How-to workshops help small towns implement smart growth strategies

A new series of free workshops on smart growth development are catching the attention of policy makers and community leaders across the country.

The set of 12 workshops, run by Smart Growth America and several partner organizations, are designed to show local leaders how smart growth strategies can support a local economy and protect the environment while preserving the character of a town and making it more attractive to visitors or new residents.

The one or two-day workshops address a number of smart growth topics, including how to create pedestrian-friendly streets, the benefits of regional planning, innovative parking policies, and zoning changes that benefit small cities. “Transportation Performance Measurement,” for instance, empowers citizens and elected leaders to look at the roads, transit systems, walkways and bike lanes in their area as tools for achieving their objectives for economic vitality, public health, environmental protection and neighborhood character – in addition to the classic transportation objectives of access, circulation and travel.


Smart growth news – August 2

State land bank law will help Newburgh, officials say
Times Herald-Record (N.Y.), August 1, 2011
Officials in the City of Newburgh were already creating a land bank for residential properties, but the new law will allow them to bank commercial foreclosures, too. “We’re thrilled,” city fire Chief Michael Vatter said of the state law. “This gives us a lot of options to do stuff on Broadway or work with other commercial properties.”

Rural Schools Vs. Smart Growth In King County
KUPOW (Wash.), August 1, 2011
King County may close a loophole in its growth management planning for rural school construction. Smart growth advocates support the change to limit sprawl, but some rural districts are opposed because it could cost them more in construction costs. We’ll hear two perspectives.

Army aviation’s $400M home
El Paso Inc. (Texas), August 1, 2011
[Under second subheadline “Army ‘smart growth’”] In its effort to push smart growth principals the City of El Paso has an unlikely companion. A 15-year veteran of the Army, Wilson says she has never seen the Army build the way it is at Fort Bliss, putting so much care into the design and arrangement of its buildings.

Carless in Calhoun County: A reporter’s attempt to use public transportation and his bicycle to get to work
The Anniston Star (Ala.), July 31, 2011
Hitting the snooze button. Drinking six cups of coffee. Wolfing down a snack bar while running out the door. Riding halfway across the county on a bicycle to catch a bus that makes one stop every 55 minutes. What, that last one isn’t part of your daily commute to work?


FTA Administrator Rogoff blogs on rural transit in the Dakotas

Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff discusses the important role of transit in some of our most rural communities as he reflects on a recent visit to South Dakota. FTA understands the difficulties Clint and others face in North and South Dakota. We see that the conditions on the ground in rural America, the challenges of … Continued


Conference: Transportation Planning for Small and Medium-Sized Communities

From the conference website (visit to register): TRB is sponsoring the 10th National Conference on Transportation Planning for Small and Medium–Sized Communities: Tools of the Trade on September 22-24, 2010, in Williamsburg, Virginia. The conference will explore information on the factors relating to the planning, development, programming, and implementation of multi-modal transportation facilities for small … Continued


Complete Streets Work in All Communities

By planning, designing, and constructing Complete Streets, communities of all sizes – whether rural hamlets, small towns, or booming metropolises – are able to provide the quality access to jobs, health care, shops, and schools their residents deserve, while also achieving greater economic, environmental, and public health benefits.

Complete Streets

Now Available: Smart growth strategies for rural communities

Smart growth, with its emphasis on  traditional neighborhood design and open space preservation, has direct relevance for rural communities. A new report from ICMA, developed through a cooperative agreement with EPA, explores specific ways smart growth principles can be used to create vibrant, sustainable rural places. ICMA has recently released a new publication on policies … Continued


Webinar: Exploring Rural Policy Opportunities

From the National Rural Assembly: The National Rural Assembly is pleased to launch a webinar series that will explore rural policy opportunities at both the state and federal level. We invite you to participate in our first webinar on July 29, 2010 @2pm-3pm Eastern for a broad scan of rural policy issues, looking at rural economic development, … Continued


Regional planning goes rural in FY 2011 budget

A blog post from Mark Muro, Policy Director for the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, describes a new effort by USDA to fund regional planning in rural areas. It parallels the regional focus and silo-busting strategies of the Sustainable Communities Partnership. Called the Regional Innovation Initiative, the USDA explains (p. 14): In recent years, rural communities have been … Continued


Why do some in DC think livability is not a small town value? Part II

From the President down to the Secretary of Transportation, administration officials have spent the year vocally supporting a focus on livability from the federal government — doing what’s in their power to encourage smarter, people-centric planning to create more great places to live where residents have numerous options for getting around and a high quality of life. Perhaps unsurprisingly in this polarized white-hot political era, there’s been a backlash in Congress from some rural legislators. But isn’t livability really a quintessential small-town value? Part two of a personal reflection on small city livability.