Smart growth news – December 15

Study: Single-Family Homes May Be History
KPBS (Calif.), December 14, 2011
A new study from the Urban Land Institute suggests single-family homes, the largest contributor to urban sprawl, may be a thing of the past. The study looked at California’s major metropolitan areas — including San Diego — and found that by 2035 the supply of homes in conventional subdivisions will far exceed demand.

How the Tea Party Is Upending Urban Planning
Atlantic Cities, December 14, 2011
Across the country, Tea Party activists have been storming planning meetings of all kinds, opposing various plans by local and regional government having anything to do with density, smart growth, sustainability or urbanism. In California, Tea Party activists gained enough signatures for a ballot measure repealing the state’s baseline environmental regulations, while also targeting the Senate Bill 375, the 2008 law that seeks to combat climate change by promoting density and regional planning.

Beyond Sprawl: Rethinking Development in Tucson
Arizona Public Media, December 15, 2011
Tucson and the city’s outskirts were riding high on growth several years ago, with developments seeming to pop up everywhere there was empty land. But that all changed when the housing bust and recession took hold. The Tucson area continues to suffer from the downturn, but does that mean we did something wrong?

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Capital Region housing developers finding opportunity in infill housing: “We are not afraid anymore”

Cross-posted from our coalition member Empire State Future.

Throughout New York State demand for downtown living continues to expand as baby boomers are ditching the cul-de-sac and generation X and Y are re-envisioning their American Dream. The change in consumer preference has already driven a million people to the “City that Never Sleeps”, New York City, since 1990, with another million New Yorkers expected by 2035. As people continue to find the value and livability of urban living in New York City and many of New York State’s 61 smaller cities, reuse of existing commercial and industrial structures as well as infill development on abandoned and vacant lots will play a role in serving the increasing demand for residential units.

As each state-commissioned Regional Economic Development Council releases their strategic plans, major calls for smart growth are materializing. This is advantageous for numerous developers who have already made the transition to building residential properties in existing downtowns and on or near main streets. Over the next few weeks ESF is going to highlight a few of these projects from across the state to show what New York’s cities will have to offer in the years to come.

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Smart growth news – November 14

U.S. Farmers Reclaim Land From Developers
Wall Street Journal, November 14, 2011
Five years into a brutal national housing downturn, raw land destined for residential development has fallen so far in value that thousands of acres across the country are being used again for agriculture.

McMansions swell the real eastate market as homebuyers think small
The Star-Ledger (N.J.), November 13, 2011
Certain homebuyers once prized these large houses, tucked away on a few acres of land and featuring half a dozen bedrooms, grand entranceways, and three-car garages. But in the face of the economic collapse, declines in personal wealth, a tight housing market, and a shift of what prospective homeowners want, all that has changed. Major demographic changes could also make the market shrink even further in the next five years, as baby boomers retire and look to downsize. The generation behind them is smaller and has less money and a desire to live closer to urban centers.

In Shift, More People Move In to New York Than Out
New York Times, November 11, 2011
While much of the city’s population growth in recent years has been fueled by the influx of immigrants and more people being born than dying, there have been new waves of arrivals from other parts of the country and fewer New Yorkers leaving. In 2010, 252,000 people moved to New York — 157,000 from elsewhere in the country — while 220,000 left, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. That contrasts sharply with 2006, when 230,000 arrived and 341,000 left.

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Smart growth news – November 1

What do Americans think about Sustainable Communities?
Citiwire, October 28, 2011
Anyone who has ever watched an episode of The West Wing or followed the national network’s television coverage on election night has a general idea of how common the use of polls has become to the policy formulation process in our country. Our leaders and public officials have turned to the tools of marketers to help decipher which direction the figurative winds are blowing before they step into the fray. So why wouldn’t planning and smart growth advocates do the same? Last fall, Smart Growth America (SGA) did just that.

In Minneapolis, a new era for neighborhoods
Star Tribune (Minn.), October 31, 2011
For 20 years, a $300 million civic experiment won international plaudits for reshaping Minneapolis from the neighborhoods up. Now the city is preparing for life after the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.

Senate vote due on infrastructure bank proposal
The Hill, October 31, 2011
President Obama’s proposal to create a national infrastructure bank and spend $50 billion on transportation to stimulate job growth will be up for a vote in the Senate this week.

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New Survey: New Jerseyans Support Statewide Planning and Water Quality Protection

New Jerseyans’ decades-long support for coordinated statewide planning to guide growth and development and protect farmland and open space remains undiminished, according to a poll released today by smart growth, environmental and transportation advocates.

The poll, conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, found that residents are as concerned about protecting drinking water as they are about the economy. Ninety one percent identify protecting the state’s drinking water supply as very important, compared to 88 percent who say that attracting new business is a top concern.

