Building a family-friendly city


In the conversations about cities, much of the media attention has been focused on young professional or older, retiring Americans. But families with children have been largely overlooked in the midst of our current urban renaissance. There has been some recent debated over whether the number of children (and thus families) is increasing or on the decline in cities, and it got us thinking: what would a place designed for families look like?

Complete Streets Creative Placemaking Economic development Transportation

Back to the burbs: given no other choice

The popular narrative about younger generations aging and leaving urban centers is presented as inevitable. But most news stories fail to examine why many younger people are taking up residence in suburbia—or whether or not the suburbs they’re choosing have more in common with cities or the exurbs their parents preferred. Perhaps their move to the suburbs is more a product of constrained housing supply that leaves them with little choice but to decamp as they grow.

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Council Member Candace Mumm on making Spokane pedestrian-friendly

spokane A view of downtown Spokane. Photo by Mike Hoy, via Flickr.

In Spokane, WA safer streets and neighborhood vibrancy are going hand in hand. City Council Member Candace Mumm has a new crosswalk ordinance aimed at serving the community for both purposes. The ordinance – which passed with a 5 to 1 vote on September 8 – will require marked crosswalks to be installed at intersections adjacent to schools, parks, hospitals, trail crossings, and other high pedestrian traffic-generating locations.

Local Leaders Council Uncategorized

Changing development codes to promote smart growth in Memphis

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Downtown Memphis from across the Mississippi River. Photo by Joel, via Flickr.
Like many large southern cities, Memphis, TN’s growth over the past few decades has been characterized largely by sprawl and a focus on automobile travel. Josh Whitehead, Planning Director for Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County, is working to promote development downtown through the use of the city’s new Unified Development Code (UDC), which gives more flexibility to developers in order to facilitate infill growth.

Complete Streets Local Leaders Council

CNBC: Walkable neighborhoods key to revitalizing America's struggling suburbs

Bethesda Row
Bethesda Row in Bethesda, MD, is a walkable area amidst a suburban community. Photo by ehpien via Flickr.

Suburbs around the country are reinventing themselves by adopting pedestrian-friendly streets and amenities, according to a new special report by CNBC. The growing demand for neighborhoods where people can walk to shops, restaurants, parks and schools is outpacing supply—but creating walkable communities goes beyond simply building sidewalks. Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America spoke to CNBC about the new trend.

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Mayor Ralph Becker on building a prosperous Salt Lake City, UT

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Salt Lake City’s TRAX light rail line, one of Salt Lake City’s many innovative transportation projects. Photo by Matt Johnson via Flickr.

Mayor Ralph Becker, a charter member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is turning Salt Lake City, UT into one of this nation’s most prosperous urban centers. And he’s doing it by building accessibility, sustainability and livability into many city policies.

Becker’s efforts are evident across Salt Lake City. He has spearheaded one of the most ambitious rail systems in the country, building new light rail, bus rapid transit, streetcar AND commuter rail systems. He’s also made the city accessible for all users by more than doubling the number of bike lanes, launching a bike share program and focusing on walkability and pedestrian safety.

Local Leaders Council

"Walkable Living Stories" profiles those living "Car-Lite" in the greater Washington area

NehaWalkableLifestyle

Smart Growth America Coalition Member Coalition for Smarter Growth, which works to make the case for smart growth in and around the nation’s capital, recently launched a new feature series “Walkable Living Stories”. The series will profile Washington, DC residents who use a car never or infrequently – a portion of the population that continues to grow.

The trend of opting for a transit-oriented, walkable lifestyle is particularly encouraging when one considers that some District of Columbia policies still favor a car-centric lifestyle. These policies include mandatory parking requirements for new buildings in areas with public transportation options.

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Walkability increasingly drives developers and real estate market

What makes a town or city desirable? What makes a neighborhood a great place to raise a family or start a new job? And what characteristics drive local economic growth and drive the real estate market? It all starts with walkability, according to a recent Washington Post story. A Texas native, Rogers put a premium … Continued

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Smart growth news – December 7

Walkable Neighborhoods Gaining Popularity — Even in the Suburbs
Huffington Post, December 6, 2011
Last week, my colleague Chris Leinberger wrote a provocative op-ed in the New York Times titled “The Death of the Fringe Suburb.” Leinberger, who is president of LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, which is a project of Smart Growth America, highlighted the convergence of a number of factors in heralding the decline of far flung, auto-dependant exurbs. Rising gas prices, demographic changes, and shifting consumer preferences have all made these areas less attractive to homebuyers — a fact reflected in the financial troubles and foreclosure crises many of these communities face.

What the 2012 TED Prize Means for ‘The City 2.0’
Atlantic Cities, December 7, 2011
The organization behind the high-profile uber-conference TED has announced an unusual winner for the 2012 iteration of its TED Prize. The award is formally presented at the annual TED conference in February, when the winner announces his or her “wish” – a project that builds off the $100,000 prize money and the enthusiasm of the TED community to participate in somehow making the world a better place. This year’s winner, though, is a little different. It’s not a person, but rather an idea – and a big one: The City 2.0.

House, Senate Not Likely to Agree on Long-Term Transportation Bill This Year
Nation’s Cities Weekly, December 5, 2011
In remarks at a transportation meeting in Washington, D.C., last week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) announced that the House would not move on a long-term surface transportation bill before the end of the year. Mica cited the lack of time on the House calendar as the reason for the delay after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had promised to pass a transportation bill before the end of the year. The current short-term extension of federal transportation programs expires in March 2012.

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