Volume 4, Number 17 - May 29, 2002
For the first time in 15 years, the New Jersey
Supreme Court has taken on the state's landmark Mount Laurel doctrine,
and longtime observers of the court say the justices could be poised to
write a new chapter in the decades-long struggle to provide affordable
housing for the poor. http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/3350108.htm
California Governor Gray Davis highlights his
administration's environmental accomplishments and encourages business
leaders to fight harder for passage of a bill that would, for the first
time, regulate the emission of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles. http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/3328394.htm
Air quality along the Southeast Expressway, which
improved steadily for four years after the opening of the car pool ''zipper''
lane, has worsened significantly in the two years since the state opened
the lane to cars with just two occupants in June 1999, an unpublished Massachusetts
Highway Department report shows.
With the saturation of big-box stores in the
suburbs a backlash is making stores -- particularly discount chains --
reconsider cities such as Washington, where executives are looking harder
than ever for places to open.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is kicking
off a second brownfield cleanup program. This federally endorsed alternative
to Ohio's 8-year-old Voluntary Action Program (VAP) to clean up contaminated
industrial sites will give property owners immunity from state and federal
legal liability for additional cleanups. http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/news/local/3356430.htm
For 22 years the state has saved farmland - more
than 200,000 acres of it - by paying owners not to develop. Now, some who
own farms that were protected in the program's early years have visions
of a cash crop of houses.
An ambitious, 20-year growth management plan
"Blueprint Denver" is simple: to make sure that growth occurs in areas
that can handle it, where there are adequate bus and rapid transit stations
and roads, and where it won't destroy the character of existing neighborhoods.
A new law that creates funding for Everglades
restoration, also includes a controversial amendment that might limit whether
citizens can challenge permits for developments, mines and industrial plants.
Open Space Preservation
Governor Ryan is proposing to cut dedicated funds
for land acquisition to balance the state budget - $23 million in total.
His revised budget proposal includes a decrease in the Natural Areas Acquisition
Fund. It also proposes to cut the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development
program, a grant program for land acquisition and capital improvements
relied upon by park districts and forest preserve districts. These cuts
are proposed in spite of the fact that the Governor has proposed increasing
the Real Estate Transfer Tax. The Governor is also recommending a permanent
reduction in the percentage of funds used for land preservation.
If you would like more information, please call
Joyce O'Keefe at Openlands Project at 312-427-4256 x236.
US Census figures find commutes in the eight-county
Houston area are Texas' worst. The county's numbers reflect statewide and
nationwide trends. Commuting times are rising because of worsening congestion
and the growing number of people in suburbs and exurbia-- rural areas beyond
Smart growth activists are working to bring hundreds
of Northern Virginians to protest a $3.25 billion proposal to widen a 14-mile
stretch of the congested Capital Beltway. If approved, as many as 300 homes
from Springfield to the American Legion Bridge could be taken by the state
and demolished. In turn, thousands of residents who now live a comfortable
distance from the busy highway would end up much closer to a Beltway of
potentially 12 lanes and its towering noise walls and interchanges.
= = = National News = = =
Peter Calthorpe writes in the American Planning
Association's "Planning Magazine" about the critical need for a new paradigm
of growth on undeveloped sites — one that complements urban infill and
revitalization. This paradigm would match a new circulation (transportation)
system with the new forms of land use now emerging through the New Urbanism
and Smart Growth movements.
= = = New Release = = =
The Michigan Land Use Institute reports on Michigan's
former governor Jim Blanchard's new formula for urban improvement: Create
parks within metropolitan areas. Offer a broad range of transportation
choices. Fix roads first before building new ones. And update the obsolete
public policies that subsidize sprawling suburban development at the expense
of a quality metropolitan lifestyle.
