Smart growth news – January 10, 2012

White House wants to convert foreclosed houses to rentals
MSNCBC – January 9, 2012

The Obama administration, in conjunction with federal regulators and led by the overseer of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are very close to announcing a pilot program to sell government-owned foreclosures in bulk to investors as rentals, according to administration officials.

Factbox: Fed doves look to spur housing, hawks balk
Reuters – January 9, 2012

Federal Reserve officials are divided over the need for more accommodation to ensure the economic recovery gains enough velocity to pull free from its stop and start slog, despite rock-bottom interest rates for more than three years and $2.3 trillion in bond purchases designed to stimulate growth.

The Fed’s Housing Politics
Wall Street Journal – January 10, 2012

These columns have defended the independence of the Federal Reserve from attacks on the right and left, but after last week the central bank is on its own. It’s impossible to defend the Fed’s rank electioneering as it lobbies for more political and taxpayer intervention in the housing market—just in time for the election campaign.

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized

Smart growth news – January 6, 2012

Ben Bernanke’s Solution To The Housing Crisis: Renting Foreclosed Homes

Huffington Post – January 5, 2012
While millions of foreclosed homes languish on the market at lower and lower prices, new data supports the idea that renting out these foreclosed homes could be the long-sought solution to the housing crisis. Rental units are leasing quickly, and the vacancy rate for apartments is at its lowest level in a decade, according to data released Thursday. In many areas, rents are rising.

Washington Wades Deeper into Housing
BusinessWeek – January 5, 2012

Lawmakers began 2011 with sweeping ambitions to shrink the U.S. government’s involvement in mortgage finance. They ended the year enacting policies that increase it. An 11th-hour extension of the payroll tax cut, signed into law on Dec. 23, will for the first time divert funds from Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC), the two mortgage finance companies under U.S. conservatorship, to pay for general government expenses. Congress also took steps that are likely to increase the role of the Federal Housing Administration in the market—at the same time that the agency’s reserves hit a record low. And some economists are charging that the FHA’s finances are even worse than they appear.

Conservative Pols Hate Government Subsidies, Unless They Subsidize Sprawl
DC Streets – January 5, 2012

For a place that’s on the forefront of a heavily-subsidized brand of taxpayer-funded suburban sprawl, Celina is steeped in the kind of conservative politics that generally eschews government subsidies.

Schumer: ‘I’m going to lead fight’ on commuter tax break
The Hill – January 6, 2012

Schumer suggested that Thursday that lawmakers should use a package of pending tax breaks to extend a provision from the 2009 economic stimulus package that allowed public transit users to set aside $230 per month before taxes for commuting expenses. Because Congress has not yet extended the provision, which expired on Jan. 1, the limit was reduced to $125 at the beginning of the new year.

Uncategorized

Smart growth news – July 1, 2011

Mapping Home-Value Drops by Zip Code
Wall Street Journal Developments blog, June 28, 2011
Zillow’s maps show that poorer center-city neighborhoods and far-flung suburbs tended to fare worse even as trendy urban neighborhoods or established suburbs managed to either weather the storm with limited damage or see losses half that of other zip codes with 50% or 60% declines.

Transportation: Collapse of a Big Tent?
Roll Call, June 16, 2011
They could have battled among themselves for slices of the federal transportation budget. Instead, they have always pressed for a bigger pie — and bigger slices for everyone. The big-tent approach has largely worked. The past three highway bills (1991, 1998 and 2005) were enacted with broad support from all corners of the transportation lobby, with overwhelming bipartisan backing and with more money for everyone.

U.S. opens new round of transportation grants
Reuters, June 30, 2011
States, cities and local governments can now compete for $527 million in transportation grants, the federal government said on Thursday. The budget passed in April provided money for another round of the popular TIGER program created in the 2009 economic stimulus plan to grant money for road, bridge, rail and public transportation projects as well as streetcars and bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Residents and officials seek reforms to fund local public transportation
WAMC (N.Y.), June 30, 2011
“These efficiencies will impact existing routes by adjusting their runs to reflect the times of higher utilization by the public. We are looking to minimize impact on individuals by adjusting routes with route deviation where possible. Our goal is to streamline our times or our services, not so much to change service.”

Uncategorized

Smart growth news – June 28, 2011

The Atlantic Looks for New Audience with Cities Site
Ad Week, June 27, 2011
The Atlantic, whose online push was key to getting the brand into the black last year, is launching another major expansion online, but with a new tack. In a first for the magazine, TheAtlanticCities.com is launching as a single-topic, standalone site. Coming in September, the site also is a departure in that it will be centered around Richard Florida, an urban studies expert who comes from an academic rather than a journalism background. Florida is the author of The Rise of the Creative Class, among other titles, and has a longstanding relationship with the magazine and its offshoots.

