newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
Volume 1, Number 15 - January 25, 2000

Land Use Law
The Fourteenth Annual UCLA Land Use Law and Planning Conference will be 
held on Friday, January 28 at the Hotel Intercontinental in Downtown Los Angeles. Featured speakers will include more than 30 experts from government, building, development, education, environmental consulting, and law. The Honorable Philip Angelides, State Treasurer of California, will deliver the keynote address. This year's conference will spotlight Smart Growth initiatives and also feature Peter Douglas of the California Coastal Commission discussing recent coastal environmental controversies.,234,nscp-

Affordable Housing
The resort town of Snowmass Village, where the average home costs $1.12 million, is hoping to build 17 new employee townhomes this summer. Few employees of Snowmass, one of four ski areas owned by the Aspen Skiing Co., can afford to live in the town, including key town workers. Town Council members hope the town's new excise tax will help fund the housing.  The tax would be levied for the privilege of building bigger homes than currently allowed.  If it doesn't produce enough money to finance the employee housing, a bond question would be placed on the ballot. (AP, 1/17/00)

One growth-management bill was approved by a Colorado House committee Monday, but three others died, and three more bills are up Tuesday, January 25, in a Senate committee. So far, only tax-cutting proposals exceed the number of growth bills introduced in the 2000 Colorado Legislature. An estimated 40 to 50 measures either have been introduced or are being drafted.

American Farmland Trust will recognize Indiana dairyman Mike Yoder as the winner of its $10,000 Steward of the Land Award for his leadership in protecting farmland and demonstrating environmentally sound farming practices. By forming a land trust in Elkhart County, Ind., and creating farmland protection zoning where none existed, Mike Yoder stood out  as superior among a record number of nominees from 34 states.

Development and Schools
Charles County, Maryland’s elected leaders January 11 decreased the number of houses that may be built in the rapidly growing jurisdiction, saying that they are determined not to let students from new homes overwhelm public schools.  The action restricts home building near crowded schools. The controls rank among the most stringent yet placed on the residential growth that has spread across Washington D.C.’s suburbs. (The Washington Post, 1/12/00)

East Coast dairy farmers say a precipitous drop in milk prices has left many of them facing financial ruin. Beleaguered dairy farmers from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Alabama set aside their chores Monday, January 17, to rally in the cold outside the Maryland State House for fairness in milk pricing.  They were joined by representatives of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, who say preserving the 830 dairy farms in Maryland is a key to curbing urban sprawl and preserving open spaces. The number of Maryland dairy farms is down from 1,140 in 1991, according to the Maryland Farm Bureau. (AP, 1/18/00)

Transportation and Affordable Housing
Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration took two important steps last week.  The first step was Ventura's plan to provide more than $2 billion in new funding for highways and transit over the next decade. Ventura's transportation funding plan would channel more state resources into mass transit as a means of reducing highway congestion and shaping regional growth. The administration's proposal would earmark 100 percent of the revenues from the existing motor vehicle excise tax for transportation -- some $535 million a year. The second less-publicized decision was to allow the Metropolitan Council to get into the business of public housing.  Exercising its powers as a housing and redevelopment authority, the council voted to develop and operate up to 300 affordable housing units dispersed throughout the metro area for low-income families. (Pioneer Planet, 1/17/00)

New York
Legislative Reform
Governor Pataki announced the formation of a cabinet-level "Quality Communities" task force, to be headed by Lieutenant Governor Mary O. Donohue, to suggest changes in executive actions, regulations and laws to promote "smart growth" strategies for NY State. The task force will reportedly review local, state and federal agency programs and actions to develop its recommendations, which are due in one year. According to a release from the Governor's office, "The Quality Communities Task Force will focus on redeveloping urban centers and older suburbs, preserving open space and agricultural and forest lands, protecting water and air resources and restoring and protecting New York's waterfront areas in existing communities."

Cost of Sprawl
In an attempt to put a comprehensive price tag on development, 10,000 Friends 
of Pennsylvania released a 65-page report, "The Costs of Sprawl in Pennsylvania," that says low-density, unlimited and non-contiguous expansion outward that lacks integrated land-use planning - the universal definition of sprawl - is driving up taxes to support new schools and roads in the far-flung suburbs and draining cities and first-generation suburbs of residents and public funding for infrastructures there. The report says the state's local governments could save more than $120 million a year through more compact forms of development. And buyers could save as much as 8 percent in home-purchase costs.

Open Space
The speaker of the House of Delegates plans to propose 1/18/00 that Virginia dramatically increase the amount of money it spends to preserve open space 
with a goal of setting aside about 600,000 acres over the next seven years.  The plan calls for spending $40 million a year over the next two years to buy land and pay landowners who agree to preserve their property as open space. The plan would dramatically increase the amount now budgeted -- $1.75 million – but it is not as much as Maryland and other nearby states spend. (The Washington Post, 1/18/00)  http://www.washington

The Census Bureau predicts the U.S. population could double by 2100. The older segment would grow and minorities would be a majority. By mid-century, the United States will have about 404 million people, and 571 million by 2100, compared with today's 275 million. Census Bureau forecasters did not estimate which regions would see the most growth, but some said the increase was sure to worsen sprawl, traffic congestion and other urban ills. As in past projections, the Census Bureau says the nation's population will age quickly, especially as baby boomers reach their 60s over the next three decades. By 2100, there will be more than 5 million Americans who are at least 100 years old; today, there are about 65,000.  (1/17/00)

Report Releases:
The Brookings Institution Center on Urban & Metropolitan Policy in collaboration with the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University released “Housing Heats Up: Home Building Patterns in Metropolitan Areas.”  The study looks at new housing construction in America’s 39 largest metropolitan areas during recent periods of economic boom (1986), bust (1991), and revival (1998).

