newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 46- December 20, 2001

= = = State and Local News = = =
Air Pollution
D.C. Metro Region
The Washington region cannot add new roads or transit projects to its long-term transportation plans until it cuts its vehicle emissions below its self-imposed limits by 2005.  A task force of area politicians and transportation planners said the region will need $38 million worth of cleaner buses, new taxicabs and other measures to cut vehicle exhaust to keep federal money.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board agreed to limit the scope of a major highway project in traffic-clogged northern Virginia because of air pollution restrictions. Under the federal Clean Air Act, the Washington area agreed to targets on limiting car and truck emissions in an effort to cut ozone pollution by 2005.

A new study by the Los Angeles-based Reason Public Policy Institute and the Ventura-based Solimar Research Group predicts that Ventura County cities could begin running out of room for new housing years before voter-approved anti-sprawl measures are set to expire. The report, funded by the James Irvine Foundation and the California Assn. of Realtors, says cities should push for higher-density projects and convert some commercial and industrial land to residential zoning.

The Boston Special Commission on Barriers to Housing recommends that local regulations that obstruct home construction should be streamlined if Massachusetts is to recover from a chronic housing shortage.  Environmentalists concerned about overdevelopment and municipal control fiercely oppose the draft recommendations of the report.

Land Preservation
A 1,700-acre tract of farmland and forests in Northern Montgomery County Maryland will be protected from development through the largest single land preservation purchase recorded in the county. A real estate developer, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and a national nonprofit organization will protect the land.

= = = National News = = =
The farmbill is creating wary allies of farmers and environmentalists, usually aligned on opposite sides. That pairing may yield a bill that resists the forces of urban sprawl and significantly improves the rural environment. The Senate rejected an effort to limit debate on the Farm Bill (to speed passage) for a third time (12/19). Unless Senators come up with a compromise to speed passage of the Farm Bill in the next few days, the bill will be put off until Congress returns from recess on January 23.

Amtrak is extending its service from Boston, MA to Portland, ME the line will start running 12/15/01. The 114-mile line caps a project that began in earnest in 1990.  The trains, with a locomotive, three coaches and a cafe car, will accommodate up to 230 passengers and run on track owned by Guilford Rail Systems and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.
“Amtrak to Reopen 114-Mile Line From Boston to Portland, Me.” New York Times (12/13/01)

= = = New Releases = = =
The latest release from the Brookings Institution's Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy "Suburbs and the Census: Patterns of Growth and Decline" examines suburban population growth and decline in nearly 2,600 suburban places in 35 metropolitan areas during the 1990s. It illustrates that while it is common to talk about "the suburbs" as a group of homogeneous jurisdictions, careful analysis reveals that suburbs are highly diverse.

Eco-Compass: Solving Sprawl
Shining a spotlight on 35 inspiring examples of inner-city reinvestment, innovative suburban development, and rural conservation from around the country, Solving Sprawl ( is the first book to tell the full story of how smart growth works to save our landscape and strengthen our communities. Published by Natural Resources Defense Council in cooperation with Island Press, this title
offers examples that illustrate key concepts and tells the story of how this new approach to development has caught hold across America.

Visit Eco-Compass: Solving Sprawl,, for more information on this title as well as links to websites and other titles pertaining to smart growth.

In a report released (12/18), the Surgeon General recommends that citizens look at obesity as a community issue, rather than a personal one. , The report " The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity "outlines strategies that communities can use in helping to address the problems.  The report recommends for communities to increase the development of parks and recreation areas. 

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity is available at

Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 45- December 12, 2001

= = =Highlight = = =
The AFL-CIO passed its first-ever resolution on suburban sprawl and smart growth the week of (12/3) at its national convention in Las Vegas. The resolution was submitted by the Chicago Federation of Labor as well as the Cleveland Federation of Labor and the Contra Costa County AFL-CIO.

The resolution links sprawl to the many ills harming working families, reminds us all that some unions have been doing things for decades that are now called "smart growth," and authorizes the federation's leadership to weigh in on the rapidly-emerging smart growth debate.

To read the resolution, please link to:

For a little extra reading please read the Sprawl Watch monograph "Talking to Union Leaders About Smart Growth" authored by Greg LeRoy, Director of Good Jobs First. To order a copy please e-mail

= = = State and Local News = = = 
With a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved the NoHo Commons redevelopment deal in North Hollywood, including $43.9 million in public subsidies and loans to help the $218.7-million project.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend said she would consider construction of a highway (the Intercounty Connector ICC) to connect upper Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties.  In September 1999, Governor Parris Glendening killed proposals for the highway, calling it and "environmental disaster". Townsend, is planning a run for governor next year.

Despite a state ultimatum that could cost Carroll County, MD $400,000 for farmland preservation, two of the three Carroll commissioners remain steadfastly in favor of the zoning law that allows landowners to transfer development rights from their conservation land to their agricultural land, meaning landowners could develop one residential lot for every 3 acres - instead of one every 20 acres, as is normally allowed under agricultural zoning.

= = = National News = = =
Public Health
"Urban Sprawl: What's Health Got To Do With It?" is the ninth broadcast in a series of programs that focus on contemporary public health challenges.  The January 18, 2002 program is a co-production of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. The 2-3 p.m. live program will explore alternatives to over-development and discuss the critical community partnerships needed to design healthy communities in the future.
The case study for this broadcast will feature Portland, Oregon, and focus on the progress this community has made in promoting a healthy living environment. Registration and program information are located at:

Foundations Push Smart Growth
During the 20th century, business people named Irvine, Hewlett and Packard created billion-dollar enterprises and in turn helped feed California's suburban sprawl. Now foundations bearing their names are giving away millions to turn growth in a different direction - back toward cities.

