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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Fix it first
Twin Cities Daily Planet, June 9, 2011
A new report shows that our state is spending nearly half of its highway capital on expanding roads and less than the national average on keeping them in good shape. And the national average is pretty discouraging, too. According to the report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, only four states and the District of Columbia are doing enough to keep good roads good and make bad roads better. Minnesota isn’t among them. The state Department of Transportation has quibbled with some of the study’s Minnesota-specific findings, but its own projections show a near-tripling of highway miles in poor condition over the next two decades.
Hawaii Reporter, June 10, 2011
Anybody that’s owned a house knows that keeping up with the maintenance is critical. Patching a small hole in the roof now is a heck of a lot less expensive than ignoring it and having to replace the entire rotten roof down the road. Unsurprisingly, the same applies to our nation’s infrastructure, and specifically the road network that we rely on to get where we are going and move the goods to get our economy humming.
Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations?
The New Republic, June 9, 2011
In spite of the U.S. Census data for the past decade showing continued job de-centralization, there is now much anecdotal evidence for the just the opposite. The Chicago Crain’s Business Journal reports that companies such as Allstate, Motorola, AT&T, GE Capital, and even Sears are re-considering their fringe suburban locations, generally in stand alone campuses, and may head back to downtown Chicago.
Virginia: Alexandria presents alternative to waterfront plan as protests continue
Washington Post, June 11, 2011
About 200 Alexandria residents marched through Old Town on Saturday and converged on City Hall to protest a $51 million plan to bring hotels and other new development to the city’s waterfront. Opponents of the proposed project, who have organized as Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, said they want the City Council to consider designs that include more parks, a focus on arts and Alexandria’s history, and have no hotels.
Minnesota: Two St. Croix River bridge plans follow far different approaches
Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 12, 2011
In an era of tight government budgets, it’s wasteful to build a bridge that doesn’t serve multiple purposes, said William Schroeer, of St. Paul, who is policy and research director for Smart Growth America, a nonprofit group that advocates sound economic development strategy. “In this era of $4- and $5-a-gallon gas, to spend money on a bridge that only cars can use — that doesn’t make sense,” he said.