newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 13- April 24, 2002
= = = Highlight = = =
Property Rights
California
Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, No. 00-1167. A  32-month building moratorium imposed while the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) prepared a land use plan was not an unconstitutional taking of property rights, the U.S. Supreme Court has held. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-042402scotus.story

A report on the high court's decision is now available on the California Planning & Development Report website, http://www.cp-dr.com.

The courtís opinion is available at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/01slipopinion.html.

= = = State and Local = = =
Ballot Initiative
Virginia
Northern Virginians will vote Nov. 5 on whether to raise their sales taxes and generate as much as $5 billion for regional highway and mass transit projects over the next 20 years. Lawmakers, ending a nearly three-year debate on Northern Virginia's premier legislative issue, voted overwhelmingly to send the proposed sales tax increase to the fall election ballot
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A5138-2002Apr17.html

Land Use Planning
California
The Navy announced (4/23) that it will retain the option of selling all or part of the former El Toro Marine base but leave the ultimate decision on how the property is developed to local officials.

Virginia
When Loudoun County supervisors passed their ambitious and controversial                  growth-control plan last year, development proponents said their attorneys would fight to overturn any new building restrictions. So county lawmakers decided on a new tactic- hire development lawyers and land use experts from across the nation to write "watertight" laws. 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A25479-2002Apr21.html

Open Space
Georgia
A supporter of Atlanta's governor's green space program, Joel Cowan (the first mayor of Peachtree City) who helped define the green space program believes the need for green space is just as important as the need for water, streets and electricity. 
http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/horizon/042202/cowan.html

Transportation
California
A new transportation strategy in Orange County California lets rail commuters use a motor pool of electric cars at the Irvine train station. The pilot project, the largest of its kind in the country, allows employees of participating corporations to share 50 low-emission vehicles for trips to and from the Irvine Transportation Center and for errands during the workday.
http://www.latimes.com/editions/orange/la-000027908apr19.story?coll=la%2Deditions%2Dorange

Nevada
Las Vegas, which never stops thinking big, has just embarked on its most ambitious, costly attempt to solve a problem that once seemed impossible to have in this sprawling desert valley: gridlock. It is building the nation's largest monorail system.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31297-2002Apr22.html

= = = National News = = =
Growth in public transportation ridership sets record for sixth straight year. In 2001, nationally, public transportation ridership went up by 2 percent, compared to the previous year, according to statistics released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). APTA reports that Americans rode public transportation a record 9.5 billion times in 2001. http://www.apta.com/stats/ridershp/

= = = New Releases = = =
A new release from the Congress for the New Urbanism http://www.cnu.org/index.cfm "Civilizing Downtown Highways" describes how California municipalities are turning state highways into walkable main streets. While some of the technical policies in the book are particular to California, the design and public outreach techniques are universal. This book is available at http://www.store.yahoo.com/cnuinfo

National Smart Growth Employment Opportunities http://www.sprawlwatch.org/jobs.html

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 12- April 17, 2002

= = = State and Local News = = =
Affordable Housing
Florida
A new consortium composed primarily of small community banks is set to funnel $20 million toward resolving the critical problem of affordable housing in Miami-Dade County. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/3045994.htm

Growth Management Committee
Maine
Smart growth advocates are pleased with the Legislature's decision to create a multi-year committee to study growth management issues. Governor Angus King is expected to sign the bill. The new Community Preservation Advisory Committee will be composed of seven legislators, including representatives from districts with rural towns, fast-growing suburbs and hub communities. It also will have representatives from the State Planning Office, the Maine Commission on Historic Preservation, and real estate and environmental interests. http://www.portland.com/news/statehouse/020416sprawl.shtml

Tax Referendum
Virginia 
The transportation sales tax referendum has not yet been approved for Northern Virginia ballots, but already two disparate but powerful camps in state politics are declaring war against it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56716-2002Apr15.html

Virginia
Virginia's new transportation commissioner, Philip A. Shucet and other top officials charged with slashing up to $ 2.7 billion from the state's six-year spending plan, listened to politicians representing inner-Beltway communities needs for more money for Metro, suburban buses and pedestrian safety projects.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56621-2002Apr15.html

