newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
                                                           Volume 3, Number 6 - February 22, 2001

= = = Newly Introduced = = =
Brownfields Bill Reintroduced
The Chairs and Ranking Members of the Committee and Subcommittee that have oversight for brownfields legislation introduced the "Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2001" (S. 350).  The bill, identical to the brownfields bill (S. 2700) that had 66 cosponsors last year and came within a hairsbreadth of becoming law, provides increased funding for brownfield cleanup in addition to ensuring legal protection for innocent property owners.  Visit the Senate Enviornment and Public Works homepage to read the bill in its entirety or to read the summary.

= = = State and Local News = = =
Affordable Housing
Berkeley, California
Berkeley's innovative plan to provide affordable housing for public employees, most of whom cannot afford housing in the East Bay's inflated housing market, has met resistance from an unlikely source.

Farmland Preservation
New Jersey
Increased preservation of the Pinelands, the environmentally sensitive forest in southern New Jersey known for its short trees and sandy soil, has become a new priority of New Jersey's successful Farmland Preservation Program.
North Dakota
New legislation introduced in the North Dakota State Senate will allow landowners to sell conservation easements on their land--currently North Dakota is the only state in the union to not allow perpetual easements to be sold on private land.
An ambitious program to preserve farmland and open space in Meqoun, WI, is one step closer to implementation.

Growth Management
With two bills in the Colorado Legislature getting most of the press of late, it appears a smaller scale growth bill has a decent chance of the reaching the governor's desk.
The final draft of the Florida Growth Management Study Commission, appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to determine the effectiveness of Florida's growth management system, released its final report of recommendations and policy proposals.  (Newly-appointed HUD Secretary Mel Martinez was chair of the commission before his HUD appointment.)
New Jersey
As New Jersey begins its largest school construction program in its history; planners, environmentalists and urban advocates are warning about "school sprawl."
On February 7, the Gulf Coast Institute hosted "Connecting the Visions:  Creating the Future We Want in the Houston Gulf Coast," which brought together business leaders, academics, public officials, and citizens to develop a consensus regional planning strategy.  To read the document, visit
A Colorado legislator who plans to use tax surplus money for alternative transportation projects has, after initial high-profile public support, picked up some resistance.,1299,DRMN_37_43982,00.html
District of Columbia
D.C. at the Crossroads, released by Friends of the Earth, lays out a blueprint for the District of Columbia for transportation investments and policies that will enhance safety, increase access, reduce traffic, diminish air pollution and promote economic development.
An ongoing debate over highway funding and air pollution in the Houston-Galveston region may be reignited in the near future.
Kansas City
The planning group promoting Kansas City's proposed 24-mile light rail defended their proposal to the City Council.,local/3775249c.219,.html

Urban Revitalization
Boston's inner suburbs, as with the inner suburbs nationwide, have experienced similar  disinvestment patterns to that of inner cities.  However, as with city of Boston, the older cities around Boston are enjoying a renaissance.
Tacoma, Washington
Capitalizing partly on the sky-high real estate market in Seattle, Tacoma is aggressively recruiting artists with its abundance of affordable warehouse space.

= = = National = = =
To quantify sprawl, USA TODAY developed an index that analyzes
how densely developed a metro is today and how that changed
during the '90s. The result is the USA TODAY Sprawl Index.

= = = New Releases = = =
Governors' Smart Growth Initiatives
The Northeast-Midwest Coalition has released "Governors' Smart Growth Initiatives" that provides an overview of the current governors' growth-related statements and initiatives.

Purchase of Development Rights
"Purchase-of-Development Rights: Conserving Lands, Preserving Western Livelihoods" a new report from the Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Western Governors' Association, and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association describes how an increasing number of states and communities are turning to the purchase-of-development rights (PDRs) as a way to keep ranchers in ranching and sprawl off the land.

Redeveloping Brownfields with Federal Transportation Funds
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO) released a report titled "Redeveloping Brownfields with Federal Transportation Funds."  To view the report, visit

Two New Reports from Scenic America
"Taming Wireless Telecommunications Towers," provides citizens, policymakers, and planners with background and advice on dealing with wireless telecommunication facilities through the planning and legislative process.  "From Sprawl to Smart Growth:  How to Achieve Beautiful Results," is a series of nine Facts for Action designed to help
local activists argue for smart growth.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 5 - February 14, 2001

= = = State and Local News = = =
Farmland Preservation
Since passing State Issue #1 last November, which made $400 million available for brownfield redevelopment and farmland/open space preservation, Ohio is pressing ahead with an ambitious farmland preservation program.

