newsletter archive
Sprawl Watch 
Volume 2, Number 21 - November 27, 2000

= = = State and Local News = = = 
District of Columbia
District Mayor Anthony Williams, who has made downtown housing and urban revitalization a central theme of his administration, unveiled his "Downtown Action Agenda" to increase both affordable and market-rate housing in downtown DC.  In addition to downtown revitalization, Mayor Williams announced his plan for the redevelopment of much of the area 
along the Anacostia River. 

In what transportation reform advocates hope is not a trend, the Illinois State Senate has voted to eliminate the state sales tax for gasoline.  As gas prices rose over the summer in the Midwest, Illinois temporarily suspended its gas tax through December 31, 2000.  This 
action would make the suspension permanent.,1051,SAV-0011160386,00.html 

New Jersey
Smart growth advocates have criticized a bill which recently passed the New Jersey State Senate that would allow developers of a new mega-mall near the Meadowlands to receive public subsidies for roads and other infrastructure projects.  Smart growth advocates believe that, at the very least, the public sector should not subsidize sprawl. 

1000 Friends of Oregon released a report outlining 90 state and local actions that could trigger payment under Oregon's Measure 7, which passed in the election.  These could include comprehensive general plans, building codes, and a variety of environmental measure amongst others.  To view the report, visit

Pennsylvania State Representative David Steil (R-Bucks County) recently spoke at a National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) luncheon in DC.  Representative Steil, who sponsored historic land use planning legislation earlier this year in Pennsylvania, had been heavily criticized by the home-building industry in Pennsylvania for his sponsorship.  Some advocates view the NAHB's support of "smart growth" as a promising development, while others feel the NAHB is merely greenwashing and has no intention supporting real smart growth legislation. 

South Carolina 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that South Carolina is losing  107,000 acres of open space per year to development-the ninth highest rate in the nation, many South Carolinians are growing concerned and taking action.  The cause of preservation is getting assistance from some very savvy private organizations along with increased action from 
the state and local governments. 

One tool public officials have to control haphazard, sprawl development is by curtailing infrastructure extensions such as sewage lines.  This was the strategy of Chesapeake, Virginia city council members of who have been trying to stop a golf community on the outskirts of town.  The controversial sewage line was recently allowed by a 5-4 vote, and some 
fear this will be the impetus for "Virginia Beach-style" sprawl. 

= = = New Reports = = =
Report on "School Sprawl"
In a new report released during National Education Week, "Historic Neighborhood Schools in the Age of Sprawl: Why Johnny Can't Walk to School," the National Trust for Historic reservation contends that public policies, including excessive acreage requirements, funding formulas and planning code exemptions, are promoting the spread of mega-school sprawl on outlying, undeveloped land at the expense of small, walkable, community-centered schools in older neighborhoods. Among its recommendations, the National Trust suggests eliminating arbitrary acreage standards, funding biases, and certain zoning exemptions that undermine the public's ability to maintain older and historic schools as centers of community life and learning.  To read the report in full, please visit

= = = National News = = = 
In its annual ranking, Money magazine chose Portland, Oregon as the nation's best place to live.  Although the editors emphasize their traditional standards such as school quality, crime rate, and job growth, Portland is particularly cited for its ability to control sprawl, its pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, open space and efficient public transportation. 

= = =New Releases= = = 
ITE Journal, November, Institute of Transportation Engineers "Special Issue on Smart Growth". - Smart Growth Tools for Transportation- Smart Growth and Transportation: Opportunities and Challenges for Austin - Maryland’s Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Initiative - Transportation — A Major Player in Smart Growth 

ITE Journal is available on line at but only to members, but reprints and electronic versions are available for purchase. 

2.  Popular Government, Special Issue, Institute of Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "Growing Smart in North Carolina" - Smart Growth around the Nation 
- A Smart Growth Toolbox for Local Governments - The Environmental Consequences of Growth - Growing Smart about Transportation Popular Government is available on line at 

3.  Wake Forest Law Review, Fall 2000, Wake Forest University "Sustainable Growth:  Evaluating Smart Growth Efforts in the Southeast" - New Kid in Town:  The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and Its Role in Managing Growth in Metropolitan Atlanta 
- Growth Management and Smart Growth in Florida - Smart Growth in North Carolina:  Something Old or Something New? 