Transportation
Mississippi
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove on Monday signed into law a far-reaching $3.6 billion  Mississippi road-building program known as Vision 21. http://www.clarionledger.com/news/0204/16/m05.html

Colorado
The Denver House passed the state's $13 billion 2002-2003 budget, House Bill 1420. Ensuring $100 million for road construction is unrealistic in a tight budget year, the House decided (4/16), despite Gov. Bill Owens' continuing insistence that transportation is a high priority. http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1002,61%257E532291,00.html

Zoning
California
As suburbia spreads to Orange County California's canyons, longtime residents say a double standard is being applied by county code officials. While owners of small homes in Modjeska, Silverado and other canyons have faced an enforcement crackdown on building and land-use regulations, major commercial ventures build and operate at will without permits, residents say. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000026867apr15.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dcalifornia

Maryland
St. Mary's County Board of Commissioners voted to limit home construction within rural preservation districts to one unit per five acres, resolving the most hotly contested element of the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. The new five-acre rule is a stricter limit than the current one unit per three acres standard but falls short of a 20-acre minimum backed by local environmentalists or a 10-acre compromise proposed last week by board President Julie B. Randall (D-At Large). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23424-2002Apr10.html

= = = News Releases = = =
The Pew Oceans Commission's new release "Coastal Sprawl: The Effects of Urban Design on Aquatic Ecosystems in the United States," links sprawl to declining coastal health. In his report for the independent Pew Oceans Commission, Dana Beach of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League details the effects of urban design and land-use practices on aquatic ecosystems in the United States. Beach presents new strategies and tools that communities may use to preserve the same ecosystems that attract residents, tourists, and businesses to the coasts. The report is available at http://www.pewoceans.org/ 

The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities releases "Education and Smart Growth: Reversing School Sprawl for Better Schools and Communities." This paper describes how the trend toward building new schools on large sites far from existing development centers can have far-reaching impacts on school children, school districts and the larger community. Copies of the paper can be downloaded from the Network's website at http://www.fundersnetwork.org/info-url_nocat2778/info-url_nocat_show.htm?docid=107908

New from the Brookings Institution's Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. "Open Space Protection: Conservation Meets Growth Management." This paper provides an overview of the nature, quantity and objectives of open space programs in the U.S. and, utilizing existing literature, begins to speculate how they may affect the shape and form of metropolitan areas. http://www.brookings.edu/urban

New from the Greater Washington Research Program the "2001 Potomac Index". The Index is designed to measure the Greater Washington region's progress on key economic, social, and environmental issues. The Index confirmed that the region has a strong economy well positioned for future growth, a highly educated population and range of vigorous educational, philanthropic and nonprofit activity. However, the Index raised cautionary flags about the shortage of affordable housing, poor water quality in the Anacostia River, and persistent traffic congestion and air pollution. The Index is a product of the Potomac Conference and a research team led by the Brookings Greater Washington Research Program. http://www.brookings.edu/washington

"Financing Suburban Enrollment Increases" also released by the Greater Washington Research Program analyzes the varying enrollment changes of the major school systems in Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland between 1995 and 2001. The magnitude of these enrollment increases has put local governments under pressure to find financing to build classrooms and increase operating budgets. http://www.brookings.edu/washington

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 11- April 10, 2002

 = = State and Local News  = = =
Affordable Housing
California
The California Assn. of Realtors reported that housing affordability in California dropped in February to its lowest level in five months as double-digit price appreciation pushed more properties out of the reach of potential buyers.
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-000024241apr05.story

Long Beach Redevelopment Agency Board members authorized city staff to issue $104 million in bonds to refinance agency debt, pay for low-cost housing citywide and fund new projects in downtown, central and north Long Beach.
http://www.press-telegram.com/archive/business/0402/09/biz01.asp

Alternative Transportation
California
The Laguna Woods City Council approved, in concept, a 2.5-mile trail the first of its kind in Orange County. The trail could give senior citizens more mobility to reach shopping malls and other attractions by foot, bicycle and possibly golf cart. http://www.latimes.com/editions/orange/la-000024170apr04.story?coll=la%2Deditions%2Dorange

