2016 federal appropriations bill increases funding for transportation, housing, and urban development

On December 18, President Obama signed into law a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government until September 30, 2016. This funding will support many federal programs that build more equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities nationwide. Here’s what the bill contains for smart growth-related programs. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development … Continued

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Proposed House Appropriations Bill Would Defund Smart Growth Program, Slash EPA Funding

WASHINGTON DC — In language that puts politics ahead of public safety and economic development, the House of Representatives’ Fiscal Year 2013 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill zeroes out funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s smart growth program and reduces EPA funding overall by 17 percent. “Though House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers … Continued

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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 – July 29

Blumenauer criticizes cuts to smart growth program
Environment & Energy Daily, July 28, 2011
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.

The Latest Target of House Spending Cuts: EPA’s Smart Growth Office
Streetsblog, July 28, 2011
For much of this week, the House has been debating next year’s appropriations bill for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The bill includes harsh cuts to many key safety and environmental programs, including the EPA’s Smart Growth Office. According to the Obama administration’s statement of policy on the bill, “The bill terminates funding for EPA’s Smart Growth program, which contributes to efforts to assist communities in coordinating infrastructure investments and minimizing environmental impact of development.” Smart Growth America opposes the cut, calling it “shortsighted” and saying it would be “detrimental to economic growth.”

Winning the Future by Supporting Local Innovation
The White House Blog, July 28, 2011
Today, I was proud to announce that we are making $95 million available in Regional and Community Challenge grants to support local efforts to build more livable and sustainable communities that ensure that all Americans can afford to live in places with access to employment, schools and public transit options.

$60.9 billion, 30-year transportation plan approved for region
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 27, 2011
The Atlanta Regional Commission on Wednesday approved the region’s 30-year plan to spend $60.9 billion on transportation projects and manage growth.

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Smart growth news – July 20, 2011

The road to budget priorities is full of potholes
The Daily Astorian (Ore.), July 19, 2011
A coalition of citizens groups is working to shed light on this problem, including 1000 Friends of Oregon, Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. According to a coalition report, 43 percent of Oregon’s roads are not in good condition, and the cost of bringing these roads up to snuff increases every year.

California’s rough roads tough on motorcyclists
San Jose Mercury (Calif.), July 19, 2011
Although numerous paving projects are under way or soon to begin in the Bay Area, the hope for smoother roads is bleak. A report last week by Smart Growth America found that only 30 percent of California’s state-owned highways were in good shape.

Smart-growth principles can deflate congestion, drive economic growth
Sun Sentinel (Fla.), July 17, 2011
We all want our region to be competitive in the global marketplace. It’s how we make this happen that is the crux of this discussion. Transit and transportation choices are the bones of a sustainable, competitive Florida.

Does US-style planning and smart growth work elsewhere?
NRDC, July 19, 2011
Do American ideas of sustainable communities, smart growth and urbanism work elsewhere? Here are a couple of leading architectural thinkers discussing the challenges.

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Building for the 21st Century: American support for sustainable communities

A recent poll by Smart Growth America has found that in the midst of a struggling U.S. economy, support for smart growth strategies remains high among Americans across the country and on both sides of the political aisle.

Click here to download “Building for the 21st Century: American support for sustainable communities” (PDF)

The poll focused specifically on support for sustainable communities: urban, suburban or rural communities that have more housing and transportation choices, are closer to jobs, shops or schools, are more energy independent and help protect clean air and water. Making communities more sustainable means generating more jobs, lowering housing and transportation costs and using limited public funds more wisely.

As the U.S. economy incrementally recovers, Americans want the federal government to stop spending into deficit and use the money it does have more effectively. Smart growth strategies do just that by reducing infrastructure costs at the state and federal level, strengthening local and state revenues and building economic wealth by investing in existing communities.

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