Smart growth news – October 6

Big-box development on outskirts of Woodland leaves downtown in decline
Sacramento Bee, October 6, 2011
Proud and provincial, Woodland was once a compact square surrounded by some of the state’s richest farmland. Victorian mansions, stately civic buildings and turn-of-the-century storefronts still line the city’s downtown streets, reminders of its past prosperity as the seat of Yolo County government. But in recent years, the city of 55,000 has struggled to define itself as it grew in an irregular patchwork to the south and east along Interstate 5 and Highway 113.

Planner: Lakeland’s Urban Growth Can Provide More Tax Revenue Than Malls
The Ledger (Fla.), October 5, 2011
City officials need to look downtown for tax revenue rather than sprawling, dense suburban developments. That’s what Peter Katz, director of smart growth/urban planning for Sarasota County, told more than a hundred people at the Downtown Lakeland Partnership’s State of Downtown lunch Wednesday at The Lakeland Center.

Insurer UnitedHealthcare merges into 2 new sites
Arizona Republic, October 5, 2011
Jones said UnitedHealthcare’s move was planned to help Phoenix bolster its downtown economy. “It also was an opportunity to consolidate our team and help with some efficiencies,” Jones said.

Aberdeen seeks new vision for train station area
Baltimore Sun, October 5, 2011
Aberdeen city planners and elected officials hope to transform the area around the MARC train station into a more bustling, vibrant neighborhood, and they want residents to be involved in building the vision.

A Walk in the South Bronx With the Planning Commissioner and Our Architecture Critic
New York Times, October 4, 2011
Via Verde aside, nearly a dozen public housing complexes have been built in Melrose during the last decade, as part of the mayor’s $3 billion initiative to add some 165,000 new subsidized apartments around the city. It seemed like a good idea to make the video to give Times readers a look at a few of the buildings and some sense of the scope of the change that has come to the South Bronx.

This post is not about sustainable cities; it’s about suburban job
SmartPlanet, October 5, 2011
Imagine a community — urban, suburban or rural, your pick — that has more choices for housing. More options to get where you need to go. Closer to jobs. Closer to stores. Closer to schools. Insulated from the whims of oil prices in the Middle East. Clean water to drink. Crisp air to breathe. Seventy-nine percent of Americans say they’re on board with this vision. (Just five percent oppose.)

High Tech Parking Spaces Helping Drivers and Police
Fox News, October 5, 2011
New technology designed to help drivers find open parking spaces is also making it easier for police to ticket illegally parked cars. Smart parking systems that use sensors embedded in road that can tell if spaces are occupied and then communicate with drivers via smartphone apps are popping up in cities across the country. The idea is to cut down on the amount of time people spend circling the block searching for a place to park, wasting fuel and tying up traffic in the process.

Forget About a Dream House. Think About a Dream Neighborhood
Triple Pundit, October 5, 2011
Alex Steffen gave a smashing opening keynote to the inaugural SXSWeco conference in Austin today, sharing a host of predictions on how sustainability might best be incorporated into a future society. Clean energy? Nice, but it doesn’t stand a chance at meeting current, much less future, demand. What really matters? Redesigning, and in some cases re-building the built environment in which we live.

Opinion

Why strong cities will make a strong Michigan
The Grand Rapids Press (Mich.), October 6, 2011
Cities matter. They matter as economic engines, cultural centers, hothouses of diversity. They matter as the places most likely to attract and keep young people — too many of whom flee Michigan borders almost as soon as they acquire their college degrees. Cities matter as breeding grounds for the “creative class,” the information workers who will be key to the state’s economic future. Cities set the state apart through a distinct urban vibe. Look no further than Grand Rapids during ArtPrize to see a perfect example of an energetic, thriving city culture.

U.S. Can Rent Its Way Toward a Housing Recovery
Bloomberg, October 4, 2011
One thing the Obama administration could do now — probably with Republican support — would be to attack the oversupply of housing stock by allowing a tax write-off for investors who buy empty properties and rent them out.

Coalition partners in the news:

Jobs and Water for America
Forbes, October 5, 2011
The potential to add quality jobs and to fix our water problems at the same time is enormous. Meeting the need for over $180 billion in improved stormwater systems and pipe repair documented in the EPA’s 2008 Clean Water Needs Survey will produce healthier communities, reduce water pollution, and directly generate nearly 1.9 million jobs – with an additional 800 thousand jobs from increased economic activity in related sectors. Our organizations – working with the Economic Policy Institute and American Rivers, with generous funding from the Rockefeller Foundation – yesterday released Water Works: Rebuilding Infrastructure, Creating Jobs, Greening the Environment, a comprehensive look at what upgrading our water systems would actually look like.

H Street works to balance old and new development
Greater Greater Washington (D.C.), October 5, 2011
This past weekend, a tour led by the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Councilmember Tommy Wells offered a chance to see and hear how H Street NE is coping with its new status as an up-and-coming hotspot.

Guide focusing on local farms now available
The Kennebec Journal (Maine), September 27, 2011
“Cultivating Maine’s Agricultural Future,” a guide that offers suggestions as to what local officials and residents can do to support farming in their communities, was released last week by Maine Farmland Trust and the American Farmland Trust. … Nancy Chandler of Phoenix Farm on the South Monmouth Road said local government can help farming in a number of ways, including by promoting clustered residential development.

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