Natural Resources
Chesapeake Bay Region
Despite an increase in spending for land conservation, the Chesapeake Bay region lost an area more than three times the size of the District of Columbia each year in the mid-1990s.

Governor Rowland announced the preservation of over 15,000 acres, the largest open space purchase in state history.

As development pressures intensify in rural sections of Maricopa County, the chance of severe flooding increases.

Scarborough, Maine's fastest growing community, may limit building permits in an attempt to limit growth.

New Mexico
Many believe the time is ripe for New Mexico to reform its antiquated state planning laws.

State Legislatures
Since the defeat of Amendment 24 in Colorado last November, many different bills have been introduced in the state legislature to deal with growth this session

A new tax bill in Pennsylvania would provide a 20 percent state income-tax credit to someone who buys and restores a historically significant property and agrees to live in it for at least five years.

Urban Redevelopment
Suburban Cobb County outside Atlanta is attempting to redevelop many of its deserted shopping malls and parking lots and convert them into urban villages.

San Francisco
The newly-elected San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 to approve a six-month ban on the construction of live-work lofts in San Francisco, and also imposed new rules on commercial developers to pay for affordable housing.

A lawsuit brought by a city councilman has stopped Houston's promising light-rail construction in its tracks.

= = = New Releases = = =
Transportation and Mobility in D.C.
A new report from Friends of the Earth lays out a blueprint for District of Columbia transportation investments and policies that will enhance safety, increase access, reduce traffic, diminish air pollution and promote economic development. While it focuses on D.C., many of the recommendations make sense for any urban area.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 4 - February 7, 2001

= = = State and Local News = = =
Affordable Housing
Lake County, located just outside Chicago, rejected a proposed inclusionary zoning ordinance which would have required developments of fifty units or more to set aside 12.5 percent to 15 percent of the units for affordable housing.,2669,SAV-0102060055,FF.html

Gov. Angus King's administration is developing a number of proposals to make housing more affordable statewide.

Farmland Preservation
American Farmland Trust awarded Gov. Ridge and the state of Pennsylvania an achievement award for protecting more farmland than any other state.

Regional Planning
Regional planning and increasing neighborhood density were just a couple of the topics covered at a regional summit convened by Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

State Initiatives
The first major growth bill to come before the Colorado Legislature since the defeat of Amendment 24 was defeated in committee.

New Hampshire
Gov. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire unveiled "GrowSmart NH," a program aimed at stopping sprawl and revitalizing downtown areas.

New York
Gov. Pataki unveiled 41 recommendations to reduce sprawl, preserve farmland and revitalize urban areas.

Many transit officials and advocates in Atlanta believe 2001 will see a big spike in transit ridership.

Officials in Baltimore are considering a major expansion of its light-rail system.

Kansas City
As Kansas City continues to deliberate whether or not to build a light-rail system, many communities are lobbying to be included if a line is built.,local/37751905.131,.html

San Francisco
A new proposal to build a light-rail extension along Geary Boulevard in San Francisco would charge the South Bay for the construction.

Two Virginia Senate panels unanimously approved legislation to create a regional transportation authority for Northern Virginia and they passed a measure that would allow Northern Virginians to tax themselves for transportation and education projects.

Urban Revitalization
A 1.6-acre public square consisting of fountains, gardens, and a glass atrium is part of downtown Detroit's massive redevelopment program.

= = = New Releases = = =
"Downtown Revitalization in Urban Neighborhoods and Small Cities," Northeast-Midwest Institute

= = = Newly Introduced = = =
The High Speed Rail Investment Act of 2001, a bipartisan bill with 51 co-sponsors, would enable Amtrak and other passenger rail companies to issue as much as $12 billion in bonds over the next 10 years.

= = = Newly Filed = = =
The Forest Conservation Council and Friends of the Earth are alleging in a new lawsuit that the Army Corps of Engineers is permitting development that contributes to urban sprawl in Virginia without complying with federal environmental laws and regulations.