Smart growth news – January 27, 2012

National News:

New Jersey Attempting to Get a Handle on Development
Wall Street Journal – January 27, 2012

After more than two decades of sprawling suburban growth and state agency feuds that led to chaotic regional-planning efforts, the Christie administration is pushing a new vision for future development in New Jersey.

Does Obama Finally Have a Plan to Fix the Housing Mess?
Time – January 27, 2012

In the end, without the backing of Congress all these proposals will more than likely end up being nothing more than a campaign tool for Obama, allowing him to claim that he’s at least trying to alleviate some of the economic hurt brought on by the collapse of the real estate market.

Much heat, little light on housing in Florida debate
Reuters – January 27, 2012

Republicans presidential candidates have taken a hands-off policy on the U.S. housing crisis. At a debate on Thursday in Florida, it devolved into finger pointing.

Local News:

Trackside Developments Catch On
New York Times – January 26, 2012

MORE than a century ago, before the term “transit-oriented development” entered the urban-planning glossary, plenty of it was being built in Westchester: clusters of housing, shops and sometimes industrial buildings close to railroad stations.

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Smart growth news – January 5, 2012

Federal HUD grant drives development in East Austin
YNN (Texas) – January 4, 2012
A large plot of land in East Austin will soon be developed into a mixed-income, sustainable community, thanks to a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Fed Urges Action on Housing
Wall Street Journal – January 5, 2012
The paper said some 60 metro areas had at least 250 foreclosed properties for sale by Fannie, Freddie and federal agencies—enough to efficiently execute rental programs. About two-fifths of properties held by Fannie could produce returns that justify converting them, it said.

Why Some Cities Are Healthier Than Others
The Atlantic Cities – January 5, 2012
Metro health is closely associated with commuting patterns. Metros where greater shares of people walk and bike to work do better on the Metro Health Index (.62). Conversely, the share of people who drive to work alone is negatively associated with the Metro Health Index (-.47).

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Smart growth news – December 27, 2011

Byram growth plan honored again
New Jersey Herald, December 23, 2011
Spanning from Maine to Washington state, the 15 chosen communities represent major cities, suburban communities, and rural towns, said Smart Growth America Vice President Roger Millar. The 15 selected communities exhibited the strongest interest in and need for smart growth tools, and demonstrated a commitment from local business, community and political leaders to implement local smart growth solutions, according to Millar.

Tacoma Chosen to Receive Smart Growth Assistance
Exit 133 (Wash.), December 23, 2011
Tacoma has been awarded a grant for free assistance from Smart Growth America. Tacoma is one of 15 communities selected out of a pool of close to 90 applications for the free assistance in implementing the principles of smart growth.

PlanMaryland: A Model for State-Level Smart Growth Planning
Streetsblog DC, December 22, 2011
Parris Glendening, former Maryland governor and smart growth leader explained his support for the plan in blog post for Smart Growth America: “I want my grandchildren to enjoy the beauty of Patapsco Valley State Park and the bustling downtown of historic Annapolis. I want them to be able to eat food grown in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and to find a job here. I want Maryland to be a place they will love.”

Top 10 Daily Digits from 2011
Governing, December 23, 2011
69,000: The number of bridges that need major repairs or complete replacement in the United States, according to a Transportation for America report. Reuters reported in March that the American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that the nation needs to invest $17 billion yearly to improve current bridge conditions.

Housing the Echo Boomers – Next Big Real Estate Opportunity?
Forbes, December 21, 2011
[W]hether Echo Boomers rent or buy, they will need housing, and there are 80 million of them. In other words, recognizing their demographics and preferences will separate the winners from the losers and that has huge financial implications in a generation as large as the Echo Boomers.

Technical assistance

15 communities selected to receive free smart growth technical assistance

A view of downtown Oklahoma City, OK by Flickr user Becky McCray. Oklahoma City is one of 15 communities selected to receive free technical assistance this year.

Smart Growth America is pleased to announce the 15 communities that have been selected to receive this year’s free smart growth technical assistance. Stretching from Maine to Washington State, these communities represent major cities, suburban communities, and rural towns, showing that all types of communities are interested in using smart growth strategies to build stronger local economies, create jobs and improve overall quality of life.

Technical assistance

Merging smart growth and economic development in New Jersey

Photo of NJ Transit’s River Line light rail by Flickr user Schaffner.

