Smart growth news – September 2

Why the US is unprepared for natural disasters
Public Radio International, September 1, 2011
Bad land-use, urban sprawl and cost-cutting measures by utilities leave US vulnerable to destruction caused by Hurricane Irene and other recent natural disasters.

City to involve county on urban rail planning; new city website shows projects
The Statesman (Texas), August 31, 2011
The city is proposing a system that would connect downtown with the University of Texas, the Mueller neighborhood and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. City leaders hope to put an urban rail bond proposal for hundreds of millions of dollars on the November 2012 ballot to help build the first piece of what city officials have said will be a $1.3 billion, 16.5-mile system. The city would build that initial segment with bond money, federal grants and possibly other sources.

Residents call for filling vacancies, keeping charm
TribLocal (Ill.), September 1, 2011
Filling vacant properties and preserving the Historic District topped residents’ priorities Wednesday as they helped the city create a new comprehensive plan.

Report laments condition of rural roads
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 1, 2011
A report released today that draws attention to the sorry state of the country’s rural transportation infrastructure says Pennsylvania had the highest percentage of structurally deficient rural bridges last year and the sixth-highest number of traffic deaths from crashes along rural roads that were not interstates in 2009.

Mixed use developments are live, work, but mostly play
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 31, 2011
On a recent weekend in Brookhaven, the parking lot of Marshalls is nearly filled. The off-price retailer is located next door to Costco, which also appears to be packed, and is just around the corner from a Publix, which is hosting a slower but steady stream of shoppers. It could be any shopping enclave around metro Atlanta, but this is the new Town Brookhaven, one of the latest live, work, play communities to dot the local real estate landscape.

Plan unveiled for blighted Market Street block
Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tenn.), September 2, 2011
In addition to a grocery store and a “mid-block arcade,” the budget also allows for what designers are calling “green screens,” or towering columns filled with climbing vines fed by storm water, as well as a terraced garden.

Kitsap County’s urban growth areas too large, hearings board rules
Kitsap Sun (Wash.), September 1, 2011
Kitsap County’s urban growth areas, expanded in 2006, are too large and must be reconsidered, according to a ruling by the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board. Kitsap County made a “mistake” when it supersized the urban areas of Silverdale and Kingston, along with lands near Bremerton and Port Orchard, according to the hearings board, reversing its previous findings.

BART hires new general manager
San Francisco Chronicle, September 1, 2011
BART’s formerly fractured board of directors agreed nearly unanimously Wednesday to hire Grace Crunican, a straight-talking public transportation veteran with connections in Washington, to guide the agency through its current controversies and help capture billions of dollars it needs to modernize its system.


Central Valley Faces “Smart Growth” Conundrum
KQED (Calif.), September 1, 2011
When we decided to take a look at smart growth in the Central Valley, we wanted to see if the goal of compact, walkable living was a realistic option for the largely suburban, car-loving communities of central California.