Smart growth news – September 20

Top federal urban programs face the ax
New Urban Network, September 19, 2011
Smart Growth America alerted its members today that funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities is in imminent danger of being discontinued.

Federal Support for Smart Planning Is on the Line Tomorrow
Streetsblog, September 19, 2011
Tomorrow, a Senate panel will vote on two budget bills for FY2012, one of which is for transportation and housing programs. The draft of the bill isn’t available until after the subcommittee markup tomorrow, but Smart Growth America is calling attention to the fact that it’s important to make sure the bill includes funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the partnership between USDOT, the EPA, and HUD.

How a small community is becoming greener – with help from some important friends
NRDC Switchboard, September 19, 2011
The small city of Ranson, West Virginia – population about 4000 – has taken some very important steps toward a more sustainable future.  In particular, it is cleaning up its contaminated sites; reconceiving its streets and stormwater management; and encouraging walkable, in-town redevelopment, all at the same time.  That Ranson had the initiative to do this is immensely significant, since we need more and better examples of green initiatives in small, rural communities.  But just as significant is that none of this would be possible without the assistance of the federal government’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

City looks to deal with vacant building issue
The Topeka Capital Journal (Kan.), September 18, 2011
Charging the owners is one of two new tools the city is considering using to deal with abandoned buildings, Speaker told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Friday. The other involves forming a land bank the city could use to acquire, improve and resell vacant properties. Topeka has an estimated 280 long-term abandoned residential properties, according to a survey conducted in 2009 by the city’s code enforcement unit. Those properties have all been vacant for more than “a year or two,” Speaker said.

United Airline’s move downtown leaves suburban land behind
WBEZ (Ill.), September 19, 2011
The owner is United Airlines. It’s been trying to find a buyer for its massive corporate open space and buildings for two years, as it’s been relocating employees to Chicago. As the land sits unsold and pretty much unused, the site may be a cautionary tale about the changing nature of what corporations want.

Dan Gilbert quickens Detroit revival: 2,000 more Quicken jobs moving downtown soon
Detroit Free Press, September 20, 2011
In about two weeks, Quicken Loans will start moving another 2,000 employees to Detroit from the suburbs, nudging downtown closer to what Quicken founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert calls the tipping point for revitalization.

Public transit advocates push back against proposed cuts
The Hill, September 19, 2011
Lawmakers extended the bill that extends surface transportation spending for six months last week, but advocates for public transit will resume the fight over a larger spending bill Tuesday.

Opinion: Gut-check time on county growth plan
The Sacramento Bee (Calif.), September 20, 2011
Sacramento County supervisors will be at a crossroads today. Will they stand up for their constituents and move forward with growth guidelines that will lessen traffic and air pollution and protect taxpayers? Or will they kowtow to their developer benefactors and put the county on a path for more costly suburban sprawl?