newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 24- June 27, 2001

= = =Highlight= = =
National Geographic Magazine
In July's issue of National Geographic, writer John Mitchell and photographer Sarah Leen depict life in American suburbs and the harm of sprawl with vivid stories and photographs. As a companion to the magazine the National Geographic website features "More to Explore" a place where the magazine research team shares some of its best sources and other information.

= = = STATE and LOCAL NEWS = = =
Affordable Housing
Push for moratorium on San Francisco lofts rekindled San Francisco Supervisor Ammiano hopes to increase the amount of affordable housing in the Mission District through his proposed plan to restrict construction of new lofts, hotels and offices.

In order to protect farmland from development proposals presented to the Fillmore city council last week, officials are attempting to turn an informal agreement protecting a greenbelt, into municipal law.  This movement comes at a time when cities across Ventura County are beginning to implement voter's desires to preserve farmland.

Growth Management
Maryland Governor Parris Glendening steps up fight against sprawl in announcement that he will use 25-year-old law to prevent rezoning, which would open the door to harmful developments.

State Supreme Court Ruling
Towns in Pennsylvania lost the power to temporarily stop construction to reexamine zoning codes in a Philadelphia Supreme Court ruling.

Poll in Tucson finds that traffic is the number one concern among residents, and that they are willing to pay to fix the problem, but there is no clear solution.

Roger Snoble, president and chief executive of Dallas Area Rapid Transit since 1994, will take the top office of Los Angeles County's Metropolitan Transit Authority sometime in late September or early October.

Colorado's Regional Transportation District rally's for state support to implement sales tax increase to expedite future transportation projects.,1002,53%257E50153,00.html

New York
New York State transit projects suffer funding losses from the new House Appropriations Committee budget, critics blame President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut.

A weeklong series is being run in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, on Seattle's present and future transportation issues, from traffic congestion to Sound Transit's light-rail.

= = = NEW RELEASES = = =
"Boomburbs: The Emergence of Large, Fast-Growing Suburban Cities in the U.S ". The affordable housing advocate, the Fannie Mae Foundation, released a report based on the 2000 census that describes the new phenomenon, "Boomburgs".  Classified as suburbs with populations of more than 100,000, these boomburgs are experiencing urban problems, such as traffic congestion, limited public services, and scarce affordable housing.

Cultural Treasures Under Siege 
The National Trust for Historic Preservation released a list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places'', which are threatened by sprawl and disregard.

Exposing Urban Legends
The Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy new report "Exposing Urban Legends: The Real Purchasing Power Of Central City Neighborhoods" dissects statistics fed to the public through private marketing data about inner-city residents disproving urban myths.

The American Planning Association's (APA) Planning Advisory Service (PAS) and the Orton Family Foundation just released an easy-to-use guide on creating a local documentary, aimed at creating an awareness for small communities to preserve the past and plan future growth.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 23- June 20, 2001

= = =State and Local= = =
Affordable Housing 
Los Angeles and Orange Counties will see the extinction of empty space to build on within the next 15 years.  More than 700 failing strip malls may be a solution as sites of multiuse complexes for stores, affordable homes, parks and parking.

Affordable housing advocates in Los Angeles are one step closer to victory as City Council subcommittee voted to uphold 15% low-income unit requirement for proposed downtown apartment development.

New York
Governor George Pataki, in an effort to increase the number of first time homeowners in New York, announces that the New York Mortgage Authority will invest $1.3 billion in home mortgages targeted to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers over the next two years.

Green Space
Local residents and city officials are determined to create a park, 50 years in the planning, and stop proposed condominium development on 15 acres which include a flood plain and wetlands.

Growth Issues
Sacrificing farmland and floodplains, in an attempt to increase local tax base, developers propose that the town of Fillmore build upscale homes.

Loudoun County residents voice concerns regarding possible 20-year development plan that proposes "down zoning" as a preemptive move to stop sprawl.

Utah Governor, Mike Leavitt, requests the state's Quality Growth Commission to create incentives for developers and cities to embrace smart growth.

A three part plan to fill mass transit gaps within Boston, which includes a short subway line, Bus Rapid Transit, and new cross town bus routes, has been presented for state and federal review.

Transportation and housing issues are the top two concerns of Minneapolis/St. Paul residents, with congestion and traffic accounting for 23% of the vote, in contrast to 3% in 1993.

The state of Wisconsin and Amtrak plan to connect midwestern airports with high-speed trains.,2669,ART-52399,FF.htm

Both Washington D.C. and San Francisco introduced new legislation that would require new developments to include a 10% minimum of new units to be affordable housing.
San Francisco
Washington D.C.

Texas's Governor Rick Perry signs bill that empowers suburban authorities to develop local mass transit, Denton County leads the way less than 24 hours later.

= = = New Releases= = =
Elm Street Writers Group, author Alan Durning, explains how federal zoning and tax codes leave 90% of America's car parking free, which further encourages car owners to drive, creating congestion and furthering sprawl.  Alternative modes of transportation will become more appealing if parking is no longer free and employers can pay employees the money they spend on parking which is currently included as a tax-free fringe benefit.

