newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 21 - June 26, 2002

= = =Highlight = = 
Amtrak will keep operating at least through this week (6/24), and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said a solution for its fiscal crisis was "very, very close." Both Senate Democrats and Republicans are in support of a national railroad system. Unless a $200 million Amtrak budget gap is closed, Amtrak says it will have to shut down without the money. To read the AP article link to

Neal Pierce Column "Reviving Cities and Rail Stations: As Imperiled as Amtrak.

The 2002 Texas Transportation Institute's "Urban Mobility Report" is released (6/20). The nation's longest-running study of traffic jams this year shows that urban congestion is growing in three increasing visible ways. 
*The time penalty for making "rush-hours" trips is greater. 
* The period of time that travelers might encounter traffic
congestion is longer. 
* The number of streets and freeways that are congested is
This year's annual report also for the first time introduces "delay per peak period traveler" to better illustrate the plight faced by those who use major roadways during "rush hours." The new gauge replaces "delay per capita" as the primary delay measure used in recent years. The new measure provides a more relevant illustration of the extra time spent traveling when roadway demand is at its highest.

Link to Associated Press story via CBS News:
Reactions To Study
- Urban Land Institute
- The Road Information Program
 American Road & Transportation Builders Association
- Surface Transportation Policy Project

= = = State and Local News = = =
The divided town of Green River soon could be unified under the auspices of Emery County after the Utah Supreme Court upheld a state law Tuesday that spells out the rules for annexing another county's land.

Historic Preservation
South Carolina
The South Carolina, Richland County Conservation Commission will ask county leaders for $2 million for historic preservation and land conservation. The conservation commission, created by County Council in 1998, told council members six months ago it wanted to conserve one acre of undeveloped land for every acre of urbanized land in Richland County.

South Dakota
The South Dakota State Historical Society has awarded $229,065 in matching grants to 22 historic preservation projects in 16 cities.

Land Use
More development in Southwest Florida pushes the Everglades to the edge. Part three of a four part series on growth and the Everglades.

Open Space Preservation
New Jersey
The Garden State Preservation Trust- the state board that reviews requests for open space preservation money- approved a total of $115.6 million for 151 projects, and for the first time set aside millions to purchase urban land for city parks.  The Legislature is expected to take up the trust board's recommendations in the fall. Gov. James E. McGreevey also must approve the projects before money can be distributed.

Public Health
Howard Frumkin, director of the environmental and occupational health department at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health, spent an afternoon driving around metro Atlanta to talk about the public health effects of sprawl, which he defines as a pattern of single-use, low-density development that's heavily dependent on the automobile.

For the 15th year in a row, L.A. has claimed the title of the most traffic-choked urban area in the nation. The region won the ranking in an annual traffic mobility study released by the Texas Transportation Institute. The study calculated that Los Angeles-area motorists spent an average of 136 hours in rush-hour congestion in 2000--an increase of two hours over 1999.

Maine/New Hampshire
The transportation departments in Maine and New Hampshire have launched a joint marketing campaign to promote rail and bus service along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Metro has released its much-awaited plan for revamping the area's mass transit system from a city-oriented bus service to a multimode system complete with light rail, street cars and transfer stations throughout southwest Ohio.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board today approved a plan to spend $7.3 billion over the next six years to build roads and mass transit in Virginia, slashing the amount it had previously said it would spend by almost $3 billion.

Washington, D.C.
Traffic woes in the Washington, D.C. area are getting worse, costing the region $2.3 billion a year in lost time and other expenses in 2000, according to a study released by the Texas Transportation Institute. The Washington region again ranked as having the third-worst congestion in the country, behind Los Angeles and San Francisco.

= = = New Releases = = =
The Western Governors' Association (WGA), the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) have re-published  "Purchase of Development Rights: Conserving Lands, Preserving Western Livelihoods" to assist states, counties, land trusts, and citizens in protecting productive farm and ranch land through the use of purchase of development rights (PDR). The report highlights the increased federal resources for PDR now available under the newly enacted 2002 Farm Bill.  To view or obtain the report:,, or
PDR transactions allow a landowner to sell development rights but retain title to the underlying land for farming and ranching. The landowner benefits through cash payments and lower property taxes, while the community benefits from land kept open and in production. 