Smart Growth Tools
Massachusetts
State environmental officials unveiled new programs (4/8) that will help fast-growing towns do a better job of planning and the Livable Communities Act (would require state agencies to coordinate policy on development, while certain grants would go only to those communities that do planning) goes before the Senate for a vote (4/11). http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/099/metro/State_developing_tools_to_handle_growth+.shtml

Regional Planning
Maryland
Residents of the Baltimore region will have an opportunity to offer their views on the future of the metropolitan area over the coming three decades. The region's local governments, with additional support from the Baltimore Regional Partnership, will hold 17 public meetings around the region through May 8 as part of a nearly two-year 
initiative known as Vision 2030.  The meetings represent the first time Baltimore, Annapolis, and the region's five counties have come together in such a public way to explore the interactions between growth, transportation, economic development, social equity, and environmental protection at the regional level.
http://www.sunspot.net/news/local/bal-md.vision05apr05.story

Transportation
Georgia
The proposed Atlanta-to-Macon commuter rail will not receive the $12 million in tobacco settlement money as planned in the 2003 state budget, which takes effect in July. State revenues have fallen eight months in a row, and Gov. Roy Barnes ordered state department spending pared down 5 percent for 2003.
http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/metro/legislature/0409rail.html

Virginia
To encourage people to get out of their cars and into car pools or public transit, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation dispatched two buses to serve as mobile "commuter stores". The stores will provide information about train and bus farecards, van pools, car pool lanes, and biking and walking routes.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56884-2002Apr3.html

Maryland
As the 188 senators and delegates who are the Maryland General Assembly wrap up their annual 90-day session today, they complete a four-year term that allows them to face voters with a long record. It is one filled with money spent and social programs enacted, among the most liberal records in the nation.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10903-2002Apr7.html

= = = National News = = =
Growth without Growth
A local economy can boom, even if the area's population is not growing. So says a new Brookings Institution report that is the subject of William Fulton's latest economic development column for Governing magazine. The column is now available on the California Planning & Development Report website, http://www.cp-dr.com.

Community Character Act
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will mark-up and vote on S. 975, the Community Character Act, and S. 1079, the Brownfields Site Redevelopment Assistance Act on Thursday, April 11th. The Community Character act provides funding - $25 million/yr for five years to State and tribal governments to develop and update land use planning statutes. The Brownfields Site Redevelopment Assistance Act complements the recently signed brownfields law by providing additional assistance for the development of public facilities and services, planning, training and technical assistance to help communities overcome the burdens of brownfield sites.

Gas Tax
To find out how gas tax dollars are raised and spent in your state as of 1/1/01 please 
go to the following U.S. Department of Transportation webpage:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/hwytaxes/2001/tab6_toc.htm

Farm Bill
In the latest from Elm Street Writers Group writer and economist Patty Cantrell makes a convincing case for lawmakers to keep provisions of the bill that help small and medium size farms. Ms. Cantrell argues that like hometown banks or specialty retail stores, small and medium size farms are succeeding. They do it by adding value to their products with a friendly face or specialty processing, by finding new ways to consumers, and by finding profitable market niches.
Net returns for entrepreneurial farmers are often 40 and 50 percent versus the conventional farmís 15 to 20 percent. Thatís a significant economic factor for leaders across the country who are working overtime to generate jobs and save farmland and open space. http://www.mlui.org/projects/growthmanagement/elmstreet/farmentree.asp

= = = New Releases = = =
Greenbelt Alliance has released a hands-on guidebook for civic leaders and citizens detailing how "infill development" can help the San Francisco Bay Area grow smarter. "Smart Infill: Creating More Livable Communities in the Bay Area" details 12 key strategies for achieving livable communities and sustainable development through well-planned infill housing and mixed-use development. 
In addition to providing a useful toolbox of specific strategies, the 72-page publication features photos and case studies of successful infill development throughout the Bay Area. "Smart Infill" may be downloaded free of charge from http://www.greenbelt.org. Full color printed copies may be ordered for $10 each at http://www.greenbelt.org

