newsletter archive

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 22 - July 3, 2002
State and Local
Affordable Housing

For the first time in Contra Costa County a developer has to provide
affordable housing and pay to the housing fund. The development would
not be considered without an $8,000-per-house fee for the county's new
housing trust fund to pay for affordable housing, redevelopment and
innovative land uses across the county. $8.5 million is being imposed on
a developer to pay for affordable homes and is a countywide example.

Air Pollution

A measure that would make California the first state to regulate
tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases narrowly cleared the Legislature
on (7/1), setting up a political quandary for Gov. Gray Davis, who must
choose between the environmental groups and business interests on
opposing sides of the issue.


Mammoth new homes are popping up in older neighborhoods, many on
properties that once marked South Florida's past in small, but
distinctive buildings. As the new homes continue to take the place of
their bulldozed predecessors, they are fueling debates about everything
from architectural tastes to property rights.

Open Space Preservation

The Open Space Institute in New York announced six grants and loans to
four land trusts totaling $4.2 million in support of the purchase of
more than 245,000 acres of private forest land. The money will support
five projects to acquire land or conservation easements in Maine, New
Hampshire and New York. Maine will be getting $500,000 in grants and
loans to protect open space in its northern forest.

New Hampshire
New Hampshire is getting the lion's share of $4.2 million being given or
loaned The Open Space Institute in New York to protect 171,500 acres of
forest land from development. The Nature Conservancy New Hampshire
Chapter and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests will
get $3 million to help them buy 171,500 acres from International Paper.

Transfer of Development Rights

Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner acknowledged that a major piece of the
touted Livable Delaware initiative will not be acted on by the
legislature this year. At issue is Gov. Minner's proposed voluntary
transfer of development rights program, which would permit developers to
buy rights to property in select no-growth areas across the state.


A Georgia Department of Transportation board member is lobbying on
behalf of an investment firm that is competing on a team to provide
financing and construction for the Northern Arc.

National News

The latest census figures show seventy percent of rural Midwest counties
have suffered drastic population loss in the last two decades. The
average drop: at least 30%. Now, there's a new proposal to reverse this
slide-by paying people to give rural life a chance. Drawing inspiration
from the Homestead Act of 1862-which gave free land to pioneers settling
the frontier-they have proposed offering financial incentives to anyone
who will commit to saving these

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting applications
for the first "National Award for Smart Growth Achievement". This
competition is open to local or state governments and other public
sector entities that have successfully created smart growth.
Applications will be accepted in four categories: 1) Built Projects; 2)
Policies and Regulations; 3) Community Outreach and Education; and 4)
Overall Excellence in Smart Growth.20
Applications are due on August 30, 2002. Five winners will be recognized
at a ceremony in Washington, DC on November 19, 2002. For more details
about the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement, including an
application packet, visit:

The latest piece from the Elm Street Writers Groups looks at Oregon's
idealistic Congressman Earl Blumenauer. As the founder and co-chairman
of the congressional Livable Communities Task Force, which now boasts 50
members, Mr. Blumenauer is building the national Smart Growth movement's
political foundation in Congress. Blumenauer promotes new federal
policies to alter the tax code, conserve farmland and open space,
establish more affordable housing, invest in cities, and provide federal
support for better state and local planning.

New Releases
If Virginia continues to develop land at the current rate, more land
will be developed in the next 40 years than was developed in the last
400 years. This is one of the alarming trends revealed in a new report,
Where Are We Growing? Land Use and Transportation in Virginia, recently
released by the Southern Environmental Law Center. The report provides a
comprehensive overview of the unprecedented population, land
development, and transportation trends transforming the state. The
report is available at

Proposals to create regional planning agencies with real power have
amounted to political suicide in California. But that doesn't mean that
regional planning is a bad idea, say backers of the proposed San Diego Regional
Authority. You can read more about the San Diego regional planning =
effort on the California Planning & Development Report website, =

New from the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan =
Policy "A Welfare Policy that Cities Should Refuse". This op-ed analyzes =
the Bush Administration's new plan to offer cities technical assistance =
in welfare to work programming and points out that the offer is hollow, =
especially in light of problems with the Administration's overall =
welfare reauthorization proposal.

Foundation Watch
The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities "SpotLight =
#7" showcases foundations that are making the connection between public =
health and smart growth. This SpotLight examines smart growth's =
relationship to public health through air quality, urban environmental =
issues and environmental justice, and physical activity levels. It =
highlights the work of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Liberty =
Hill Foundation, the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust, the Bauman Family =
Foundation, and several other members of the Funders' Network for Smart =
Growth and Livable Communities as funders that are forging and exploring =
these linkages through their charitable giving.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 23 - July 10, 2002
State and Local News
Air Pollution

A multimillion-dollar battle over legislation to regulate greenhouse gas =
emissions in California vehicles may be far from over, even though Gov. =
Gray Davis has said he is "strongly inclined" to sign the =
first-of-its-kind =

