Senate transportation bill includes landmark provision for safer streets

Senators Schatz, Heller, Franken, and Udall champion provision to address national epidemic of pedestrian fatalities

The Senate voted on its final six-year transportation reauthorization bill today, and included in the bill was a landmark provision to make streets across the country safer for everyone who uses them. The Safe Streets amendment would require states and metropolitan planning organizations to plan and design for the safety needs of all users—regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation—in all federally-funded projects.

“America is facing an epidemic of pedestrian deaths,” said Stefanie Seskin, Deputy Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition. “This bill will make a Complete Streets approach routine in federal projects. That means streets will be safer for Americans of all ages and abilities, no matter how they travel.”

Complete Streets

CNBC: Walkable neighborhoods key to revitalizing America's struggling suburbs

Bethesda Row
Bethesda Row in Bethesda, MD, is a walkable area amidst a suburban community. Photo by ehpien via Flickr.

Suburbs around the country are reinventing themselves by adopting pedestrian-friendly streets and amenities, according to a new special report by CNBC. The growing demand for neighborhoods where people can walk to shops, restaurants, parks and schools is outpacing supply—but creating walkable communities goes beyond simply building sidewalks. Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America spoke to CNBC about the new trend.


Policy Update: Federal Government Shutdown

As of midnight on September 30th, the Federal Government was ‘shutdown’ after Congress was unable to agree upon the terms of a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30th.

House Republicans fought to delay and defund parts of the Affordable Care Act despite President Obama and Senate Democrats saying they would not support any such bill. Instead, Senate Democrats passed a ‘clean’ CR to fund the government through November 15th. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) on Monday that she would provide votes from House Democrats to pass a multi-month funding resolution. But that didn’t happen.

The ‘shutdown’ will not affect critical government services such as military, air traffic controllers, mail, Social Security and Medicare. However, many programs that are funded through the annual appropriations process will come to a halt until further notice.

The last government shut down occurred 17 years ago when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and Bill Clinton was President. That shut down lasted 28 days.


Smart Growth America Joins Source Water Collaborative

John Larson, CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts with SGA President and CEO Geoff Anderson

Smart Growth America became an official member of the national Source Water Collaborative on Monday during a celebration of the Collaborative’s seventh anniversary. SGA CEO Geoff Anderson joined National Association of Conservation Districts’ CEO John Larsen to become the 24th and 25th members of the Collaborative, which also includes national associations of water agencies and water utilities, federal agencies, and non-profit groups such as the Trust for Public Land and the River Network.

In his remarks, Anderson referred to the similarities between the national Smart Growth Network and the Collaborative. “The Source Water Collaborative creates an opportunity for us to work with critical partners to help local governments save money and protect resources for the long haul. Smart growth works at the federal, state and local level to help communities get out in front of environmental problems – whether from air and water pollution, flooding, or destruction of habitat and working lands.”


Smart growth in the Smoky Mountains – Graham County, NC to host strategy workshops

Photo via Graham County Chamber of Information.

Tucked in a corner of the Smoky Mountains, Graham County, North Carolina is a rural community known for it’s abundant natural beauty, windy mountain roads, local produce and artisans. As county residents look toward the future of their community, Smart Growth America will assist Graham County in how to utilize their existing assets to ensure a healthy, economically productive place in which to live, work and play.

On April 2 and 3, 2013, Graham County officials and local residents will meet with representatives from Smart Growth America as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshops aim to find innovative strategies for improving the county’s safety, health and economy through the development of a resident led action plan for future growth.

Technical assistance

Smart growth strategies in San Diego

Investing in quality development and creating vibrant places where people want to live and work are among the themes at this year’s New Partners for Smart Growth conference in San Diego. Over 1,400 public officials, planners, developers and advocates are meeting this week to discuss better strategies for development – and the conference’s host city is a great example of that principle in action. From NBC San Diego:

“San Diego is investing in the right things,” said Ilana Preuss, vice president of Washington D.C.-based Smart Growth America. “Looking at how you create whole neighborhoods where people can live near where they work, have jobs near shops and schools. We’ve found that that’s really a key to the economic development of the 21st century.”

“Smart Growth” Experts Tout San Diego [NBC San Diego, February 2, 2012]


Smart Growth America welcomes Bill Fulton, Mayor of Ventura, CA and urban planning expert, to staff

Smart Growth America is proud to welcome Bill Fulton, Mayor of Ventura, CA and an expert in the field of urban planning, to its staff.

A longtime writer, researcher, and urban planning consultant, Mr. Fulton is one of the country’s leading experts on the smart growth policies and the relationship between smart growth and economic development. At Smart Growth America, Fulton will focus on Smart Growth America’s programs to assist state, regional, and local government agencies around the nation with smart growth policies and tools.

Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America said:

Bill’s practical experience implementing smart growth strategies will be a tremendous asset to Smart Growth America. Our organization is committed to helping local elected officials use smart growth strategies to create stable, sustainable economies and communities and Bill’s expertise will help us do just that. We are proud to welcome him to our team.

Fulton currently serves as a Principal and Shareholder of The Planning Center | DC&E, a California-based planning consulting firm. He will continue these roles in a limited capacity, focusing on Transfer of Development Rights programs nationwide and high-profile smart growth projects in California. In Ventura, he will step down as Mayor and member of the City Council in December. He also serves as a Senior Fellow at the School of Planning, Policy, & Development at the University of Southern California, where he teaches land use policy and smart growth.


Congress does not include funding for HUD’s Sustainable Communities Initiative in FY 2012

Washington, DC – The conference report for the FY 2012 minibus, which includes funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) eliminates funds for the Sustainable Communities Initiative. The program served as HUD’s contribution to the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaborative effort between HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, released the following statement:

“The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is one of the federal government’s most effective tools, and HUD’s crucial role in that program will be almost certainly eliminated by these cuts. If you think building homes that people can afford near jobs and schools is a sound strategy for rebuilding our economy, if you think local governments can partner to deliver service more efficiently, if you want to help communities copy other localities that have saved hundreds of millions in federal infrastructure funding, this was the program for you.


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.