These foundations and other philanthropic groups are trying to spread an emerging but disputed gospel of development called smart growth.

"Foundations are pouring millions into this movement," said Joel Hirschhorn of the National Governor's Association. "This is one of the strongest social and political movements in the country, ever."

= = = New Releases = = =
Urban Design
The City of Raleigh, NC has created an extensive web site related to their urban design guidelines and similar efforts at:

The Sacramento Bee's in-depth three part series "Grappling With Growth" looks at how well suburban northern California is grappling with growth.

This fall the American Planning Association conducted nine workshops on the Fundamentals of Site Planning for nearly 300 architects, engineers, planners, and municipal officials in Central America and the Caribbean. The two-day course included aspects of site analysis important for optimal site selection and site design. Spin-off products to be completed by the end of the year include a Web-base version of a Spanish-language text workbook and a 2-1/2-hour training video.  Questions about the program may be directed to APA research director Bill Klein ( or project director Megan Lewis (   For much more information, go to the project's web site at

Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 44- December 5, 2001

= = = State and Local News = = =
Ballot Initiative
Orange County supervisors agreed to put a measure on the March ballot that could end the county's seven-year-old plan to build a commercial airport at El Toro.  The initiative, now known as Measure W, qualified for the ballot last month after supporters gathered more than enough signatures. The Orange County Central Park and Nature Preserve Initiative would replace airport zoning at the 4,700-acre former Marine base with zoning that could allow a large urban park, university complex and sports fields.

According to new figures released this week by the Census Bureau, data show that only 38.6% of families in Los Angeles own their homes, a reversal of national trend. Los Angeles increasingly is becoming a city of renters, with a lower proportion of homeowners than any city except New York.

To view the Census figures please link to:

Starting in January Bay Area public transit riders will be start a six-month test of a new universal transit ticket called TransLink. Translink is a "smart card" that will allow riders to pay their fares by simply passing a card over an electronic pad. TransLink is designed to make it easier for people to navigate the Bay Area's maze of transit agencies

D.C. Metro Area
Metro's partnership with Flexcar kicked in 12/3.  The transit agency is allowing the Seattle-based company to park short-term rental cars at or near eight metrorail stations, with more stations expecting to join the program by March. Metro's plan is to cut traffic in the region by getting more cars off the road.

Washington State's Sound Transit board approved the agency's plan to build a 14-mile light-rail line from downtown Seattle to Tukwila. The $2.1 billion project still must secure $500 million in needed federal funding. The board had been debating as a region whether to move ahead on mass transit for 30 years.

= = = National News = = = 
Farm Bill
The Senator Agriculture Committee has passed a farm bill, the Agriculture, Conservation, and Rural Enhancement Act of 2001 (S.1731).  The American Farmland Trust has thrown its support behind S. 1731 as the most farmland friendly and conservation-minded proposal for the 2002 Farm Bill. The Farmland Trust believes the bill is the best hope to provide funds to protect farms and ranches from sprawling development. 

The Senate Agriculture Committee's bill dedicates $1 billion over five years for the federal Farmland Protection Program, which helps states and communities permanently protect their best farmland from sprawling development.

National Housing Trust Fund Update
House Bill HR 2349 now has 118 co-sponsors.  The National Housing Trust Fund Campaign has more than 1,600 organizations from around the country that endorse it. Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has pledged to make the legislation a priority for his office and introduced the list of Campaign endorsements into the Congressional Record this week (12/3). For more information about the campaign please visit the National Housing Trust Fund Campaign website at

"New Urbanism" Founders
Architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk "New Urbanism" founders have been selected to receive the third annual Vincent Scully Prize by the National Building Museum.

= = = New Releases = = = 
The Colorado Sprawl Action Center, a project of CoPIRG, release the "Smart Growth Hall of Fame" report that recognizes ten developments and planning decisions across Colorado that exhibit good growth management and smart growth principles. The ten chosen for the report were selected to display a variety of growth management tools that are available to local governments and decision -makers. 
For a complete copy of the report and photographs of the sites, visit

A new report released by the Smart Growth Network and the National Neighborhood Coalition identifies approaches to curb sprawl and address the need for affordable housing.  The report  "Smart Growth and Affordable Housing: Making the Connection" identifies a range of policies and approaches that help achieve both smart growth and affordable housing objectives and provides case studies of towns, cities, and states that have benefited from linking these two interrelated goals. Free copies of the report may be downloaded at the Smart Growth Network web site:
or the National Neighborhood Coalition web site:

The Trust for Public Land's report-in-progress, "Creating a Local Greenprint for Growth" new chapter discusses the most common voluntary and regulatory tools and funding sources used to preserve open space.

Scenic America releases its annual list of 10 of the most endangered places.  "Last Chance Landscapes of America the Beautiful 2001", shows that communities across the country face continuous threats from public and private actions that destroy vistas and community character. Eight-story high billboard advertising wall signs are desecrating the beauty of the nation's capital, and a Cisco Systems office park is on the verge of replacing one of California's most scenic landscapes. "Last Chance Landscapes of America the Beautiful 2001" were chosen in a nationwide competition. Details of these Last Chance Landscapes are in the report. For more information on the report please visit