Business Development Zone

The Birmingham Post reports (7/10) the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce =
and Industry has welcomed the Government's proposals to scrap =
restrictions on new businesses in regeneration zones. It is expected =
that Chancellor Gordon Brown will announce that developers in business =
planning zones will be able to build without planning permission. =
Originally intended to help high-technology businesses, it has now been =
decided that the scheme should be extended to areas of high unemployment =
as part of the process of regenerating the country's poorest regions. =
"Easing of Planning Zone Restrictions Welcomed" Birmingham Post, (7/10) =

Growth Management

The Detroit News examines the costs and quandaries of the latest =
suburban boom that has led Metro Detroiters farther and farther from the =
central city. This series will run throughout the year. =

Impact Fees

Contra Costa County supervisors voted to approve one of the largest =
developments in the county -- the 1,400-unit Alamo Creek project in the =
Tassajara Valley. Besides providing about 340 affordable housing units, =
developers must pay an unprecedented $8.5 million in fees to the =
county's new livable communities fund, which will fund "smart growth" =
projects elsewhere in the county. =

The Iowa Supreme Court has struck down an impact fee West Des Moines =
charged to residential developers that paid for development of =
neighborhood parks around the city. Cities nationwide are increasingly =
using impact fees as a way to shift the costs of providing the new =
services from taxpayers to the new development using the services. Iowa =
law, however, does not give cities the power to charge impact fees, the =
state Supreme Court ruled. Without such legislation, Iowa cities have a =
difficult time collecting the money from developers. Developers in Iowa, =
unlike those in many other states, typically do not pay for the future =
impact new residents will have on traffic, police protection or schools. =


A new study published by a subcommittee of the Transportation Strategy =
Board, said in a draft report that making rail service more convenient =
might cut down on traffic, particularly in the state's congested =
southwestern corridor. In fact, good commuter rail service is a =
"critical linchpin" in the plan to reduce congestion on Connecticut's =
roads, according to state police Commissioner Arthur Spada, chairman of =
the subcommittee. =

Transportation decisions made in the next three months will determine =
the future of this region for the next several decades. The Atlanta =
Regional Commission is drafting the three-year Transportation =
Improvement Program, to be voted on in October. The most controversial =
element in the draft was to be $158 million in right of way acquisition =
money for the Northern =

Gov. Roy Barnes has called for a halt on plans to build the Northern Arc =
until until the General Assembly passes confidence-restoring laws that =
would force decision-makers to divulge whether they would profit from =
the massive road =

Washington, DC
The Washington, D.C. regions job migration has pushed gridlock in a new =
direction. The region's jobs are migrating rapidly to the Virginia and =
Maryland suburbs, and thousands of workers have followed them to new =
subdivisions. The result is a movement of traffic from suburb to suburb =
and city to suburb, which has confounded transportation planners and =
driven commuters to distraction. Morning gridlock on roads leading away =
from the District is fast approaching the level of inbound congestion -- =
and in some places surpassing =

New Mexico

In Santa Fe, the repercussions of a severe drought are being felt here =
in ways beyond parched lawns turning brown and the installation of =
thousands of low-flush toilets. This week the City Council will debate a =
divisive proposal to immediately ban all residential and commercial =
construction because residents are wary of sharing with newcomers what =
little water they have. =

New Releases
>From the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, =
"Demographic Change in Medium Sized-Cities: Evidence From the 2000 =
Census" Analyses of 2000 Census data have revealed dramatic demographic =
changes in big-city America during the 1990s, stimulating a national =
conversation about what these shifts might portend. A more complete =
understanding of urban growth dynamics requires a look beyond only the =
nation's largest cities, however. This survey examines population trends =
in 100 medium-sized cities - both traditional 'central cities' and those =
that are 'satellites' to larger cities in their region. It reveals that =
they, too, are experiencing significant change: Some are losing =
population, while others are coping with extreme growth; nearly all are =
more racially and ethnically diverse than a decade ago. The =
competitiveness of these smaller cities in the years ahead hinges on how =
well they are able to confront the challenges, and exploit the =
opportunities, these changes present.

A new Fannie Mae Foundation Housing Policy Debate article "Have Housing =
Prices Risen Faster in Portland Than Elsewhere?" examines the growth of =
housing prices in Portland compared to other regions across the nation. =
It finds that stringent land-use controls can, at least for a short =
period, increase housing prices if combined with other factors that =
stimulate the demand for housing such as employment growth. However, it =
does not find evidence that urban growth boundaries necessarily cause an =
increase in demand for =

A report release by Policy Matters Ohio "Wal-Mart Special: Ohio Job Tax =
Credits to America's Richest Retailer" finds that last year the state of =
Ohio promised $10 million in tax breaks to Wal-Mart to establish =
distribution and manufacturing facilities there. The brief also reports =
on a $1.38 million tax credit to Kroger, another food retailer, given =
even though the new distribution center was replacing older facilities =
elsewhere in the state. For a link to the full report, =

If you want to form a new city in California, be prepared to pay up. =
After 10 years of minimal incorporation activity, the state is seeing =
communities create new cities more often. But the new cities are having =
to pay millions of dollars of "alimony" to counties and are even having =
to raise taxes to make themselves viable. California Planning & =
Development Report Publisher William Fulton analyzes the incorporation =
trends in a new story now available on the CP&DR website, =

Employment Opportunities