House’s massive infrastructure bill brings housing, land use and transportation together

This week the House will consider the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that reflects many of Smart Growth America’s core priorities, including a new kind of transportation bill, billions to invest in new or rehabilitated affordable housing, and support for more inclusive and equitable development around transit to help give more Americans access to opportunity. 

Advocacy Complete Streets Economic development LOCUS Resilience Transportation

How bad land use and transportation decisions go hand-in-hand with “The Congestion Con”

In an expensive, decades-long effort to curb congestion in urban regions, our transportation agencies and elected leaders have overwhelmingly prioritized spending hundreds of billions of dollars to widen and build new highways. Yet this strategy has utterly failed to “solve” the problem at hand, and in many cases, has actually made it worse. The Congestion Con, a new report from our Transportation for America program, examines how and why, and in this post we look at how land use is right in the middle of it all.

Complete Streets DOT Innovation Economic development Transportation

How can the change coming to suburbs be harnessed for good?

The notion of the suburbs is nestled deeply in the collective imagination in America, but as we wrote recently, “the suburbs of today aren’t necessarily the suburbs of yesteryear.” In a future that is increasingly urban, where suburbs are rapidly changing, what changes should they consider to stay prosperous and resilient? 

Complete Streets Economic development Form-Based Codes LOCUS Transportation Uncategorized

Transcending Oil: Hawaii’s Path to a Clean Energy Economy

An ocean apart from the US mainland’s electric supply, Hawaii has embarked on an ambitious effort to wean itself off imported fossil fuels with a mandate to reach 100 percent renewable electricity by 2045. Elemental Excelerator commissioned Rhodium Group, in partnership with Smart Growth America, to conduct an independent analysis of Hawaii’s clean energy transition. This is not a plan; rather, this report presents a quantitative assessment of accomplishments to date and describes the future potential of clean energy deployment in Hawaii’s electric power sector and on-road transportation.

Transportation

Policy #7: Complete Streets must be designed to serve the current and future land use

We’ve raised the bar for this element of our Complete Streets policy framework to better account for land use and context. In our previous framework, we gave points to policies that simply mention community context in decision making. Now, the updated framework requires Complete Streets policies to integrate land use policies, plans, zoning ordinances, or equivalent documents from jurisdictions at all levels of government.

Complete Streets

Partnership in the News: EPA report shows link between land use, public health, natural environment

The way communities plan neighborhoods has profound effects on the natural environment and public health. A new study released by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Sustainable Communities’ Smart Growth Program finds a link between environmental quality and land use and transportation strategies.

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Credit: EPA Office of Sustainable Communities

The second edition of Our Built and Natural Environments: A Technical Review of the Interactions Among Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality, an update to a 2001 report of the same title, details how development can impact human and environmental health. “As the U.S. population has grown, we have developed land that serves important ecological functions at a significant cost to the environment,” the report states, going on to say, “Changing where and how we build our communities can help mitigate these impacts, improving how development affects the environment and human health.”

The report identifies hows our development patterns have negatively affected the natural environment, the report finds, “Transportation is responsible for 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions; residential and commercial buildings contribute 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively.”

As solutions to these mounting problems, the report demonstrates the benefits of specific development strategies. The report recommends preserving ecologically valuable sites and placing a stronger emphasis on infill develop and transit oriented development. Each of these strategies reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled and, in turn, greenhouse gas emissions. The report also emphasizes the need for community design that addresses development’s potential downsides, offering investing in mixed-use development and improving street connectivity as solutions.

Uncategorized

Helping Pima County, Arizona, audit its land use codes

A detail from Pima County’s Cultural Resources map. Image from the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Pima County, Arizona, has made a concerted effort in recent years to improve how it uses land and maintains its infrastructure.

The County already is already working to improve the area’s zoning codes, and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, which works to balance development with preserving open space, has been touted as “one of the best and most comprehensive habitat conservation plans in the country.”

Technical assistance