Sinking G.O.P. Poll Numbers May Put Florida in Play
New York Times, June 27, 2011
Mr. Scott’s unpopularity is mostly rooted in his aggressive push for large cuts in the budget and the public-sector work force, his decision to reject $2.4 billion in federal money for a high-speed rail project, and the dismissive and even abrasive way he deals with those who disagree with him or ask a lot of questions.

Housing vouchers a golden ticket to pricey suburbs
Washington Post, June 25, 2011
“There goes the neighborhood,” one homeowner said when she heard that her potential new neighbor had a federal housing voucher known as a Section 8. But Jackson could well be Pinebrook’s salvation, a means by which landlords can rent an empty, crime-magnet of a house to a tenant with a steady, government-backed check.

Complete Streets

Smart growth news – June 17, 2011

‘Walkability’ key to an age-friendly city
Hamilton Spectator, June 16, 2011
Walkability was identified as a key to sustainable growth by Hamilton’s Economic Summit. But it is much more than that. It is also a key to an age-friendly city — an inclusive and accessible urban environment that promotes active aging and improves the quality of life for all members of society. As defined by Christopher Leinberger in an opinion editorial in the Hamilton Spectator on May 12, walkability is “basically the ease of meeting daily needs on foot.” One measurement tool used to identify walkable neighbourhoods is the “Walk Score,” which measures distances to stores, and services in the neighbourhood.

Smart Growth to Blame For the Housing Crash? Not By a Long Shot.
Streetsblog DC, June 16, 2011
The Wall Street Journal yesterday posed the question of whether smart growth policies and land use restrictions were to blame for the housing boom and bust. The hypothesis comes from Wendell Cox, a long-time critic of smart growth, who, in a recent paper, recycled a specious argument that land use regulations caused housing prices to increase unsustainably, creating the real estate bubble and, eventually, the collapse of the housing market. Cox claims to show that differences in how metro areas regulated development explain the recent housing crisis.

Population growth to drive more compact housing
Inman News, June 16, 2011
We need to find homes for 150 million more people. With the U.S. population projected to grow that much in the next 30-40 years, that will necessitate “more compact, more mixed-use development,” and coordinated transportation planning, said Patrick Phillips, CEO for the Urban Land Institute, who spoke during a National Association of Real Estate Editors annual conference Wednesday.

How to fix crumbling U.S. roads, rails and airways
MarketWatch, June 17, 2011
If America’s prosperity depends on its roadways, the future looks pretty rough.
After more than a decade of declining tax revenue in the United States, highways are crumbling, rail lines are overburdened and airline corridors are congested. Factor in the economic weakness, the public’s tax-cutting mindset and geopolitical instability, and an already shaky situation looks ready to worsen for commerce, jobs and several industries that are crucial for transportation infrastructure.

Uncategorized

Smart growth news – June 15, 2011

Did Smart Growth Fuel the Property-Price Boom?
Wall Street Journal Development Blog, June 14, 2011
In a recent paper, though, Wendell Cox, an Illinois-based consultant and an adjunct scholar with the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis, argues land-use restrictions and planning policies like smart growth fueled property prices and became the engine of the housing boom and bust. The price decline on the “drivable fringe” was generally twice as bad during the crash, said Christopher Leinberger, a developer of “walkable urban projects” and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And it was that part of the market that is the least regulated,” he said. Smart-growth areas or walkable neighborhoods within metro markets had price drops but they ultimately “held their value, thank you very much.” The problem, Mr. Leinberger added, was that “we built too much of the wrong stuff in the wrong location.”

A City Tries to Slim Down
New York Times, June 13, 2011
This city’s Broadway displays its own array of neon signs — two dozen fast-food restaurants, as diverse as McDonald’s and the local Indi’s — beckoning along a 2.8-mile corridor bookended by low-income neighborhoods on the front lines of a multimillion-dollar battle against obesity. The street symbolizes one of many hurdles facing officials here working to put a severely overweight population on a diet.

Poor public transit called threat to older Americans
Reuters, June 14, 2011
A new study says more than 15.5 million seniors, aged 65 to 79, will have poor or nonexistent access to public transportation by 2015. Many outlying suburbs and “exurbs” simply have few options for getting around for those who do not drive.

OC commuters urged to take public transit on Dump the Pump Day
KABC (Los Angeles), June 14, 2011
The Orange County Transportation Authority is encouraging commuters to give public transportation a try. They’ll even throw in breakfast. This Thursday is national Dump the Pump Day. It’s all about avoiding high gas prices by taking public transportation.

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