Volume 2, Number 23 - December 20, 2000
= = = State and Local News = = =
Alabama's Commission on Environmental Initiatives,
established by the Governor to work on the environmental agenda for the
next legislative session, voted to establish a "smart growth" commission
to tackle urban sprawl in Alabama.
As opposed to lessening home values, as some
transit opponents claim, convenient access to transit usually becomes a
house's greatest commodity. With traffic and congestion worsening
in the Bay Area, housing near transit is one of the most sought after items
for new homebuyers.
The Governor's Commission on Saving Open Spaces,
Farms and Ranches released a set of recommendations for the Governor and
the Legislature. The recommendations include allowing local governments
to remove sales tax caps for open space and using state capital construction
dollars to buy wildlife habitat, among other proposals.
District of Columbia
With the ground breaking of a new Metro station
in Northeast Washington, local officials hope to improve public transportation,
spur economic development and increase recreational opportunities.
Part of his continuing effort to expand and improve
public transportation in Maryland, Gov. Glendening has proposed spending
$750 million over the next six years to double mass transit ridership.
Perhaps more important than the amount of funding, is the mechanism he
proposes, a special source of state funds permanently marked for transportation.
Boston's waterfront came one step closer to gaining
a new neighborhood after an agreement between city and state officials
recently. The proposal, which has been on the drawing board for many
years, appears to have the backing of developers, public officials, and
In a continuing battle over exclusionary zoning
within the Minneapolis metropolitan region, the Metropolitan Council said
that unless the town of Eagan plans for more affordable housing, the Council
will "will curtail or significantly reduce the city's eligibility for regional
infrastructure improvements and for a wide range of grants and financial
Next month the Nebraska Legislature will introduce
a constitutional amendment that, if approved, would allow a property-tax
break for people who restore historical structures. Although federal
income-tax breaks are available for costs in restoring significant historical
structures, Nebraska is one of only three states that don't offer any state
tax breaks for such work. http://p4.omaha.com/index.atp?u_div=3&u_hdg=0&u_sid=48255
With traffic costing the state of New Jersey
$4.9 billion annually in wasted time, transportation officials founded
the International Intermodal Transportation Center. The Center is
charged with easing mobility and spurring economic development along the
I-95 corridor. http://www.bergen.com/region/njitpg200012066.htm
The real estate and environmental communities
in South Carolina all support a proposal from the Ad Hoc Committee on Urban
Growth in the State Legislature for a "conservation bank". The proposal,
submitted by Rep. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, would use real estate transfer
fees, about $32 million, to create a pool of money for preservation projects.
The first publically financed subway station
in Texas opened in Dallas on Monday. The 3¼-mile tunnel connects
North Dallas with downtown, but the system is set to expand over the next
decade after a public bond passed with 77% of the vote in September. http://www.austin360.com/statesman/editions/today/metro_state_4.html
Advocates fighting the controversial Legacy Highway
outside of Salt Lake City are looking to Atlanta for inspiration on how
a fight against a freeway turned into a campaign for better transit.
In a victory for smart growth advocates in Loudon
County, the Virginia Supreme Court dismissed the first legal challenge
to Loudon County's growth management proposals.
= = = New Releases = = =
Using the Market to Curb Sprawl
To help policymakers achieve a growing public
mandate to curb sprawl, Redefining
Progress’s report, “Policy Options for Reducing
Sprawl: A Critical Overview,” presents three recent market-based policy
innovations. These policies — location-efficient mortgages (LEMs),
space-based impact fees, and split-rate property taxes — harness the market’s
power to encourage denser development close to existing infrastructure.
Examination of Development Patterns
A new study, Environmental Characteristics of
Smart Growth Neighborhoods released by the Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC) and conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, is one of the first to examine a built-and-occupied new development
rather than use model projections based on development plans. NRDC
hopes to test these promising results on additional sites with more sophisticated
Brookings Report on High Tech Job Growth
Since the mid-1990s, Seattle has been one of
the rare cities to have a level of high tech job growth comparable to its
surrounding region. This paper seeks to understand the location pattern
of high tech firms in the Seattle metropolitan region and to learn what
factors influence their location decisions within the region itself. http://www.brookings.edu/urban
= = = National News = = =
With transit ridership up 5% this year, compared
to 1.4% for automobile trips, state and local support for transit initiatives
has been growing over the 1990's. Bucking the traditional stereotype
of western conservative states against transit, Wasatch Front voters approved
in November a quarter-cent sales tax hike to build more rail and buy more
Volume 2, Number 22 - December 6, 2000
= = = State and Local News = = =
According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle
poll, a majority of Bay Area residents now support comprehensive regional
plans to regulate housing along with an emphasis on increasing density
and redeveloping existing communities to alleviate sprawl.
