Smart growth news – August 19

More homebuyers want walkable, transit-served communities
Greater Greater Washington, August 18, 2011
New research shows that a growing number of homebuyers are interested in walkable, transit-served communities, and are willing to sacrifice a bigger house for a better neighborhood.

Car, bus or rail: for some Americans none of above
Reuters, August 19, 2011
More than half a million households in the 100 largest U.S. cities do not have cars or any access to public transportation, according to a study released on Thursday by the Brookings Institution.

Seattle, After Decade of Debate, Approves Tunnel
The New York Times, August 18, 2011
On Tuesday, voters here gave what amounts to a final blessing to a $2 billion, 1.7-mile, 56-foot-wide, deep-bore highway tunnel that will run below downtown skyscrapers and behind a sea wall that holds back Puget Sound.

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"An increasing movement toward more walkable cities"

CNBC released its list today of the top 10 most walkable cities in America, and includes in it a discussion of the growing trend among towns and cities to create neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly streets and bustling downtown shopping districts. These features are a key part of smart growth development strategies and, as CNBC writer Cindy Perman explains, walkable neighborhoods have benefits beyond street-level charm. Walkable neighborhoods feel safer and more social, and help build exercise into daily routines. But even more importantly, walkable neighborhoods bring economic benefits:

You wouldn’t spend much time hanging around in the parking lot of a strip mall in a car-dependent suburb. But, you would linger in a very walkable city, which means you’re more inclined to spend more. Quite a bit more, in fact. The Urban Land Institute studied two Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, one walkable and one not. They found that the Barnes & Noble book store in the walkable suburb made 20 percent more in profits than the one in the driving-dependent suburb.

“We call that a place-making dividend,” McMahon said. “People stay longer and come back more often and spend more money in places that attract their affection.”

There’s an economic benefit for homeowners, too: Homes in walkable cities hold their value better than those that were heavily reliant on driving, according to Smart Growth America, a group that promotes “smart growth” instead of suburban sprawl.

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New poll shows strong support for sustainable communities

(Cross-posted from Smart Growth America.) 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. The poll focused specifically on support for sustainable communities: urban, suburban or … Continued

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Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context-Sensitive Approach

ICMA has released a comprehensive 229-page planning and design guide, Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context-Sensitive Approach. The report was recently approved as a recommended practice of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). [T]his report focuses on applying the concepts and principles in the planning and design of urban thoroughfares—facilities commonly designated by the conventional … Continued

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