Smart Growth News – November 21, 2012

Why Mayors Should Run the Department of Transportation
The Atlantic Cities – November 21, 2012

“Whereas the state DOT is focused on maintaining a transportation system, mayors are focused on maintaining a city,” emails Alex Dodds, the online communications manager for Smart Growth America. And transportation is obviously a critical part of that. “For that same reason a mayor is also much more likely to view transportation as an economic development investment, rather than just moving people.”

How Better Land Use Policy Can Help Ease PA’s Pension Crunch
Keystone Politics – November 20, 2012

But the weak rate of growth does not have to continue. While it’s debatable as to how much we can increase the growth rate through policy, there are certainly policy levers available to lawmakers who want to try to increase the growth rate for housing construction, services, and migration. I would argue that the biggest untapped policy lever is land use. Basically, Tom Corbett needs to copy what Deval Patrick is doing:

In Transit: School Districts Look to Public Agencies as Transportation Option
School Transportation News – November 20, 2012

School districts like Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Baltimore are among those that for years have also been using public transit to help students get to and from class. But in a stagnant economy, more school districts are looking to do the same, although skeptics say the jury is still out on just how much money is saved and to what extent children are being jeopardized to realize those savings.

The Westwood That Could – Maybe – November 21, 2012

Tired of stagnation, a small group of residents is taking a chance. They raised $10,000 and spent countless hours so far on a new building code – called form-based code – to guide development.

Bike-sharing plans get traction in Atlanta
Atlanta Journal Constitution – November 21, 2012

Bike-sharing is not just for European hipsters anymore.

Planners Discuss Ways To Increase Affordable Housing In Downtown Chattanooga
The Chattanoogan – November 20, 2012

The Regional Planning Agency, led by John Bridger, on Monday night gave results of a housing study that has been a year in the making, including efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing downtown.

Ithaca: Planning committee gets info on Buffalo’s code overhaul
Ithaca Times – November 20, 2012

“[The traditional neighborhood] is the vision that most towns and villages really want, and this is certainly the vision that Buffalo wants for itself but we can’t do it because the zoning specifies [the conventional model] like most post war zoning codes,” he said.

Saying goodbye to the “passenger mile” – November 21, 2012

Morris relies on the “passenger mile” as the standard by which to compare the carbon cost of two different modes. And that is a major problem. Relying on the “passenger mile” as a standard of measure implies that our transportation system is space neutral, that distance travelled is inherently good, that the expansion of transportation is an end in itself. Comparisons that rely on passenger mile statistics, instead of alternatives like data on a per trip or per hour basis, will automatically favor the automobile. To put it another way, passenger-mile measurements automatically benefit modes that travel the fastest, at the highest speeds. And speed shouldn’t be the goal of our transportation system.

A New Policy That Incentivizes Walkable Neighborhoods
The Atlantic Cities – November 20, 2012

In July 2012, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, a project of Smart Growth America founded by former Maryland governor Parris Glendening, met with Patrick and his administration to identify policies and tools to meet the State’s housing needs. Both the housing production goal and the “Compact Neighborhood” program were among recommendations made by the Institute to the state government in a report last month. (Disclosure: I am a board member of Smart Growth America, though I have had no involvement with this initiative.)

Renovation of Mass. transportation hub begins
Associated Press – November 20, 2012

Springfield’s historic Union Station is set for a major facelift after the state kicked in the final $4 million needed to begin the first phase of construction on the $78 million project.

How McCrory could lead on transportation
Charlotte Observer – November 20, 2012

It may be called the DOT, but North Carolina’s transportation department has long been almost exclusively about pavement.

That’s changing a bit now, but the shenanigans involving the Monroe Connector/Bypass remind us of the department’s engrained culture. The DOT has mishandled efforts to build the $725 million bypass and the episode points to needed changes in transportation policy that Gov.-elect Pat McCrory should help usher in.