Some may think of smart growth as a physical form of development, but in a simpler sense it’s deciding how to best use limited resources when it comes to choices about land use, housing, development, and infrastructure. Our economic development team is at the core of SGA’s work to move the needle on these questions across the country.
Improving racial and social equity is directly connected to building strong local economies, but there’s a mistaken perception that those goals are opposed to one another. Done right, both goals are not just achievable, but essential to a smart growth approach. We’re going to spend the rest of the summer explaining how and why.
The House Select Committee on Climate Change released a new legislative blueprint this week for tackling the climate crisis that incorporates many of SGA’s recommendations across our programs, demonstrating how smart growth is at the very core of any potential plan to reduce emissions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released new recommendations to promote physical activity by implementing a combination of transportation and land use interventions. The recommendations stem from the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF), an independent panel of 15 public health and medical experts appointed by the CDC Director with the objective of identifying evidence-based interventions to improve health and quality of life. The panel includes distinguished doctors, professors, and researchers with expertise in health promotion and disease prevention. They conducted a comprehensive review of 90 studies examining the relationship between the built environment and physical activity to determine how best to promote exercise. Their new recommendations are an important step forward to understanding the linkages between health-related behavior and how we build our towns and cities.
To what degree does the choice of development pattern impact costs for a local government? How do these decisions affect a municipality’s budget and tax revenues, and the cost of infrastructure and services it must provide?
The Fiscal Impact of Development Patterns, a new model from Smart Growth America and real estate advisors RCLCO, is designed to help municipalities answer these questions.
The new model was unveiled yesterday morning, and as part of the kickoff Chris Zimmerman, Smart Growth America’s Vice President for Economic Development, and Patrick Lynch, Smart Growth America’s Research Director, presented an overview of the new resource at an event in Madison, WI. The presentation was webcast live yesterday afternoon and a recorded version of their discussion is now available above or on YouTube.
Smart Growth America visited Port Isabel, TX in May 2013 to provide the City with tools to implement smart growth strategies. In particular, the City was looking to revitalize two main areas in its south side—the Old Garcia Street District and the South Shore Drive District. These two neighborhoods, characterized by lasting damages from Hurricane Dolly in 2008, vacant or abandoned properties, as well as obsolete businesses, had fallen behind their counterparts in the northern part of the city.
At the workshop on May 22, 2013, Smart Growth America’s experts met with City officials, residents, and business owners to discuss smart growth in the context of Port Isabel, a small community of about 5000 people. Port Isabel, with historic development patterns and architecture dating to the turn of the 20th Century, is in stark contrast to the high-rise hotels and condominiums of South Padre Island, directly across the causeway. The City’s revitalization plans are part of a larger effort to distinguish Port Isabel as a different type of tourist destination, as well as a comfortable place for families to live year-round.
Market Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, one of 2014’s free technical assistance recipients. Photo by Harvey Barrison, via Flickr.
Smart Growth America is pleased to announce the 18 communities selected to receive a free workshop in 2014 as part of our free technical assistance program.
Each year, Smart Growth America makes a limited number of technical assistance workshops available to interested communities for zero cost. This competitive award gives communities a chance to understand the technical aspects of smart growth development through a one- or two-day workshop on a subject of their choosing.
In 2010 the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) was awarded $640,000 for the Planning for Livable Military Communities project to provide improved transportation and housing conditions for families in the US armed forces. The award comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Challenge Grant, which is an initiative of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
North Central Texas is home to Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Joint Reserve Base. Many of the military families live off base, in surrounding communities including Fort Worth, White Settlement, Westworth Village and River Oaks. Planners intend to use the community challenge grant in a number of studies aimed at integrating smart growth strategies in the surrounding communities.
The NCTCOG will conduct a number studies that will create short- and long-term recommendations to improve transportation options, establish a model building code for greater energy efficiency, and update the City’s zoning, ordinances and comprehensive plan.
Later this month planners in Washtenaw County, Michigan will unveil a plan for a re-imagined Washtenaw Avenue, a 4.5-mile corridor connecting Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, MI. The corridor will undergo a makeover to better support all modes of travel and mixed-use development, thanks in part to a $3 million grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
Washtenaw Avenue is the busiest corridor in in the county, averaging between 28,000 to 40,000 vehicle trips per day. However, the auto-centric pattern of parking lots and strip malls lacks mixed-use development and is not safe for pedestrians and bicyclists using the roadway. Planners evaluated different strategies for improvements to the corridor and will reveal their detailed plan to the public on December 11, 2013.
County planners took a careful look at redeveloping the corridor through a mixed-use, transit-oriented development lens in order to capitalize on the avenue’s potential for economic development. Their strategy is to promote infill development at key locations, foster new mixed-use neighborhoods, revitalize existing neighborhoods, improve alternative transit choices, and promote an active urban setting. They will also make significant roadway improvements including dedicated bus lanes, buffered bike lanes, wider sidewalks and landscaped green spaces that will make for a more attractive and safer roadway for all users.
With assistance from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the city of Dallas, TX will make significant improvements to its downtown transit system over the next few years with the construction of the Modern Streetcar and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Orange Line extension. Both projects received funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.
With a $23 million TIGER I grant and additional funding from the City of Dallas, North Central Texas Council of Governments and DART, Dallas will soon have a streetcar network that connects residents and visitors to core areas of the city. Dallas’ modern streetcar network will be a 1.6 mile route connecting various downtown districts and destinations including Union Station, with connections to the DART Red and Blue lines and the Dallas Convention Center. The streetcar will connect walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods in the urban core, act as a catalyst for economic development and serve as a quick, efficient and cost-effective means of transportation. The street car is currently in the environmental review phase but is on track for beginning operation in 2017.
DART Orange Line Extension
DART, the region’s rapid transit agency, will soon extended its light rail service to over 90 miles of track in 2014 with the completion of the 14.5 mile Orange Line extension to the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. DART operates both rail and bus services for downtown Dallas and 12 surrounding cities. Ridership on the DART light rail is among the busiest in the country with over 27.7 million passenger trips in 2012 and the extension of the Orange line will provide a much needed alternative transit option for residents and visitors. Part of the $5 million TIGER grant will go towards the construction of a rail terminal at the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW), which will include a train platform, passenger walkways, and a bus transfer station. This terminal will also be a connection to the TEX commuter rail system, expected to be completed in 2016. DFW is a major employer for the region and these projects will ensure that residents can get to and from work with a reliable, safe and affordable transit system.
Together, these projects are going to enhance the accessibility of the Dallas/Fort Worth region, making it easier for residents to be connected to where they live, work and play.