The Wake Forest Law Review will not be available on line for some time but information about it is available at 

Sprawl Watch 
Volume 2, Number 20 - November 9, 2000

The election is over, and as the counting continues, it is apparent that citizens—as in 1999 and 1998--have voted to protect open space and promote transportation alternatives.  As Sprawl Watch will make them available on our website at  For a preliminary analysis of Tuesday's results by the Brookings Institute, visit

= = = State and Local News = = = 
A backlash is brewing in some downtowns against "dot-com" businesses in many of the 
same communities that were the original incubators of the digital economy.  Redwood City, 
located about thirty miles south of San Francisco and home to Oracle and Napster among 
other Internet-based businesses, has voted to extend a controversial ordinance that sets rigid limits on industrial development in half of the city's commercial districts, including 
downtown.  The Redwood City City Council believes the incursion of dot-com businesses 
into their downtown will hurt revitalization efforts, which have encouraged retail businesses and their attendant pedestrian activity.  Others warn that this pattern of preventing Internet-based businesses to locate in downtowns will only exacerbate the tendency of these businesses to locate on the suburban fringe. 

The Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation released its second annual "Eleven in the 
Eleventh Hour"; its list of the most endangered historic properties in Central Kentucky.  The 
properties on the endangered list are based on several factors, including historic significance, proximity to proposed or current development, lack of protection from demolition, the condition of the structure, and architectural significance. 

New Jersey 
The State Planning Commission yesterday unanimously approved a new vision for how New Jersey could look 20 years from now if development is targeted to cities and older suburbs  while forests and farmland are preserved.   This plan, an integral part of Gov. Whitman's 1 million acres preservation plan, will be subject to twenty-five public meetings across the state with a final decision in February. 

South Carolina 
The Palmetto Conservation Foundation has released the "Citizen's Guide to Billboard 
Control".  The "Citizen's Guide", the third such guide released by the Foundation, is intended as a resource for South Carolinians interested in questioning the impact of outdoor advertising and enacting some guidelines for scenic protection.  The 20-page booklet gives advice on how to get billboard regulations passed, in addition to shedding light on billboard industry tactics to halt regulations.  For ordering information, please visit 

Utah farmers placed a record number of acres under the state's Agricultural Protection Area (APA) through the first 9 months of 2000.  As of September, 2000, a total of 44,273 acres were placed under protection for the year.  This represents a 74 percent increase in the number of acres protected under the program. Agriculture Protection Areas are designed to protect landowners from civil nuisance complaints and other issues involving standard agricultural activities. 

= = = New Releases = = = 
Poll shows Cities and Suburbs agree on Public Transportation 
The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America has 
released a five-point plan to encourage city reinvestment while also releasing a nationwide poll that found city and suburban residents alike support tax dollars being spent to revitalize central cities. This finding challenges the widely-held belief that cities and suburbs have little in common and are often in conflict with each other over housing, transportation and other community development issues.  The poll found that 68% of city residents and 66% of suburban dwellers said rebuilding cities and relying more on public transportation is the most effective way to solve the impact of sprawl and traffic congestion. 

Office Park Sprawl 
Suburbs now contain the majority of office space in many of the country's top metropolitan office markets, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. Before 1980, central cities dominated the office market, but over the last two decades, office space has become much more dispersed. The old, central-city downtown has lost its primacy in most major office markets.   The report is available at: 

= = = National News = = = 
"Fair Growth" Conference in Atlanta The Fannie Mae Foundation introduced the term "fair growth" at a November 1 conference that, for the first time, took a comprehensive look at the relationship between sprawl, smart growth and social equity.  Panel discussions covered ways in which sprawl -- and the smart growth legislation designed to curb it -- impact social equity issues such as housing affordability. Research to better define sprawl also was introduced and land-use experts, using new, more precise criteria, ranked 13 major metropolitan areas according to sprawl.  To learn more about the conference and read the reports and the rankings for sprawl, visit