Volume 1, Number 1 - April 19, 1999
= = =This Week's Content = = =
In the States: News from
California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.
The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Newsweek
report on sprawl.
New Releases: New releases
from American Rivers, American Farmland
Trust, Environmental Law & Policy Center,
Natural Resources Defense Council and the Surface Transportation Policy
Project. Foundations announce Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable
= = =State and Local News = = =
The Los Angeles County Department of Regional
Planning has proposed a new plan for the northern Santa Monica Mountains
to guide growth in the region into the next decade. The proposal
is unprecedented in its environmental sensitivity, tightening control on
suburban sprawl and discouraging new road construction. The proposal
also explicitly rejects any effort by developers to boost the number of
homes they build by counting land under public streets as their own, a
practice disclosed in a Los Angeles Time's analysis of the region's growth
problems. (Los Angeles Times 3/17)
In a five-part series the Oakland Tribune, Tri-Valley
Herald, The Argus and The Daily Review, March 7-11, 1999 looked at alternatives
to continued urban sprawl and worsening traffic congestion. The series
can be found at www.newschoice.com.
Click on an individual newspaper and then click on special report.
Colorado's state Legislature killed several legislative
attempts to manage growth during the week of April 5. SB 107 would
have created urban growth boundaries and SB 211 (the "Responsible Growth
Act") would have required large and fast-growing cities and counties to
draft comprehensive plans. An effort to put growth management on
the ballot for 2000 is underway. Link: www.denverpost.com/news
A 25-member panel created by the Florida state
Legislature has sent its 64 page study of transportation and land
use issues to the state Legislature. The final
report of the Transportation and Land Use Study Committee sends 40
broad recommendations on ways to improve growth planning. Among the
study's 40 recommendations:
· Design communities with the idea of
eliminating the need for long trips to shopping sites, and take a stronger
look at "multimodal" transportation, including bicycles, pedestrian walkways
and public transit.
· Stop overemphasizing automobile mobility
- and the sprawling road system it demands - at the expense of livable
communities, instead fostering "smart growth" that balances both.
· The report calls for revisions in concurrency
regulations, which say the utilities must be in place before development
can begin. Officials argued that the issues in the report were far too
complex to create legislation this year and that while the panel was not
asked to consider how to pay for its recommendations, that issue will have
to be dealt with. (Tampa Tribune 3/9)
Department of Transportation just kicked off a new "smart growth" project
in Northeast Illinois in conjunction with the Northeastern Illinois Planning
Commission, the Chicago Area Transportation Study, Illinois Environmental
Protection Agency, the Regional Transportation Authority, the City of Chicago
and the Metropolitan Planning Council.
According to a study released last week by American
Farmland Trust and Northern Illinois University, residents on the suburban
fringe of Chicago appear willing to dig deeply into their wallets to preserve
what remains of the rural nature of their communities. Just this past Tuesday,
survey results were further validated by the overwhelming passage of three
open-space referenda in the same suburban area. A complete news release
on the survey, as well as the executive summary, survey results and related
materials, are available at http://farm.fic.niu.edu/cae/sos/sos.html,
or through www.farmland.org.
A colorful new report, "Visions: Choosing a Future
for Growing Communities," illustrates the impact of development on four
different areas of the Chicago region. The report uses a new mapping
technique to help citizens visualize their community's future. Contact:
Peter Morman, Environmental Law & Policy Center, 312/759-3400.
Elements of the report will be available at their website (www.elpc.org)
State environmental officials shelved tough new
rules aimed at controlling sprawl along the New Jersey coast. The
decision to setback the Whitman administration's vow to put teeth into
the plan, a voluntary land-use plan designed to channel new development
away from farms and rural areas and into developed areas. The proposal,
several years in the drafting, would have revamped building regulations
in 880,000 acres along the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. Most
new development would have been steered to more than 100 newly designated
coastal population centers and away from environmentally sensitive land
and farms. (Star Ledger 3/12)
Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance announced their List of the Most
Endangered Places in New Mexico. Number four on the list: The New Mexico
Night Sky (statewide). The threat of urban expansion impacts the
night sky. As urban areas expand and change without consideration
of the impact on the night sky, places where the heavens can be viewed
grow fewer and more difficult to reach.
The Smart Growth Competitiveness Act (SGECA)
now in the New York Legislature encourages local planning, keeps decision-making
at the local level and restricts state funds to those local initiatives
that meet smart growth standards. The bills S.1367 and A. 1969 have
Leaders in the Portland metropolitan area are
relying on Metro, Portland's regional planning agency, to help them meet
federal standards to restore declining salmon and steelhead trout runs.
(Brent Hunsberger, The
In a setback for farmland protection, the Oregon
Senate last week narrowly approved a bill that would require larger Oregon
cities to maintain a 20-year land supply for business and industry.
Randy Tucker, a lobbyist for the land-use watchdog group 1000 Friends of
Oregon, predicted the bill could cause cities to unnecessarily expand onto
farmland because the land-supply requirement would be based partly on past
development, whether or not similar growth is expected. The measure, Senate
Bill 87, passed 16-13.
State Rep. David J. Steil (R., Bucks) recently
introduced a package of state land-use changes that includes curative-amendment
relief for municipalities if they participate in joint planning and zoning
with neighboring municipalities. Also in Pennsylvania, the Department
of Environmental Protection is focusing on land-use during Earth Week.
(Philadelphia Inquirer 4/14).
South Carolina State Home Builders are considering
a challenge to comprehensive land-use plans that would restrict development.
The board of directors of the SC Home Builders Association has approved
$5,000 for research to determine if the group successfully could challenge
such restrictions in court. State law requires that all local governments
with zoning ordinances develop a comprehensive land-use plan by May.
Bill 89, which would require cities to announce annexation plans three
years ahead of time, was passed by the Senate March 25. The bill
now must be approved by the House of Representatives. The bill was
sponsored by Sen. Frank Madla, (D-San Antonio). Another bill in the
Texas House is House
Bill 423, sponsored by Rep. Bob Turner, D-Voss, who represents Bandera
County. That measure would give added power to county commissioners
over housing developments in unincorporated areas. (North Central (TX)
= = =Nationwide = = =
touted downtown living in its April 12 article At Home in the Big City.
On April 12, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles
Times tackled sprawl. See: Land Use: Fertile Ground for Gore
by Geneva Overholser (WP) and Gore Must Score Points with Cities, Suburbs
for Shot at the Presidency, by Ronald Brownstein. The New York
Times ran New Recruits in the War on Sprawl, by Alan Ehrenhalt on
= = =New Releases = = =
Foundations Launch Funders' Network for Smart
Growth and Livable Communities. The Network will serve as a new resource
and focal point for foundations that are working to address the range of
environmental, social, and economic problems that are exacerbated by suburban
sprawl. Contact: (305) 377-4484.
"Saving Open Spaces: Public Support for Farmland
Protection" released by
American Farmland Trust and Northern Illinois
University. See Illinois above.
Sprawl Poses New Risks In Urban Areas
Urban sprawl in cities such as Atlanta, Seattle
and Chicago is polluting water and posing new risks to some of the country's
rivers, according to an American Rivers report released today (John
Hughes, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer/others).
Natural Resources Defense Council and the Surface Transportation Policy
Once There Were Greenfields: How Urban Sprawl
is Undermining America's Environment, Economy and Social Fabric.
To order your copy contact Amazon.com or contact NRDC directly at 212.727.4486