Employment Opportunities
http://www.sprawlwatch.org/jobs.html

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 10- April 3, 2002

= = = State and Local = = =
Ballot Initiative
California
By a 3-to-1 margin, Ventura County voters empowered themselves last fall to block future hillside development.  Slow-growth activists crafted a ballot initiative that effectively prohibits the City Council from approving hillside projects. The measure requires voters' approval to extend city services into the hilly areas north of downtown.  One would think this would persuade developers to find land elsewhere but instead they have proposed a ballot initiative that would allow the landowners to proceed with the development in exchange for placing 80% of the land into permanent open space.
http://www.evergreenforesttrust.org/news.htm

Polling
Michigan
To find out the public's knowledge of and interest in paying for public transit, sewers and roads the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (the regional planning agency) will survey people in the 7-county region. Michigan ranks sixth out of the 12 most populous states in the nation in terms of how much state money goes to public transit. For information on the survey, go to http://www.semcog.org
http://www.freep.com/news/mich/ntransit3_20020403.htm

Transportation
California
As older adults relinquish their driving privileges, the need for mobility is especially acute in regions such as Southern California, where urban sprawl, inadequate mass transit and access to commerce, culture and social activities make automobile transportation a near-necessity. http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-040102drive.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dhealth

Chicago
Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Community Energy Cooperative are launching I-GO, a unique, new neighborhood based car sharing service. The service provides the freedom and convenience of owning a car without the costs and hassles. I-GO cars are now available in Edgewater and will be available in other neighborhoods as new members apply. For more information please visit http://www.i-go-cars.org/

New Jersey
State transportation officials hailed the capital budget they unveiled (4/2) as representing "a sea change" in attitude - less money for new and wider roads that spawn sprawl and more money to repair bridges and roads.
http://www.nj.com/statehouse/times/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1017741605304463.xml

Washington
As monorail advocates prepare for another ballot measure in November to raise taxes to pay for the project, an international transit construction corporation has pledged to work with the campaign in whatever way best suits the local proponents. The firm Bombardier is prepared to counter opposition campaigns expected to be waged by anti-transit and anti-tax groups.http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/transportation/64008_mono27.shtml

= = = National News = = =
Employment Opportunities
Please check our job listings page. Sprawl Watch will post new positions as we receive them. http://www.sprawlwatch.org/jobs.html

= = = New Releases = = =
The George Washington University Center on Sustainable Growth has a published a groundbreaking essay on the civil rights aspects of sprawl by Mayor William A. Johnson, Jr. of Rochester, New York. Drawing on his own experiences and personal perspective, the Mayor argues that sprawl is indeed a civil rights issue that must be addressed. Johnson, who co-chairs the US Conference of Mayors Task Force on Smart Growth and Regionalism, served as President and CEO of the Urban League of Rochester for 21 years. See http://www.law.gwu.edu/csg/Johnson.pdf

A new national report by the Michigan Land Use Institute and United Cerebral Palsy challenges critics of public transportation who assert that even if the money is spent Michigan residents are unlikely to use anything but their private vehicles. Not so, says New Economic Engine, which was reported and written by Kelly Thayer, our transportation project manager, and Joey Miller, our policy specialist. Cities such as Cleveland, Chicago, and Minneapolis, Kelly and Joey report, are building and expanding transit choices to enhance their quality of life and economic might. 
See: http://www.mlui.org

"The Limitless City: A Primer on the Urban Sprawl Debate", author Oliver Gillham argues that whether we like it to not, sprawl is here to stay, and only by understanding where it came from and why it developed will we be able to successfully address the problems it has created. http://www.islandpress.org/ecocompass/archives/community/sprawl5.html
Oliver Gillham, an architect and planner with more than twenty-five years of experience in the field, considers the history and development of sprawl and examines current debates about the issue. The book: offers a comprehensive definition of sprawl in America, traces the roots of sprawl and considers the factors that led to its preeminence as an urban and suburban form, reviews both its negative impacts (loss of open space, increased pollution, gridlock) as well as its positive aspects (economicdevelopment, personal freedom, privacy), considers responses to sprawl including "smart growth," urban growth boundaries, regional planning, and the New Urbanism looks at what can be done to improve and counterbalance sprawl.