Volume 4, Number 16 - May 23, 2002
= = = State and Local News = = =
State leaders must take charge of California's
deepening housing crisis or risk severe economic and social consequences,
recommends the Little Hoover Commission. The Commission's new report,
"Rebuilding the Dream: Solving California's Affordable Housing Crisis,"
was delivered to Governor Davis and the Legislature (4/8). The report
calls for using state dollars as incentives to compel communities to build
adequate housing, fewer barriers for building on urban in-fill sites, regulatory
reforms that encourage construction, and greater public subsidies to house
the state's poorest residents.
Obtain the Little Hoover Commission's report
at the following location: www.lhc.ca.gov
23 years as a national leader in controlling urban sprawl, voters in
the Portland metropolitan area soundly defeated a measure from the property
rights group Oregonians In Action to reduce the power of the Metro agency
over urban density. Voters adopted a countermeasure sponsored by Metro
allowing it to maintain control over urban density while requiring additional
planning to protect livability in neighborhoods.
Legislators and environmentalists are criticizing
Gov. James E. McGreevey's plan to use $43 million in open space preservation
money to plug holes in the state budget and to pay the administrative costs
of the state's land preservation programs.
More Massachusetts residents drove alone to work
in the 1990s, fewer people used carpools, and use of transit barely changed
- increasing the average daily roundtrip from roughly 45 minutes per day
to nearly an hour, according to US Census data released yesterday.
State senators confirm the governor's nomination
of former Sen. Herschal Crow as state Cabinet secretary for transportation.
= = = National News = = =
After a daylong National Housing Forum, the nation's
mayors today released a comprehensive set of recommendations to address
the country's affordable housing crisis.
The San Francisco Chronicle argues that smart
growth is a solution to stopping sprawl but it needs to get smarter.
= = = New Releases = = =
A new report, "The Price of Paying Taxes:
How Tax Preparation and Refund Loan Fees Erode the Benefits of the Earned
Income Tax Credit", co-authored by the Brookings Urban Center and the
Progressive Policy Institute, details for the first time, how the use of
tax preparation services and "fast cash" refund loans is concentrated among
working poor families and neighborhoods. The authors outline a policy agenda
that would help to preserve the full value of the Earned Income Tax Credit,
including: simplifying tax credits for low-income families; broadening
the availability of free and affordable tax prep assistance and electronic
filing of returns; and expanding access to low-cost bank accounts to promote
direct deposit of EITC refunds. http://www.brookings.edu/urban
New from the Michigan Land Use Institute, Jane
Holtz Kay, the author of Asphalt Nation, argues that a nation of nervous
travelers has yet to contemplate the other knee-quaking environmental and
urban consequences of our fly-drive society, including growing sprawl around
airports. In her piece for the Elm Street Writers Group, Ms. Kay reports
that runaway airport expansion has resulted in “airport city phenomena.
Volume 4, Number 15 - May 8, 2002
= = = State and Local = = =
Converging trends are forcing public officials
and home builders to embrace "smart growth" principles that place homes
near jobs by making better use of abandoned, odd-shaped or marginal lands
already within city boundaries. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000031899may05.story
The largest private ranch in Arizona and its
nearly 70,000 acres, almost 10 percent of the available remaining land
in Maricopa County, are being sold to new owners who will have access to
enough water to support 2 million people. But by dismantling what otherwise
was too unwieldy a piece of land, the owners have removed the biggest obstacle
for developers, who can now further subdivide parcels and wait for the
right opportunity. And in a state where undeveloped land with plentiful
water is better than gold, the sale of Paloma Ranch is a notable event
in the story of Arizona's growth. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0504palomaranch04.html
The latest from the "California Planning and
Development Report" "Religious Land Uses Vex Planners". Local regulation
of religious land uses has become the latest battlefield in California
development. There are at least seven lawsuits pending over government
regulation of church development, proposed private schools, and the use
of facilities by religious ministries. http://www.cp-dr.com/binn/main.taf?function=
Slow-Growth challengers make gains in Northern
Virginia elections. Many voters in city and town elections in Northern
Virginia sent a clear message to their leaders to curb development. Many
races in otherwise sleepy hamlets turned into referendums on how to manage
the suburban growth enveloping communities built at the turn of the last
Several major recommendations by the Commission
on Building for the 21st Century have stalled, either due to fiscal or
political uncertainties. http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/news/state/3206271.htm
Colorado lawmakers (5/7) were reduced to agreeing
not on how best to spend money on road and mass- transit projects
next year but in years to come, when money starts to trickle into state
coffers. Governor has all but halted his effort to persuade legislators
to find $100 million in order to secure more than $400 million in transportation
Road-building has emerged as one of the main
obstacles to lawmakers completing a $49.7 billion state budget. The
House demands a $91.8 million transportation program. The road-building
program at issue is the Transportation Outreach Program, derided by the
Senate and other critics as a road-building "turkey pot" looted for hometown
projects by influential lawmakers. The final budget vote will be
taken May 13.