Developers and housing advocates often shudder at the mention of the word "moratorium." While it's true some jurisdictions have abused building shutdowns, California Planning & Development Report Publisher William Fulton says that a limited "pause for planning" can serve all interests in the long run. You can read now his column regarding moratoriums at,

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 20 - June 20, 2002

= = =HIGHLIGHT = = = 
Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
Intensive mixed-use development projects around transit stations, commonly known as transit-oriented development or TOD, have moved into the mainstream debate over metropolitan growth and development. Such projects are generally considered to have positive benefits in terms of economic development and transit ridership. A new Brooking's  Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy report "Transit-Oriented Development:  Moving From Rhetoric To Reality" finds that true, comprehensive TOD projects remain relatively scarce in this country and that often projects labeled "transit-oriented" are merely "transit-related," in that they do not take full advantage of their potential to also be environmentally sustainable and socially just. 
In order to reframe the debate, this paper offers an expanded definition of TOD that focuses primarily on functions and outcomes rather than on physical form and project configuration. It identifies challenges that must be addressed and offers policy
recommendations to achieve optimal TOD projects.

= = = State and Local News = = =
"Bi-State Coordination"
A proposed committee the "Bi-State Coordination Committee" may bridge the land-use divide for Southwest Washington and Oregon.  The committee would have no independent powers, but governments with land-use authority in Southwest Washington and the Portland metropolitan area would sign an accord to create the committee and
agree to let it review and comment on land-use issues that have an effect on transportation.

Spurred by Tampa's dismal reputation for cyclist and pedestrian safety, efforts to create a 100-mile network of greenways and trails throughout the city are quietly gaining steam.

Land Use Plans
Instead of new houses popping up anyplace developers can buy expansive acreage, a South Fulton groups seeks to designate specific areas for new homes and commercial buildings and far more for open space. The alliance is asking Fulton County to change the official land use plan and create an overlay district with formal guidelines that say what can and can't be built. National experts say the concept is unusual because it's bubbling up from the landowners, including those who own the largest tracts.

Martha's Vineyard could see as many as 7,000 more homes on its 17,475 remaining acres of developable land, according to officials from the state Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. The island town is now looking at what steps they can take today to impact the effect on growth, transportation, conservation and development."

Signaling its intention to curb growth in Central O'ahu, the state Land Use Commission drastically reduced the size of a proposed development by nearly 3,000 homes while taking the unprecedented step of requiring that area schools be built before the first residents move in.

Some members of the Regional Transportation District board are shrugging off news that they won't be able to ask voters to raise the transit sales tax to a full penny on the dollar from the current 0.6 percent. The money would be used for a package of projects.,1299,DRMN_15_1205493,00.html

Metro Atlanta's Chamber of Commerce President urged the region's transportation agency (GRTA) to do more to relieve traffic congestion on 17 of the area's most gridlocked roads. Calling mobility and traffic congestion "the number one threat to our economic success today.  "Any company that is looking to move to metro Atlanta today is very keenly aware of our congestion," Williams said. He added that Atlanta's reputation for gridlock also handicaps the ability of local businesses to recruit promising young workers to the area.

Gov. Foster plans to sign a bill designed to speed roadwork by letting Louisiana borrow more money against the promise of future federal highway dollars.

The Northern Virginia anti-tax advocates "Virginians for Growth" vow to defeat a half penny sales tax in Northern Virginia to fund transportation improvements. The anti-tax advocates insist that the tax increase would benefit developers eager for more roads and developable land, but it would do little to ease Northern Virginia's traffic.

= = = National News = = =
A new book by Richard Florida, the H. John Heinz III professor of regional economic development at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, "The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life," claims that the world has moved away from the old "organizational" era of corporations and homogeneity and into the "creative" era, which is spearheaded by 38 million workers -- from scientists to IT workers to artists and writers -- with a variety of lifestyles and needs. 
What that means for cities is that instead of "underwriting big-box retailers, subsidizing downtown malls, recruiting call centers, and squandering precious taxpayer dollars on extravagant stadium complexes," the leadership should instead develop an environment attractive to the creative class by cultivating the arts, music, night life and quaint historic districts -- in short, develop places that are fun and interesting rather than corporate and mall-like.

Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
Lewis Goldshore and Marsha Wolf, New Jersey Law Journal write that while the issue decided in Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was simply that a 32-month development moratorium did not constitute a per se compensable taking, the case will likely have far  broader implications because it provided the U.S. Supreme Court with the  opportunity to clarify a number of its earlier takings decisions and allowed the Court to reveal how it is likely to approach some of the unresolved issues in this area.

Railt-to-Trails Easement Suits 
U.S. House of Representatives; Committee on the Judiciary ~Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law on 6/20 holds a hearing on lawsuits that seek compensation for landowners when the government retains old railroad easements for recreational trails, and the way that litigation affects the Rails-To-Trails Program. Oversight hearing on "litigation and Its Effect on the Rails-To-Trails Program."
Click Here for Live Audio <> - only available during date and time of meeting.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 19 - June 12, 2002
= = = State and Local News = = =
Affordable Housing
Rhode Island
Gubernatorial candidates and top state legislators are meeting with members of religious congregations and labor union locals of the Rhode Island Organizing Project to hear the organization's request for a $10-million line item in the 2004 state budget for the Neighborhood Opportunities Program.

