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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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 3

Pasco official says city reaps benefits from smart growth
Tri-City Herald (Wash.), October 1, 2011
Properly managed growth can increase benefits and reduce some of the drawbacks, Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield told about 50 people Friday at the Columbia Basin Badger Forum at the Pasco Red Lion.

Group promotes ‘walkability’ around Kennett Square
The Daily Local News (Pa.), October 3, 2011
Activate Chester County, a local community health initiative, is planning to petition three southern Chester County municipalities to expand the area’s “walkability.”

Has the Renaissance of Downtowns Been Overhyped?
The Atlantic Cities, September 30, 2011
The relative resiliency of many downtowns in face of these problems encouraged some in the national media to announce an unprecedented shift back into central business districts following decades of the suburbanization of employment. After losing a significant share of the market to suburban office parks, could downtowns finally be hitting their stride?

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Smart growth news – September 27

Planners, developers working to create upscale neighborhood downtown
La Crosse Tribune (Wis.), September 25, 2011
Call it a resurgence. Downtown La Crosse has added new businesses to once-vacant storefronts, attracted tenants to new high-end apartments and restored some of its oldest historic buildings — all during a recession.

Can You Visualize Nashua as a Livable City?
Nashua Patch (N.H.), September 23, 2011
Revitalizing a downtown requires some key ingredients — a bustling business economy, foot traffic, a mix of businesses with a diverse demographic draw, a sense that it’s clean and safe place to live and work, and most of all, liveability.

Cities Across U.S. Grapple With Tax Revenue Drop as Costs Rise, Aid Falls
Bloomberg, September 27, 2011
More than half, 57 percent, of municipal officials said finances were worse in fiscal 2011 than in 2010, the National League of Cities said today, citing a survey of municipal officials. Inflation-adjusted revenue is headed for a fifth- straight annual drop, while worker health-care and pension costs rose for more than 80 percent. Half said state aid has declined.

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Smart growth news – September 21

Officials eye federal money for vacant homes
Baltimore Sun, September 18, 2011
While most of the debate on President Barack Obama’s jobs bill has focused on taxes, spending on infrastructure and unemployment insurance, housing officials in Baltimore and across the country are monitoring a little-remarked proposal to revitalize vacant and abandoned properties. Though housing officials generally praise the $15 billion program, called “Project Rebuild,” they say its impact will depend in large part on whether it is geared to address recent foreclosures or the more chronic abandonment of the sort found in cities such as Baltimore and Detroit.

Good news and bad on federal funding
New Urban Network, September 20, 2011
As Congress turns its attention to appropriations, advocates of smart growth and New Urbanism see the results so far as mixed. Reconnecting America expressed satisfaction Tuesday (Sept. 20) with one of the most recent Congressional decisions.

Daemen Summit Features Speakers on Smart Growth and Climate Smart Communities
Buffalo Rising (N.Y.), September 20, 2011
The term “Smart Growth” was coined by former Maryland Governor Parris Glendenning during his first gubernatorial campaign. Glendenning used the phrase to describe a “smarter”, more sustainable alternative to sprawling development. Subsequently, in 1997, Maryland passed the first comprehensive state Smart Growth law, which became the prototype for Smart Growth reforms today.

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Smart growth news – September 9

Infrastructure Spending Builds American Jobs
Center for American Progress, September 8, 2011
Academic, private-sector, and nonpartisan government studies alike confirm the positive effects of infrastructure and transportation investments on private-sector employment. Data collected and published by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House of Representatives show that every $1 billion in additional funds committed to highway projects between 2009 and 2010 produced 2.4 million job-hours, according to an analysis by Smart Growth America.[3] The return on investment on transit projects was even higher, with 4.2 million job-hours produced by every $1 billion in investment. With $21.5 billion in highway funding alone, the Recovery Act put Americans to work on our nation’s roadways for 51 million hours—time they may have otherwise spent idle and unpaid.

Former governor reflects on role as chief executive on Sept. 11
Maryland Community News, September 9, 2011
Cellular communications, which effectively froze in the hours after the terrorist attack, still present problems during emergencies, as evidenced by last month’s earthquake in which cell phone lines jammed as people reached out to loved ones, said Glendening, who now leads Washington, D.C.-based Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, an organization that advocates for anti-sprawl planning policies

Walkable Urbanism creates wealth, real estate expert says
Press-Register (Ala.), September 9, 2011
When it comes to the production of walkable environments and downtown redevelopment, other cities in the Southeast have far outpaced Mobile, Christopher Leinberger, a real estate expert and developer, told a packed auditorium Tuesday.

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American Jobs Act should use public transportation and road repair to achieve job creation goals

Washington, DC – In his speech last night before Congress, President Obama outlined the new American Jobs Act, which states among its goals putting construction workers back to work rebuilding the country’s roads and bridges. In response to this call Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, issued the following statement:

Investments in smart growth infrastructure like public transportation and repairing deteriorating infrastructure in existing communities will best achieve the goals outlined in President Obama’s America Jobs Act. Rather than spending millions on land and equipment and obligating taxpayers to additional maintenance, these investments will reduce future costs and put a larger proportion of funds directly into the pockets of American families.

These investment strategies will also create the jobs of the future the president recognizes are key to America’s future economic health. Robust public transportation and roads and bridges in good condition are vital to keeping America competitive in a global 21st century economy, and the American Jobs Act is an excellent opportunity to begin building these important resources.

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Smart growth news – August 12

‘Walkable’ communities, transit lines touted
The Advocate (La.), August 11, 2011
Walkable urban communities and those along transit lines are where the money is in commercial and residential real estate development, a national real estate developer and visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution said Wednesday. Chris Leinberger, who will return to Baton Rouge next week for the Center for Planning Excellence’s Smart Growth Summit, told a group of local developers, architects and planners that the era of interstate-driven suburban development is tapped out.

Can a new plan to rent out foreclosed properties help the housing market?
Washington Post, August 10, 2011
First, there’s a glut of foreclosed properties out there putting downward pressure on home prices — and that weak housing market, as we’ve seen, is putting a damper on economic growth. At the same time, there’s an undersupply of rental units, which is causing rents to increase faster than inflation in places like San Jose, Washington, D.C., Seattle, New York, Houston, and elsewhere. Is there a way to address both of those problems at once? Possibly.

Bloomberg, Schwarzenegger: U.S. Must Modernize Its Infrastructure, Invest In High-Speed Rail
Huffington Post, August 11, 2011
With GDP languishing and job-creation rates well below what’s needed to put the economy back on track, the key to recovery lies with American infrastructure, says a bipartisan group headed by Michael Bloomberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Details emerge about planned multi-million downtown development
Midland Daily News (Mich.), August 11, 2011
“Midland has tremendous existing attractions with the Dow Diamond Stadium, a vital downtown and the Tridge,” said Pat Gillespie, president of the Gillespie Group. “At the Gillespie Group and Caddis Development, we recognized an opportunity to further enhance Midland’s appeal by developing a walkable, mixed-use neighborhood that would connect the stadium with the existing downtown. We believe the development is a natural fit for the city, as we envision it will support a diverse, walkable and vibrant neighborhood where residents can live, shop, work and play. We are excited about the possibilities.”

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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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