Representatives of the Los Angeles Metropolitan
Transit Authority and members of an advocacy group -whose law suit brought
about a bitterly contested federal decree to boost bus service- held face-to-face
talks with a federal mediator. The first such meeting in two years
and the first since the agency's legal appeals were quashed by the Supreme
The Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development
Agency says federal money for metro Louisville transportation projects
ranging from new Ohio River bridges to a light rail system could be frozen
as early as November. The finding is linked to the Kentucky General
Assembly's decision to halt vehicle emissions testing in Jefferson County.
Piedmont Mayor Charlie Fagan plans to use a new
state law to do a little urban renewal while passing the costs on to property
owners. The new law lets city councils clean up properties that are deemed
public health hazards and bill the property owners for the costs.
Contra Costa County's Public Works Department
estimates public and private developers will have to pay $200 million to
$300 million annually to comply with new clean water requirements.
These projected figures underscore county fears that amendments to its
storm water discharge permit could have wide-reaching fiscal effects.
If modifications are not made to reduce the costs, smart growth initiatives
may be impeded.
= = = National News = = =
"How We Live: Part One" is the first installment
of a new series examining issues affecting people's daily lives on the
PBS Online Newshour. Ray Suarez has the first report which looks at urban
sprawl in Atlanta, Georgia.
Newly released Census Bureau data shows that houses
are worth at least twice as much in Nevada and Washington state as they
are Mississippi. Data from these three states is the first look at information
that will be coming out from the Census Bureau through September. Differences
in housing costs can be attributed to the age of the housing stock. High-growth
also creates demand for housing that pushes up its value.
= = = New Releases = = =
The University of North Carolina at Wilmington
has just launched the "Educator's Resource Web site", www.uncwil.edu/smartgrowth
. Designed for use in public schools, this site was developed to broaden
students' understanding of growth and its implications as well as smart
growth and sustainable development. The site offers unique curriculum experiences
to teachers and students.
More than 700,000 undeveloped acres will disappear
in the Washington region says the analysis of 15 years of regional development
patterns by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the University of
Maryland and the U.S. Geological Survey. The new study predicts
the amount of developed land from the Shenandoah Mountains to the Chesapeake
Bay will triple by 2030. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11593-2002Apr30.html
Volume 4, Number 14- May 1, 2002
= = = Highlight = = =
The American Lung Association has released its
annual "State of the Air 2002" report. "State of the Air 2002" examines
ozone air quality data for 1998-2000, which is the most recent quality-assured
data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report grades
and ranks counties on how often their air quality reaches “unhealthful”
categories of the EPA’s Air Quality Index for ozone air pollution. Ground-level
ozone is the strongest indicator of air pollution. It's created primarily
by emissions from cars and coal-fired power plants, mixed with sunlight.
Among those metropolitan areas scoring “Fs,”
the 10 most ozone-polluted areas are Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County,
Calif.; Bakersfield, Calif.; Fresno, Calif.; Visalia-Tulare-Porterville,
Calif.; Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; Merced,
Calif.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, N.C.-S.C.; and
Each year metro Atlanta officials have to prove
they are on the path to cutting smog in order to qualify for federal highway
= = = State and Local = = =
Big Box Superstores
The effort of Home Depot officials to open a
store in San Francisco has become a character-defining moment for a city
always fretting about losing its neighborhood character. While most "no
Home Depot" battles across the United States match mom-and- pops against
the1,371-store home-improvement chain, the local version that's peaking
today pits San Franciscans against each other.
