Smart growth news – November 29

The city that floats
Salon, November 28, 2011
Whether out of High Line envy, Olympic fever or a pining for its days as a naval superpower, London has hatched a plan — a big, wet one — for the north bank of the river Thames. A sleek, kilometer-long floating promenade running from the Tower of London to the Millennium Bridge, London River Park will create an instant walkable waterfront in a stretch of the city where there is none.

‘Brain Hubs’ Like Austin, Texas, Create More Work for Less-Educated Residents
Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2011
In recent decades, a select number of brain hubs like Austin have attracted a higher percentage of well-educated workers and a lopsided share of new investment and young companies. In 1970, the top 10 most-educated metropolitan areas among the nation’s 100 largest had an average of 23% of workers holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 10% in the bottom 10, according to an analysis of Census data by Harvard University economist Edward Glaeser. The 13-percentage-point gap has widened every decade since, and had doubled by 2010. Beyond creating new middle-skill jobs, such brain hubs have generally higher incomes and for the most part have performed better through the recession. In Austin, the 7.1% average unemployment rate in 2010 was well below the nation’s during the same period.

Manheim Township ordinance allows for increased density
Lancaster New Era (Pa.), November 29, 2011
Manheim Township commissioners approved a revised zoning ordinance that will allow for increased density in hopes of guiding development using “smart growth” principals on Monday night.

Regional council to present its plan
Buffalo News (N.Y.), November 29, 2011
The plan also encourages “smart growth” that minimizes sprawl and leads to investment in the region’s cities and town centers.

Developer land returned to farming in Maricopa and Pinal counties (Ariz.), November 24, 2011
Rick Gibson, University of Arizona county extension director and agriculture agent in Pinal County, said the real-estate crash has farmland once sold to developers finding its way back into agriculture, especially in Maricopa and Pinal counties.

Fenton Unveils Plans for $4.5 Million in Road and Streetscape Work
Fenton Patch (Mich.), November 29, 2011
An estimated $4.53 million in streetscape and road improvements is planned to begin in spring 2013, from Elizabeth to Sixth streets in Fenton. Road pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction make up an estimated $3.69 million of the work, with a projected $838,000 for the streetscape. Improvements will target LeRoy Street and a number of other areas.

Brown says planning move fosters business
Financial News and Daily Record (Fla.), November 28, 2011
Mayor Alvin Brown defends his government-reform decision to include the City’s Planning and Development Department within a newly proposed Economic Development Commission, which has raised questions from critics.

Opinion and Editorial

A frugal answer to zoning pitfalls, needlessly slashed
Boston Globe, November 29, 2011
These shouldn’t be controversial statements – gasoline isn’t getting cheaper; land is finite and exhaustible, so sprawl is a waste of land; building new roads and sewer lines is more expensive than using the ones that already exist; it’s no fun to sit in traffic. The logical end of these statements, that we need to find more efficient and more productive ways to construct buildings, shouldn’t be politically divisive, either.

The right course to smart growth
Union-Tribune (Calif.), November 29, 2011
The folks who run the trolley, the Metropolitan Transit System, have completed the final touches on the Grossmont Transit Center. What a difference. Once there were six football fields of asphalt parking lot, a trolley platform and nothing more. Passengers wanting to go to a shopping mall or a hospital on a bluff high overhead were confronted with a cliffside stairway. Disabled? Good luck.

Gas tax would help NJ invest in failing infrastructure
Star-Ledger (N.J.), November 28, 2011
It gets worse. In its most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the American infrastructure an overall grade of “D.” In New Jersey, we fall further behind. The state’s five-year transportation investment plan is $8 billion, but only the first $1.3 billion in spending has been approved. That $8 billion might seem like a lot, but it’s just a little more than half of what was estimated to be minimally needed five years ago. We are not taking our transportation problems seriously enough, even though we need to cross rivers to make our commerce move to Philadelphia and New York. I believe that is the reason New Jersey’s recovery is slipping behind even the glacially slow national rebound.