newsletter archive

   Sprawl Watch
Volume 1, Number 5 - June 22, 1999

= = =State and Local News = = =
The US Fish and Wildlife Service urged the Tucson, AZ, suburbs of Marana 
and Oro Valley to “go slow” in rezoning for development a prime habitat 
of the endangered pygmy owl.  “Legal and environmental problems” could 
result if rezoning occurs before decisions are made about 3,000 acres of 
land annexed by the towns.  (Tony Davis, Tuscon Arizona Daily Star, 
6/18; Greenwire 6/18) 

CalPERS (California Public Employees’ Retirement System) the nation’s 
largest public pension fund with assets of over $157 billion, made a 
$275 million capital investment in California’s urban inner city 
communities and the state’s booming technology June 15. “The 
redevelopment potential in California’s urban areas offer our fund the 
potential to reap value-added results while strengthening communities, 
said William D. Crist, President of CalPERS Board of Administration. The 
Investments will apply a “Smart growth strategy in the acquisition, 
development and redevelopment of each project.”

Urban sprawl, pollution and the loss of wildlife habitat are the three 
greatest dangers facing Lake Michigan in the next century, says Lake 
Michigan Federation. The group determined the top three threats with the 
input of more than 40 organizations from Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin. 
Many of the groups involved in identifying the three greatest threats to 
the lake in the process of discussing strategies for addressing urban 
sprawl, toxins and habitat loss.  (AP, 6/14/99)

The first members of the Georgia Regional Transit Authority, which will 
coordinate regionwide transportation efforts, were sworn in mid-June. 
(Greenwire, 6/18) 

Massachusetts Audubon Society released a report in May found that “an 
unprecedented amount of open space” is being converted to residential, 
commercial and industrial uses. The report entitled “Losing Ground” 
identifies four areas -- Cape Cod and the Islands, the northern portion 
of Southeastern Massachusetts, a broad band along the 495 corridor and 
the southern portion of the Connecticut River Valley – where development 
is occurring at such a rapid rate that the ecosystem may be endangered. 
The report also outlines goals and action such as coordinated land 
protection, controls over location of development, and expanded mass 
transit to deal with sprawl.

United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold 
a field hearing on Smart Growth, July 7, in Las Vegas. The hearing will 
be chaired by Nevada Senator Harry Reid and held at Las Vegas City Hall 
from 9-12 noon. Please contact Drew Willison, (202) 224-6586,, for more information. 

Members of a broad-based coalition reviewed Minnesota State
Representative Myron Orfield's new study "Detroit Metropolitics: A 
Regional Agenda for Community and Stability." Orfield's report 
represents the first step of a five-step strategy adopted by the 
coalition to educate and involve the local community on urban sprawl. 
(PRNewswire, 6/17/99)

Officials from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the 
Pennsylvania  Department of Environmental Protection called the 1,800-acre Bethlehem Works and Bethlehem Commerce Center development of Bethlehem Steel Corporation a national model for "brownfields" development.

= = =Nationwide= = =
President Clinton issues 1999 Housing and Urban Development  "State of
the Cities" report, which finds that most American cities are prospering 
with strong economies. However, the report says too many cities have
been left behind and face major challenges of population decline, loss 
of middle-class families, slow job growth, income inequality, and 

*The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Associations of Counties 
survey results shows local government leaders across the nation are in 
broad agreement on the existence of significant untapped economic 
potential in their communities and on the need to approach the 
challenges they face at the regional level.  U.S. Housing and Urban 
Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo said HUD will host a "Bridging the 
Divide Summit" between members of the Conference of Mayors and the 
National Association of Counties later this year to discuss steps 
communities can take to increase regional cooperation.

*The United States Conference of Mayors and the American Farmland Trust 
announce the formation of an urban- rural coalition to focus on issues
concerning the preservation of America's farmland and revitalizing 
America's cities.

