newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch 
Volume 2, Number 10 - June 20, 2000

= = = State and Local News = = = 
1000 Friends of Washington released "Get Smart Washington" documenting  the effects of Washington's Growth Management Act (GMA) on the tenth anniversary of its enactment.  The GMA was passed in 1990 in response to the uncontrolled growth that much of Washington experienced during the 1970's and 80's.  The law established thirteen ambitious goals, ranging from discouraging rural sprawl to protecting private property rights. Its purpose remains to stop the damaging effects of unplanned growth and protect the quality of life in Washington.  Although the law has been somewhat successful at stopping sprawl in certain places, the application of the tools the law provides to local jurisdictions has been uneven.  The report ends by providing suggestions to make the GMA a better tool at both promoting unwanted sprawl, and encouraging growth in our existing urban areas.

Smart Growth Legislation 
On the evening of July 13, Pennsylvania's own smart growth land use legislation, which has been years in the making, was approved by both the Pennsylvania House and Senate.  House Bill 14 and Senate Bill 300 are expected to be signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Ridge shortly. As a package, these two bills offer strong new tools for counties and municipalities to plan for both growth and conservation of resources, and an historic step forward for responsible land use in Pennsylvania.

Growth Projections 
The Denver Metropolitan Region is set to grow by 1 million people in the next 20 years according to projections by the Denver Regional Council of  Government.  Although much of the growth will occur in the outlying areas, a significant amount is slated to occur in the abandoned and under-utilized areas of Denver.  Urban sprawl critics in the area are hopeful the trend towards growth in the city of Denver, as opposed to increased suburban growth, continues.

= = = New Releases = = = 
Brookings Publication and Panel
The Summer 2000 edition of the Brookings Review titled "Reinventing the City" features articles by Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, Oakland Mayor  and former California Governor Jerry Brown and Brookings's Center for Urban and Metropolitan Policy Executive Director Bruce Katz among others on the challenges and opportunities facing America's metropolitan areas at the beginning of the 21st century.  Also, on Wednesday June 14  Brookings hosted a forum titled "Cities and the Presidential Election" featuring mayors and other urban experts discussing what the presidential candidates should be talking about (and why they are not) regarding critical urban issues, such as transportation, housing and jobs, in the upcoming election.  For a copy of the Review and a  transcript of the panel discussion (including Jerry Brown's provocative keynote address), please see 

Pedestrian Danger
The Surface Transportation Policy Project released "Mean Streets 2000" documenting the dangers to pedestrians through an analysis of federal safety, health, and spending statistics. The report identifies the cities where pedestrians are most at risk, finding that the nation's most sprawling cities are the most hazardous for pedestrians.  As more people make fewer trips by foot because of the danger and lack of infrastructure, health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle have increased also.  Finally, the report points to the lack of federal support for pedestrians, and suggests ways to make walking a safer transportation choice.

Governors Report on Growth Policies
The National Governor's Association (NGA) released a report detailing the results of a yearlong study by the NGA's Center for Best Practices on the most successful approaches to growth-related issues by 25 of the nation's governors.  The report emphasizes there are two sides of the growth problem: rapid development of new "greenfields"-suburban communities that continue to expand into rural areas; and the need for more development in older urban cores and suburbs.  According to "Growing Pains", shifting more growth to the older areas with existing infrastructure is emerging as a key strategy.  Please see the NGA's website for the executive summary and full report,

= = = National = = = 
MacArthur Grant 
Lucy Blake, founder of the non-profit Sierra Business Council, was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" grant worth $500,000.  The Sierra Business Council works successfully with community leaders, business interests and environmentalists in the Sierra Nevada region of California to promote responsible growth.  The region, among the most picturesque in the West, has seen its population triple in the last 25 years.  The  Council has assisted towns and community organizations with growth management strategies that value, for both economic and ecological reasons, the region's exceptional natural resources.

Dead Can't Hide from Sprawl 
Many cemeteries, especially in the South where backyard burials were more common, are being developed and irreplaceably lost due to sprawl. Although quite controversial, the actual of digging up of graves and moving them, is becoming more common as highways are expanded and subdivisions are developed at an increasing rate in these once pristine areas.