New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation, has historically been a leader in smart growth efforts. In 1986 the state passed its State Planning Act which, among other things, mandated the creation of a State Development and Redevelopment Plan and a State Planning Commission to oversee the plan. The Plan was subsequently developed and laid out a vision for encouraging growth in areas with existing infrastructure while preserving farmland and open space. To help accomplish this vision, the Plan included a State Plan Map to guide investment decisions.

While New Jersey may have some of the strongest smart growth policies on the books, the results on the ground have been more mixed. Though many state agencies have integrated aspects of the State Plan into their regulations, widespread implementation of the plan does not exist at the state level, where individual agencies continue to pursue their own missions. Locally, the state’s strong home-rule tradition meant that the State Plan was merely advisory for municipalities, and attempts to incentivize compliance have been cumbersome and inconsistent. All of this has led to disappointing results in achieving the State Plan’s goals. While there have been smart growth success stories – like the revitalization of New Brunswick and the Gold Coast in Hudson County – the state continues to lose open space to low-density development at an alarming rate.

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Smart growth news – October 31

San Jose’s updated general plan emphasizes ‘smart growth,’ healthier communities
San Jose Mercury (Calif.), October 31, 2011
Called Envision San Jose 2040, the city’s fourth general plan since the mid-1970s is the community’s land-use constitution. The report lays out a long-term vision for the amount, type and phasing of development needed to meet the city’s social, economic and environmental goals. … For many, he said, it’s not having to drive as much. Horwedel and other planners envision “urban villages” closer to where San Jose residents live that offer a variety of ways to live, work, shop and play all at one location.

Suburban plight for poor
The Buffalo News (N.Y.), October 30, 2011
Buffalo may be one of the poorest cities in America, but a majority of the region’s poor now live in suburbia. Of the 159,000 people in the region living below the poverty line, more than half — 52 percent — reside in the suburbs of Erie and Niagara counties, according to an analysis of 2010 census data by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

What’s up downtown?
The Roanoke News (Va.), October 30, 2011
Downtown Roanoke has seen its population surge from fewer than 50 residents in 2000 to more than 600 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The arrival of new businesses and the expansion of the Jefferson College of Health Sciences show the need for more downtown living spaces, more retail and more office space, Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill said.

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Smart growth news – October 20

Christie announces new state plan that focuses on business and job creation
NewJerseyNewsroom.com, October 19, 2011
The plan also calls for “effective planning for “vibrant regions,” including areas designated as “Priority Growth Investment Areas” where an effort would be made to promote urban areas with access to quality education, housing, public transportation and infrastructure, parks and recreation.

Administration Wants to Shelve Smart Growth Map
NJ Spotlight, October 20, 2011
The Christie administration is proposing a radical overhaul of the State Plan, a blueprint state officials devoted years trying to achieve, mostly unsuccessfully, by steering growth to established urban and suburban areas and away from open space and farmlands.

So happy together
The Economist’s Free Exchange blog, October 19, 2011
Taken together the data are suggestive of a recovery in housing driven by renters. This isn’t entirely surprising. New home construction has been at record low levels for several years now, amounting to a shortfall in construction far bigger than the deviation above trend from 2002 to 2006. Meanwhile, America’s population has kept on growing. This mismatch has begun to translate into falling rental vacancies and rent increases, which has in turn generated an small but growing upswing in construction of multifamily housing.

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Smart growth news – October 11

Poll finds support for statewide planning in New Jersey
NJBIZ, October 11, 2011
New Jersey residents support statewide planning to guide growth and development and to protect farms and open space, according to a poll released Tuesday. … The poll was commissioned by four nonprofit organizations: New Jersey Future, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Smart Growth America.

Obama’s infrastructure bank proposal faces first test in Republican-led House
The Hill, October 9, 2011
Advocates for reshaping the nation’s roads and bridges have criticized Obama for focusing his message on infrastructure. The president’s argument loses some effectiveness when it is focused on hard-to-visualize infrastructure rather than readily apparent crumbling roads and bridges, they say.

Obama jobs bill touted as a way to bolster infrastructure
Kansas City Star, October 7, 2011
A portion of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill could be a boon for Missouri highways, roads and bridges, state and local officials were told Friday.

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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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