newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch 
Volume 2, Number 8 - May 17, 2000

= = =State and Local News= = = 
Habitat Protection 
The National Wildlife Federation and others filed a lawsuit against several government agencies, accusing them of contributing to the destruction of habitat in southwest Florida for the endangered Florida panther.  The suit was filed in US District Court in Washington, DC.  The National Wildlife Federation and its state affiliate the Florida Wildlife Federation are suing the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Federal Highway Administration for the failure to protect panther habitat by facilitating harmful development in Florida Panther habitat through their permitting, planning and funding activities.  The lawsuit identifies 27 specific projects in and around
Priority panther habitat.  The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and Collier County Audubon Society are also participating in the legal action. (National Wildlife Federation, 5/8/00) 

Boca Raton city planners have been working on an ordinance that will allow homeowners to put open air porches in front of their houses.  Overtime porches and patios moved out back and were replaced by two-car garages and circular driveways. “Porches not only add to the “character” of a home, but they also could get more people outside and interacting with each other “ the director of development said.,1136,31500000000113779,00.html 

Home Builders
Looking to keep Northern Kentucky's rapid growth from slowing down, home builders are urging streamlined building codes and zoning regulations. The Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky has produced a document called, ''Community Development Policies,'' which addresses development and growth issues in Northern Kentucky. The association has sent the document to more than 300 elected officials in Northern Kentucky.

New Jersey 
Farmland Preservation
The Garden State Preservation Trust approved $43.5 million to preserve 12,644 acres of farmland in 15 New Jersey counties.  The plan now goes to the legislature for final approval. The 12,644 acres is the largest one-time preservation of farmland since the program’s inception in 1983.  

New Group Formed 
The William Penn Foundation has pledged $3.84 million (over three years) to finance a new public policy group that will study and then propose solutions to two of the region’s most pressing economic problems –sprawl and glacial job growth.  The new group, called the Metropolitan Philadelphia Policy Center is a combined effort of the Pennsylvania Economy League, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania and the Reinvestment Fund. 

North Carolina 
A congressional subcommittee approved $10 million for the Triangle's proposed 35-mile-long regional rail system this week, in spite of the Federal Transit Administration's concerns that the project's future was too shaky to warrant funding in the coming year.  The House Transportation Appropriations subcommittee set transit funding for fiscal year 2001 at $6.3 billion. The Triangle Transit Authority's rail plan, which would use an existing rail corridor to link Raleigh and Durham, was one of 64 projects recommended for funding, including $5 million for Charlotte's rail transit plan. 

Urban Growth Plan
The Hunt administration has produced a long list of strategies for revitalizing downtowns, but it's not clear whether the governor will follow through on any of them given the state's financial woes. The list includes more than three dozen ideas, including new tax credits, changes in regulations and more money and staff for existing redevelopment programs.

= = =New Releases= = = 
Highway Design
A new publication from Scenic America, “Getting It Right In the Right of Way: Citizen Participation in Context-Sensitive Highway Design”, is now available to help people who want to preserve the beauty along their roadways while ensuring that they are also safe, durable, and economical to maintain. Getting It Right includes sample state legislation that citizens can use to advocate for context-sensitive design through their state legislatures. State legislators can accelerate reform in highway design by promoting context-sensitive design and, where needed, by adopting legislation that requires that every road project in their state will a) fully involve citizens who are affected by the design or re-design of that road; and b) reflect sensitivity to the environment, to aesthetics and to the character of place. “Getting It Right In the Right-of-Way: Citizen Participation in Context-Sensitive Highway Design” is available for $5.00 plus $3.50 for shipping and handling, and can be ordered through Scenic America's website at: 

Effect of Roads on Wildlife Habitat 
An article in the February edition of Conservation Biology, estimates that roads directly impact approximately 20 percent of the land in the United States.  The author, Dr. Richard Forman, a landscape ecologist at the Harvard Design School, based his findings on a variety of effects that emanate to varying distance from roads, ranging from noise impacts on bird feeding and nesting, to wetland drainage impacts.  Effect range varied by road characteristics from just a few feet to close to half a mile.  On average the range of impact extended approximately 600 feet to either side of the road.  The author recommended that changes in design were particularly in order for rural roads, which accounted for approximately 85 percent of the total impacted land.  Suggested solutions included closure of little used roads, and wildlife underpasses for critical migration routes. (1,000 Friends of Minnesota, 5/9) 

Business Location
A working paper from the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy examines the array of factors that drive location or re-location decisions of corporations, technology firms, and other companies and suggests ways in which local leaders can craft policies to better position cities as the location of choice for businesses.

