Smart growth news – July 7, 2011

Key Senate Dem: Two-year transportation bill coming
The Hill, July 6, 2011
A leading Senate Democrat said Wednesday that the chamber will likely move forward with a two-year measure funding roads and public transportation – not a six-year bill, as originally planned. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of Environment and Public Works Committee, also told reporters that lawmakers would have to fill a roughly $12 billion shortfall for those two years, and that her committee would mark up the $109 billion legislation in the next few weeks.

Bank plan would help build bridges, boost jobs
MSNBC, July 6, 2011
American has fallen to 23rd in infrastructure quality globally, according to the World Economic Forum. It will take about $2 trillion over the next five years to restore the country’s infrastructure, says the American Society of Civil Engineers. Given America’s weak economy and rising national debt, the government can’t promise anything close to an amount that dwarfs most countries’ total economies. But a national infrastructure bank could help.

UN environmental initiative is the Tea Party’s new nightmare
The Daily Caller, July 6, 2011
Tea Partiers aware of the initiative are eager to get the word out and stop what they see as an encroachment of an international agenda, manifest in local planning programs such as smart growth, land use policies, and green building codes.

Five Bay State projects will create housing and boost transit
New Urban Network, June 30, 2011
Five projects in eastern Massachusetts — the majority of them along mass transit lines — have been chosen by the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance to receive a total of $1.5 million in aid from the Barr Foundation and the New York-based Ford Foundation. They are the first projects to be selected in the Alliance’s Great Neighborhoods program, which promotes development not dependent on the automobile.

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Smart growth news- June 29, 2011

After 55 Years, Where Are We on Highways?
National Journal, June 27, 2011
How far have we come since this first highway bill? Is the highway system now true to Eisenhower’s vision of a workable, free, transcontinental roadway? Are there new technological or demographic changes since 1955 that should be incorporated into the surface-transportation goals? If Eisenhower was alive now, what would you tell him about his proudest domestic accomplishment?

If baby boomers stay in suburbia, analysts predict cultural shift
Washington Post, June 28, 2011
The nation’s suburbs are home to a rapidly growing number of older people who are changing the image and priorities of a suburbia formed around the needs of young families with children, an analysis of census data shows. Although the entire United States is graying, the 2010 Census showed how much faster the suburbs are growing older when compared with the cities. Thanks largely to the baby-boom generation, four in 10 suburban residents are 45 or older, up from 34 percent just a decade ago. Thirty-five percent of city residents are in that age group, an increase from 31 percent in the last census.

Green Transportation Research Bill Introduced in the House
AltTransport, June 28, 2011
While a lot of attention is being paid to new surface transportation authorizations from the House and Senate, Representative David Wu (D-Oregon) introduced another transportation-related bill Monday that aims to fund research on alternative transportation.

California: Mission Bay Prepares for Makeover
The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2011
San Francisco’s effort to transform an abandoned rail yard on its eastern shore in Mission Bay into an urban center is poised for a serious boost from plans by Salesforce.com Inc. to build a sprawling corporate campus in the area. Urban-planning experts say the arrival of Salesforce will provide a vital stimulus for a once-neglected part of the city. But the bold design for the campus is just beginning a monthslong approval process, and Chief Executive Marc Benioff is leaving open the possibility that the company could simply pick a different location for its new headquarters.

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Smart growth news – June 24, 2011

Poor transit system, sprawl make trips to work difficult
Kansas City Star (Kan.), June 22, 2011
A Washington think tank ranks Kansas City’s transit system among the worst in the country at getting people to jobs. Part of the blame belongs to our spread-out growth pattern, which has pulled an ever-larger share of jobs to the suburbs — beyond the easy reach of buses. “We don’t just have a transit problem, we have a job-sprawl problem,” said Ron McLinden, a public transportation advocate with the Transit Action Network in Kansas City. The recent report by the Brookings Institution ranked the Kansas City area 90th among 100 metro areas based on how well its bus system serves the workforce.

Headquarters come and go – it’s jobs that count
Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.), June 23, 2011
The Triangle: A great place to live and work; not so great for a corporate headquarters. You’d never hear this region’s boosters utter such a line, but it’s hard not to at least think it after a week in which the Triangle received another economic pat on the back and downtown Raleigh lost another headquarters. The accolade came from the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, which ranked the Triangle among the 20 strongest performing metro areas in the U.S. through the first quarter.

Transformation Detroit: Dan Gilbert’s grand plan for downtown tech hub, retail and residential
MLive.com (Mich.), June 23, 2011
These days, it seems like everybody has a plan to revitalize Detroit. But unlike many would-be visionaries, Dan Gilbert has what it takes to get it done: Money. Boatloads of it. The Quicken Loans founder and chairman is in the process of purchasing the 23-story Dime Building near Campus Martius, which would be his fourth major downtown real estate acquisition in the past 10 months, including the First National Building, Chase Tower and the Madison Theatre Building.

Walking expert prescribes ‘road diets,’ traffic circles for cities seeking street makeovers
Associated Press via Washington Post, June 20, 2011
Today, with the health, environmental and quality-of-life benefits of walk-able neighborhoods, they can’t get enough of Burden. Even in car-dependent Southern California, where he spent a few of his roughly 340 days a year on the road this spring, city planners are literally walking the talk alongside him.

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Tell the EPA: Don't leave downtown Kansas City in favor of costly sprawl!

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to move one of its regional offices out of downtown Kansas City, KS, to an office park nearly 20 miles outside of the city. The EPA employs nearly 600 people at these offices, and leaving downtown will hurt both the environment and the economy of the region.

The EPA’s decision to leave downtown contradicts its own mission, hurts employees, hurts Kansas City and wastes taxpayer dollars.

TAKE ACTION: Tell the EPA to stay in downtown Kansas City.

First and foremost this decision contradicts the mission of the EPA, which aims to reduce air pollution. Many employees will now have a longer commute that must be done by car, meaning higher emissions and more congestion on roads in the region.

Tell EPA and GSA: Leaving downtown Kansas City will raise emissions.

Equally troubling, EPA’s decision wastes valuable taxpayer dollars. The U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – both of which work closely with EPA in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities – have invested millions of dollars in projects meant to support the Kansas City region’s economy through smarter growth strategies. EPA’s decision goes against these efforts and undermines other federal agencies’ work and investments.

Tell EPA and GSA: Leaving downtown Kasnas City undermines federal investments.

The EPA’s offices in Kansas City have been a cornerstone of the city’s economic revitalization, and its decision to leave undermines these efforts. In addition, as gas prices reach all time highs the EPA’s decision will also be a burden on employees and their families. More money spent on gas and car maintenance also means less money to spend in other sectors of the economy, further hurting the Kansas City region.

The EPA’s decision is irresponsible and hurts U.S. taxpayers as well as Kansas City’s environment and economy. Help us hold the Agency accountable for its actions.

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