Volume 3, Number 20- May 30, 2001
= = = HIGHLIGHT = = =
Community Character Act Introduced in the Senate
The Senate has now joined the House of Representatives in considering
smart growth planning legislation. Just prior to the Memorial Day recess,
Senator Lincoln Chafee (R- RI) introduced the Community Character Act
(S. 975). The bill would authorize $25 million per year for five years
to establish a grant program for federal assistance to states for reform
of outdated state planning statutes and improved state and regional planning.
An addition $1 million per year is provided for an educational and informational
program for the use of State, local, and tribal land use planning and zoning
officials. S. 975 was referred to the Senate Environment and Public Works
The Senate bill differs modestly from the House version of the Community
Character Act (H.R. 1433), which was introduced in April.
More information on the legislation is available online at APA’s legislative
action center (http://cw2k.capweb.net/planning).
= = = STATE AND LOCAL NEWS= = =
Gov. Parris N. Glendening announces that the MD state Department of
Planning will more actively intervene in local zoning decisions as part
of his administration's efforts to limit suburban sprawl.
Atlanta residents will have their say in the future of Georgia's transportation
Bay Area voters want more transit
The opening of the new I-15, 10 lane-superhighway has worsened the
drive time for thousands of commuters. Critics argues that providing
more transportation choices such as new light-rail lines is the only way
to save "the freedom that the automobile gave us." http://www.sltrib.com/2001/may/05282001/utah/101155.htm
Washington State Senate Passes Bill to Allow Local Road Taxing
Idaho Residents OK Land Preservation Property Tax
Bequest of $12 million to establish a trust aimed at ensuring that
Ventura County farming would hold its own against suburban sprawl.
= = = NATIONAL NEWS= = =
US NEWS and WORLD REPORT on TRAFFIC
This week the US News and World Report cover story is on the
traffic on quality of life.
= = = NEW RELEASES = = =
Barriers to Better Development by Edward McMahon.
Despite a growing number of innovative development projects around the
country, "Planning Commissioners Journal" columnist Ed McMahon still finds
a number of persistent barriers to better development. http://www.plannersweb.com/wfiles/w354.html
Volume 3, Number 19- May 23, 2001
As part of an ongoing project of Sprawl Watch
Clearinghouse to highlight the many different facets of smart growth,
this issue of Sprawl Watch will focus on affordable housing. In a brief
format, we hope to inform our readers on national legislation promoting
affordable housing, state and local campaigns, and provide a brief list
of recent reports and organizations working on affordable housing. While
this is certainly not comprehensive, it is meant to educate activists about
the nexus between affordable housing and sprawl.
Why should people concerned with sprawl, also
be concerned with affordable housing? Affordable housing is neither tangential
nor separate from the cause of abating sprawl; it is integral to the dynamic
of sprawl development and crucial if we are to build a large and inclusive
coalition to promote more ecological and equitable patterns of development.
When communities fail to maintain enough affordable housing, it triggers
a long list of reverberating problems that defy easy solutions and indeed,
may define sprawl itself. One of the most problematic is the huge distances
that separate low and moderate- income urban Americans from where most
of the new jobs are being created, out in the 'burbs. As distances between
housing and work (and everything else) increase, traffic and air pollution
worsen with the attendant increase in driving, especially when there are
not adequate public transit options. As more land is paved, water pollution
increases from the runoff created by impervious surfaces. The public sector
ends up footing the bill for new water and sewer treatment plants created
and new schools built, even as school buildings within the city remain
vacant. In short, lack of affordable housing just may be the equivalent
of knocking down the first domino.
FOR THE FULL NEWSLETTER PLEASE LINK: www.sprawlwatch.org/house.html
Volume 3, Number 18- May 16, 2001
= = = HIGHLIGHT = = =
New Smart Growth Legislation Introduced
Legislation has been introduced by Rep. Mark
Udall (D-CO) that would use the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
to give local communities greater power in identifying, reviewing and addressing
federal actions or projects that may have an impact on urban growth and
sprawl. The "Urban Sprawl and Smart Growth Study Act" (H.R. 1739)
would require federal agencies to do a more thorough NEPA analysis if a
state governor or a lead local or tribal governmental official requested
such review due to the proposed project's impact on sprawl. In addition,
the bill also would direct the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ),
the agency that implements NEPA, to study how well federal agencies evaluate
sprawl impacts of federal actions in conducting their environmental reviews.
= = = State and Local News = = =
Traditional suburban development is not practical
for many households, critics charge, because of our nation's changing demographics.