Two new studies show the tendency of highway expansions to generate increased traffic loads.  One study, conducted by the International Energy Agency in Paris analyzed 26 years of data from every county in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.  The analysis concluded that about a third of the added road capacity on main highways in the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area was used up by induced travel.  The statewide results for Maryland and Virginia found that fully 50 percent of added capacity was used up by induced traffic.  A second study conducted by former EPA transportation analyst Robert Noland utilized 15 years of data from major American metropolitan areas found that a 10 percent expansion in roads produced a 2.8 percent rise in traffic.

Sprawl Watch, Volume 1, Number 14
January 6, 2000

VA: Loudoun County Virginia's newly elected Board of Supervisors has 
set up a $1 million legal defense fund to defend itself against court 
challenges by home builders.  The local building industry has threatened 
to take the county to court if it enacts widespread restrictions on 
development. The Board of Supervisors also agreed to spend about $3,000 
to help pay for a Richmond Lobbyist to aid Loudoun and other fast-growing 
communities in their fight on the state level for more tools to control 
development. This county, the third fastest growing in the country, has 
been seen as a political barometer on sprawl since a slate of eight smart 
growth candidates for the county board swept the November elections. 
(The Washington Post, 1/5/00)

Sustainable Loudoun Network

= = =State and Local News = = =
NJ: New Jersey will buy more than 1,000 acres of farmland in Gloucester 
County to curb suburban sprawl in the southern part of the state. The $4.4 million 
purchase is part of the state's Farmland Preservation Program and Governor Christine Whitman's plan to preserve 1 million acres of open space in 10 years, 
which was approved by voters in 1998. The transaction is the largest single purchase under the preservation plan, and the state will divide and sell plots restricted to farm usage. (Bloomberg, 12/31/99)

Open Space 
NV: The Bureau of Land Management set the stage for the future of North 
Las Vegas on January 4 by recommending that 7,500 acres of federal land 
be used for master-planned communities. While the recommendation for 
the undeveloped land doesn't give city officials total control of how the 
public land will be sold, it does set the wheels in motion for development 
of new communities, which could bring 78,000 new residents to the area. 
(Las Vegas Sun, 1/4/00)

CA: "New Schools, Better Neighborhoods" is a project of the 
Metropolitan Forum Project of Los Angeles that aims to reshape how Los 
Angeles sites, designs and builds public schools. It will bring together 
community, regional and national leaders in education, architecture, finance, community development, community health, government and the arts to begin defining the new schools and community centers of the 21st century and identifying a course to achieving them. One approach being explored is building human-scaled schools of 500 or so that can infill in neighborhoods instead of 5000+ capacity schools that require 4 or 5 acres and lots of transportation. These schools would also provide library, recreation and performance facilities to the neighborhood, 
thereby eliminating redundancy in public expenditures, strengthening the 
community, and mitigating against sprawl.  Partners include LA Unified, 
Getty Education Institute of the Arts, Urban Land Institute, among others. 
Check out the website (which contains an executive summary and case 

National: President Clinton announced a $1.3 billion proposal to help 
communities rebuild aging and overcrowded schools.  The proposal will 
include a new program of federal grants for school construction, plus a 
revival of Clinton's effort in recent years to use tax breaks to help 
communities upgrade existing schools, the sources said. The plan will be 
included in the fiscal 2001 budget he will send to Congress Feb. 7.  In 
1998, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that renovation 
and repair of America's schools would cost $112 billion, with another $60 
billion needed to provide space for an expected 3 million new students 
over the next decade. (Nando Media, 1/5/00),2107,500150430-500183544-

Tax Relief
WI: A new report by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau details 
the tax consequences for homeowners in every municipality in the state of 
fully implementing use-value assessment of farmland.  Under use-value 
assessment, all farmland in the state will be assessed for property tax 
purposes on the basis of its agricultural use and not its potential for 
development.  In providing tax relief to owners of farmland, the new 
assessments will remove an estimated $2 billion from the state's total tax 
base this year, causing a tax shift that places more of a burden on owners 
of other kinds of property, such as homes. (The Milwaukee Journal 

MD: Maryland and Virginia will begin measuring highway congestion 
early next year by tracking motorists talking on cellular telephones as they 
drive the Capital Beltway, an experiment that could revolutionize rush-
hour traffic reporting. (The Washington Post, 12/22/99)

VA: Starting January 5, Virginia commuters can get live footage of traffic 
conditions on major roads in Northern Virginia.  The new Virginia 
Department of Transportation's Web site,,  will 
eventually carry images from all 100 VDOT traffic cameras. (The 
Washington Post, 1/5/00)

 = =New Releases= = =
"The Trouble With Minimum Parking Requirements" Minimum parking 
requirements are often arbitrary and excessive. They are a market
distortion that imposes significant economic and environmental costs and
encourages increased driving. Subsidized parking is one of the largest 
external costs of automobile use. A more efficient and equitable approach 
is to use pricing to match parking supply and demand. The following 
report is posted at The Victoria Transport Policy Institute:

1000 Friends of Washington release "Sprawl Report Card".  The report 
assesses how 33 communities in the Central Puget Sound region are 
tackling growth.  It compares data provided by the Puget Sound Regional 
Council and the cities themselves on a variety of indicators, including 
transportation, the environment, density, and housing affordability. The 
five cities doing the most to prevent sprawl include:  Kirkland, Sumner, 
Seattle, Bremerton, and Poulsbo.  The ones doing the least?  Edgewood, 
Lake Stevens, Gig Harbor, and Edmonds.  Text and data from the report 
can be located at: