Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bridgeport one of ten Environmental Justice Showcase Community EPA says

EPA Announces Environmental Justice Showcase Communities

CONTACT:
Deb Berlin
berlin.deb@epa.gov
202-564-4914
202-564-4355

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2009

EPA Announces Environmental Justice Showcase Communities

WASHINGTON – U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced a national initiative to address environmental justice challenges in 10 communities. EPA has committed $1 million to this effort over the next two years.

“These 10 communities will serve as models for the EPA’s committed environmental justice efforts, and help highlight the disproportionate environmental burdens placed on low-income and minority communities all across the nation,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “By expanding the conversation on environmentalism, we can give a voice to vulnerable groups that haven’t always had a voice on these issues. Our 10 Showcase Communities will provide lessons for how we make every community a better place for people to live, for business to invest and bring jobs, and for opportunities to grow.”

The selected Environmental Justice Showcase Communities will use collaborative, community-based approaches to improve public health and the environment. EPA will provide $100,000 per project to help address concerns in communities disproportionately exposed to environmental risks. These demonstration projects will test and share information on different approaches to increase EPA’s ability to achieve environmental results in communities.

The following locations will serve as Environmental Justice Showcase Communities:

Bridgeport, Connecticut: EPA will build on work that has already taken place to develop community capacity and engagement, identify a broad network of partnerships, and connect with the goals of the city government. Using this past work as a foundation, EPA plans to work collaboratively with a wide-range of stakeholders to develop projects focused on improving indoor air quality, increasing community capacity for green jobs, increasing recycling rates, and reducing asthma and toxics exposure.

Staten Island, New York: EPA will work with the North Shore of Staten Island, a former industrial community that now contains many abandoned, contaminated, and regulated properties along the waterfront. This neighborhood has seen an increase in the number of kids with elevated lead levels in their blood. EPA, in consultation with key community members and state and local health agencies will develop a community-based health strategy for the area.

Washington, D.C.: EPA is building on its environmental justice work with a variety of partners, such as: the District Department of Environment; the District Department of Health; and, local recipients of Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving and Environmental Justice Small Grant awards.

Jacksonville, Florida: EPA will focus on improving environmental and public health outcomes in an area that consists of a predominantly low income and minority population. This area has a number of Superfund sites, brownfields, vacant and abandoned lots or other properties where contamination is suspected, and impacted waterways. EPA will work with its partners, including environmental justice community representatives, to address sites of concern and turn them into an opportunity for residents to collaborate with developers and revitalize their neighborhoods.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: EPA will work to further the redevelopment of the 30th Street Industrial Corridor. The corridor, a former rail line in the north-central part of the city, is home to low income communities of color. This project seeks to improve the human, environmental and economic health of these neighborhoods by redeveloping brownfields along the corridor, implementing environmentally preferable stormwater management practices, and developing urban agriculture.

Port Arthur, Texas: EPA proposes a comprehensive, cross-media pilot project in Port Arthur, Texas, a racially and ethnically diverse population along the Gulf Coastof southeast Texas. This community was severely impacted as a result of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike. Through the EJ Showcase Project, EPA will work with partners to strategically target additional work and supplement ongoing efforts.

Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas: EPA has identified 11 neighborhoods in the metropolitan area that have many risk factors including poor housing conditions and increased exposure to environmental hazards. EPA will conduct an assessment to identify specific sources of pollution and will work with neighborhood leaders to prioritize community concerns. Strategies to address these concerns will be developed through these partnerships.

Salt Lake City, Utah: EPA has chosen six neighborhoods in central and west Salt Lake City as the focus of a Children’s Environmental Health and Environmental Justice initiative. The areas include Glendale, Jordan Meadows, Poplar Grove, Rose Park, State Fairpark and Westpointe. EPA selected the areas based on the presence of several environmental risk factors and the community’s support and past participation in addressing environmental issues. The multi-agency initiative will seek to identify and reduce children’s exposure to contaminants from multiple pathways. EPA will work closely with the community and other federal, state and local agencies to identify issues of concern and develop and apply tools to address those issues. The state of Utah has developed a tracking system that will provide baseline health and environmental data and help the partnership achieve results.

Los Angeles Area Environmental Enforcement Collaborative, California: The densely populated communities closest to the I-710 freeway in Los Angeles Countyare severely impacted by pollution from goods movement and industrial activity. In a multi-year effort, a unique collaboration of federal, state and local governments and community organizations will work together to improve the environmental and public health conditions for residents along this corridor. Partners will identify pollution sources of concern to the community, review agency data sources and develop action plans. One goal is to improve compliance with environmental laws by targeting inspections and enforcement at the state, federal, and local levels to address community concerns.

Yakima, Washington: EPA will address multiple environmental home health stressors in the Latino and tribal communities in the Yakima Valley. A coordinated effort between state, local, and non-profit partners will be used to address the range of exposures found in the community, with a primary focus on reducing exposure through contaminated private well drinking water. This will be accomplished by assessing homes with contaminated wells, providing “treatment at the tap” mitigation, and reducing pollution sources through available regulatory tools and best management practices.

Since 1994, EPA has provided more than $32 million in general funding to more than 1,100 community-based organizations.

More information on environmental justice and the Environmental Justice Showcase Communities:http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice/grants/ej-showcase.html

Monday, November 16, 2009

Spotlight on the jobs crisis conference

In-person attendance to tomorrow's forum, Spotlight on the Jobs Crisis, is filled to capacity. However, the forum will be streamed via the web beginning at 9:00 am.


Go to

Spotlight on the Jobs Crisis

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

9:00 am to 11:00 am (UPDATED TIME)

That the economy is growing again provides hope, but it will not lead to job growth or a lowering of unemployment for many months to come. Therefore, as recovery takes hold, it is ever important that economic policies focus on generating a robust, shared prosperity and millions more jobs as soon as possible. More than fifteen million Americans are out of work, and a third of them have been unemployed for six months or more. Millions more are underemployed.

Moreover, these data obscure what has been a particularly devastating unemployment situation for Hispanic and black workers, whose unemployment rates are at almost 13% and over 15% respectively. EPI estimates that a third of the workforce will be unemployed or underemployed at some point in 2010, with the impact exceeding 40% in minority communities. And, as whole industries shutter with the decline of the manufacturing sector, communities built around good union jobs are withering away.

Join the Economic Policy Institute, in partnership with the AFL-CIO, Center for Community Change, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, NAACP and National Council of La Raza, as we shine a spotlight on the jobs crisis and its devastating impacts on workers and their communities. The Recovery Act has made a critically important contribution to alleviating the worse downturn in several generations, but more needs to be done as soon as possible to generate more jobs. With his recent call for a December summit on jobs, it is clear President Obama shares our sense of urgency.

For more information, email events@epi.org.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Connecticut Under-Invests in Pedestrian Safety

1,000 Friends of Connecticut
Connecticut Bicycle Coalition
Connecticut Association for Community Transportation
Connecticut Livable Streets Campaign
Elm City Cycling
Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority
Regional Plan Association
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
The Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 9, 2009

Media Contact: Ya-Ting Liu
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
212.268.7474 / yating@tstc.org


National Report Shows Connecticut Under-Invests in Pedestrian Safety despite Available Federal Funding; Advocates Urge ConnDOT to Make Pedestrian Safety a Priority

A new national report by Transportation for America and Surface Transportation Policy Partnership finds that although 12.6% of total traffic fatalities in Connecticut were pedestrians in 2008, the state spends less than two percent of available federal transportation dollars to make roads safer for walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

The timely report comes in the wake of five pedestrian fatalities and two near-fatalities in the last two weeks in Manchester, Farmington, West Hartford, Hartford and New Haven. These are tragic reminders that roads designed for speeding cars, without provisions for the safety of people on foot or bicycle are killing both pedestrians and motorists.

Advocates said pedestrian traffic deaths are preventable if the state makes minor changes to transportation policies and funding practices.

“While Connecticut has made strides to become more pedestrian and bike friendly over the past year, residents still face significant danger every time they set foot on Connecticut’s roads,” said Ryan Lynch, senior planner and Connecticut coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a non-profit policy watchdog organization. “Recent and tragic pedestrian fatalities only reinforce the need for Connecticut Department of Transportation to target resources to make roads safer for all users, including drivers, walkers and cyclists.”

The advocates called on Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) to:
• Prioritize pedestrian safety.
• Create and fund Safe Routes to School, Safe Routes to Transit and Safe Routes for Seniors programs.
• Designate at least 10% of federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) money and 10% of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding for programs that prevent traffic injuries and fatalities.
• Implement and expand the Complete Streets legislation passed in 2009.

“In diverse and thriving cities like New Haven, the majority of residents do not drive to work every day. A growing number of Connecticut residents are making the decision to get around their cities and towns on foot, by bicycle or by transit simply because it is so much more convenient than driving. It has been clear for many years that state and federal governments must dramatically recalibrate their transportation investments so that our streets, crosswalks and sidewalks can better serve residents of all ages and abilities,” said Mark Abraham, a Steering Committee member of the Connecticut Livable Streets Campaign.

“As health professionals and students, we believe any sensible effort to stem the rising tide of the obesity, heart disease and diabetes epidemics must consider how to encourage physical activity on the streets of our cities and towns. We applaud the efforts of state and local officials in recognizing the importance of pedestrian safety, but as the Transportation for America report demonstrates, more needs to be done and done urgently,” said Natalie Spicyn and Jonathan Romanyshyn of the Yale Medical Campus Traffic Safety Group.

“One factor that discourages more individuals from using transit is that in many locations walking to and from a bus stop is unsafe, unpleasant or impossible,” said Ron Kilcoyne, General Manager/CEO of Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority.

"Although cycling and walking are generally safe and pleasant ways to travel around our cities, urban infrastructure, traffic volumes, and high rates of aggressive and inattentive driving present significant challenges, both actual and perceived, to many street users including children, the elderly, the disabled, and novice or inexperienced cyclists and pedestrians," said Bill Kurtz of Elm City Cycling.

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT

JOB ANNOUNCEMENT

1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut, a Hartford-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting principles of responsible, sustainable economic growth compatible with a healthy environment, seeks a Chief Executive Officer to manage its day-to-day operations. Working with a Board of Trustees, the CEO will be responsible for program development and administration, communications, personnel, budget, and finance.

The purpose of 1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut is to mobilize a broad-based membership representing diverse interests affected by growth and development in Connecticut, including transportation, housing, land use planning and open space, and tax policy. We support, advocate and promote community vitality and encourage growth throughout Connecticut, and we work to expand and strengthen these in Connecticut Communities.

Duties include working with the Board to:
*Facilitate strategic planning for the organization
* Coordinate and manage the organization’s advocacy and education goals
*Coordinate and manage fundraising activities
* Represent the organization in the public eye
*Grow the organization’s public profile
*Oversee budgeting and financial management

Salary commensurate with experience.

Please send cover letter, resume, writing sample, references, and salary requirements to info@1000Friends-ct.org by November 24 (subject line Resume).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes

Can't wait to see how these fixes compare with the model smart growth zoning code being prepared by students at the UCONN Law School this semester!

EPA Announcement below:

Across the country, local governments are searching for ways to create vibrant communities that attract jobs, foster economic development, and are attractive places for people to live, work, and play. But many are discovering that their own land development codes and ordinances often get in the way of achieving these goals, and they may not have the resources or expertise to make the specific regulatory changes that will create more sustainable communities.

To respond to this need, EPA's Smart Growth Program convened a panel of national smart growth code experts to identify the topics in local zoning codes that are essential to creating the building blocks of smart growth. This document, Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes, presents the panel's initial work. It is an evolving document, one that will be regularly revised, added to, and updated, and is intended to spark a larger conversation about the tools and information local governments need to revise their land development regulations.

The document explores 11 "Essential Fixes"; addressing the most common barriers local governments face in implementing smart growth. Topics include mixing land uses, fixing parking requirements, modernizing street standards, managing stormwater, and adopting smart annexation policies, among others. Each Essential Fix describes the problem or barrier and the actions that the community could take to overcome that barrier. These actions are organized as modest adjustments, major modifications, or wholesale changes to give communities options based on their political will, financial resources, and organizational capacity. Communities can apply parts of fixes or multiple fixes or entirely overhaul their codes.

This tool does not include model language, nor is it intended to provide model codes or ordinances (click here to find some specific examples of codes that support smart growth development). The information here, however, can help communities evaluate their existing codes and ordinances and apply the information to create more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable communities. This document focuses primarily on barriers in suburban and urban communities. Similar issues regarding rural development will be addressed in a subsequent document that is planned for release in January 2010.

We intend to continually revise, update, and expand the information provided here. Please send comments, feedback, or suggestions to the EPA project manager, Kevin Nelson, AICP, at nelson.kevin@epa.gov or 202-566-2835.

************

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Field Hearing & Community

Don't you love the term "development community"? I like it almost as much as "environmental community" or "business community" or "nonprofit community".

But we who live in and among all those "communities" know they aren't homogenous groups with single agendas.

We need to be sure that when the "development community" speaks it includes the voices of Connecticut's green builders, sustainable development professionals, affordable housing developers, and includes not-for-profit as well as for-profit developers.

Below is an announcement of a field hearing on the state plan for the "development community".

_________________________________________________________________
To The Smart Growth Working Group:

Below is a reminder about a field meeting scheduled for Thursday, November 5th at 3 pm in Wallingford regarding the State Plan of Conservation and Development.

As I mentioned at our last meeting, the Continuing Committee of the State Plan of C&D is following through on one of our bills - P.A. 09-230 - by holding a series of public meetings about how the State Plan is developed and how we can best incorporate Smart Growth principles into the next iteration of the Plan. This meeting was specifically requested by those in the development community as well as from towns to hear about the practical impacts of the State Plan at the ground level. This is the second of three planned meetings between now and the holidays, after which time the Continuing Committee will begin developing a report to the General Assembly about its findings.

A link to directions is included below. Hope you can attend, and feel free to pass this information on to others who may be interested.

Rep. Brendan Sharkey
88th District - Hamden


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


To All Members of the Continuing Committee on State Planning and Development:

There will be a meeting on 11/5/09 at 3PM at The Willows in Wallingford. This meeting serves as part of the informational hearings we are holding on recommendations to update the State Plan of Conservation and Development. We hope to educate ourselves on how the State Plan affects professionals on the frontline, specifically our engineers and town planners. We ask that all members attend so that we may engage in discussion and get some practical input on the state plan at the local level. For directions to The Willows (located at 751 N Farms Road Wallingford CT) please reference the following link.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Local Elections in 162/169 Towns

Local government is where the rubber hits the road. Find out where candidates in your town stand on compact/mixed use zoning, traffic calming, bike lanes, sidewalks, brownfield clean up, affordable housing, historic preservation, farmland protection and securing priority open space.

Know who you're voting for. Then, VOTE!

Friday, October 30, 2009

ONE THOUSAND FRIENDS OF CONNECTICUT ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN LEADERSHIP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FOR MORE INFORMATION:
October 30, 2009 Susan Merrow. 860-537-5302

ONE THOUSAND FRIENDS OF CONNECTICUT ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN LEADERSHIP

The Board of Trustees of 1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut announced today that its President and CEO, Heidi Green, will be taking her leave of that position in late November. Heidi Green has held that position since September of 2005, having come on Board as 1000 Friends’ first full-time staff person. “We have learned and grown so much under Heidi’s guidance these last few years. We will be sad to say goodbye, and we will be working even harder to capitalize on her hard work,” said Susan Merrow, Board Chairperson. “Heidi has put us on the map in the smart growth public policy arena. Her tireless promotion of the principles of rational, sustainable growth, sensible land-use planning, better transportation and tax policies have left their mark on our state, its laws, and policies. We wish her all the best, and we will welcome her back as one of our most valued ‘FRIENDS’,” Merrow continued. The Board of 1000 Friends has begun the process of seeking a new CEO. Heidi Green will be joining the leadership giving staff of Trinity College. 10000 FRIENDS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the principle of smart growth in Connecticut through an educated citizenry and the promotion of sound public policy.

In the last year alone,
• the organization saw legislative success. We helped make it easier to clean up environmentally-contaminated sites, reuse historic mill buildings, finance green developments, and make our streets more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly;
• our Smart Growth Project Evaluation Team endorsed and publicized three smart growth real estate developments: Storrs Center, in Mansfield; 360 State Street in New Haven; and MetroGreen Apartments in Stamford; and
• we gave our first ever award -- the Smartie -- to Smart Growth Champ Tom Condon, indefatigable Hartford Courant columnist and Place Section editor, at our Fourth Annual Meeting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Smart Growth America President Cheers Senate Climate Action

SGA Partners,

I wanted to be the first to give you the great news. Thanks to your
efforts to educate your Senators on the many benefits that smart
growth and green transportation strategies have for the environment,
the economy, and quality of life we were able to get an increase in
funding in the Senate climate bill for these strategies.

The latest version of the Senate's Clean Energy Jobs and American
Power Act includes about 2.4% for smart growth and transportation, up
from a max of 1% in the House climate legislation. While this might
look small, this achievement should not be underestimated. We were up
against many other interests for additional funding from the bill,
including industry groups with deep pockets and better access. Our
efforts couldn't have succeeded without the help of our national
partners to go to Capitol Hill and convince Senators of the benefits
of these strategies and especially the help of all of you in the field
telling your Senators that their constituents want these investments.

I think we should all take a moment to celebrate this victory. But,
we need to realize that this isn't the end. We will continue to work
to increase the revenue going to smart growth and green transportation
to 5%, while at the same time protecting the policy language and
funding we currently do have. Kate and Stephanie will continue to keep
you updated as the climate bill moves forward so please keep an eye
out for their messages.


Thanks again,

Geoff

Geoffrey Anderson
President and CEO
Smart Growth America
1707 L St. NW
Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20036

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October Smart Growth ENews

Hot off the presses, 1000 Friends of Connecticut's October ENews.


As always, to subscribe or unsubscribe to the newsletter.

DODD MEETS WITH NEW METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN

Washington, D.C. – Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) met with Jay Walder, the new Chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, today to discuss how to improve Metro-North service in Connecticut. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Dodd oversees transit issues and will be responsible for transit as Congress takes up a major rewrite of transportation law in the coming months.

“Chairman Walder and I had a good discussion about the challenges facing Metro-North and how we can improve it to make sure that Connecticut residents can count on Metro-North for fast, safe, reliable travel every day,” said Dodd. “Thanks to stimulus funding, we’ve already begun work to upgrade the Danbury branch line, extending safer and more reliable rail service to communities all the way from Norwalk to Danbury. As I told Chairman Walder, I’m committed to improving the Metro North experience for passengers and expanding it to encourage more Connecticut residents to take advantage of what it has to offer.”

Dodd is working to expand transit opportunities in Connecticut and across the country.

In April, Dodd held a field hearing in New Haven to discuss the transit challenges facing Connecticut. Metro North President Howard Permut testified, along with Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Marie and several other transit experts. Dodd is also working to develop the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line, bringing Connecticut officials to Washington to meet with leaders of the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Railroad Administration, and inviting federal officials to Connecticut.

Earlier this year, Dodd passed a measure to allow transit agencies to use up to 10 percent of the funding they receive under the Recovery Act to cover operating expenses to help transit agencies prevent fare increases, avoid lay-offs, furloughs and significant cuts in service.

Dodd has also introduced the Livable Communities Act, a bill to help local communities plan and implement projects that improve transportation, housing, and economic development.

The MTA the largest public transportation agency in the country, carrying 2.8 billion passengers a year on New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North, Long Island Bus and MTA Bus. Metro-North’s New Haven Line, which Metro-North operates for the Connecticut DOT, is the largest commuter rail line in the nation and in 2008 carried 38 million of Metro-North's 84 million passengers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Benefits on reusing dirty sites and GHG reductions

The EPA recently released a report that quantifies the climate-changing greenhouse gas imacts of sprawling land use development and the benefits of reusing brownfield sites. It estimates GHG emissions related to greenfield development -- from the “decay and release of organic carbon to the atmosphere… bio‐carbon can be released from soil, plants, and dead organic matter, such as leaf litter.” The study concludes that these bio-carbon releases may comprise 4 percent of total GHG emissions.

The report also calls particular attention to the potential to reduce GHG emissions by converting “EPA-tracked contaminated land for utility-scale solar and wind,” and “increasing re-cycling of construction debris.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Coalition for an Accountable Recovery to advise media on Recovery.gov data

October 9, 2009

For Immediate Release

Contact: Michelle Lee 202-232-1616 x 211

Or Brian Gumm at 202-683-4812



Coalition for an Accountable Recovery to Advise

Media on Recovery.gov Data Ahead of 10/15 Release



Washington, DC – The Coalition for an Accountable Recovery (CAR) will convene a telephone briefing on Tuesday, October 13th for journalists covering the first quarterly round of spending data from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which is due out on Thursday October 15th.


The purpose of the briefing will be to: review those forms of ARRA spending that will be disclosed (and those that will not); to review what is known about what the data will show; and to answer any questions reporters have about this and future data releases. (Much more data will be issued October 30th.)


The briefing will be led by Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, and Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First. The two organizations co-chair CAR.


Date: Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Time: 1:00 pm Eastern
Call-in: 219-509-8020
Code 287971


The Coalition for an Accountable Recovery
(CAR) was formed in February 2009 by about 30 groups to promote transparency and accountability in the $787 billion Recovery Act. In numerous communications, meetings and public events since, it has helped diverse organizations learn more about the act and participate in the debate over its implementation.


OMB Watch is a nonprofit group founded in 1983 to promote government transparency and accountability, equitable regulatory and budgetary processes and policies, and active citizen participation in our democracy. Good Jobs First is a nonprofit founded in 1998 to promote corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families.

So, you want to help your community develop sustainably, but you don’t know how?

A new report takes a comprehensive look at the state of tools municipalities can use to model and evaluate relative climate change benefits earned by developing differently. The tools it explores can be employed at the project, neighborhood and metropolitan scale. It summarizes the relationship between urban form and climate change and features four case studies on how tools are being used today.

We won’t be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with technology alone, we will need to combine technological change with changes in our behaviors, transportation priorities, building design and placement, economic development strategies, and fair housing policy. In Connecticut, most planning is done locally, these tools offer ways for volunteers and town staff to develop the analysis they need to plan successful and sustainable communities.

The tools discussed are:
• Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings;
• Community Energy and Emissions Inventory;
• Community Viz;
• Development Pattern Approach;
• Energy Demand Characterization;
• Envision Tomorrow;
• INDEX and Cool Spots;
• I-PLACE3S ;
• MetroQuest;
• Neighborhood Explorations the View of Density;
• Tool for Evaluating Neighbourhood Sustainability; and
• UPlan.

The report is Urban Planning Tools for Climate Change. Its authors are: Patrick M. Condon, Duncan Cavens, and Nicole Miller. It was published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and is available for purchase in hard copy or free download at www.lincolninst.edu.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Obama orders guidelines for locating federal buildings in or near central business districts and transit

Lee Epstein of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation reported, "President Obama issued an Executive Order Oct. 5 instructing federal agencies to set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets for 2020 within 90 days.

The order also requires a 30 percent reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020, a 26 percent improvement in water efficiency at federal agencies, a 50 percent recycling and waste diversion rate by 2015, and a requirement for federal buildings to achieve net-zero energy use by 2030.

Agencies also will be required to use federal contracts to promote environmentally responsible products and technologies and follow forthcoming guidelines for locating federal buildings in or near central business districts and close to transit.

'As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies,' Obama said in a statement.
Obama said the order 'builds on the momentum' of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Pub. L. No. 111-5) 'to help create a clean energy economy and demonstrates the federal government's commitment, over and above what is already being done, to reducing emissions and saving money.'

According to the White House, the federal government 'occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles, employs more than 1.8 million civilians, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services.'

Obama's order builds on Executive Order 13423, signed by former President Bush in 2007, which set goals for federal agencies in energy and resource conservation and pollution reduction, the White House said (16 DEN A-1, 1/25/07).

Taxpayer benefits include substantial energy savings and reduced costs due to improved efficiency, the White House said.

Under the order, each agency will develop and implement an integrated strategic sustainability performance plan for meeting the goals of the order. Implementation will be managed through the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, working in close partnership with the Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the agencies."

Governor Rell, give you any ideas?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Transportation and Smart Growth Provisions in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Through Transportation Efficiency (Sec. 112) and Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Program Grants (Sec. 113)


Policy

Section 112 of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act integrates accountability for reducing greenhouse gasses (GHG) into transportation planning and infrastructure decisions. Below is a brief summary of the provisions of Sec. 112.

National Transportation GHG Reduction Goal

Directs the EPA Administrator to consult with the DOT Secretary to establish a national goal for transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions reductions commensurate with the goal in the overall bill, recognizing the need for complementary actions beyond the cap to reduce emissions in the transportation sector. EPA and DOT assess progress toward reducing transportation-related GHGs every 6 years.

Models and Methodologies

EPA in consultation with DOT develops models, methodologies and best practices for states and regions to use when developing transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and plans.

DOT in consultation with EPA improves transportation planning models, tools and can update planning requirements to meet the goals of this section.

Transportation Planning Process to Include Oil & Sustainability Considerations

Amends the state and MPO transportation planning process to add additional factors to consider, as well as additional agencies to coordinate with when doing developing their long range transportation plans:

Adds to the policy section that is in the national interest for transportation planning decisions to: reduce (replacing minimize) fuel consumption, as well as minimizing reliance on oil, impacts on the environment, and transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Adds to planning factors that should be considered in the transportation planning process to include: promote sustainability and livability, reduce surface transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on oil, adapt to the effects of climate change, improve public health. These factors get added to an existing factor that deals with the environment, energy, and quality of life. Also includes need to promote consistency between transportation improvements and housing and land use patterns.

MPO long-range transportation plans must be developed in cooperation with state and local agencies responsible for transportation, public transportation, air quality, and housing, and in consultation with public health agencies among other agencies.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets and Strategies in State and MPO Planning

Amends the state and metropolitan planning process to include transportation-related greenhouse gas reduction targets and strategies and increase coordination between agencies:

Requires States and large MPOs (above 200,000) to develop surface transportation related greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and strategies within two years of final regulations from EPA. Smaller MPOs can opt-in to the process.

Sets minimum requirements for these targets and strategies that they should:
* Demonstrate progress in stabilizing and reducing emissions;
* Inventory surface transportation related GHG emissions;
* Apply to modes of surface transportation addressed within the existing planning process
* Use the models and methodologies developed by EPA and DOT;
* Be integrated into state and MPO transportation plans and TIPS;
* Use scenario analysis to evaluate the emission reduction effects of a variety of strategies including: public transportation, walking and biking infrastructure, zoning and land use changes, travel demand management (including pricing, telecommuting, carpooling), better system management, intercity passenger rail, bus and freight, hybrid vehicle facilities, and other efforts that are shown to reduce GHGs from transportation.
* Requires each MPO and state to publish these plans and targets on their website and submit to the DOT Secretary as a part of their regular long range transportation plans.

DOT and EPA will review and approve the greenhouse gas emission reduction plans based on whether the plan is likely to achieve the greenhouse gas emission target and complies with the minimum requirements.

There is no penalty for non-compliance, except that the state or MPO is not eligible for the funding described below.

Funding

Section 113 of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act creates a planning grant for all MPOs and a competitive grant program to provide funding for states and MPOs to implement transportation-related greenhouse gas reduction plans. This program is funded with 10% of revenue dedicated to the “State and Local Investment in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy” fund in Section 202. Separately, public transportation agencies receive 45% of the funding from the “State Climate Change Response and Transportation Fund” for existing transit formula programs. (The overall allowances dedicated to these programs, which determines their funding level, were not included in the legislation and are expected to be released in 1-3 weeks.)

Planning & Competitive Grant Program (in the State and Local Investment in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy” fund, Section 202)
Maximum of 5% of funds in this section for MPOs to develop the greenhouse gas reduction plans, distributed by formula based on population.
DOT in consultation with EPA would develop a criteria for distributing the remaining funds as grants to states and MPOs for projects and programs within transportation greenhouse gas reduction plans. The federal share is 80%. The formula takes into account:
* Quantity of GHG reductions estimated from plan
* Cost-effectiveness of GHG reductions over the life of the plan
* Progress toward achieving reductions
* Reductions previously achieved
* Plans that address mobility needs of people without cars, with low incomes, minorities, the elderly, disabled, etc
* Other factors such as innovative approaches, economic development, and other benefits.

States and MPOs can sub-grant funds to local governments, air quality agencies, zoning commissions, transit agencies and other non-eligible public entities.

Transit Funding (in the State Climate Change Response and Transportation Fund)
Allocates 45% of this fund to public transportation agencies, which can be used for capital needs and preventative maintenance (as well as potentially operating assistance in areas under 200,000), which is distributed as follows:
* 80% to urbanized areas through section 5307 of title 49
* 10% to areas other than urbanized ones through section 5311 of title 49
* 10% to states via the growing and high density states formula through section 5340 of title 49

Thank you, Smart Growth America.

Find out more about bus rapid transit and follow Cleveland's lead

A coalition of six organizations (Center for Public Policy and Social Research at CCSU, Fund for the Environment, Capitol Region Council of Governments, Regional Plan Association, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and Connecticut Fund for the Environment) is sponsoring a Bus Rapid Transit Symposium on October 15, 2009, from 9 am to 12 pm, in Room 2B of the LOB.

The agenda will include an expert panel with our keynote speaker, Joseph Calabrese (see below for more information), representatives from CONNDOT, the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute, and regional planning agencies, among others. As Connecticut legislators with experience and special interest in this area of public policy, your attendance would bring a significant and valuable practical perspective to the subject matter under discussion.

The event is being widely publicized by the participating organizations. A flyer for the event is attached. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you on the morning of October 15.

Sincerely,


Steve Kliger, Executive Director

Center for Public Policy and Social Research

Central Connecticut State University


On behalf of: Tri-State Transportation Campaign, The Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Regional Plan Association, Capitol Region Council of Governments, Transit for Connecticut, and Fund for the Environment.



Keynote Speaker Biography:



Joseph A. Calabrese, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is the keynote speaker. The RTA oversees the HealthLine, the recently opened and acclaimed BRT system that connects the city’s cultural, educational, medical and business centers, as well as local businesses in between. The HealthLine has generated over $4 billion in investment, is helping to revitalize Cleveland and Northeast Ohio and already exceeds projected ridership levels. For more information, see

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Active Transportation is Transformational!

This weekend Parade magazine had an article about Columbia, Missouri and how investments in Active Transportation are transforming how people get around town.

Columbia is one of the four pilot cities receiving federal funds for investments in non motorized transportation. The 2010 Active Transportation Campaign which is spearheaded by the Rails to Trails conservancy is working to bring this same kind of funding to many more communities in the country.

We developed the latest CRCOG Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan to position our region to be eligible for this funding.


Read about Columbia and dream about a transformed Hartford region!



Sandy Fry
Principal Transportation Planner
Capitol Region Council of Governments

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bond Commission Approves Funding for West Haven Station

Some Democratic legislators were a little bit cranky about it, but the Bond Commission, meeting for the first time since April, approved $103 million for the West Haven Train Station.

The crankiness seems justified. The legislature approved the project based on a Department of Transportation estimate half this big. ConnDot's original estimate to build the station was $49 million, a somewhat later estimate came in at $60 million. The spokesperson from ConnDOT said the agency is reworking how they estimate projects and assured the legislators the agency would do better in the future.

A quick Web search on the evolution of the project's plans came up empty. The Congress for the New Urbanism hosted a community charette on the project last year. At that time, plans were already well on underway. Were any of its recommendations included? There is this plan for the station, but is this what they're building?

Monday, September 21, 2009

DC Update from Smart Growth America

September 21, 2009

Senate Passes the FY2010 Transportation and Housing Spending Bill
LEGISLATION MOVES TO CONFERENCE COMMITTEE

After almost a week of debate over amendments, the Senate has approved its $122 billion FY 2010 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill by a vote of 73 to 25. The House approved its version of the bill on July 23 by a vote of 256-168. The discretionary funding levels in the bill vary just slightly between the Senate and House versions, with the Senate spending $67.7 billion and the House providing $68.8 billion. The most significant difference is over spending on high-speed rail and funding for a National Infrastructure Bank. The Administration has made it clear that funding for high-speed rail is a priority issue for them. The White House has sought $1 billion a year for high-speed rail over the next five years. Smart Growth America is supporting the higher level of funding for high speed rail included in the Senate bill.

These bills also include $150 million for HUD's new sustainable communities effort, which will largely help fund planning grants to communities and regions. HUD will be releasing a process for the structure and application of those grants sometime after final passage of the appropriations bill.

During the week prior to passage, Senate Republicans offered a number of amendments to the bill in an attempt to strip all earmarked funding. The failed amendments included an amendment from John McCain (R-AZ) to block funding for HUD's brownfields economic development program and an amendment from Tom Coburn (R-OK) to remove a requirement that states spend 10 percent of their highway and transit cash on transportation enhancement projects, such as pedestrian and bike paths, scenic and historic highway programs, and environmental mitigation (See the vote for the Coburn amendment).

The Senate did pass an amendment offered by Senator Wicker (R-MS) that requires Amtrak to allow passengers to transport their guns in their checked luggage or lose their funding if they fail to comply within 6 months. This language was adopted by a vote of 68-30.

The Senate and House conferees are expected to meet in the next few weeks to work out the differences between the bills. The version approved by the House does not include the amendment related to firearms on Amtrak.

Senate Begins Work on FY 2010 Interior-Environment Spending Bill
LEGISLATION INCLUDES FUNDING FOR EPA SMART GROWTH OFFICE

On Thursday, the Senate began debate on the FY 2010 Interior and Environment appropriations bill before completing the Transportation-HUD bill. Debate on amendments will continue on Monday with more votes scheduled for Tuesday. The bill includes $32.1 billion in discretionary spending, which is a $4.5 billion increase over 2009 levels, but slightly less than the $32.3 billion in the House-passed bill and $225 million less than requested by the Administration.

It includes $5.146 million for the EPA smart growth office, as requested by the Administration, and close to Smart Growth America's request for $6 million. Funding for the Smart Growth office is not expected to be targeted by amendments, but debate will be monitored.

Congress Expected to Address Transportation Authorization with Extension
SAFETEA-LU SET TO EXPIRE SEPTEMBER 30

Legislation to reform and fully fund the aging national surface transportation system has been placed on the backburner for much of the summer. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN), who once spoke strongly against any delay, is now pushing for a 3-month extension. Three Senate bills that were approved by committees before the August recess have been consolidated into one. The bill, which would extend the current transportation law by 18 months and transfer $20 billion into the Highway Trust Fund, is expected to be brought to the floor this week.

Decisions on an extension will have to play out before the current law expires on September 30, 2009. Although many lawmakers are calling for quick action on this issue, history is not on their side. SAFETEA-LU was signed into law two years and 12 extensions after its predecessor was scheduled to expire.

Senate Climate Legislation Expected in the Coming Weeks
PRESSURE ON SENATORS NEEDED TO ENSURE FUNDING FOR TRANSPORTATION

Senator Boxer is expected to release the Senate's version of comprehensive climate legislation at the end of September. The House passed their version of the climate bill in June, which only allocates up to 1% for green transportation. Action is needed to ensure that the Senate bill dedicates more funding to support planning and green transportation, as in CLEAN-TEA which allocates 10% of funding for these purposes.

TAKE ACTION: Call and email Senator Dodd and Senator Leiberman today and ask them to tell Senator Boxer that significant funding for green transportation is needed to create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, which makes up about 1/3 of emissions in the U.S.

Visit the SGA Advocacy Center for more information and talking points.

Comments on Housing Finance Authority's Allocation Plan

September 17, 2009
Ms. Delbe Speth, Manager
Tax Credit Programs, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority
999 West Street
Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Dear Ms. Speth:

1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut is the state’s preeminent smart growth education and advocacy organization. Affordable housing is a lynchpin of smart growth, and we are pleased to submit the following comments regarding the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority’s draft Qualified Allocation Plan.

We commend CHFA’s staff, executive leadership and board for expressing a commitment to responsible growth in the policy discussion of the QAP. We suggest that the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority be proactive and adopt the definition and principles of smart growth in the policy guidance. Public Act 09-230 requires the definition and principles become an integral part of the next iteration of the state’s Comprehensive Plan of Conservation and Development and the QAP maintains consistency with that plan.

The definition of smart growth and smart growth principles are as follows:

(1) "Smart growth" means economic, social and environmental development that (A) promotes, through financial and other incentives, economic competitiveness in the state while preserving natural resources, and (B) utilizes a collaborative approach to planning, decision-making and evaluation between and among all levels of government and the communities and the constituents they serve; and

(2) "Principles of smart growth" means standards and objectives that support and encourage smart growth when used to guide actions and decisions, including, but not limited to, standards and criteria for (A)integrated planning or investment that coordinates tax, transportation, housing, environmental and economic development policies at the state, regional and local level, (B) the reduction of reliance on the property tax by municipalities by creating efficiencies and coordination of services on the regional level while reducing interlocal competition for grand list growth, (C) the redevelopment of existing infrastructure and resources, including, but not limited to brownfields and historic places, (D) transportation choices that provide alternatives to automobiles, including rail, public transit, bikeways and walking, while reducing energy consumption, (E) the development or preservation of housing affordable to households of varying income in locations proximate to transportation or employment centers or locations compatible with smart growth, (F) concentrated, mixed-use, mixed income development proximate to transit nodes and civic, employment or cultural centers, and (G) the conservation and protection of natural resources by (i) preserving open space, water resources, farmland, environmentally sensitive areas and historic properties, and (ii) furthering energy efficiency.

On close analysis of the eligible points an applicant might earn, a discrepancy appears between what is articulated as a policy goal and how points accumulate. 1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut suggests the following modifications to incent affordable housing creation that better comports with smart, sustainable, responsible growth.
There are three areas in which 1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut suggests changes: first, transportation costs are second only to housing costs generally and, for many households, transportation costs actually exceed housing costs. The cost of transportation as a percentage of household income is highest among the lowest-income households. Transportation costs of people with access to transit are 25percent lower than for people who have no choice but to drive. Housing built in the wrong locations means driving is not a convenient alternative, but an expensive necessity. As the world in which we live becomes increasingly more carbon-constrained, there will be new costs associated with living in nontransit-accessible areas in the form of vehicle miles travelled taxes or carbon off-sets, etc. Creating incentives for affordable housing near transit saves low-income households money now and will save even more in the future. We suggest that applications that are within ½ mile of fixed route transit (bus rapid transit and passenger/commuter rail) be awarded General Class I priority status.

A key concept behind smart or responsible growth is creating balance between housing and jobs, yet the draft allocation plan gives no special consideration to housing built within walkable distances to employment centers. We recommend that D.2. be edited to add housing units within ½ mile of a major employer.

There is logical inconsistency in the point allocation of the Responsible Growth section. A site located within a 5-minute walk of a downtown area with a bank and a full-service grocery store should be assigned significantly more points than units within one mile of a rural community center which is likely to mean a now-empty post office, a Congregational Church and a former Grange Hall converted into a town office building. We recommend that D.9. be eliminated and D.2. be assigned 4 points.

One final general concern is the point allocation gives preference for low per-unit costs. This skews toward applications in places where the land values, site preparation and site security costs are low, and where there are no neighbors to request community benefits, etc. Point allocations for infill, brownfield remediation, historic preservation, building reuse, and community participation should be higher to clearly off-set the perceived preference for greenfield development.

1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut thanks you for your good work to house our low-income friends and stabilize our communities. We also thank you for the opportunity to comment and hope that you will make these changes to reinforce smart, sustainable, responsible growth in Connecticut.

Sincerely,

The Board and Staff of 1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut


Heidi Green, President

Friday, September 18, 2009

CT's Request for High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Funding

New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Line - Double tracking 8/24/2009 1A Installation of 10.5 miles of new track between Meriden and Berlin on the NHHS Line - Includes signal and grade crossing work. Provides double track segment extension in critical section of NHHS line to increase line capacity for designated HSP corridor.
Project Total $58,725,000 Federal $$ Requested $41,105,500

New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Line - Double tracking 8/24/2009 1B Preliminary Engineering and the NEPA documentation for double tracking the entire NHHS corridor. In conjunction with 1A application listed above. Includes other associated ROW work (signal, interlocking, grade crossing, bridge repair).
Project Total $9,300,000 Federal $$ Requested $9,300,000

New Haven Line (NHL) Signal and Positive Train Control (PTC) systems 8/24/2009 1B Preliminary Engineering and the NEPA documentation for designing new signal system (inlcluding PTC) on the NHL (part of the NEC). Existing signal system requires replacement. New signal system will increase capacity and MAS on NHL.
Project Total $13,483,582 Federal $$ Requested $13,483,582

Shore Line East (SLE) Stations - North side platforms, pedestrian overpasses, parking improvements (includes new Westbrook station) 8/24/2009 1B Completes preliminary engineering and NEPA documentation for this project (CT has previously committed state funds for this project). Currently, there are single-sided station platforms on the south side. Double-sided station platforms will reduce congestion.
Project Total $300,000 Federal $$ Requested $300,000

Reestablish 4th Track (Track 3) between New Haven and Devon on New Haven Line (NHL) 8/24/2009 1B Completes preliminary engineering and NEPA documentation for this project (CT has previously committed state funds for this project). Reestablishes 4-track NHL main line section on critical NEC segment to increase capacity and reduce congestioon.

Project Total Approx $600,000 Federal $$ Requested $600,000


Total CT $82,408,582 Federal Share $64,789,082

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Urbanists Work to Change International Fire Code

The Congress for the New Urbanism has proposed changes to the International Fire Code to give local fire officials greater flexibility in street design.

The September 2009 issue of the New Urban News reports the proposed changes have been developed jointly by new urbanists and fire marshals. They'll be debated at the International Code Council's Annual Conference & Code Development Hearings in Baltimore, MD on October 24 to 26th. To find out more about the event and the suggested code.

Smart growth & local elections

"Smart growth is just a euphemism for controlled, centralized planning by the apparatchiks of the Democratic Party and the permanent government. It's an elitist, centralized planning model that decides who gets to build.'' Chris Keating quoted Republican Party Chair Chris Healy on smart growth in his blog.

Smart Growth means putting the right development in the right places. It's good development, plain and simple, circumspect and outcomes-oriented. It seeks to benefit our economy, our environment and our society.

Members of your town committees will be out in force the next few weeks looking for your vote for the Board of Selectmen, Town Council, Mayor, Zoning Board, etc. Take time to educate them on the theory and practice of smart growth.

Ask for their commitment to, if elected, adopt plans, implement policies and prioritize investments to support smart, sustainable development in our towns & regions.

You got to hand it to Healy, his rhetoric is plenty entertaining. But what we need, given the challenges we face, is sensible, sober, smart growth.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

1000 Friends Requests Copy of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

September 16th DECD has posted the plan.

Govenor Rell's press release announcing the plan.
___________________________________________
September 4, 2009

Honorable M. Jodi Rell, Governor
Connecticut Office of the Governor
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Governor Rell:

I am writing to request a copy, under the Freedom of Information Act, of the approximately 600-page document sent by the Department of Economic and Community Development to the Office of the Governor to meet the July 1, 2009 deadline for submission of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy referenced in Public Act 07-239 page 13 (11)(d). I also request copies of any communication between the Governor’s Office and the Department of Economic and Community Development pertaining to and subsequent to the Department’s submission.

Please send copies to me electronically at hegreen at 1000friends-ct dot org. Alternatively, I am happy to retrieve them from your staff. Please feel free to contact me on my cell phone at 203/715-3185. Thank you very much.
Sincerely,

Heidi Green, President
1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut

____________________________________________________________________________________

September 4, 2009

Ms. Joan McDonald, Commissioner
Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Commissioner McDonald:

I am writing to request a copy, under the Freedom of Information Act, of the approximately 600-page document sent by the Department of Economic and Community Development to the Office of the Governor to meet the July 1, 2009 deadline for submission of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy referenced in Public Act 07-239 page 13 (11)(d). I also request copies of any communication between the Governor’s Office and the Department of Economic and Community Development pertaining to and subsequent to the Department’s submission.

Please send copies to me electronically at hegreen@1000friends-ct.org. Alternatively, I am happy to retrieve them from your staff. Please feel free to contact me on my cell phone at 203/715-3185. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Heidi Green, President
1000 FRIENDS of Connecticut


CT's missing economic development strategic plan
CTNews Junkie article on the plan.
Commerce Committee Co-chair, Senator Gary LeBeau comments on the status of the
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Mayor Dan Malloy comments on the status of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

DECD General Counsel sent an email response to 1000 Friends' request saying, "DECD has not yet submitted anything, and therefore does not have a document responsive to your request. Simply put, we are late." The email was sent September 11th at 2:26 PM.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wining Suburban Redesigns

Reburbia announces the winners of its competition to redesign the suburbs!

The competition called for design solutions that would address the problems that plague present-day suburbia by envisioning different scenarios for the future. Proposals tackled McMansions, big box stores, strip malls, parking lots and more with design fixes ranging from community agriculture and algae-based biofuels to transplanted tract developments and zeppelin-based transit.

The competition drew 400 entries from more than a dozen countries, and while it was quite a challenge to narrow them down to twenty finalists, culling that list into just 4 winning entries proved almost impossible. In the end, there could only be one grand prize winner – read on to see the triumphant design!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Budget Follow Up

Governor Rell announced the end of the biennial budget battle. In an end-of-day press conference, she said she wouldn't sign the budget but she won't kill it either. In five days, it goes into effect. But, first, she nickeled and dimed a bit, using her line item veto to cut $8 Million of the $37 Billion in programs and services that managed to escape the chain saw of those seeking to clear-cut state government.

Until the budget implementer is approved, we won't know the full extent of the cuts to smart growth programs. We do know transit funding, regional planning organizations, housing programs, and Main Street programs all are impacted. We also know the Departments of Environmental Protection, Economic and Community Development and Transportation experienced significant losses of staff who chose to take early retirement.

The budget that passed will not propel the state forward through the economic downturn. It remains to be seen just how much sand the cuts and the debt it contains will throw into the gears of our recovery.

For today, please take time to thank the members of the House and Senate who voted for the budget. They protected us from deeper cuts. And they had the courage to infuse a little bit of much-needed progressivity into our state tax system.

If your Senator or Representative voted against the budget, please share your disappointment with them. The vote tally is here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Driving and the Built Environment

The long awaited TRB report "Driving and the Built Environment: The Effects of Compact Development on Motorized Travel, Energy Use, and CO2 Emissions" was released today.

About the TRB Report


We’re excited that TRB took on the important work of examining the contribution that development patterns play in climate change and our energy usage, concluding that ‘policies that support more compact, mixed-use development and reinforce its ability to reduce VMT, energy use, and CO2 emissions should be encouraged.’ Since nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of our oil use are from the transportation sector, we’re not going to be able to reach our climate and energy goals without reductions in vehicle miles traveled.

The report confirms what the dozens of studies before it showed, as well: that making our communities more walkable, connected, and with better transportation choices can make a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions, oil usage, and vehicle miles traveled. And the report finds, as real world communities have, that the other benefits of moving to more smart growth-oriented development are significant: ‘More compact, mixed-use development should reduce some infrastructure costs, increase the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of public transit, and expand housing choices where compact developments are undersupplied. Other benefits include less conversion of agricultural and other environmentally fragile areas and greater opportunities for physical activity by facilitating the use of nonmotorized modes of travel, such as walking and bicycling.’

The report rightly concludes that increasing density levels in our communities isn’t the only answer, but that to best reduce vehicle miles traveled rates, we need a comprehensive solution. Research by University of Utah professor Reid Ewing, who reviewed more than 50 vehicle miles traveled studies for his book Growing Cooler made the same conclusion: residential and employment densities were actually less important as a determinant of VMT levels than other factors such as accessibility to jobs and other destinations. Additionally, having a mix of uses in communities (like housing near shops, etc.) and a well-designed street network with sidewalks are just as important as density levels to VMT reduction.

The important number in the report is the estimate that coupling more compact development with better street connectivity, public transportation improvements, and other complementary measures, would result in a 25 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled. That type of reduction would have a comparable level of reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per increment of new development.

The Center for Clean Air Policy has done research showing that even with the progress we’ve made on fuel efficiency standards and low carbon fuels, a major factor driving the increasing levels of GHG emissions from the transportation sector are the inefficient, sprawling development patterns of many American communities. For example, the number of miles Americans drive has grown three times faster than the U.S. population since 1980. CCAP estimates that even with the higher fuel efficiency standards passed by Congress last year and a low carbon fuel standard implemented nationwide, projected vehicle miles traveled increases would still leave us far above our climate targets for the transportation sector by 2030.

The TRB report makes a conservative projection about the impact that development patterns can make on vehicle miles traveled and climate change emissions, but underestimates the popularity and potential of strategies to help people drive less, while accomplishing more in their daily lives. The average American spends 100 hours in their car every year just commuting to work alone, and spends nearly 20 percent of their household budget on transportation costs. Fifty percent of Americans lack access to regular, quality public transportation.

The report is right that change is never easy, but Americans are clamoring for more convenient, walkable neighborhoods that offer the opportunity to spend less time in their cars. A 2004 Survey by Smart Growth America and the National Association of Realtors showed that 6 in 10 prospective homebuyers chose walkable neighborhoods with less time spent driving. Transit ridership reached its highest level last year since the 1950’s. And with an aging population and more households without children, these trends towards living in places closer to downtowns and near public transportation, are only projected to increase in the future.