As the current census numbers prove, more households are married couples
without children, unmarried couples, and "empty nesters" that do not require,
nor want, a detached house in the suburbs. Many of these people are
fueling the rise in urban populations.
Rural Population Still Dropping
Often forgotten in the debate over what the new
census numbers mean for the health of American cities is the continued
decline in population of many rural communities.
Exit Ramp Economy
Though much has been made of the urban rebound
in several cities, the clear majority of growth still continues at the
metropolitan fringe, what some refer to as the "exit ramp" economy.
Conservation easement programs in Kentucky are
gaining in popularity as farmers find the program an attractive way to
both dramatically reduce their taxes, while preserving the land for future
Prairie burning, common in much of the plains
as a way to reinvigorate prairie grasses and keep out invasive species,
has become more controversial as communities sprawl closer to the burning
New polling in Virginia shows that the clear
majority of Virginians support funding for conservation programs at levels
as high as education and transportation. http://www.tpl.org/tier3_cd.cfm?content_item_id=3720&folder_id=632
Tax policies at the state and local level that
"fiscalize land-use" in California have often been singled out as a significant
contributor to sprawl. One state representative has introduced a
bill to correct one of taxation's most sprawl-inducing effects. http://www.sacbee.com/voices/news/voices05_20010508.html
Carrying through on a promise he made to legislators
at the beginning of the year, Governor Owens called a special session of
the Colorado legislature to pass a growth management bill.
While Census 2000 numbers prove the obvious population
growth in the western U.S., many state legislatures continue to grapple
with how to implement growth management policies.
An innovative, and low-cost, pedestrian safety
project in Berkeley will utilize colored flags on both sides of the sidewalk
to be used by the general public as they cross the street.
Car-Sharing may soon be arriving in the D.C.
area. Two companies, Flexcar from Seattle and Zipcar from Boston,
intend to locate within D.C. and outside D.C. along the Metro Line by this
Fall. To see if a car-sharing program already exists near you, visit
Calling $15 billion over the next 25 years an
"absolute minimum," Gov. Glendening proposed a massive increase in transit
funding for the D.C. region. http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12673-2001May10.html
Governor Ryan's plan to phase out Illinois' tollways
is coming under increased scrutiny from both the legislature and the driving
To be sure, the congestion in New York City has
always been infamous, but it appears to be getting worse and a variety
of schemes, some of which would require a considerable political sell to
implement, are being considered.
= = = New Releases = = =
Lending Barriers to Smart Growth
A growing segment of the real estate community
is experimenting with a new form of development that combines neo-traditional
design, mixed uses and higher densities. "Smart growth" or "new urbanism"
developers contend that conventional financing techniques - with their
reliance on standardization and short-term financial returns - unnecessarily
impede investment in their projects. This paper, released by the Brookings
Institution's Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, examines the barriers
created by conventional real estate investment practices and outlines financing
strategies that can--and have--worked for different, progressive, developments.
= = = National News = = =
CEO's for Cities
A new organization "CEOs for Cities," comprised
of big-city mayors, university officials and non-profit leaders, has been
formed to advocate for cities on a national level.
Congestion a Top Priority with DOT
Relieving congestion at our airports, highways,
and railways will be a top priority for the new DOT Administrator Norman
How to Define "Rural?"
Definitions of "rural" often complicate debates
about the efficacy of programs to protect open space. Is a golf course
"open space?" How about "ranchettes" at 1 house per 5 acres?
The editor of "Preservation Magazine" wrote
an Op-Ed in USA Today recently suggesting that, though there has always
been an uneasy relationship between historic preservationists and modernism,
it is as deserving of
protection as any other architectural movement.
Volume 3, Number 17- May 9, 2001
Transit Lessens Burden of Congestion
Easing the Burden, a analysis of
newly released data shows that road building has done little to ease congestion,
while transit service is significantly lessening the burden of congestion
on many commuters. A new ranking developed by the Surface Transportation
Policy Project (STPP) shows how the average commuter is affected by both
congestion levels and the availability of transit in 68 U.S. cities.
STPP analyzed data collected by the Texas Transportation Institute for
its annual Urban Mobility Study and found that metro areas
that added the most roads have had little success in easing congestion.
But metro areas with good transit service rank significantly lower on the
new Congestion Burden Index.
Texas Transportation Institute's (TTI) annual
Mobility Study documents the growth of congestion levels on major
road systems of 68 U.S. urban areas. The data speak to increasing
traffic demands and a transportation network that is not expanding as rapidly.
