Smart growth news – December 22

What the End of the Sustainable Communities Grants Means For Planning
Governing Magazine, December 21, 2011
One reason the program may have suffered is a general lack of appreciation for planning. “It’s a hard thing to defend in the sense that it’s not putting a piece of infrastructure in the ground,” said Geoffrey Anderson, head of Smart Growth America. “But then you think about building a building without planning. The idea is absurd.” Indeed, a different Sustainable Communities initiative, the Transportation Department’s TIGER grants, survived. It provides over $500 million to highways, transit, bridges and ports.

Cities Face Tough Choices as U.S. Slashes Block Grants Program
New York Times, December 21, 2011
The shrinking federal program, called Community Development Block Grants, was devised by the Nixon administration to bypass state governments and send money directly to big cities, which were given broad leeway to decide how to spend it. This year the federal government is giving out just $2.9 billion — a billion dollars less than it gave two years ago, and even less than it gave during the Carter administration, when the money went much further.

Transit as a Stepping Stone to Prosperity
Regional Plan Association Blog, December 21, 2011
Christmas came early to the tri-state region this year. In the span of a week, two high-profile, competitive awards landed on Long Island and in Stamford, Conn. While they have different objectives and scopes, both should help further the twin goals of revitalizing the metropolitan economy and supporting more sustainable, transit-oriented development.

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Smart growth news – December 21

Morning Read: Smart Growth, or “War on Rural Maryland”?
Baltimore Sun, December 19, 2011
Glendening, 69, praised Plan Maryland as a “major movement ahead.” The plan spells out criteria for judging which types of development projects are viewed as desirable — and worthy of state infrastructure spending. “Land use planning is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for people who are anxious to get things done quickly,” said Glendening.

Maryland To Offer Preferential Funding For Smart Growth
WAMU (DC), December 21, 2011
The rate of land consumption in Maryland is three times the rate of population growth, according to the state’s department of planning. That’s a lot of urban sprawl for a small state. Governor Martin O’Malley issued an executive order for a strategy called PlanMaryland, which is designed to limit sprawl, but it’s set up tensions around the state.

The Future of Retail
BusinessWeek, December 20, 2011
Modernize our nation’s aging infrastructure: It is critical that the US transportation infrastructure — including our ports, airports, rail lines and roads — can meet future demands. We need a national freight policy that will support US competitiveness, economic growth and job creation.

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Senate passes minibus bill with strong funding for Partnership for Sustainable Communities programs

Washington, DC – The Senate passed an amended fiscal 2012 “minibus” appropriations package today, which included spending bills for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The bill includes $90 million in funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative at HUD and $550 million for the TIGER program DOT.

These programs are part of the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative and effective collaboration between HUD, DOT and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Partnership works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more economically resilient, allow people to live closer to jobs, save households time and money, and reduce pollution.

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Blumenauer criticizes cuts to smart growth program

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) yesterday took aim at language in the U.S. EPA spending bill that would eliminate an agency program that helps communities develop with an eye toward environmental and economic sustainability.

The Smart Growth program would see its entire budget slashed in the Interior-EPA 2012 spending bill currently being debated on the House floor. The program offers technical and financial assistance to cities and towns looking to expand their infrastructure to emphasize livability and downplay driving and sprawl.

“Eliminating funding for Smart Growth programs would be devastating for communities across the country,” Blumenauer said in a statement. “Even more important in today’s tight budget environment, they leverage additional funding through public-private partnerships to help revitalize communities, grow businesses and create jobs.”

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