County Board Member Chris Zimmerman on building better in Arlington, VA

“Arlington has long been known as a community of neighborhoods. It’s one of the things that for many, many decades has been most appealing about Arlington. People like living in a place where they know their neighbors, where they can walk to things nearby, so their kids’ schools are close, where parks are nearby. Really … Continued

Local Leaders Council

Video: Bill Fulton speaks on planning for economic and fiscal health in Fairfax, VA

As part of Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance program for local governments, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Policy Development and Implementation Bill Fulton gave a presentation on “Planning for Economic and Fiscal Health” to community members and government officials in Fairfax, VA on June 6, 2013.

Technical assistance

City of Fairfax, VA to host public workshop on planning for economic and fiscal health

Fairfax, VA
Fairfax, VA’s City Hall, where next week’s meeting will take place. Photo by TJ Hanton via Flickr.

Smart Growth America is headed to Fairfax, VA next week to meet with local officials and residents about the city’s development policies and regulations, as well as its approach toward the continued investment in high-quality public infrastructure.

Technical assistance

Virginia Beach looks to implement complete streets policy through strategy workshop

Photo courtesy of justinrummel via Flickr. Officials and local residents in Virginia Beach, VA met with representatives from Smart Growth America on April 24 and 25, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshops provided the city with the tools needed to create and implement a citywide complete streets policy. “The … Continued

Complete Streets Technical assistance

Spotlight on Sustainability: HUD grant promotes common vision in Jefferson's backyard


Charlottesville, VA’s downtown transit center. Photo courtesy of Flickr user kai.bates.

Albemarle County, Virginia has a rich mix of landscapes, institutions, and historic sites. Along with the many farms that lie within its borders, Albemarle is also the home to the City of Charlottesville, the University of Virginia, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. To preserve the significant history of the region, the county and City of Charlottesville are now working to strategically plan for future growth and development.

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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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Value capture, the Dulles Rail Extension, and the future of transit funding

Reposted from DC Streetsblog.

The failure of Atlanta’s transportation ballot measure late last month led to speculation among many analysts about what the vote meant for other regions across the country looking for ways to fund infrastructure projects. But though the Atlanta vote captured the lion’s share of media attention, another vote cast in July could hold as much – if not more – importance in coming years.

In an increasingly contentious political environment, it can be difficult to get important transportation projects off the ground. Finding funding sources for these projects, no matter how valuable they might be, can prove politically impossible, with many people skeptical over both increased spending and revenue creation sources. Gas taxes are almost entirely a non-starter, and despite the fact that 79 percent of transportation ballot measures overall passed in 2011, according to the Center for Transit Excellence, they can still fall victim to the kinds of pressures seen in the metro Atlanta area.

LOCUS

Don’t call it a comeback: the rebirth of downtown Roanoke, VA

Located along the Roanoke River in a valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, Roanoke, VA in many ways embodies the idyllic beauty of southern Virginia.

Now, new investments and redevelopment of former brownfields are part of a robust revitalization effort in downtown Roanoke. Roanoke is changing and people are noticing.

“Ten years ago, 11 people lived in downtown Roanoke,” says City Manager Chris Morrill. “Now 1,200 do. Even two and a half years ago, people were talking about what Roanoke wasn’t, what it could have been if it had something else. Now people are taking pride in their communities, getting out more, making connections to downtown, going out to the farmer’s markets, and they love the greenways. There’s a definite sense of optimism, that we’re going in the right direction and creating the type of place where people want to live.”

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The benefits of Washington DC's Metro

Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which operates Metrorail and Metrobus service in the region, brings large, tangible benefits to the DC-area economy. A new report from WMATA, prepared by AECOM and Smart Growth America, details just how big these benefits are.

“WMATA Regional Benefits of Transit” (PDF) examines Metro’s impact on several aspects of the DC-area economy, including how public transit supports businesses, workers, families, visitors, and the region’s largest employer, the federal government.

The report found that Metro is an outstanding investment of public funds. Access to Metrorail significantly boosts property values and tax revenues for the city. Real estate located within ½ mile of a Metrorail station represents 27.9% of the area’s tax base on just 4% of its land, including 68.1% for DC, 15.3% for Virginia, and 9.9% for Maryland.

Metro supports businesses, and economic activity tied to Metro’s presence is critical to the success of the region. Claude Anderson of the Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Association is quoted in the report’s executive summary:

We have come a long, long way from the bad old days of a deserted, dilapidated and dangerous downtown during the evening hours and few destination retail and entertainment neighborhoods. The establishment and growth of vibrant areas such as Penn Quarter, Ballston, U/14th Street corridors are directly attributable to transportation access for patrons, visitors and employees.

Collectively, Metro saves DC-area families $342 million per year in car operating expenses. Home values may increase near rail stations, but families save significantly on transportation costs each year.

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