Reducing the fiscal incentive for retail is what
local officials are hoping to do by shifting sales taxes from cities and
replace the revenue with a regional pool communities would share. The hope
is that by taking away the financial incentive for mega-stores, cities
and counties will practice better planning.
The Fiscal Court of Jefferson County has approved
a yearlong land -conservation plan to inventory and save farmland being
eating by development. The program will be coordinated with Metro Parks
and the U.S. Soil and Water Conservation and will cost about $35,000.
The MBTA would have to increase fares, cut back
services, and lay off personnel under the House's proposed state budget,
which would force the agency to pay the state's 15 regional transit authorities
$50 million annually, MBTA officials said (4/29).
The Mobile City Council approved five changes
to the city's zoning rules related to downtown residential. The changes
are aimed at "re-examining existing planning and zoning policies in order
to move away from the post-World War II development associated with inefficient
= = = National News = = =
Southern counties dominated the list of the 10
fastest-growing counties according to population estimates released by
the Commerce Department's Census Bureau (4/29). Overall, 55 percent of
all 3,141 U.S. counties grew since April 1, 2000. Nine of the 10 counties
that have grown the fastest since Census 2000 were in the South: three
in Texas, three in Georgia and one each in Virginia, Kentucky and Florida.
Community Character Act
By a vote of 12 - 7, the U.S. Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee gave final approval to S. 975, the Community
Character Act. The Community Character Act, introduced by Rhode Island
Senator Lincoln Chafee, would provide a much-needed incentive to help states
and localities initiate and implement smart growth planning strategies.
= = = New Releases = = =
The National Association of HomeBuilders and
the National Association of Realtors released a new survey of new home
buyers (4/22). Whereas the survey does indicate that price and home size
are important considerations when people buy homes the survey also shows
significant support for many smart growth principles. The survey only includes
people who had bought homes in the last four years.
When asked to agree with various statements about
their homes, 64 percent agreed with the statement, "I wish my home were
larger." This was followed by "I wish I could walk to more places from
my home," 27 percent; "I wish my home were closer to where I work," 23
percent; " I wish my home were closer to shopping and restaurants," 17
percent; "I wish my home were closer to public transportation," 9 percent;
and "I wish I were closer to the city," 5 percent. To read the NAR/NAHB's
A new release from the Brookings Institution's
Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy "Valuing America's First Suburbs:
A Policy Agenda for Older Suburbs in the Midwest" looks at the older, inner-ring
suburbs and their unique set of assets and challenges that set them apart
from newer suburban areas further out from the core of metropolitan areas,
but also from their center cities. This report finds that, unfortunately,
first suburbs are caught in a policy blindspot. They tend to not be poor
enough to qualify for federal and state aid and not large enough to receive
federal and state funds directly. http://www.brookings.edu/urban
"American Metropolitics: A Comparative National
Study of Social Separation and Sprawl", a new book by Myron Orfield and
published by the Brookings Institution provides an eye-opening analysis
of the economic, racial, environmental, and political trends of the 25
largest metropolitan regions in the United States—which contain more than
45 percent of the U.S. population. Using detailed maps and case studies,
Orfield demonstrates that growing social separation and wasteful sprawling
development patterns are harming regional citizens wherever they live.
Despite the Chicago region’s advantage of having
a diverse mix of industry sectors, the economic health of the region is
threatened by traffic congestion, an inadequate supply of housing for workers
close to jobs and a tax system that limits the ability of some communities
to educate their children and combat crime.
Those are some of the findings in the second
report card on the region – the "Metropolis Index" – prepared by Chicago
Metropolis 2020. http://www.chicagometropolis2020.org/02_press.htm