Ballot Initiative
The initiative, if approved, would give voters--rather than the City Council--the right to approve or reject development projects that would create more traffic. Measure that allows residents to decide on developments that create congestion should be on fall ballot, he rules. Attorneys for the city argued that the measure is confusing, would mislead voters and would tie the city's hands in its ability to provide housing for all segments of the population.

Land Use Case Study
New Jersey
An extensive special report examines land use in New Jersey by looking at The Hills, a 5,100-unit collection of townhouses and single-family homes, commercial strips and office buildings, that's home to about 10,000 people.

Open Space Protection
More than 300,000 acres of Maine's North Woods will be permanently protected from development in a $35 million deal. The largest contiguous parcel of land ever conserved in Maine.

Virginia's Governor Mark Warner is campaigning to encourage the passage of  $119 million in bonds to be used for use at state parks.  Money from the park bonds would be used to buy land for three new state parks and additional land for 11 existing parks.

Public Health
Living in Colorado, you're less likely to die in a traffic accident than residents of Mississippi or Montana but more likely to die than drivers in California or Massachusetts according to a report released by the state health department. Data for the report was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.,1413,36%257E53%257E658166%257E,00.html

State Budget
Governor Jeb Bush thwarted legislators' plans to raid a fund that buys environmentally sensitive lands. Bush admonished the Legislature for attempting to take $100 million from a reserve account for the state's environmental land-buying program, Florida Forever, and use it to pump up the budget.

Society and Culture
Cities in California rise up to rescue neighborhood green spaces from asphalt's onward march. In San Francisco there are more registered vehicles per square mile than any place else in the United States.

The Department of Transportation is preparing to buy land in highly developed areas to be used for stations for Macon-Atlanta passenger rail. The sites are in danger of rising out of the price range of state government because they're located in rapidly developing areas of southern metro Atlanta.

If state tax collections continue to improve, Gov. Roy Barnes says he may recommend  $12 million be added to the state's budget to help jump-start commuter rail service to Macon. The state plans to sell a total of $446 million in bonds to cover the entire startup of the commuter rail, including a train station in Atlanta.

Anti-tax activists from Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads filed suit in Richmond Circuit Court yesterday to try to block sales tax referendums in those areas. Governor Mark Warner, who is seeking to raise money for transportation improvements, is pushing the referendums.

Urban Heat Island
Phoenix's rapid development over the last four decades have made it the "prime example in the world" of a heat island. A place where the combination of sun, tile roofs, unshaded streets and lots and lots of asphalt keeps people sweating long into the night.

= = = National News = = =
There's been a surge of interest in open space protection in the last decade ... and there's no question that open space protection helps shape urban and metropolitan growth in the United States. A new report by Solimar and the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy surveys this national landscape in a comprehensive way. The report also contains a comprehensive state-by-state review of open space programs and how much acreage is protected. The report is now available on

For a listing of upcoming conferences and events make sure to check the Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse "Smart Growth Calendar".

= = = New Releases = = =
A new study "Location Efficiency: Neighborhood and Socio-Economic Characteristics Determine Auto Ownership and Use: Studies in Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco" links auto use to neighborhood design. Authors of the new, peer-reviewed study say their research proves for the first time that better urban design can reduce auto use and relieve the traffic congestion and pollution that come with it. The study examines auto ownership and driving patterns in nearly 3,000 neighborhoods in the three metropolitan areas. 

A new Environmental Protection Agency report "Climate Action Report 2002" says that power plants, gasoline-fueled cars and other human activities are largely responsible for global warming. The report says a global temperature increase of 4.5 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit is likely before the end of the century.

A new report from the Brookings Institutions Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy "Signs of Life: The Growth of Biotechnology Centers in the U.S." Biotechnology is at the heart of a fast-growing new sector of the U.S. economy, and as the industry expands, it has become a focal point of many local, regional, and state economic development strategies. This report provides an analysis of biotechnology activity in the 51 largest U.S. metropolitan areas and finds that the industry is heavily concentrated in nine regions. By comparing the 51 metro areas on their research and commercialization capacities, this report can help inform regions seeking to capture a share of the nation's
biotechnology growth.

= = = Foundation Watch = = =
The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities "SpotLight" features the W.K Kellogg Foundation's People and Land program (PAL). The program is a unique approach to promoting local, regional, and multi-sector consensus building around issues of growth and development. (PAL) funds a process that builds local, regional, and multi-sector consensus around issues of growth and development. PAL's initial round of grants fund projects that are regional in scale, and that aim to build diverse constituencies, encourage partnerships, consensus, and changes in attitude that are expected to bring significant change at the state level over the long term.

The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation has launched a new website at It includes features about arts and environmental issues, how to work with the foundation and detailed information about 185 grants.