New Jerseyans are enthusiastic about sustainable communities – places where a variety of transportation options already exist and neighborhoods are within walking distance of shopping and other services. Two-thirds of residents believe the state needs more sustainable communities and nearly three in four say they would definitely (46 percent) or probably (27 percent) like to live in such a place.

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Cities versus suburbs is the wrong debate

It is undeniable that demand is growing for walkable neighborhoods and communities with access to public transportation, parks and a range of housing choices.

In a blog post on Forbes, Joel Kotkin argues that as young adults — who are currently moving to cities and walkable neighborhoods — get older they will look to live in a car-dependent suburb.

Evidence from the last Census show the opposite [of growing cities]: a marked acceleration of movement not into cities but toward suburban and exurban locations. The simple, usually inexorable effects of maturation may be one reason for this surprising result. Simply put, when 20-somethings get older, they do things like marry, start businesses, settle down and maybe start having kids.

Kotkin’s argument incorrectly focuses on cities versus suburbs — specifically suburbs that are dominated by “automobiles and single-family houses” — without focusing on the types of communities and neighborhoods where people actually want to live. He also ignores the baby boomers who are beginning to retire and realize a large, suburban, car-dependent lifestyle may no longer be the most appealing option.

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Smart growth news – July 26

The country’s most ambitious smart growth project shows some progress, much remaining potential
NRDC, July 26, 2011
I once called the Atlanta BeltLine “the country’s best smart growth project.” I still haven’t seen one that is better in concept. But now, with a few years of history, how is the implementation coming along? Is the reality matching the vision?

Pittsburgh: a sweet spot for post-young’uns
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 25, 2011
“Pittsburgh’s always behind the national trends.” With a shrug or an eye-roll, that’s our explanation for anything from the lack of gourmet food trucks on city streets to the persistence of mullets on local heads. But every once in a while, lagging behind can mean getting ahead. You examine the trendsetters’ mistakes and correct your own course while there’s still time. What if this were the case with Pittsburgh’s decades-long population loss?

Passing of transportation bill will help economy
The Birmingham News, July 25, 2011
Commerce is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy, and transportation infrastructure is its circulatory system. Without passage of a multiyear surface transportation bill before the current extension expires Sept. 30, American business will suffer as roads become more congested and their conditions continue to deteriorate. All levels of government must make long-term investment in transportation a national priority.

America’s Coming Infrastructure Crash
The Atlantic, July 25, 2011
When President Obama took office in January 2009, he promised that ” to lay a new foundation for growth….we will build the roads and bridges.” And in his 2011 State of the Union address, he promised to “put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.” But as all attention is focused on the debt ceiling battle, here’s what’s happening on the infrastructure front. Highway, street, and bridge construction jobs through the first five months of 2011 are running 18% below 2007 levels, and the stimulus money is fading.

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Demographic shifts highlight growing demand for smart growth housing

Demographics are changing in the U.S., and the country’s housing market is changing along with them. Data from the 2010 Census revealed that the U.S. as a whole is growing older, and further analysis has shown that the suburbs are aging faster than cities. CNBC’s Diana Olick reports on these shifts and what the trends will mean for housing in the U.S.

Olick looked at Census analysis from John Burns Real Estate Consulting which show households comprised of married couples dropped from 75% in 1960 to just 48% in 2010. At the same time, the number of non-family households – households with only one person, or people living together who are not related – has nearly quintupled since the last census, while family households increased only 1.7 times.

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Smart growth news – June 30, 2011

Christie to annul Council on Affordable Housing
Asbury Park Press (N.J.), Wednesday June 30, 2011
As part of the other changes, the Department of State would become the home of the State Planning Commission and Office of Smart Growth, both now part of DCA, and the Business Retention and Attraction Division, now at the Economic Development Authority. All have connections with economic growth, which has become one of the primary responsibilities of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who is also the secretary of state.

Cool factor lures the young, artsy to Detroit
Detroit News (Mich.), June 29, 2011
Detroit, city of 100,719 vacant parcels and three Starbucks, has discovered its marketing niche: land of the young, daring and bohemian. And more businesses, foundations and city leaders are investing in the idea.

Are McMansions Coming Back in Style?
Wall Street Journal Developments Blog, June 29, 2011
In January, we reported that the average size of a new single-family home shrunk to 2,377 square feet last year, down 3 percent from 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And it’s not clear that younger buyers will embrace the McMansion in the same way their parents did. Presenters at the annual NAHB convention in Orlando told Developments in January that large, cookie-cutter suburban homes wouldn’t appeal to the younger generation of home buyers.

The Best Public Transportation Systems In The World
Business Insider, June 29, 2011
Thanks to the climbing price of gas, driving is quickly turning into a pastime for the rich and famous. So unless you’re ready to re-mortgage your house, you may have to leave your car at home and hop on a subway, bus or light rail to get to work. Not sure what to expect? We’ve put together a top 10 list of public transportation systems in the world to give you an idea of what cities have the best mass transit available to the working public.

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