Smart growth news – October 31

San Jose’s updated general plan emphasizes ‘smart growth,’ healthier communities
San Jose Mercury (Calif.), October 31, 2011
Called Envision San Jose 2040, the city’s fourth general plan since the mid-1970s is the community’s land-use constitution. The report lays out a long-term vision for the amount, type and phasing of development needed to meet the city’s social, economic and environmental goals. … For many, he said, it’s not having to drive as much. Horwedel and other planners envision “urban villages” closer to where San Jose residents live that offer a variety of ways to live, work, shop and play all at one location.

Suburban plight for poor
The Buffalo News (N.Y.), October 30, 2011
Buffalo may be one of the poorest cities in America, but a majority of the region’s poor now live in suburbia. Of the 159,000 people in the region living below the poverty line, more than half — 52 percent — reside in the suburbs of Erie and Niagara counties, according to an analysis of 2010 census data by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

What’s up downtown?
The Roanoke News (Va.), October 30, 2011
Downtown Roanoke has seen its population surge from fewer than 50 residents in 2000 to more than 600 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The arrival of new businesses and the expansion of the Jefferson College of Health Sciences show the need for more downtown living spaces, more retail and more office space, Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill said.

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Smart growth news – October 28

Advocates Say Housing Policy Discourages Mixed-Use Development
Governing Magazine, October 27, 2011
Ask members of Generation Y where they want to live, and chances are you’ll hear a common answer: urban environments where there is plenty to do within walking distance. For younger people (and many other Americans, for that matter), the cul-de-sac is no longer key.

Economy Alters How Americans Are Moving
New York Times, October 27, 2011
“When times get really hard it gets really hard for people to up and move,” said Kenneth M. Johnson, the senior demographer at the Carsey Institute, who conducted the analysis…Mr. Johnson said that the same phenomenon could be seen within states, as the growth began to slow in once rapidly growing suburbs, and shrinking cities like Los Angeles and Chicago began to stabilize.

The Design of Cities, Intelligent or Otherwise
New York Times, October 27, 2011
Those of us who live in cities — more than half the world’s population, according to many recent estimates — experience them mainly at eye and street level. Each urban environment has its own character and can therefore seem more like the result of natural processes than of complex human intentions. A city develops organically, through the complex interplay of economics, biology and countless local, individual decisions, but also by means of planning on the part of architects, engineers and politicians.

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Smart growth news – October 21

Smaller is more beautiful
The Economist, October 22, 2011
Flint is in the middle of developing a 20-year master plan, the first since Jack Kennedy was in the White House. The old thinking was to sell tax-foreclosed property to whomever, even speculators. The new thinking is that land is an asset for the city. Since its creation in 2002, the Genesee County Land Bank has had the power to take control of and to redevelop vacant, abandoned or tax-delinquent properties.

Social Security office moving to high-visibility location
The Anniston Star (Ala.), October 20, 2011
A high-profile strip mall on Quintard Avenue at Eighth Street will be getting a facelift from a new tenant set to move in after the first of the year, and city officials hope the whole downtown core will benefit. The Social Security Administration will be moving to 801 Quintard from its current 13th Street office, where it’s been since 1967. The Quintard address had previously been occupied by Advance Auto Parts but has been empty for about five years.

Sprawl not part of plan for jobs
Albany Times Union (N.Y.), October 20, 2011
If we’re going to grow, let’s not sprawl. That’s the message from the Capital Region Economic Development Council, which is moving forward on a five-year strategic plan for the greater eight-county area Hudson Valley region. Part of its draft plan would require new projects to conform to “smart growth” criteria adopted last year by the state.

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Smart growth news – October 20

Christie announces new state plan that focuses on business and job creation
NewJerseyNewsroom.com, October 19, 2011
The plan also calls for “effective planning for “vibrant regions,” including areas designated as “Priority Growth Investment Areas” where an effort would be made to promote urban areas with access to quality education, housing, public transportation and infrastructure, parks and recreation.

Administration Wants to Shelve Smart Growth Map
NJ Spotlight, October 20, 2011
The Christie administration is proposing a radical overhaul of the State Plan, a blueprint state officials devoted years trying to achieve, mostly unsuccessfully, by steering growth to established urban and suburban areas and away from open space and farmlands.