NASA's satellite-based land surface maps provide urban planners with a better understanding of city growth and how rainfall runoff over paved surfaces impact regional water quality.

Conservation and Smart Growth
Many conservationists regard Pima County as a leading region in efforts to protect natural resources while planning for growth. For 2 years Pima County has been developing a Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan to protect dozens of species in the county. The SDCP is projected to be completed in two years. The county has developed a draft map of biological resource areas that may need to be protected under the SDCP. For more information, go to:

Environmental Justice
The National Governor's Association issued a new report entitled How Smart Growth Can Address Environmental Justice Issues. The report examines how Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey are building on the community-based planning and brownfields redevelopment elements of their smart growth efforts to take action on environmental justice concerns. The report is available at:,1188,C_ISSUE_BRIEF^D_2071,00.html.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 22 - June 13, 2001

This Week's Content:

= = =State and Local News= = =
Affordable Housing
(Chicago Metropolis 2020) More than 100 Chicago area business leaders have signed a unique pledge to make access to affordable housing and mass transit a significant factor when making a business location decision. C:\WINNT\Profiles\sprawl\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\GHUVW9SZ\Final Press Release.doc

Los Angeles
Activists in Los Angeles fight to stop a high-end housing development in the Downtown area, unless the required 15% of units are affordable housing, as required by decade old city law.

South Carolina
Beaufort County Council plans to construct close to 400 affordable housing units, dispersed throughout its planned development of 800 units to be built along the S.C. 170 corridor.,1458,273871,00.html

Green Space
Loopholes and loose zoning codes have left the door wide open for developers to make a fortune in the ever shrinking pine forest called the "Palmetto Curtain".  Florida residents voted on a tax in order to facilitate the purchase of 160,000 acres of the quickly shrinking green space, but as time passes prices go up, and the land is more fragmented.

Because of sprawl, Detroit today is in a state of blight and decay as the suburbs face rising costs of service delivery and pollution levels.  The documentary, "The Sprawling of America", addresses these issues and goes one step further to ask the question: Where do we go now?

State Legislation
The Illinois state budget does not currently allocate funding for affordable housing, but the recent Affordable Housing Tax Credit legislation passed by the House, has the potential to generate up to $26 million, will end up on the Governors' desk to be signed.
More about affordable housing tax credit

Berkeley, California
In an attempt to cut down on traffic the city of Berkeley has proposed an Eco-pass plan, meaning that the city would purchase metro passes in bulk and is able to sell them at a discounted rate, encouraging more people to use public transpiration.  Growing over the past five years, the Eco-pass plan is used by 120 companies in Silicon Valley, available to over 105,000 employees.

Los Angeles
Public hearings were the battlegrounds for Los Angeles' new Mayor Hahn and nearby residents of the airport are opposed to proposed expansions of LAX, which will increase local traffic and plane emissions threefold.  Loss of potential economic growth, ever mounting delays and overall safety concerns are the main arguments being brought forth by those in favor of developing and modernizing the airport.

Atlanta, Georgia
Rail company Norfolk Southern approved a commuter rail proposal to use already existing rails for future services between Atlanta and Macon, saving money and decreasing the amount of necessary construction.

Lacking a dedicated source of funding for planned light rail, Georgia's Department of Transportation much needed public transportation project sees no forward momentum, other than further studies.

Decatur, Georgia
First seen in Seattle, Washington, community yellow bikes are arriving in Decatur, Georgia, to encourage alternative sources of transportation.

Washington D.C.
The proposed "techway" bridge to cross the Potomac River will not be constructed because of lack of congressional support.

= = = National News = = = 
School Sprawl
Old schools have become one of the nations' Most Endangered Historic Places as policies nation-wide make it increasingly difficult to keep old school buildings standing when they need to expand and modernize.  Relocating schools not only creates a loss in sense of community and local history, but new construction standards and aesthetics are often sacrificed to save money.

Tree Farmers feeling the pressure of sprawl arrived on Capitol Hill asking the federal government for help in subsidizing privately owned forests.

New Releases
"Paving the American Dream"
UNC Wilmington's documentary on growth issues facing six southern states airs June 20 in North and South Carolina and in July in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

Message Development
The Biodiversity Project recently published Getting on Message: Making the Biodiversity-Sprawl Connection. The message kit contains: 1) fact sheets on biodiversity and sprawl that can be distributed to journalists, public leaders and others for concise background information on these issues; 2) communications tip sheets on sprawl, designed for internal use by smart growth advocates, to help you develop more powerful communications strategies and messages; 3) sample smart growth and biodiversity advertisements and logos that advocates can adapt and use in their local campaigns. For a copy of the kit (at $15 each), contact the Biodiversity Project: or visit their website:

Traffic Calming
The Federal Highway Administration has a new Web site dedicated to all the known and/or electronically publicized transportation programs and studies that pertain to traffic calming.  The Web site is available at:

Sprawl Watch
Volume 3, Number 21 - June 6, 2001


(June 6, 2001)

On April 9, 2001, President Bush submitted his fiscal year 2002 (FY02) budget plan to Congress.  Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse and the Natural Resources Defense Council highlight what the budget would mean to smart growth programs.  For the full document please link:

The report was authored by Wesley Warren of the Natural Resources Defense Council