Newark, New Jersey, after decades of extreme
disinvestment, is slowly, but successfully, making a comeback. Although
much has been made of some of the larger projects in the downtown, a significant
amount of credit belongs to the New Community Corporation, one of the nation's
most successful community development corporations.
Bluffdale, Utah, located outside of Salt Lake
City, has been the site of an ongoing political and legal struggle over
exclusionary zoning and affordable housing. Recently, a civil lawsuit
was filed to force the city to repeal a recently approved affordable-housing
ordinance. The zoning ordinance in question would allow up to 15
units an acre while the previous ordinance permitted only one building
lot per acre. The new ordinance was instituted due to a previous
civil lawsuit filed by minority and disability-rights organizations requiring
the city to adopt moderate housing policies. http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,230013456,00.html
Protecting farmland from urban sprawl was a large
concern at the annual Virginia Farm Bureau Federation convention.
Specifically the Agricultural Vitality Program, which the Virginia General
Assembly launched and started with $115,000 last session, was singled out
as a good beginning but one that is woefully under-funded. The Program
includes a purchase of development rights element along with a unique program
to link potential farmers with retiring farmers.
= = = New Releases = = =
Last Chance Landscapes
Scenic America has released its second annual
report naming ten Last Chance
Landscapes. The 2000 Last Chance Landscapes
include a scenic roadway, open space in metropolitan areas, historic towns,
and other places treasured for their natural beauty or distinctive character.
To view the report, including photos and a description of each landscape,
please visit http://www.scenic.org.
Driven to Spend
Americans living in sprawl pay more for transportation
than other Americans, according to "Driven to Spend", a new report that
analyzes government data on consumer expenditures. The report ranks
28 major metro areas by the amount of family budget devoted to daily transportation
costs. The report was released by the Surface Transportation Policy
Project and the Center for Neighborhood Technology. To view the report,
click here http://www.transact.org.
"Who Should Run the Housing Voucher Program?
A Reform Proposal", a new
working paper jointly prepared by the Brookings
Institution Center on Urban and
Metropolitan Policy and the Urban Institute Metropolitan
Housing and Communities
Policy Center, explores options for administering
the federal housing voucher program at
the metropolitan, rather than the local, level.
To view the report, please visit http://www.brookings.edu/urban.
The National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse
released "Communities Benefit!: The Social and Economic Benefits of Transportation
Enhancements" listing ten different TE projects from around the county.
Transportation Enhancements are projects funded by federal transportation
bill, TEA-21, intended to increase non-motorized transportation, enhance
local economic development, and ensure historic preservation among other
activities. To read the report and learn more about enhancements,
By creatively combining transportation and growth
planning, some states are doing a
better job of addressing traffic congestion—the
number-on quality-of-life complaint of Americans. The National Governor's
Association new report "In the Fast Lane: Delivering More Transportation
Choices to Break Gridlock" highlights those states and shows how other
states can replicate these successes.
The most recent issue of the American Bar Association
Bar Journal has an article specifically addressing land-use law.
The article, while providing a general overview of smart growth, is useful
for the lawyer and non-lawyer alike seeking to figure out how the legal
system will adapt to new smart growth policies. http://www.abanet.org/journal/dec00/fburb.html
= = = National News = = =
Coastal Communities and Sprawl
A researcher for the University of Illinois has
estimated that as haphazard development patterns continue on our coasts,
by the year 2025 the ‘urban footprints' of these 20 regions are likely
to expand by 46%, or from about 20,000 square miles to about 29,000 square
miles. That's an additional 9,000 square miles, or about 5.8 million
acres, of land that today is either agricultural land or open space. http://www.enn.com/direct/display-release.asp?id=2822
American Planning Association Poll
Americans want better communities and support
stronger laws – at both the local and federal levels – to ensure a high
quality of life in our cities, towns, and suburbs, according to the results
released December 1 of a nationwide survey of voters by the American Planning
Association (APA) and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
A majority of Americans (53%) favor new laws to manage growth at the local
level, while 55% favor legislation to contain land-use or urban growth.
Personal Transit Modules
To witness how form can really follow function
to the extreme, one needs to see the new Personal Transit Modules (PTM)
being developed. PTMs are single passenger, completely enclosed,
electric vehicles that can be driven in most carpool lanes and parked in
motorcycle parking. For some of our denser urban areas, these could
fill a unique niche.