newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch 
  Volume 2, Number 12 - July 17, 2000

= = = State and Local News = = = 
Lawmakers in the Massachusetts House and Senate have passed the Community Preservation Act,
which is designed to protect the state's threatened riverbanks, farmlands and open fields.  Governor Paul
Cellucci has indicated he will sign the bill, which has been deliberated in varying forms for the previous
13 years.  The proposed law would allow communities to raise their property taxes by up to 3 percent to
create preservation funds.  The bill would also provide a new state fund financed by higher fees on deed
transactions.  The Community Preservation Act is based upon a successful "Land Bank" bill for Cape
Cod, under which 15 Cape communities have voted to raise their property taxes to fund preservation.

Since the explosive growth of the computer industry in central Texas during the 1990's, development and
growth have been central to many disputes in Austin and the surrounding area.  Recognizing the need to
prevent growth in the outlying hills and along a fragile watershed, city leaders have attempted to direct
growth inward—through a combination of carrots and sticks--where infrastructure currently exists.  For
a review of articles in the Austin American-Statesman dealing with development and smart growth in
Austin over the past year, please visit

On July 14, Denver's 8.7 mile light-rail running from downtown Denver to the outlying communities of
Englewood and Littleton began operation with festivities planned at many of the new stations.  The $177
million project is still in its beginning phases with extensive commercial and residential activity planned
along the corridor.  Both Englewood and Littleton, towns with semi-vacant historic downtowns, have
seen an increase in downtown occupancy that many attribute to the project.

San Francisco
A San Francisco supervisor and a coalition of housing, urban, neighborhood and business groups, the  Housing Action Coalition, have unveiled legislation to increase the supply of housing in San Francisco; a city infamous for its lack of both affordable and market-rate housing.  Under the proposal, housing developers would gain a more streamlined approval process and more flexibility with the city's height
restrictions, in return for  building more affordable housing.

Sprawl-Related Initiatives on the Fall 2000 ballot 
*The Rural Heritage Initiative would require voter approval for any changes made in the existing general plan zoning on rural and agricultural lands and any increases in housing density in these areas. With RHI, cities will still be able to decide how much land they want to annex and develop.  Similar ballot initiatives were passed in Napa and Ventura Counties in 1990 and 1998 respectively.  Over the last ten years, voters in Sonoma County have supported growth control measures with six out of the nine cities in the county passing urban growth boundaries. 

*Also on the November ballot, the Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition is working to pass
Measure B to extend Alameda County's transportation sales tax, which would provide a $186 million
increase for transportation alternatives. For more information, visit 
*Alameda County voters will also decide on the Save Agriculture and Open Space Lands Initiative sponsored by the Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter, Greenbelt Alliance, and Palomares Home Owners Association. The measure establishes a county Urban Growth Boundary which will focus urban development in and near existing cities where it will, they argue, be more efficiently served by public facilities. For more information, visit

The Citizen's Growth Management Initiative has qualified for the November ballot.  This initiative
will give local governments the jurisdiction to develop urban growth boundaries, implement developer
impact fees to pay for increased services, and allows for local referendum on major changes to the general plan among many other tools for cities and counties to control Arizona's rapid and uncontrolled growth.

*As other initiatives qualify for the November ballot that are related to efforts to control sprawl (for good
or ill) we will keep you updated through this newsletter and through our website.  If people are working
on or know of other relevant ballot initiatives that have qualified for the November ballot, please let us
know at 

= = = New Releases = = = 
Chesapeake Bay
The report, Land and the Chesapeake Bay, details how suburban sprawl, if continued at the rate
experienced during the 1990s, threatens to overwhelm progress made to date to improve the health of
the Chesapeake.  Land and the Chesapeake is the first comprehensive collection of Chesapeake Bay
watershed land-use and sprawl statistics. It presents a year 2000 snapshot of the state of the land as it relates to protecting and restoring the Bay and builds a strong case for the need for better ways to   manage growth and development in the watershed. It details trends toward the destruction of natural
lands, increasing population, declining water and air quality, gridlock, and rising costs to local  economies.  The report follows the June 28, 2000 signing of a new Chesapeake Bay Agreement, in which a major sticking point had been a disagreement among signatories-including Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia-about how to curb uncontrolled sprawl.  To view the executive summary or download the full report, please see

Smart Growth Critique 
Seeking to rebut and discredit much of the scholarship and activism surrounding sprawl, the Heritage Foundation—long critical of efforts to control growth—released a book titled "A Guide to Smart Growth:  Shattering Myths, Providing Solutions".  To order the book, visit

= = = National = = = 
Farmland Preservation 
As part of the Clinton-Gore Administration’s Livable Communities Initiative, the United States Department of Agriculture will hold a series of five public listening sessions on how to maintain agriculture
and forestry in rapidly growing areas. With sprawl converting increasing amounts of land, USDA is
actively seeking public comment on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to preserving
agricultural and forestland in urbanizing areas. The input received from the forums will form the basis for
a report that USDA will issue later this year. 

July 13, DeKalb County, Illinois. 
July 21, Davis, California. 
July 31 (tentative), Seattle, Washington. 
August (date not yet set) New Jersey Highlands Region. 
September (date not yet set), Washington, DC. 
For more information, contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service at 202-720-2847. 

Clean Air Conformity Reference Guide
The need for a reference guide stems from the requirement to integrate transportation and air quality
planning; a requirement included in the Clean Air Act of 1990, the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Efficiency Act of 1991, and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.  The Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in cooperation with the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with a diverse group of stakeholders prepared the
reference guide. 