*As the newly minted president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Mayor 
Wellington Webb on June 15 outlined a nine-point agenda for fostering 
"smart growth," capital investment in cities, and improving the quality 
of life for working families (U.S. Newswire, 6/15; Inside Denver 6/16)

*For the first time since 1990, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
is considering changes to the definition and delineation of metropolitan 
areas.  If a new format is adopted, it will be applied to 2000 Census, 
resulting in a new list of metropolitan areas by 2002. (American 
Demographics, April 1999 

*National Public Radio reports on a Portland suburb that plans to enact a 
new "growth tax" on a local business, the Intel Corporation. In an
effort to control urban sprawl, the local government will charge Intel a 
"growth impact fee" for creating new jobs beyond a prescribed limit. But 
some local representatives don't like the message the charge sends to 
businesses looking at the community as a place to set up shop.

= = =New Releases= = =
*"Beyond Sprawl: A Guide to Land Use in the Chicago Region- For Reporters 
and Policy Makers" 
This guide is designed to help media and policy makers sort through a 
wide array of land use policy questions by providing summaries of key 
issues in Chicago and the surrounding regions.  To order a copy please 
contact Sustain at 312-951-8999. 

*Worldwatch Institute: "World Watch Paper 147: Reinventing Cities for 
People and the Planet" 
Rapid urbanization in the twentieth century has magnified the 
environmental impact of cities.  Changes in six areas - water, waste,
food, energy, transportation, and land use- are needed to make cities 
better for people and the planet.  The study cites examples where cities 
are proving to be more nimble than nations at using planning and fiscal 
reform to put these ideas into action: Curitiba, Brazil; Chattanooga, 
Tennessee; and Copenhagen, Denmark. 

*The Victoria Transport Policy Institute's "Transportation Cost Analysis 
Summary" a 45-page paper that provides an overview of transportation 
costing issues.  It defines major cost categories, describes how costs 
are estimated, summarizes major findings, and explores implications of 
this research . The report discusses how this information can be used in
transportation decision making, and responds to various criticisms of 
transport costing. An appendix summarizes previous transportation cost 

*Washington, DC, leads the nation in suburban housing development, 
according to a report released yesterday by Harvard University’s Joint 
Center for Housing Studies. The report showed that more housing permits 
were issued in the DC region than in any other metropolitan area from 
1990 to 1997, surpassing No. 2 Los Angeles. (Greenwire 6/22)

*The Irvine Foundation is distributing “Linking the New Economy to the 
Livable Community,” an issue paper written in 1998 by the Palo 
Alto-based Collaborative Economics. The paper examines the importance of 
a regional context for the Livable Communities Movement and New 

*A proposed $1.2 billion, 25-mile toll road through Chicago's remote 
northwestern suburbs would trigger a 19 percent hike in local traffic 
volumes, according to a new study by the Environmental Law & Policy 
Center.  The study, "Crossroads: Smart Transportation Options for Lake 
County", is based on official state forecasts predicting that the 
controversial Route 53 Toll Road would lure up to 60,000 new residents 
to its mostly rural surroundings, leaving local roads swollen with new 
traffic.  The study concludes that improvements to existing roads and 
transit would form a more-effective, less-expensive alternative to the 
toll road by curbing sprawl and reducing congestion.  For more 
information on this and other studies on combating sprawl, link to

Sprawl Watch
Volume 1, Number 4 -  June 10, 1999

= = =This Week's Content = = = 
In the States:    News from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, 
New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington. 

Nationwide:     News from The International Astronomical Union, the National 
Religious Partnership for the Environment, Sierra Club, Agriculture and 
Housing and Urban Development Secretaries. 

New Releases: New releases from the Environmental Law Institute and the 
Southern Environmental Law Center, National Association of Local 
Government Environmental Professionals. 