Nationally, TTI found that the average American is spending about 36 hours
a year in traffic. http://mobility.tamu.edu
= = = State and Local News = = =
The billboard industry is heavily investing in
the upcoming municipal Los Angeles elections because of regulations the
City Council is considering that could help or hinder the industry.
CITIES AND FARMS
One of the highlights from last November's election
was Ohio's "Clean Ohio" bond that split money between farmland preservation
and brownfield redevelopment. This is part of a broader strategy
by many in Ohio to create a different economic pattern for the state, away
from its Rust Belt past and towards smarter growth.
A recent Op-Ed in the Charlotte Observer
explains the interconnectedness between farms and cities, how each relies
on the other's success. Many of these issues were discussed at a
recent forum in Charlotte attended by urban and farmland advocates, sponsored
by the American Farmland Trust.
Sprawl, and its effects on urban disinvestment
and traffic congestion, was a prominent issue in the recent City Council
primary election in Columbus, OH. http://www.dispatch.com/news/news01/may01/684979.html
The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a
three-part series chronicling the difficulties a developer faced attempting
to get a "traditional neighborhood design" subdivision approved in a suburban
Some planners in metro Atlanta are attempting
to cap the maximum number of allowable parking spaces allowed per development.
Continuing what has been a hallmark of his administration,
Maryland Governor Parris Glendening has dedicated over 80% of his school
construction money to renovation, rather than new schools built in greenfields.
The conference committee pounding out the details
of controversial growth control legislation has finally begun to make some
progress in the Colorado legislature. http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1002,61%257E31222,00.html
Though there are many bills dealing with growth
management in state legislatures throughout the country, it is proving
difficult to get any legislation to the governor's desk. http://www.stateline.org/story.cfm?StoryID=127565
Representative John Lewis (D-GA) from Atlanta
claims that the formula used by the Georgia Department of Transportation
to divvy up transportation funds is discriminatory towards Atlantans.
While many cities and counties have bike plans
designed to connect different bicycle routes throughout their jurisdictions,
few regions have done this. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission
in the San Francisco Bay Area is currently undertaking a region-wide bicycle
District of Columbia
Due to the huge and growing demand for transit
in the D.C. region, the Metrorail will need to build a new line underneath
downtown D.C., according to the agency's engineers.
= = = National News = = =
Two New Reports from the Brookings Institution's
Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy
The growth of cities in the 1990s has generated
headlines lately, but what factors contributed to this population growth?
Why have some cities gained while others lost? A variety of attributes
that a particular city might have had in 1990 can explain whether it grew
or shrunk over the decade. Some of these attributes are susceptible
to policy fixes, while others are not. This survey, City Growth and
the 2000 Census: Which Places Grew, and Why, uses 2000 Census data
to examine and explain the patterns that describe which cities grew in
the last decade and which did not.
Downtown Rebound, co-sponsored by
the Fannie Mae Foundation, finds that the number of people living in downtowns
increased during the 1990s in 18 of the 24 cities analyzed. Most
of the downtown growth was fueled by the movements of white residents into
these central business districts. This pattern is a counter trend to the
overall loss of white residents in central cities to the suburbs.http://www.brookings.edu/es/urban/census/downtownpopulationexsum.htm
Transportation and Land Use in Tennessee
The Southern Environmental Law Center released
Are We Growing? Land Use and Transportation Trends in Middle Tennessee,
which is the first report to comprehensively examine the links among the
unprecedented population, development and transportation trends that are
transforming the Nashville area. The report also explores some of
the economic, environmental, and health impacts of this tremendous growth.
In addition, the report highlights promising efforts underway in the area
to capture the benefits of economic growth without the mounting costs of
poorly planned development. These efforts include revitalizing existing
communities, developing a less destructive transportation system that provides
meaningful alternatives to having to drive everywhere, and protecting farmland
and open space. www.southernenvironment.org
Last Chance for Last Chance Landscapes
Scenic America, a national scenic conservation
organization, is now accepting nominations for its 2001 Last Chance Landscapes
program. These endangered landscapes are places of beauty or distinctive
community character with both a pending threat and a potential solution.
A Last Chance Landscape can be a scenic vista, a distinct region, an urban
neighborhood, or some other place people cherish and want to preserve.