Sprawl Watch
Volume 4, Number 18 - June 5, 2002

= = = Highlight = = =
The Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP) is compiling the newly released transportation figures from the US Census in easy-to-use, downloadable Excel documents showing metropolitan area, county, and place-level data for each state. STPP has also provided maps and trend analysis using the national figures released 6/4. Instructions are available to compare the new figures to 1990 Census results available on the Census web page. To find the information, please link to .

= = = State and Local News = = =
Affordable Housing
With interest in affordable housing construction growing, the Hernando County, FL  Housing Authority wants to expand its power to issue bonds and make loans to qualified developers.

Washington, DC
The D.C. Council voted unanimously to restore full funding to the city's housing production trust fund in 2004, a move that would send several million dollars more each year to affordable housing projects. The bill doubles the portion of the city's real estate tax going to the trust fund, from 7.5 percent to 15 percent.

Local Politics
The issues of taxes and sprawl have spurred political struggles for some of the fastest-growing and wealthiest townships in the Philadelphia area.

Smart Growth Legislation
The Metropolitan Council released figures that the number of households is expected to double over the next 28 years in developing suburbs of the Twin Cities. The forecasts, part of the Met Council's Blueprint 2030 growth strategy, are meant to guide cities in planning for the nearly 1 million additional people coming to the region. But they also underscore the challenges that growth will bring, such as lack of housing and inadequate infrastructure.

Wisconsin communities are starting to see the reality of their Smart Growth land-use directive, which became law in 1999.  The law didn't cause much of a stir in 1999 but tempers are now rising as communities realize that they must tailor all land-use decisions by 1/1/10.

A $9 billion bond measure to start construction of a 700-mile, high-speed rail system was approved by the state Senate but the bill didn't get the two-thirds majority it ultimately will need. The measure would allow the state to sell bonds to help pay for the first leg of a system designed to link California's major metropolitan areas with trains running at top speeds of more than 200 mph.

Legislation to create a Metro Detroit Regional Transit Authority moved a stutter-step closer to passage, but it's still threatened by unresolved labor issues and opposition from anti-tax lawmakers.

The Wyoming Transportation Commission has adopted a new bicycle and pedestrian plan to formerly integrate the accommodation of bicyclists and pedestrians into the highway plan. Sharing the road and increasing safety among varied travel modes is also a goal of the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

In what may be the first big skirmish in Central Florida's long-expected water wars, residents of Sumter County are fighting a developer's request to pull 4 million gallons of water a day from the ground to develop golf courses, businesses and enough homes for 10,000 more people for a master planned retirement community. Nearby residents say there's not enough water to support the growth.

= = = National News = = =
Affordable Housing
The Millennial Housing Commission a bi-partisan commission created by Congress released its final report after and extensive 17-month-long study. The Commission was charged with recommending methods for increasing the role of the private sector in providing affordable housing and examining whether existing HUD programs are meeting the housing needs of families and communities.

The report's recommendations around policy reform and new tools to address the shortage of affordable housing in the US will have a significant impact on the housing policy debate.

Census Data and Transportation
Americans are spending more time than ever getting to work. But don't blame longer commutes on big cities or crowded suburbs. The biggest jumps are coming from places that barely qualify for a stoplight. Census bureau figures point to sobering trends for America's transportation future. The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that traffic congestion costs the US an estimated $78 billion in lost productivity and wasted fuel every year.

Property Rights
Special audio conference program "Defensible Moratoria: Lessons Learned from the U.S. Supreme Court's Tahoe-Sierra Opinion".  Hear about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the use of moratoria.  The chair of the American Planning Association's amicus curiae committee discusses the ruling with lawyers active in the case, advocates for planning and legal experts.

Big-Box Superstores
It’s a surprising reversal. Since the 1980s, Americans have migrated to giant supercenters like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and Staples but across the shopping landscape there are signs that the supersize-it formula is evolving. Some of the nation’s leading big-box retailers—Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Best Buy among them—are opening smaller versions.

= = = New Releases = = =
With the Rio +10 Summit in Johannesburg approaching, Jonathan Weiss of the George Washington Center on Sustainable Growth -- in an article in the June edition of the Environmental Law Reporter -- takes a fresh look at "Local Sustainability Efforts in the U.S.: The Progress Since Rio." He cites rising concerns about sprawl as a main driver for change at the local level.

Foundation Watch
The Fannie Mae Foundation, the nonprofit philanthropic arm of Fannie Mae, will make a $2 million grant to the Brookings Institution's Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. 

The money will be supplied over a five-year period during which the policy center and the Fannie Mae Foundation will conduct research and produce policy briefs and white papers. Key areas of interest for 2002 include low-income households' ability to generate wealth; the federal Earned Income Tax Credit; 2000 Census data; and demographic and economic trends in Washington.