newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch 
Volume 4, Number 2- January 23, 2002


 = = = State and Local News = = = 
Ventura city officials hope to tap into funds recently approved by Congress to speed cleanup and redevelopment of underused or abandoned industrial sites nationwide to redevelop a three-mile stretch of privately owned oil and chemical manufacturing sites. 

The Atlanta Regional Commission is expected to outline the communities that will receive more than $18 million to plan and implement smart-growth projects in the third round of its Livable Centers Initiative. Projects in 16 communities, which have already devised LCI-funded plans, now are getting $17.7 million to implement their development projects. Additionally, 11 new communities will divvy up more than $700,000 to come up with their own new smart-growth studies. 

Both the Senate and the House will be considering important regional transportation bills this week (1/21). The two competing regional transportation proposals are HB 2359, a multimodal bill that will allow voters to approve investments in state and local road improvements, as well as high-capacity transit.  Transportation Choices and others support the bill. Senate Bill 6140 would allow a joint ballot question where Puget Sound voters could approve up to $10.3 billion in new road money along with existing Sound Transit tax authority for regional transit needs. This roads package is being opposed by the 1/3 for Choices Coalition.  

Redondo Beach has what the city's chief planner considers a once-in-a-lifetime  opportunity to remake the coastal suburb. Planners have drawn up the "Heart of the City" plan that intends to put the beach back in the beach town. You can now read the story on Redondo Beach's 150-acre land recycling project on the California Planning and Development Report website, 

North Carolina 
Florida's Palm Beach County planning director was selected to head Durham's planning 
department and will oversee the city and county's efforts to guide growth downtown and on the fringes. 

At a time when many programs that help us in our daily lives are being cut, commuters should be happy to know that a federal subsidy- the pretax commuting benefit- aimed at getting people out of their cars and onto public transportation was increased to $100 from $65, effective January 1. The program is administered locally throughout the nation.  Go to to find out how your employer can get on board. 

Proponents of the regional railway CORRIDORone received nearly $1million to study and project how many people from Cumberland, Dauphin and Lancaster counties would use the planned $280 million railroad that would make frequent daily trips among Lancaster City, Harrisburg, Carlisle and points between. 

 = = = National News = = = 
Affordable Housing 
The Bush administration announced that its budget for next year would include a  $200 million program to help lower-income families with down payments and closing costs on their first houses. Mel Martinez, secretary of housing and urban development, said the program was part of a response to a growing housing crisis for working families. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported last week that cities had estimated that they will need an additional $1.12 billion each year to meet the demand for affordable housing.  "New Program For Housing Down Payments” (1/23) 

Neal Peirce's column, "Brownfields Bill: Historic Breakthrough" focuses not on the amount of federal money increased to clean up the country's lost industrial lands but the new national affirmation that recovering these brownfield's is an important part of the country's 21st century agenda. 

Public Health  
UNC's School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held their nationwide conference "Urban Sprawl: What's health got to do with it?" The conference was broadcast on the Web and beamed to televisions in 250 conference rooms and auditoriums throughout the country. While the connection between exercise and good health is well established, epidemiologists are just beginning to document the links between health and the man-made environment. To view the webcast and discussion forum please link to 

 = = = New Releases = = = 
A new website has been launched for professionals and non-professionals interested in transportation planning that looks beyond the pavement to the role that streets and roads can play in enhancing communities and natural environments - be they urban, suburban or rural, scenic or historical. Through a planning and design process that encourages practitioners to collaborate with communities, context sensitive solutions respond to local needs and values while accommodating the safe movement of motor vehicles.  The site, Context Sensitive Solutions (, is managed by Project for Public Spaces 

       Sprawl Watch 
       Volume 4, Number 1- January 9, 2002

 = = = Highlight = = = 
Property Rights 
Lake Tahoe area property owners seeking compensation for a building moratorium enacted two decades ago received a mixed reaction on Monday from two Supreme Court justices who hold critical votes for their claims. The question for the High Court is whether a 32-month building moratorium imposed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was an unconstitutional taking of property rights.  To learn more about this important, precedent setting case- Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council, Inc. v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, No. 00-1167 please link to:  

 = = = State and Local News = = = 
Affordable Housing 
District of Columbia 
The D.C. Council passed the first significant housing legislation for the District in two decades, the Housing Act of 2001.  The Council is hoping to turn nearly $ 200 million in incentives over the next 10 years into 7,000 units of housing for low- to moderate-income residents and to spur construction of thousands of long-awaited upscale apartments downtown. 

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has granted the city's request to temporarily block the installation of up to 25 billboards on land owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  The billboards are along some of the county's most heavily traveled freeways. Faced with community complaints about blight, city  officials are seeking to restrain the spread of billboards, while the companies that make them are waging a spirited campaign to expand their presence. 

Community Revitalization 
Trying to spur development in low-income neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area, the new Bay Area Smart Growth Fund will invest corporate money into building homes and commercial space in 46 neighborhoods, concentrating most development near subways, buses, ferries and other forms of mass transit. 

Growth Rate 
The latest projections and census data numbers show that Arizona's booming growth rate is expected to continue. The state, growing about three times as fast as the nation, has ranked among the top five population gainers annually for 15 years. 

Open Space Preservation 
Ventura County supervisors unanimously backed creation of a land conservation district, clearing the way for local voters to weigh in on the issue on the March 2004 ballot. The district would purchase open space, farmland and parks across the county to act as a buffer against runaway growth. If approved, a ballot measure on the district's formation will tentatively be set for March 2004. The district would be funded either through a sales tax increase or a property tax

 = = = National News = = = 
Affordable Housing 
In a statement released (1/3) by The National Housing Conference (NHC) NHC believes that the nation continues to face a serious affordable housing situation of near crisis proportions. Based upon the most recent data, approximately one out of every seven (13 million) American families has a critical housing need, including some 4 million low- and moderate-income working families. The NHC went on to say that good housing is essential to support the health and well-being of our families and our communities, and we also know that our continuing failure to address the full measure of our nation's affordable housing needs will have a direct impact on other national concerns including  the environment, transportation, access to jobs and urban sprawl. 

Urban Optimism 
The last few years was a period of urban optimism as many older cities experienced positive signs of renewal. Given the changed economic, fiscal, and social climate, cities now face a new series of challenges in 2002. This commentary by Bruce Katz outlines his New Year's resolutions for American cities.  

Public Health 
Environmental health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that health suffers because of suburban sprawl. The National Association of HomeBuilders dismiss the findings of the Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse study. 

Man of the Year 
American Farmland Trust  (AFT) President Ralph Grossi is honored in this month’s issue of Progressive Farmer as the magazine’s 2002 Man of the Year in Service to Agriculture. Over the years, AFT's efforts, which began with a focus on national legislation, have increasingly shifted to the state and local levels.  AFT has also focused on the loss of agricultural land due to sprawling development.