Scenic America will judge nominations on the scenic quality and/or distinct
character of the area, the extent and urgency of the threat, and the opportunities
to save the landscape. Nominations are due on June 1, 2001.http://www.scenic.org
= = = National News = = =
Mayors Call for Increased Federal Support
In testimony today before the Financial Services
Committee of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity,
Conference of Mayors Advisory Board Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino
recommended a four-point plan for easing the housing crisis in cities across
America, explaining that the strong economy has caused housing costs to
skyrocket, pricing many middle- and working-class citizensout of their
homes and neighborhoods. http://www.mayors.org/uscm/news/press_releases/documents/meninohousing050301.asp
Volume 3, Number 16- May 2, 2001
= = = Highlight = = =
The Senate has passed, 99-0, the Brownfields
Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2001 (S.350), a
bipartisan bill aimed at cleaning up abandoned, contaminated industrial
sites. S. 350, broadly supported by much of the smart growth community,
provides liability protections for innocent parties, such as contiguous
property owners, prospective purchasers, and innocent landowners. The bill
provides for funding and enhancement of state cleanup programs, including
limits, where appropriate, on enforcement by the federal government at
sites cleaned up under a state response program. The bill passed
on 4/25/01. To learn more about legislation introduced in Congress
to support smart growth, visit www.sprawlwatch.org/policies.html.
= = = State and Local News = = =
Social scientists are observing similarities
between the cities that gained population, or remained relatively stable,
and those that still hemorrhage many of its residents. http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/updates2/lat_cities010501.htm
The Triangle region of North Carolina saw most
of its growth during the 1990's occur on the urban fringe, similar to most
metropolitan regions nationwide.
An innovative mix of public and private funding
is working to save the agricultural lands of southern Maine.
Growth management and sprawl are top concerns
of Philadelphia residents according to a recent poll.
In addition to its much-publicized urban growth
boundaries and regional governance, Portland has also done an impressive
job encouraging dense, mixed-use developments along its transit lines.
After months of rancorous debate, Loudon County
planners approved, 8-1, a new 20-year growth plan for the county.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld a lower
court ruling that may affect the authority of planning agencies to encourage
mixed-use and new urbanist subdivisions. http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2001/05/01/ke050101s18207.htm
Due to a recent study, the dream of many planners
and residents of West Los Angeles to get a light-rail line to downtown
may finally come true.
Under a new plan by the North Carolina Department
of Transportation, Winston-Salem will be included in studies to connect
North Carolina with a proposed high-speed rail link between Washington
D.C. and Atlanta. http://www.journalnow.com/wsj/news/MGBUQJ077MC.html
If the funding pulls through, the new Bay Bridge,
which connects San Francisco with Oakland, will include bicycle and pedestrian
access across the entire length of the bridge. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/05/01/MN207369.DTL
Downtown Franklin, Massachusetts, blessed with
a college, a transit stop and a historic cinema, is updating its general
plan to encourage more residential use downtown. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/119/west/A_plan_to_remake_the_heart_of_town+.shtml
= = = New Releases = = =
New Brookings Report
A new analysis of data from the 2000 Census shows
a number of important patterns underlying the increasing diversity in our
nation's largest cities. Non-Hispanic whites now represent less than half
the population in the nation's largest central cities. The Hispanic population
is growing rapidly, while the number of Asians and blacks in central cities
are also increasing. These demographic changes will affect the social,
economic, political, and fiscal character of our cities. http://www.brookings.edu/es/urban/census/citygrowthexsum.htm
Federal Funding for Preservation Projects
The National Trust for Historic Preservation
has prepared a second edition of "Building on the Past/Traveling to the
Future," a preservationist's guide to the transportation enhancement program.
The publication profiles 27 projects in 19 states to illustrate how the
enhancement provisions have been tapped to support multiple community and
regional goals, from downtown revitalization and heritage area projects
to rural landscape preservation. Contact the Trusts' Public Policy
Department by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Presentations
The National Main Street Center is accepting
proposals for presentations to be given at the 2002 National Town Meeting
on Main Street in Fort Worth, Texas April 7-10, 2002. The audience of more
than 1,500 professionals is made up of new and experienced program managers,
board members, architects, planners, public officials, volunteers and consultants
from Main Street Communities across the nation. The deadline for
submitting a proposal is right around the corner – June 25, 2001. For information
on submitting a proposal visit www.mainstreet.org
to find a copy of the submission form and instructions.
= = = National News = = =
Obesity and Sprawl
Many public health professionals are drawing
the connection between America's huge spike in obesity and our sprawling
land use patterns.http://www.alliance.napawash.org/ALLIANCE/