= = =National= = = 
Best Business Cities in America 
Forbes Magazine ranks the 10 best places in America to do business. 
1.Austin, TX, 2. Atlanta, GA, 3. Santa Rosa, CA, 4. Boulder, CO, 5.Boise, ID, 6. San Diego, CA, 7.Orange County, CA, 8. San Antonio, TX, 9. West Palm Beach, FL, 10. Colorado Springs, CO To see the full list and read more:

Sprawl Watch 
Volume 2, Number 7 - May 5, 2000

= = =State and Local News= = = 
City Planning 
Under provisions of a new city charter that takes effect July 1, the power to make many planning decisions in the City of Los Angeles will move to Area Planning Commissions appointed by the mayor. 

"Living With Sprawl: Orlando's Growing Problem" is the result of months of reporting by Christine Shenot, the Sentinel's growth reporter, and Jim Stratton, the transportation reporter. Their analysis of urban sprawl patterns, population density and traffic increases in Central Florida are based on U.S. Census data, statistics from federal, state and local transportation agencies, and documents from state and county planning departments. 

Air Pollution 
Atlanta's fears of becoming "the next Los Angeles" may be coming true. Researchers from Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences say the smog now may be as bad here as in L.A., long regarded as having the nation's dirtiest air.

Smart Codes
Maryland State Legislature passed a "smart codes" bill that will create incentives for local governments to adopt new development codes that encourage infill development, accommodate better-designed new development in areas suitable for growth, and promote the reuse of old and historic buildings in existing communities.

New Jersey 
Public Opinion Polling
An independent survey found that 66 percent of voters in Sussex County would strongly support a Land Conservation Trust Fund financed by a property tax increase.  High percentages of voters would support using the fund to protect farmland, watershed, wildlife habitat, and recreational land. 

North Carolina 
Charlotte plans to build several light-rail stations without parking lots, gambling that drivers will walk, bike or ride the bus to the train stop. Land around future stations near uptown is too valuable and too scarce for parking, transit officials say. Instead they want it used for midrise apartment buildings, offices and shops that planners hope will attract passengers.

Open Space Preservation
Governor Jim Hunt proposes spending increases to protect 1 million acres of open space. 

The full Plan and Executive Summary are available on DENR's website: 

Issue Permits
In a sprawl-sensitive era, opponents of a proposed sewage-treatment plant on the banks of Crum Creek are urging state officials to heed the advice of Gov. Ridge. 

As part of his proposal to better control development, Ridge recently called on state government to consider how its decisions to grant funding and issue permits will affect growth in areas where it is not wanted.  At Ridge's order, a team of officials from state agencies is preparing a report that will document how state laws, regulations and policies might be contributing to sprawl. 

= = =New Releases= = = 
The Land Trust Alliance recently released the first comprehensive analysis of 1999 ballot questions on open space funding, entitled, "Voter's Invest in Open Space:  1999 Referenda Results."  Last year, voters in communities across the country passed 90% of the 102 measures on the ballot, and authorized more than $1.8 billion in local taxing authority and bonds for the protection of open spaces and parks. This publication can be viewed on LTA's website at:

The Environmental Justice Resource Center launched the inaugural Spring 2000 issue of its “Transportation Equity” newsletter.  The newsletter is part of the center’s Atlanta Transportation Equity Project (ATEP).   It covers a range of issues including environmental justice, transportation investments and civil rights, air quality and public health, the Los Angeles-Atlanta transit connection, shortcomings of Atlanta regional planning, and news on suburban sprawl, new films, videos, and books.  

In a speech presented at the National Building Museum, David Burwell, president and co-founder of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, challenges the assumption that transportation technology is destiny. Trails, bike paths, greenways--facilities for alternative transportation--can be powerful tools in support of smart growth objectives.  Using both local and national examples, Burwell describes how trails and greenways can reconnect America's urban communities, opening up new opportunities for transportation, recreation and health. To view his speech please link to 

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the nation's largest trails organization with 100,000 members and donors dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors. 

= = =National= = = 
Last Year, Americans took more than 9 billion trips on public transportation, the highest ridership in nearly four decades, according to the American Public Transportation Association.  This record ridership represents the highest level since the advent of the federal transit program.
For the 1999 mode data please link to: 

National Association of Realtors (NAR) launches a brownfields advocacy campaign.  The NAR’s immediate focus is to ensure the passage of favorable brownfields legislation in the 106th Congress. To raise the visibility of this very important issue with important Members of Congress, NAR has developed a positive newspaper advertisement campaign on the brownfields issue that will run during the current  congressional recess.