Webinar recording: Three toolkits for smart growth in rural places

In late April Smart Growth America released three new toolkits for smart growth in rural places. Our Community Facilities Location toolkit helps communities make the most of new facilities like hospitals or post offices. Our Well-Placed Affordable Housing toolkit looks at creating centrally located housing infrastructure. And our Fiscal Impact Analysis toolkit looks at how local government can better understand the long-term financial implications of decisions about new development.

Rural Development

White House urges policy changes to create more affordable housing

The White House made a bold statement earlier this week, taking on the outdated zoning codes and laws, housing and parking regulations, and tax structures that all play a part in discouraging cities — and developers — from building more affordable housing and meeting the demand for more walkable, connected neighborhoods. Because of the way … Continued


California governor signs bill to ease parking requirements and create more affordable housing

On Friday California Governor Jerry Brown signed into a law a bill that will help create more affordable housing by easing parking requirements for developers.

The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 744, Planning and Zoning: Density Bonus, will allow developers to request reduced minimum parking requirements within affordable housing projects. It also amends the parking ratio for affordable housing and senior housing to require no more the 0.5 parking spaces per unit, and amends the ratio for special needs housing to require no more than 0.3 parking spaces per unit.

Developers seeking to use these ratios must meet established guidelines regarding percentage of affordable units in the project, distance and access to a transit stop, availability of paratransit services, and access to fixed bus route services. The emphasis on transit access will bolster other efforts to make public transportation and active transportation options safer, more convenient, and more accessible for low-income families.


New green building resources for HUD grantees

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced a new initiative to offer green building training to their grantees and other affordable housing organizations. The free courses include Introduction to Green Building for Affordable Housing, Executive Decision Making, Best Practices for Green Building Operations and Maintenance, Financing Green Building, and Energy Performance Contracting for Small PHAs.


Smart growth news – January 19, 2012

National News

U.S. mayors call for infrastructure spending and protection of grant programs
Orlando Sentinel – January 18, 2012

“The economic recovery is too slow, and it is a direct result of the inaction of this Congress in 2011,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “If we gave the 112th Congress a mid-term report card, the grade would be clear. Congress would get an ‘F.’”

Federal-State Meeting Planned to Rally for Foreclosure Accord
Bloomberg Business Week – January 19, 2012

State attorneys general are being invited to meet with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and a Justice Department official to rally support for a proposed settlement with banks over foreclosure practices, said the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

Local News

Planning workshop brings circus atmosphere to Marin
Marin Independent Journal – January 19, 2012

The video’s narrator concluded with a call to action: “Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and work together to plan how the Bay Area might grow over the next 25 years?” “No,” a chorus of audience members shouted as private security guards and sheriff’s deputies stood by.


Smart growth news – December 20

Maryland governor signs land-use order
Washington Post, December 19, 2011
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Monday signed an executive order that is intended to curb sprawl and that could affect every facet of growth, from where schools are placed to which roads are built to whether rural landowners are permitted to develop their property.

The Lure of the City
Inside Higher Ed, December 20, 2011
Cornell, one of the only top private research universities in the country not located in an urban area, saw expansion into New York as a necessary component of its future ambitions…It also reinforces a growing notion that research universities are going to need access to the resources provided by urban areas to continue to serve as such engines. “We believe the city had the right idea at the right time,” Cornell President David Skorton said at the announcement. “The tech sector of universities is shifting from simply the pursuit of knowledge to service of business and industry.”

Smart Can Be Affordable
Shelterforce, Fall 2011
Despite fears that rising prices follow smart growth projects, smart growth and affordable housing advocates need each other to realize the promise of each.


"Promoting Affordable and Fair Housing near Transit, Jobs, and Town Centers" webinar materials now available online

Thank you to everyone who attended Smart Growth America’s Sustainable Communities Network webinar “Promoting Affordable and Fair Housing near Transit, Jobs, and Town Centers” last week. This webinar was hosted by Smart Growth America, PolicyLink, Reconnecting America, and the National Housing Conference.

Included on this webinar are practitioners taking steps to ensure that housing for families at all income levels is available in location-efficient and opportunity-rich areas. Following an overview of tools available to create and preserve affordable homes in areas where transportation costs are likely to be low, learn how some of these tools have been implemented in Denver, Colorado as Denver expands its public transportation system. Included is a discussion of policies and legal decisions that help to ensure communities create their fair share of homes for low- and moderate-income families in New Jersey, as well as strategies to build public support for well-located affordable homes.


Smart growth news – July 8, 2011

Study indicates subsidized business relocations fuel sprawl in Cleveland area
Crain’s Cleveland Business, July 7, 2011
A study that claims to be the largest ever done in the United States of subsidized business relocations indicates that property tax breaks given to entice companies to move within the Cleveland area have worsened wealth inequities in the region and have fueled suburban sprawl.

Fiery words over GOP proposal to cut transportation funds
The Washington Post, July 7, 2011
As congressional leaders from both parties traveled up Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday for a White House meeting on finances, open hostilities broke out on the traditionally bipartisan House transportation committee over a GOP proposal to cut spending by about $15 billion a year. Democrats said the plan would cost 490,000 jobs. They called it “mind-boggling” and “fantasy funding”; they said the committee chairman, John L. Mica (R-Fla.), was “out to lunch” and “a dictator.” Alarmed interest groups called the bill a “grave mistake” and a “sure-fire job killer.”

Report blames zoning laws for lack of affordable housing in New Jersey
The Star-Ledger (N.J.), July 7
The report, conducted by Rowan University, says it’s tougher for lower-income residents to afford to live in wealthy suburban towns today than it was in 1970. All this occurs despite the long effort to push towns to add affordable housing and adhere to “smart growth” initiatives, and zoning rules are to blame, the report says.

Highway Shutdown to Paralyze America’s Second-Largest City
AltTransport, July 7, 2011
The clogging of the Interstate 405 corridor is the result of understandable market forces—but they’re forces that could have some truly scary consequences if they aren’t counterbalanced by smart growth policy. The chaos coming to the LA area in mid-July is certainly easy to mock, but it reveals some very serious infrastructural and planning challenges.