Useful Resources:  Growing Together; Linking Regional and Community 
Development in a Changing Economy, April 1997 Summary Report, Economic 
Development in Minnesota: High Subsidies, Low Wages, Absent Standards 

= = =State and Local News = = =
Governor Jane Hull’s Growing Smarter Commission is considering whether to 
protect nearly 1 million acres of state trust land.  This is one of the many 
proposals received by the commission to deal with the state’s explosive growth. 
The commission is working to prepare a report to be delivered the Governor and 
legislative leaders by September.  To view the Growing Smarter Commission 
Summary of Sub-Committee reports please link to:

Gov. Bill Owens signed into law a bill (HB 99-1155) providing a tax credit of 
up to $100,000 to help traditionally land-rich, cash-poor farmers and ranchers 
who donate land easements for conservation purposes. (by Kit Miniclier, The 
Denver Post, 6/4/99)

On June 7, Rep Nancy L. Johnson (D-CT) introduced her tax bill H.R. 2020. 
The bill would expand tax-deductions for brownfields clean-up and increase the 
deduction of the value of land donated for conservation purposes from 30 
percent to 50 percent.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) signed into law yesterday a $3 billion land 
conservation initiative that "will allow the state to continue acquiring forests, 
wetlands and other open space until the year 2010."  The Florida Forever 
program, which replaces the expiring Preservation 2000 program, will provide 
$300 million a year for the next decade for state-sponsored land acquisition and 
local water projects (Greenwire/ Miami Herald 6/8/99).

NASA scientists have found that as cities spread they are changing not just the 
lay of the land but also the atmosphere.  Scientists are finding more conclusive 
evidence of how cities change the weather.  A continuing government study on 
Atlanta but includes snapshots of five other cities clearly links sprawl to clouds 
and finds that clouds are reducing smog, cutting it by up to one-third at times in 
Atlanta. (St. Paul Pioneer Press 5/11/99)

New Jersey
Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, D-N.J., along with the undersecretary of the U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, James Lyons, announced a  $120,000 grant to the 
state to design ecological maps. The Highlands region, which is part of the 
Appalachian Mountains, stretches across the northern part of the state, from the 
Hudson River to the Delaware River. The region is home to 17 endangered 
species and to several major watersheds that provide drinking water to 4 million 
New Jersey residents. The maps also will help target potential preservation areas 
and can be used to challenge development plans. The officials also said the U.S. 
Forest Service will update a study of the Highlands region. The study, which 
will cost  about $750,000, will cover areas of Pennsylvania and Connecticut as 
well. (6/99, By John Chadwick, Bergen Record) Link to article:

Washington County, part of the growing Portland metropolitan area developed a 
tax incentive package with Intel Corporation that includes a “growth impact 
fee”.   The computer-chip maker has agreed to pay a “growth impact fee” if it 
exceeds a ceiling of 1,000 new manufacturing jobs on top of the 4,000 it already 
provides the County.

Adding to the torrent of proposed legislation designed to curb suburban sprawl, 
Rep. Charles T. McIlhinney (R., Bucks) introduced bills June 9 that would set 
aside money to buy open space and give municipalities more power to control 

Rhode Island
Grow Smart Rhode Island released its debut report that said there were a series 
of "planning gaps" that need to be addressed as the state pursues a plan to 
develop a North Kingston port and commerce park. The group is a coalition of 
elected officials, business leaders, and citizens led by Providence Energy 
President James H. Dodge. 