The Reference Guide, designed both for transportation professionals and those with no planning
background, will be updated periodically on the FHWA website to include new information, guidance,
court rulings, case studies, research findings, or approaches to meeting transportation conformity
requirements. It is a reference manual and contains transportation conformity rules and relevant preamble
language, questions and answers, and resource materials.  Printed copies may be obtained from FHWA
Division Offices and Resource Centers, FTA Regional Offices, state DOTs and metropolitan 
planning organizations. The guide is also available on a CD-ROM and can viewed downloaded from the
FHWA website:

Gov. Glendening assumes NGA Chair
Maryland Governor Paris Glendening, long a proponent of smart growth and livable communities, was
elected President of the National Governor's Association during their national convention in State
College, PA.  Gov. Glendening, who had been vice-president for the previous year, promises to use his
presidential tenure at the NGA to promote his ideas about smart growth to a national audience.  Gov.
Glendening plans to have three regional town meetings focusing on sprawl and smart growth, open a
website for an exchange of ideas and strategies, and the two national meetings under his watch—winter
in Washington DC and summer in Providence, RI—will concentrate on smart growth.  Although
Maryland and a handful of other states have had success implementing policies to contain growth within
established urban boundaries and preserve open space, other states have had political difficulties with
policies to address sprawl.
For more information on the National Governor's Association, please see

Sprawl Watch 
Volume 2, Number 11 - July 5, 2000

= = = State and Local News = = = 
North Carolina 
Governor James Hunt signed North Carolina's "Million Acres Open Space Goal" legislation into law June 28.  The bill is an integral part of the Governor's smart growth platform, the 21st Century Communities Initiative.  The funding will be used to protect North Carolina's vanishing forests, wetlands and riverfronts through land purchase and permanent conservation easements.  Urban areas in North Carolina have increased by 88 percent since 1985, and more than 156,000 acres of farmland and forests per year were lost to development between 1992 and 1997.  If policies are not implemented soon to control sprawl, this trend could continue unabated with the states population expected to  increase by 26 percent by 2020.

Chesapeake Bay 
Land Preservation 
The Governors of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, the mayor of Washington D.C. and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency signed "Chesapeake 2000", an agreement that will encourage the region's leaders to work cooperatively to solve serious pollution problems in Chesapeake Bay--an important employment and recreation center for the mid-Atlantic region.  Specifically, over-development along its shores has been identified as one of the primary culprits of pollution in the Bay.  Although not perfect, this agreement should provide for the preservation, though easement and purchase, of  threatened land around the Bay.

California State Treasurer Philip Angelides released a report titled "The Double Bottom Line" which promotes his plan for the state government to lead the way with investing in California's distressed communities.  Through its billions of dollars in assets which it invests in a variety sources, the Treasurer can have a significant influence--for better or for worse--in poor communities (what he terms "emerging markets").  Through home loans for low and moderate-income Californians, brownfield cleanup and other mechanisms, the initiative calls for $8 billion to be invested in California's distressed                     communities. To view the report, please see

King County, Washington 
For a good description of King County's (metropolitan Seattle) extensive Transit Oriented Development program, please see their new site

A common refrain from some contends sprawl is created solely through immigration, whether from another state--or from another country.  While an increase in population certainly does have some effect on land-use patters, recent demographic data from Colorado (where Californians have infamously been derided for the rapid uburbanization of the state), suggests Coloradans themselves are more likely to be the homeowners in  new exurban developments. 

Los Angeles 
Transit System 
The last leg of the Red Line Subway in Los Angeles opened to passengers on Saturday June 24 culminating a $4.5 billion, 20-year effort to establish a reliable and efficient mass transit system in a city most famous for its infatuation with the automobile.  This last section will connect the suburban San Fernando Valley with downtown Los Angeles. Although originally conceived as much larger, the current subway will have three lines extending only 17.4 miles.  However transit officials in Los Angeles, see the subway as one part of a larger intermodal transportation plan for the region.

= = = New Releases = = = 
Brownfields Reuse
The report presents the findings of a survey produced by the Northeast-Midwest Institute for the National Association of Homebuilders detailing the success of state government programs, specifically the Voluntary Cleanup Programs, with converting brownfield sites into residential use.  Due to their proximity to existing infrastructure, public transportation and many revitalized urban centers, brownfields are considered highly desirable development opportunities for home builders.  In turn, smart growth advocates have long supported the reuse of abandoned land in urban areas, and have applauded the growing trend of people moving back into the city. 

= = = National = = = 
Home Builders Adopt Rhetoric of their Opponents
Faced with increasing hositility toward bad land development, builders and developers nationwide are adopting the rhetoric of their opponents to soften their image.  Thus "smart growth" --a term used by groups trying to promote better land use development-  has now been embraced by organizations and activists of all stripes. 

Train Station Grants
Does your community have an old train station in danger of demolition, serious deterioration, or collapse through neglect?  You can help bring it to public attention by nominating your station for the Great American Station Foundation's "Top 10 Most Endangered Stations" list.  The Great American Station Foundation, in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has brought national attention to rail stations around the country that are at risk of destruction or serious damage due to neglect or inattention.  Besides providing convenient access to public transportation, revitalized transit stations can assist in the economic development of many of our nation's downtowns and Main Streets. Nomination must be received by August 15, 2000.

Public Transportation
The Gore Campaign announced a "Keep America Moving" initiative to improve public transportation and increase transportation choice.  His plan will invest $25 billion in funding for new light rail and subway services, cleaner buses, incentives for transit oriented development, and improvements to deteriorating train stations among other projects. 

Although Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse does not endorse candidates, we will keep you informed of policies the presidential candidates advocate this year which seek to promote smart growth and livable communities.