Finally, the report underestimates the data and real-world examples showing clearly that significant reductions in vehicle miles traveled result from better designed, more walkable communities with real transportation choices. More than 200 studies have been conducted in recent years on the connection between development patterns and vehicle miles traveled, and there are examples around the country of communities that have seen reductions in VMT, greenhouse gas emissions, and oil usage due to better community design. Here’s just a sampling:



· Portland has a 20 percent lower vehicle miles traveled per capita, due to its investment in walkable, compact neighborhoods and public transportation choices. At the same time, the city saves thee equivalent of $2.6 billion annually in gasoline and time because of these measures, according to a CEOs for Cities report.



· In Georgia, the Atlantic Station redevelopment project in Atlanta has 30 percent lower driving rates compared to surrounding developments.



· A Seattle study found that households located in the most interconnected areas of the city generated less than half the VMT of households located in the least-connected areas of the region, holding true after adjusting for household size, income, and vehicle ownership.



· A study in the Bay Area of California by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission found that for people who both live and work within a half-mile of a rail or ferry stop, 42 percent commute by transit. For those who neither work nor live near these transit stations, only 4 percent commute by transit.



· The Center for Neighborhood Technology has an analysis of the CO2 levels per acre and household for 55 regions. Looking at the CO2 per household figures for each of the regions clearly shows the dramatic difference between center cities and out-lying suburbs, due to increasing amounts of auto travel: http://htaindex.cnt.org



Additional critiques of the study

The study’s more ‘moderate’ scenarios, which estimate reductions of only 5-12 percent less driving in more compact development, are out of touch with the reality of how much less people drive in areas that are smart growth oriented, versus business as usual development. The study itself estimates that the average reductions that are possible through smart growth development is a reduction of 25 percent, and Growing Cooler (based on a meta-analysis of dozens of VMT studies) found an average of 20-40 percent VMT reductions in smart growth versus typical sprawl developments.


**********************************
Kate Rube
Policy Director

Budget Passes

The House and Senate passed the biennial budget last night. A quick review offers some, though little comfort. Municipalities fared generally better than had been expected, so the property tax impact will be smaller than we'd feared. Still the budget does little to address the structural deficit so we can look forward to an even more difficult budgeting process in 2012.

The budget bill and the vote tally for both the House and Senate are online.

An analysis of the bill is also available.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Budget Deal Seems Closer

It looks like a budget is close. The House has been in recess all day caucusing. Yet another budget bill was released by Democratic leadership. It's a monster document but the independent agency analysis is a little more approachable. See it here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Budget Stalemate Shaking Loose?

It seems the budget stalemate may be breaking up. Governon Rell sent the following email message today: "Governor M. Jodi Rell, in an effort to move negotiations forward and have a budget in place by September 1, today presented a compromise budget alternative that provides an immediate tax cut for everyone, requires $520 million in spending cuts and proposes $710 million in new revenue.

'We need a state budget. It is time to move negotiations forward, not inch-by-inch but with great strides toward a meaningful agreement,' Governor Rell said. 'If the Democrats show flexibility on the spending side, I will be flexible on the tax side. Therefore, I am offering a true compromise with my fourth budget that should be voted on and signed into law by September 1.'”

The House and Senate will be in Special Session, Thursday, 8-27. They are caucusing today on the latest budget proposals.

Will there be funds to hold off the need for steep increases in the property tax? Will bonding be authorized for transit oriented development, brownfields clean up, affordable housing, historic preservation, open space preservation, farmland protection? Will the Special Transportation Fund receive the infusion necessary to match federal dollars and move key transit expansion and road & bridge repair projects? The budget must protect the health and safety of those most in need today and meet our need to invest for our future as well?

If you can, please take time tomorrow to join advocates at the Capitol to urge adoption of a more progressive income tax and smart, sustainable investments that protect critical programs and services and put us on the track to economic recovery.

Come anytime after 10 to lend your voice!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Zoning, Land Speculation, Benefits and Externalized Costs

At Green on Green in Higganum the other day, zoning was a hot topic. A self-identified environmental scientist came over to the 1000 Friends booth and told me he was entirely opposed to smart growth. When I said I thought that an odd reaction from a person with his background, and asked why he had such strong negative opinions, he told me a story. He said he’d invested his retirement savings in a large piece of undeveloped land. Some time after he’d closed on the property, the town updated its zoning. Now, he said, he won’t be able as-of-right to subdivide the parcel into as many lots as he’d hoped.

A member of the land trust came by later and said the land trust was very active. New subdivision regulations require developers to set aside a certain percentage of the land as open space. A number of developers have offered protected parcels to the land trust. He said the trust had refused a number of parcels it had been offered because the land would be nearly impossible to steward and was of questionable value as open space. He described housing lots cut out like gerrymandered political districts with disconnected dregs left to make up the requisite open space set aside.

In the case of the first man, it’s a shame his investment didn’t go the way he hoped. It’s very sad, as anyone can attest who’s watched his/her their stock portfolio in the last couple of years, when our speculative investments don’t perform as we thought they should.

Because the zoning code was changed, he ceased to be able to externalize the negative short and long-run costs of unsustainable development.

Good zoning delivers positive outcomes. It should make it easy to build in the right places, build the right structures, meet design and engineering standards, all while protecting the private investments of land owners and delivering public good.

Does your town’s zoning code regulate to achieve the outcomes its citizens want today and into the future? Does it preference the desires of current land speculators or protect future generations from their externalized costs?

The environmental scientist’s investment didn’t give him the return he’d hoped for, but the zoning change should mean that when he subdivides his property, he will receive the return the real estate market will deliver. There will also be a positive return to the natural water system by maintaining open space for aquifer recharge, it will aid in cooling the planet through the carbon sequestration benefits provided by tree foliage, it will maintain the viability of interconnected species that rely on contiguous and varied habitat of a suitable size, and it may even boost the tourism economy and quality of life for residents of the town and the state.

Unfortunately, the comments of the land trust member led me to wonder if the new code is adequate to achieving the desired results.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How Should CHFA Spend its Money?

The Draft 2010 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) (a plan for how the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority will spend its money) has been approved by the CHFA Board of Directors. Now, the agency is looking for public comment.

Send your comments to Delbe Spath, Manager, Tax Credit Programs, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, 999 West Street, Rocky Hill, CT 06067 or to delbe.spath@chfa.org by September 21st.

You can also share your thoughts at a public hearing:
Sept. 9, 10 to noon, Harrison Apartments Community Room, 651 State Street, Bridgeport, CT.

Sept. 16, 10 to noon -- Hamilton Apartment Community Room, 281 Hamilton Avenue, Norwich, CT.

Sept. 18, 1 to 3 -- Naubuc Senior Community Room, 193 Welles Street, Glastonbury, CT.

August Smart Growth ENews

The August Smart Growth ENews is hot off the presses. In this issue, Senator Dodd's Livable Communities Act, Transportation update, pictures from the Fourth Annual Meeting and more!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

EPA Releases New Guidebook to Encourage Smarter Community Design and Healthier Living for Seniors

Subject: News Release (HQ):
CONTACT: Enesta Jones
jones.enesta@epa.gov




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 20, 2009


EPA Releases New Guidebook to Encourage Smarter Community Design and Healthier Living for Seniors



WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a new guidebook to help older adults access information about the importance of environmentally friendly community design and how to become involved in decisions about what is termed as “smart growth.” Smart growth covers a range of development and conservation strategies that help protect our natural environment and make our communities more attractive, economically stronger and more socially diverse.


"Growing Smarter, Living Healthier: A Guide to Smart Growth and Active Aging” addresses the basic principles of “age-friendly” neighborhoods and town designs that are healthier for people and the environment.


The guide offers suggestions and links to resources to learn more about how to remake neighborhoods to get around easier, whether someone lives in a city, suburb or small town. It also presents ideas for getting involved, providing housing options and gathering places, eating healthier and making it easier to carry out daily activities.


The guidebook also contains a self-assessment tool that allows communities to rate themselves based on how their communities are following the principles of smart growth.

Access the guidebook.

Update on Office of Urban Affairs, from the Lincoln Institute Newsletter

President Obama's Office of Urban Affairs is up and running, but for those tracking a new relationship between the federal government and metropolitan regions, there has been equal ferment at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, under Secretary Shaun Donovan. HUD has been forging new partnerships with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy, and a key player moved to Washington recently to help set the administration's sustainability agenda: Ron Sims, former executive of Washington's King County.