The fight to save salmon in the Pacific Northwest could reshape the region's 
economy, limit development, curtail water recreation and maybe even play out 
in presidential politics. Most local governments are still scrambling to resolve 
how their environmental and land use policies will have to change -- and what 
the costs will be -- because of the threat to salmon. Link:

 Washington's Mount Rainier National Park has a higher concentration of ozone 
than nearby urban areas including Seattle, according to US Geological Survey 
data published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

In an interesting unpublished decision application (Kanna v. Benton County, 
1999 WL 219783 (Wash.App.Div, April 15, 1998)), the Washington Court of 
Appeals affirmed dismissal of a taking and due process challenge to rejection of 
a residential subdivision application. The county rejected the development 
application because of potential health risks to future residents of the 
subdivision from adjacent agricultural activities.  The court rejected plaintiff’s 
taking claim because they failed to address relevant factors under Washington 
State takings test; court also rejected due process claim, which was subsumed by 
taking claim under Armendariz.   To receive timely information about recent 
takings decisions, please contact the Environmental Policy Project. EPP 

= = =Nationwide= = = 
The International Astronomical Union plans to discuss light pollution at an UN- 
affiliated conference in Vienna, Austria, next month.  The IAU says light 
obscures views of the night sky and that light pollution comes from various 
sources, such as 24- hour superstores, highway lamps and security lights. In the 
US, Maine, all of Arizona's counties and several cities have enacted glare 
control regulations that limit the amount of light going upward into the sky. 
New Mexico has a law that will take effect next year (AP/San 
Francisco Chronicle/Examiner 6/8/99).

Interfaith Community Announces Urban Sprawl Initiative. An open dialog 
between religious, labor, business, scientists and environmental leaders took 
place at the Russell House Office Building in Washington, D.C. to announce a 
$16-million, 10-year initiative to act on such issues as air pollution, urban 
sprawl and forest preservation.  The announcement is part of growing 
environmental activism within a wide range of faith communities nationwide.

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Housing and Urban Development 
Secretary Andrew Cuomo spoke on rural empowerment zones in Mississippi 
and Louisiana on May 25. A transcript is available at.

 Sierra Club chapters and reform advocates in several states are promoting a new way 
to finance political campaigns: "Clean Money." The core concepts of the Clean Money 
proposals are public financing for political campaigns and 
voluntary limits on campaign spending. The Florida Chapter made Clean Money 
campaign reform a legislative priority for 1999. "We will never stop urban 
sprawl, continued weakening of growth-management laws, toxic pollution and 
selling of our natural resources unless we elect lawmakers who have not been 
bought," said Helen Spivey,  Florida Chapter issue chair.

= = =New Releases = = = 
“Smart Growth in the Southeast: New Approaches to Guiding Development” a 
new report released by the Environmental Law Institute and the Southern 
Environmental Law Center provides an overview of land use and transportation 
trends in seven states – Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South 
Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The report also shows how southeastern 
states and localities are beginning to shape the pace and location of development 
by promoting the purchasing of development rights, promoting conservation 
easements, designating development areas and providing incentives to promote 
development, including programs for historic preservation, building 
rehabilitation, and brownfields. To download the report, visit the SELC website 
at or the ELI website at

A number of American business leaders are beginning to recognize that sprawl 
can raise the cost of doing business and reduce long-term profitability.  This is a 
key finding of a new study, "Profiles of Business Leadership on Smart Growth: 
New Partnerships Demonstrate the Economic Benefits of Reducing Sprawl." 
The new study is sponsored by the National Association of Local Government 
Environmental Professionals. The full report will be posted on the web on June 

= = =Useful Resources= = =
“Growing Together; Linking Regional and Community Development in a 
Changing Economy.”  This report summary argues that regional economic 
recovery and anti-poverty efforts are intimately linked – the region needs 
poverty reduction in order to grow, and the poor need regional growth in order 
to escape poverty.  For copies of this summary report or information on the 
larger report on which it is based, please contact:

“Economic Development in Minnesota: High Subsidies, Low Wages, Absent 
Standards.”  This study reveals that many Minnesota corporations who benefit 
from economic development incentives pay very low wages.  Tax Increment 
Financings figure in to almost every episode of taxpayer-subsidized corporate 
migration identified in the study.  The availability of the incentives encourage 
Minnesota corporations to threaten to move for higher subsidies.  For a copy of 
the report contact:  Good Jobs First, 202-626-3780.