Councilmember Steve Hansen is working with community members to create a vibrant and healthy Sacramento, CA

sacramento-urban-agA community garden in Sacramento, CA. Photo by Annie & John via flickr.

Councilmember Steve Hansen has a history of advocating for and working with community members in Sacramento, CA’s historic downtown neighborhoods, serving in recent years on his neighborhood association, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership Board of Directors, and the Sacramento Redistricting Citizens Advisory Committee. Now, just one-and-a-half years into his first term in elected office, Councilmember Hansen is working to promote policies and encourage development that will make Sacramento’s downtown more vibrant for residents.

“We have such an opportunity – particularly in the older parts of the city – to build housing, to bring vitality back, and ultimately to create a vibrant modern city,” says Councilmember Hansen, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. “We want to respect historic structures but revitalize them, and to bring communities that were displaced by redevelopment and highway construction back to life.”

Hansen explains that redevelopment projects in Sacramento’s downtown neighborhoods currently face a number of barriers, including policies and standards that make infill development and redevelopment complicated and costly compared to new development in the city’s outer suburbs.

Local Leaders Council

EPA recognizes seven communities with National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

Atlanta BeltlineThe Atlanta Beltline, one of this year’s award winners. Photo by Christoper T. Martin, courtesy of Atlanta Beltline.

This morning in Washington, DC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recognize some of the best examples of smart growth projects in the country today.

The annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, established in 2002, recognizes exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, enhance quality of life, and provide new opportunities for disadvantaged communities.

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Small places with big goals win national awards for smart growth achievement


Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America (left) with representatives from seven communities honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

On Wednesday evening in a hearing room on Capitol Hill, the winners of this year’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement gathered to discuss how their projects are helping their communities become better places to live and work.

The awards this year went to projects that have improved streets, redeveloped historic buildings, built new homes and stores in the heart of downtown, created better transportation choices and more. And though the projects are all very different from one another, none would have been possible without community support and collaboration.

“That’s the word of the day, partnerships,” said Kenneth Chandler, former City Manager of the City of Portsmouth, VA. Portsmouth’s comprehensive overhaul of the city’s development and land use regulations won it the Programs and Policies award. Portsmouth’s new codes are already creating a more livable and pedestrian-friendly city with opportunities for economic development and reinvestment.

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The seven most innovative development projects – and policies – in the country


The BLVD in Lancaster, California is one of seven communities being honored this year by the EPA. Photo by Charlie Essers via Flickr.

What do a boulevard in California, a Denver neighborhood, new zoning ordinances in Virginia and an organic food co-op in Vermont all have in common?

They are all being honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Sustainable Communities. The seven winning communities – including four winners and three honorable mentions – were announced this morning.

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Partnership in the News: High School Initiative Turns Into Community Effort For Howard, South Dakota

What began as a high school study of the local economy in Howard, South Dakota has turned into a community revitalization effort that has sparked growth again in a declining rural community, reports an article published today in the Daily Yonder.

After nearly 15 years of work, Howard has become a poster child of community resolve. And it all began at the high school, building on an imaginative and intensely practical assignment…The town had lost nearly a hundred local businesses between 1960 and 1999. Farm production was declining. And young people, without prospects, were moving away.

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Send your nominations for Smart Growth America's second annual 2012 Leadership Award

Nominations are now being accepted for Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute second annual Leadership Award. This is a great opportunity to recognize elected officials in your area who have championed smart growth and sustainable development policies.

Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute’s Award for Outstanding Leadership is bestowed annually on an elected official that has shown exceptional leadership in smart growth policy development or implementation. Last year, North Carolina State Senator Floyd B. McKissick and Representative Jennifer Weiss received the award for their outstanding leadership in smart growth policy making that will make North Carolina neighborhoods even greater places to live. Their efforts helped create the innovative Sustainable Communities Task Force, which created $250,000 in task force grants for regional sustainable development partnerships.

The Leadership Institute will be accepting nominations from Smart Growth America coalition members until September 1, 2011. Please contact Shelly Hazle, Program Manager, Smart Growth America for further details at 202-207-3355 x120 or [email protected]

Click here to download the full submission guidelines (PDF)

Nominations will be accepted through our online submission form. Click here to submit your nomination online >>

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EPA’s 2010 smart growth awards go to innovative urban redevelopment and rural revitalization

Smart growth achievement awards 2010
Clockwise from top left: Smart growth projects in Baltimore, New York City, San Francisco and Maine.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 National Awards for Smart Growth Achievement were awarded yesterday to five projects from across the country deemed “exceptional approaches to development that respect the environment, foster economic vitality, and enhance quality of life.” The awards were given in five categories.

The Civic Places award went to San Francisco’s Mint Plaza, which turned a derelict alley into a public plaza that reclaims stormwater and provides a flexible gathering place for neighborhood residents. The Rural Smart Growth Award went to the Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan in midcoast Maine, a collaboration of 20 townships in the state to preserve the environment and economy along the corridor. The Programs, Policies and Regulations award went to Portland, OR, which has used city ordinances to encourage sustainable land use for future population growth. The Smart Growth and Green Building Award went to Miller’s Place in Baltimore, MD, which rehabilitated an abandoned building on a brownfield site to create housing and office spaces for teachers and non-profits. And the award for Overall Excellence went to New York City’s [email protected] program, a multiagency coordination to bring smart growth ideas to all five boroughs.

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EPA's smart growth awards recognize exceptional projects across the country

The recession may have slowed growth in many places across the country, but the economic difficulties have only reaffirmed the need to be smarter than ever about what we build, and where we build it. Earlier this week, four municipalities from across the country were recognized by the US EPA for their innovative work in promoting smarter growth and creating places worth caring about. EPA created the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement back in 2002 to recognize outstanding and innovative approaches to development that “respect the environment, foster economic vitality, and enhance quality of life.”

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