So happy together
The Economist’s Free Exchange blog, October 19, 2011
Taken together the data are suggestive of a recovery in housing driven by renters. This isn’t entirely surprising. New home construction has been at record low levels for several years now, amounting to a shortfall in construction far bigger than the deviation above trend from 2002 to 2006. Meanwhile, America’s population has kept on growing. This mismatch has begun to translate into falling rental vacancies and rent increases, which has in turn generated an small but growing upswing in construction of multifamily housing.

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Smart growth news – October 14

Suburban Welfare Surge
Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2011
“It’s another example of how this is not your mother and father’s suburbs,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean at Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies…The causes are a stubborn unemployment rate, the high cost of living in the suburbs and a rash of home foreclosures that sent many working families into poverty, experts said.

Interest in downtown
Desert News (Utah), October 13, 2011
The most common story line from a recent Downtown Alliance survey on the level of interest in downtown Salt Lake City is that young people, particularly those in the 18-24 age group, are the most interested in what the city has to offer.

Federal grants fund 11 public transportation projects in Michigan
Michigan Radio, October 13, 2011
Nine public transportation systems in Michigan have won competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grants announced Thursday total nearly $44 million.

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Smart growth news – October 13

Trending: Hard times for small cities

Pennsylvania state capital declares bankruptcy
AFP, October 12, 2011
Pennsylvania’s state capital Harrisburg has declared bankruptcy, according to a court filing seen Wednesday, a rare move that raised the specter of a string of local government defaults.

A City Forced to Turn Out the Lights
Atlantic Cities, October 12, 2011
As cities face continued fiscal troubles, this isn’t the last we’re likely to see of this sort of drastic cost-cutting: the dark financial straits cities face mirrored by their darkened streets.

National news

White House plan for infrastructure bank ‘dead on arrival’
The Hill, October 12, 2011
President Obama’s national infrastructure bank is dead on arrival, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation Committee said Wednesday. At a hearing ostensibly held to discuss the merits of the bank, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) ridiculed the proposal as something that would cost more jobs than it would create.

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Smart growth news – October 11

Poll finds support for statewide planning in New Jersey
NJBIZ, October 11, 2011
New Jersey residents support statewide planning to guide growth and development and to protect farms and open space, according to a poll released Tuesday. … The poll was commissioned by four nonprofit organizations: New Jersey Future, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Smart Growth America.

Obama’s infrastructure bank proposal faces first test in Republican-led House
The Hill, October 9, 2011
Advocates for reshaping the nation’s roads and bridges have criticized Obama for focusing his message on infrastructure. The president’s argument loses some effectiveness when it is focused on hard-to-visualize infrastructure rather than readily apparent crumbling roads and bridges, they say.

Obama jobs bill touted as a way to bolster infrastructure
Kansas City Star, October 7, 2011
A portion of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill could be a boon for Missouri highways, roads and bridges, state and local officials were told Friday.

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Smart growth news – October 7

GOP takes aim at Smart Growth requirement
The Capital Times (Wis.), October 7, 2011
Republicans are seeking to undo Wisconsin’s “Smart Growth” initiative by allowing communities to opt out of the land-use planning law and eliminating the grant program that helped fund it.

Why a Fix-It-First Policy is Critical in Transportation Investments
NRDC Switchboard, October 6, 2011
A 2011 report from Smart Growth America found that states spent more than half their highway funds on building new roads – and less than half the pie went to maintaining the existing 99% of roads.

Administration Moves to Make It Tougher to Keep Sprawl in Check
NJ Spotlight, October 7, 2011
The Christie administration is moving to repeal an anti-sprawl measure that sought to discourage growth in undeveloped areas by imposing the cost of extending utility services on the developer or customers served by the extension.

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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.

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Smart growth news – October 4

Build communities around people and their needs
The Grand Rapids Press (Mich.), October 4, 2011
Dan Gilmartin, the executive director and chief executive of the Michigan Municipal League, advocates building communities around people as a means of economic prosperity and sustainability. The league, headquartered in downtown Lansing, is bringing about 500 people to Grand Rapids this week to discuss issues facing municipalities and how to lead the state out of the doldrums.

Study: Transit Ridership Up in 2011
Transportation Nation, October 3, 2011
Transit ridership increased by 85.7 million trips, or 1.7 percent nationwide, in the first six months of 2011, according to a report released today by the American Public Transit Association, the pro-transit lobbying group.

Montgomery legislators to vote on controversial development proposal
Washington Post, October 3, 2011
The plan would help create a string of small, walkable cities in traditionally suburban areas where the county wants mass transit. Supporters say it could usher in a new era of more coordinated growth.

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