newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
Volume 1, Number 7 -  July 26, 1999

This Week's Content:
= = =State and Local News = = = 

The Bay Area Transportation and Land Use Coalition a coalition of more than 50 regional transportation, environmental, business and social justice groups announced a campaign to promote 'smart growth' policies at the local and regional levels throughout the Bay Area.  The coalition plans to influence the expenditure of billions of state and federal transportation dollars that the organizations see as crucial in their ongoing efforts to halt suburban sprawl. 

Urban sprawl and new farming techniques, including more reliance on pesticides, have reduced the Georgia’s quail habitat and food supply. As a result, Georgia's quail population has declined more than 70 percent in the past 30 years. Quail are considered an indicator species -- a barometer of the ecosystem. When quail have problems, other creatures that share their habitat have problems.  Wildlife officials hope they can reverse the trend this fall when they kick off a pilot program known as ``Georgia's Bobwhite Quail Initiative.'' It will offer incentives and cost-sharing payments to landowners who agree to provide quail habitat.

The newly formed Maine Farmland Trust is the first and only land trust in Maine dedicated to protecting the state's productive agricultural land. Farmers, concerned citizens, representatives from land trusts and state officials formed the trust, which is currently seeking nonprofit status and developing a fundraising strategy. Contact: Frank Miles, (207) 767-1031. 

Tradition Community Development Corp. recently announced plans for a $1.7 billion planned community on 4,600 acres in Mississippi’s Harrison County, 12 miles north of the Gulf Coast.   “Tradition is the solution to unchecked sprawl,” said Michael Olivier, executive director of the Harrison County Development Commission. “Harrison County will continue to grow regardless of Tradition. The issue is whether we are going to grow in an orderly fashion or have haphazard growth that sprawls across the county leading to groundwater pollution and other problems.” The Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development (MDECD) is providing $20 million in infrastructure assistance.  (Becky Gillette, Mississippi Business Journal, July 1999) 

Utah and Wisconsin
Salt Lake City has two thousand workers pouring concrete around the clock, turning six lanes of I-15 into 12 lanes through Salt Lake City and its suburbs.  When the $1.6 billion expansion is completed in two years, state officials say, they will need a new, parallel highway to keep traffic moving along the 100 miles of the Wasatch Front, where most of Utah's 2.1 million people live.  Meanwhile, Milwaukee is taking sledge-hammers to tear down a half-built section of highway that was supposed to cut right through old Milwaukee. The city plans to use more than $20 million in federal transportation money to carry out the nation's largest highway deconstruction project. (Timothy Egan, New York Times News Service, 7/14/99),1249,100011219,00.html

= = =Nationwide= = =
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said Wednesday that federal spending restrictions would make it difficult to renew a three-year-old farm preservation program that helps state and local governments buy easements, or development rights, from farmers. But he plans to press on with his bill to authorize $50 million a year for easements, under which farmers would continue to own land but would be barred from nonfarm activities. A bill by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would offer $55 million.  ``The Farmland Preservation Program enables producers facing economic uncertainty to keep their valuable land in production while keeping development pressures at bay,'' Santorum said. President Clinton requested $77.5 million for farm preservation in his fiscal 2000 budget.  (7/22/99, AP, Anick Jesdanun) 

On 6/29, Rep. Canady (R-FL) introduced a bill (H.R.2372) to create new opportunities to bring "takings" claims, wherein developers and other private landowners seek compensation for not polluting or not building on protected land. The bill is virtually identical to legislation (H.R. 1534) passed by the House in 1997. It would allow developers to circumvent local zoning procedures to sue towns, cities, and counties for alleged takings directly in federal court. Sen. Hatch (R-UT) has introduced a similar bill (S. 1028). Click on Legislative Watch at Natural Resources Defense Council’s website

The Post Office Community Partnership Act, sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in the House and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) in the Senate, requires that the Postal Service offer a public hearing and comment period for local residents before closing or relocating a post office. It also requires that the Postal Service consider the impact on the community of closing the post office, including whether the post office is part of a core downtown business area. To view the text of the bill, see the New Rules website, at:

The General Accounting Office (GAO) is in the process of examining, through case studies, specific smart growth efforts in various-sized communities around the country.  The goal of the March 1999 request by the Senate Smart Growth Task Force is to obtain a better understanding of how federal programs impact smaller communities. 

= = =New Releases= = =
A new report by the Progressive Policy Institute says that states need to invest in the foundations of success in the New Economy: good public education, support for research and development, availability of job-specific skills training, good quality of life, and quality government, rather than simply provide corporate tax subsidies and giveaways. (AP, 07/22/99) The report, ''The State New Economy Index: Benchmarking Economic Transformation in the States'' can be found at  or

On July 28, Brookings Institution will release a report on growth's impact on social, economic, and demographic trends in the Washington area.  The report, "A Region Divided: The State of Growth in Greater Washington, D.C.", shows that this is a region divided, with too much growth in some areas and too little in others. This imbalance creates challenges for all the communities and residents of this area. At this forum, local leaders will react to the Brookings report, the positive and negative consequences of growth, and ways to bridge the  region's division.

"The Debate Over Future Density of Development: An Interpretive Review" Lincoln Institute of Land Policy Working Paper 1999, 29 pages.

Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy release "Two Roads Diverge: Analyzing Growth Scenarios for the Twin Cities". The study addresses the following issues: How should the region accommodate its inevitable growth? Can the region grow and retain its unique character at the same time?  What are the costs and benefits to the region of sprawling and smart growth; The web site includes the study's full report and six supporting documents.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 1, Number 6 -- July 9, 1999

==State and Local News==
California is an important primary for White House office seekers and 
calls to limit sprawl may play well with some voters.  "With the economy 
going so well, people are turning to luxury issues, issues we wouldn't 
even think about if we were hungry," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a
political scientist at Claremont College near Los Angeles. One such 
issue is urban sprawl and the way families spend more and more time 
caught in traffic, commuting greater and greater distances. VP Al Gore 
wants to limit sprawl, and California voters might respond. (By Steven 
Thomma, The Detroit Free Press, 7/6/99)

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his Cabinet have placed a temporary 
restraining order on most new development in an inland area of Collier 
County near the Everglades. The order essentially halts all large-scale 
suburban development projects from proceeding until a new growth 
management plan can be agreed upon and implemented. Environmentalists 
view the decision as a victory and a turning point in their quest to 
have a louder voice on such issues in the Bush administration. The 
moratorium is scheduled to either be reviewed or expire in 2002. (The 
Orlando Sentinel, St. Petersburg Times, 6/23/99). 

Members of the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) identified 
"pressure to sacrifice long-term quality of life for short-term economic 
gain" as a growing ethical concern of their profession. This concern 
emerged last year when the association and The Southern Institute for 
Business and Professional Ethics conducted a membership survey exploring 
ethics in economic development. The survey underscored the fundamental 
differences between metro Atlanta and smaller cities across the state, 
where new industry can be hard to attract at any price. There, economic
developers are often put between a rock and a hard place. They say that 
they are often under "pressure from elected officials and community 
leaders to compromise ethics" in order to attract new industry.

Post Properties Inc. CEO John Williams has endowed a $1.5 million chair 
at Georgia Tech's College of Architecture which will lead off a 
fund-raising initiative for the Center for Quality Growth and Regional 
Development. The center would devise ways for commercial and residential 
development to achieve three goals: livability; improvement of air 
quality by reducing vehicular emissions; and creating multimodal 
transportation, which could include buses or light rail as well as 
accommodating cars.

New Jersey
New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman has signed legislation allocating more 
than $1 billion in state funds over the next decade for open space and 
farmland preservation. The law provides up to $98 million a year 
annually for 10 years from sales tax revenues for land preservation, and 
authorizes the issuance of up to $1 billion in revenue bonds.

A group of state legislators joined forces with the Preservation 
Alliance for Greater  Philadelphia to offer alternatives to suburban 
sprawl.  Members joined together to make a bipartisan commitment to 
strengthen communities in the face of fast-paced development in the 
suburbs and commercial and residential flight from the city.

Spokane city and county governments have been slow to write a new Growth 
Management plan due to the debate and lawsuits over the county's urban 
boundaries. Neighborhood councils are moving forward and forming 
recommendations on the state-mandated rewrite of the county's 
comprehensive land-use plan. Neighborhood leaders plan to submit a 
report to the Spokane Plan Commission this month

Destructive flooding across the state - particularly in southeastern 
Wisconsin - can be traced to wetland loss and urban sprawl, according to
a report released by the Sierra Club.  The report, citing U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers data, maintains that developers had a success rate of 
99% in securing permits to fill wetlands between 1988 and 1996.  (By Tom 
Vanden Brook, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 6/23/99).

Although the number of highly affluent taxpayers in Milwaukee shrank, 
those who do live there give a significantly higher percentage of their 
income to charity than their rich counterparts in the suburbs, concludes 
a report by Marc Levine, an urban studies professor at the University of 
Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Levine's research was spurred by concepts included 
in a 1991 book by former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, "The Work of 
Nations." Reich, now a professor at Brandeis University in 
Massachusetts, wrote about the affluent "quietly seceding" from cities 
into suburban and exurban enclaves "within which their earnings need not 
be redistributed to people less fortunate than themselves." Commenting 
upon Levine’s report, Reich suggested that to counter the "secession of 
the wealthy," it's especially important "to seek ways in which wealthy 
suburbanites can join with relatively poorer urban people in various 
activities.” (By Jack Norman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/6/99)

= = =Nationwide= = =
President Clinton released a Department of Housing and Urban Development 
report showing that America's inner city neighborhoods -- with $331 
billion in annual retail purchasing power -- hold major economic 
potential for retail business growth. The HUD report is titled "New 
Markets: The Untapped Retail Buying Power in America's Inner Cities." It 
concludes that retailers can find major profit-making opportunities in 
low- and moderate-income inner city neighborhoods, which it calls 
"undiscovered territories for many businesses." and

*The Census Bureau reports that Phoenix, AZ and San Antonio, TX, were the 
nation's fastest-growing cities with populations of 1 million or more in 
the first eight years of the 1990's.  During the same period, smaller 
cities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000 grew at a faster rate 
than their larger counterparts.

*The Audubon Society's Better America Bonds moderated listserve plans to 
give open-space protection advocates information, resources, and action 
alerts to help influence passage of the Better America Bonds proposal 
through Congress and help activists protect and restore 
open-spaces/green spaces in their communities. If you would like to sign 
up for the listserve contact: Amy Stock at

= = =New Releases= = =
Scenic America has issued a call for nominations of scenic landscapes 
threatened by imminent change for its "Last Chance Landscapes" program. 
Citing the effects of unplanned development, the proliferation of 
billboards and cell towers, and unsightly strip malls, Scenic America 
appeals to Americans to nominate endangered scenic places as "Last 
Chance Landscapes" to call attention to the loss of scenic beauty.  Last 
Chance Landscape nomination forms are available at Scenic America's 
website, or by calling Scenic America at (202) 543-6200 
to request a copy.