cities and towns just north of Boston currently lack bike facilities, but a regional planning agency is kicking off a study aimed at changing that.

Local news

Lower Macungie hires firm to develop ‘smart growth’ plan
Morning Call (PA) – May 21, 2012
Lower Macungie Board of Commissioners has hired Urban Research and Development Corporation of Bethlehem to develop a Smart Growth implementation plan for the township.

Downtown L.A.’s many communities live, work, play side by side
Los Angeles Times – May 20, 2012
For a downtown once famous for emptying out with the evening commute, the raucous scene around Staples Center and L.A. Live as the Lakers, Kings and Clippers compete in playoff games stands as a testament to how much the central city’s fortunes have changed.

Los Angeles Lives by Car, but Learns to Embrace Bikes
New York Times – May 19, 2012
For years, bicyclists in Los Angeles were just another renegade subculture in a city that is teeming with all manner of subcultures. These days, they have become downright mainstream.

Land-use plan calls for new growth near transit
San Francisco Chronicle (CA) – May 19, 2012
To naysayers, skeptics and Tea Party members, it’s the end of the California suburban lifestyle. To dyed-in-the-wool environmentalists, it’s the key to correcting climate change. But in reality, the Plan Bay Area strategy linking land-use and transportation investment is probably neither.

Bay Area’s Controversial Housing & Transit Plan Clears Hurdle
KQED (CA) – May 18, 2012
Officials from the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted on portions of Plan Bay Area, a 25-year strategy for land use and transportation for the Bay Area’s growing population, which is expected to surpass nine million by 2040.

Region’s leaders gather to plan future, play with Legos
The Virginian-Pilot (VA) – May 18, 2012
The object wasn’t to create pretty designs, but to plot – on a map of Hampton Roads without city lines – a way to house, employ and transport the 350,000 additional residents the region’s planners expect by 2035.

Cities push brownfield designations
Florida Today – May 20, 2012
Cities throughout Brevard County have pushed forward with designating brownfield areas to attract new and expanding businesses with the tax breaks and other incentives.

Seattle neighborhoods fight needed land use reform, density
Crosscut (WA) – May 21, 2012
The proposals are, arguably, rather modest and would promote job creation, housing, and sustainable density, but hit a raw nerve among opponents of growth and neighborhood activists.

Downtown Tuscaloosa businesses could reap rewards of redevelopment effort
Tuscaloosa News (AL) – May 20, 2012
House’s Garage is small. Its building is old. But it could be a gold mine because the business sits on land that could be some of the most valuable real estate in Tuscaloosa.

Creating a vision for future Sharing hopes for Franklin’s future
Boston Globe – May 20, 2012
Residents are being asked to look into Franklin’s future and help create a master plan to guide land-use decisions for the next 10 to 20 years.

Mt. Pleasant Center redevelopment will be long-term project
The Morning Sun (MI) – May 19, 2012
No one is absolutely certain how the Mt. Pleasant Center property will be redeveloped, but city leaders say there’s plenty of time to figure it out and do it right.

Editorial and Opinion

Rusty and rutted, infrastructure holds Michigan back
MLive (MI) – May 19, 2012
“Michigan’s infrastructure is living on borrowed time,” he said. “We must reinvest in it if we are to successfully reinvent our economy.”

People’s Editorial Board: Time for a Land Bank
Philadelphia Daily News – May 21, 2012
The People’s Editorial Board thinks the city should think even bigger and take bolder steps to tackle this problem. One step would be to establish a land bank, as Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez has proposed. A land bank would consolidate ownership of all city property, actively manage it, work to optimize future development, and take control of private tax-delinquent properties.