"Our idea is to sync things up," Sims said at a gathering of the Citistates Associates, led by Neal Peirce of the Washington Post Writers Group, for three days of brainstorming on regional initiatives on climate, energy, infrastructure, and transportation at Bridgewater, New Hampshire at the end of June. "I have never seen people moving more directionally on sustainability and livability."

Sims said the aim is to change the culture of HUD, and turn it back into an activist community development agency. "We must stop losing the opportunity to have an impact," he said, not just by focusing on cities but broader regions.

The new policy pathways are numerous, and they are all happening now: the $787 billion stimulus package and its implications for infrastructure, recently analyzed by SmartGrowthAmerica and the New York Times; the evolving cap-and-trade Markey-Waxman climate bill; and reauthorization of federal transportation spending.The Citistates group called for a "recalibration" based on the recognition that metropolitan regions are population centers that are hubs of innovation in the new green economy, requiring new ways of thinking of how they function most efficiently – and competitively – in the US economy. Currently states and individual cities compete for funds and conduct planning more like individual fiefdoms.

"We need a new narrative," said Bill Shutkin, director of the Initiative for Sustainable Development at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado. "The question is, can we respond to feedback, can we read the signals? Do we have the capacity to recalibrate and recover? We are at critical moment," he said, citing Jared Diamond's Collapse.

Regional initiatives on climate and transportation show signs of promise. But the group was guarded and pessimistic, and continued to look to Washington to seize the moment.

Brownfield Grant Guidelines Available

The Environmental Protection Agency made EPA Brownfields Grant Proposal Guidelines available. They are on the web. Applications are due October 16, 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CDC Recommendations for Obesity -- Includes Complete Streets

Read the Report in Full


Summary

Approximately two thirds of U.S. adults and one fifth of U.S. children are obese or overweight. During 1980--2004, obesity prevalence among U.S. adults doubled, and recent data indicate an estimated 33% of U.S. adults are overweight (body mass index [BMI] 25.0--29.9), 34% are obese (BMI ≥30.0), including nearly 6% who are extremely obese (BMI ≥40.0). The prevalence of being overweight among children and adolescents increased substantially during 1999--2004, and approximately 17% of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight (defined as at or above the 95% percentile of the sex-specific BMI for age growth charts). Being either obese or overweight increases the risk for many chronic diseases (e.g., heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and stroke). Reversing the U.S. obesity epidemic requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that uses policy and environmental change to transform communities into places that support and promote healthy lifestyle choices for all U.S. residents. Environmental factors (including lack of access to full-service grocery stores, increasing costs of healthy foods and the lower cost of unhealthy foods, and lack of access to safe places to play and exercise) all contribute to the increase in obesity rates by inhibiting or preventing healthy eating and active living behaviors. Recommended strategies and appropriate measurements are needed to assess the effectiveness of community initiatives to create environments that promote good nutrition and physical activity. To help communities in this effort, CDC initiated the Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention Project (the Measures Project). The objective of the Measures Project was to identify and recommend a set of strategies and associated measurements that communities and local governments can use to plan and monitor environmental and policy-level changes for obesity prevention. This report describes the expert panel process that was used to identify 24 recommended strategies for obesity prevention and a suggested measurement for each strategy that communities can use to assess performance and track progress over time. The 24 strategies are divided into six categories: 1) strategies to promote the availability of affordable healthy food and beverages), 2) strategies to support healthy food and beverage choices, 3) a strategy to encourage breastfeeding, 4) strategies to encourage physical activity or limit sedentary activity among children and youth, 5) strategies to create safe communities that support physical activity, and 6) a strategy to encourage communities to organize for change.

Advocates Appeal to Federal Railroad Administration for High Speed in New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Corridor

August 11, 2009



Joseph C. Szabo
Federal Railroad Administration
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

RE: Support for the New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail Line

Dear Administrator Szabo:

Several weeks ago, with the strong support of Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, the State of Connecticut submitted a pre-application for High Speed Rail stimulus funds to be used for implementation of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) rail project. The NHHS project includes Massachusetts as a key partner, and is a critically important component of the joint Vision for the New England High-Speed and Intercity Rail Network recently released by the New England state transportation agencies with the bi-partisan support of New England’s governors.

Extensive support for the NHHS project exists not only at the state level in Connecticut and Massachusetts, but also at the federal level. The list of public supporters is long and, at the federal level, currently includes Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, and Representatives Jim McGovern, Richard Neal, Niki Tsongas and John Olver of Massachusetts; as well as Senator Christopher Dodd and Representatives Chris Murphy, Rosa DeLauro and John Larson of Connecticut.

We write to add the advocacy community’s backing to the NHHS project’s growing list of supporters.

As advocacy groups representing varying interests, we do not always agree on all issues. However, we do agree that federal support for the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail corridor is integral to move the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions into the 21st century.

This rail corridor is an ideal candidate for federal High Speed Rail stimulus funding and should be viewed as a project of regional significance by the Federal Rail Administration (FRA). While the project is primarily based in Connecticut, it also holds potential benefits for the greater New England region. For example, according to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission 2006 Briefing Report: The Economic Impact of the Proposed New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Commuter Rail Line and the ConnDOT Implementation Plan, it is expected that the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line will:

• Reduce the number of vehicles on roads by approximately 6,000 cars each day
• Increase the connectivity of rail and bus systems at 12 train stations, including the proposed Hartford-New Britain Busway
• Foster better linkages between Bradley International Airport and the region
• Generate close to 1,000 jobs
• Generate $459 million in new economic development and $38 million a year in new tax revenues

These are just a few of the many benefits that the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail project will bring to New England. In addition, improvements to the rail corridor will reduce travel times as well as increase reliability on the existing Vermonter route which links Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada. Investment will also lay the foundation to connect several Connecticut and Massachusetts cities with the economic spine of New England and take the first step towards long term travel-time savings between New York and Boston.

Finally, the project fits seamlessly into FRA’s strategic plan for High Speed Rail. For example, implementation will create efficient and multi-modal transportation options; promote smarter, more livable communities with greater affordable housing opportunities centered around transit service; bolster economic development and economic competitiveness; and protect our environment by reducing the number of both vehicle miles traveled and the number of idling vehicles along the already gridlocked I-91 corridor; all preferred outcomes found within the strategic plan.

Once again we urge you to support the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail corridor application and to recommend stimulus dollars towards its implementation.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Sincerely,


Kate Slevin Tom Irwin
Executive Director Senior Attorney
Tri-State Transportation Campaign Conservation Law Foundation

David Kooris Curt Johnson
Vice President Director of Programs, Senior Attorney
Regional Plan Association-Connecticut Connecticut Fund for the Environment
Herbert Singleton John Pagini
President Professional Development Officer
Pioneer Valley Advocates for Commuter Rail Connecticut Chapter-APA
Jill Kelly and Carol Leightins Oz Griebel
Co-Coordinators President and CEO
Connecticut Citizens Transportation Lobby MetroHartford Alliance

Christopher Phelps Peter Griffin
Program Director President
Environment Connecticut NH Railroad Revitalization Association

Toni Gold Lori Brown
President Executive Director
Urban Edge Associates CT League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Mark Richardson Diane Randall
President Executive Director
NH Businesses for Transportation Partnership for Strong Communities
and Infrastructure

Phineas Baxandall Kenneth Niemcyzk
Federal Tax and Budget Policy Analyst City Planner
ConnPIRG City of Lebanon, NH

Elizabeth Weyant Joe McGee
Staff Attorney Vice President, Public Policy and Programs
MassPIRG Business Council of Fairfield County

Heidi Green
President
1000 Friends of Connecticut





Cc. Senator Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts
Senator John Kerry, Massachusetts
Senator Christopher Dodd, Connecticut
Representative Jim McGovern, Massachusetts
Representative Richard Neal, Massachusetts
Representative Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts
Representative John Olver, Massachusetts
Representative Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut
Representative John Larson, Connecticut
Representative Chris Murphy, Connecticut
Governor Deval Patrick, Massachusetts
Governor M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut
Joseph Marie, ConnDOT Commissioner
Karen Rae, FRA Deputy Administrator

Monday, August 10, 2009

News on federal passenger rail policy and developments from the Nation's Capitol

The Capitol Limited
(from the latest issue of Fast Mail for Rail)


FRA Receives 278 Pre-Applications for High Speed Rail: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that the Federal Railroad Administration has received 278 pre-applications for grant funding totaling $102 billion. The money will come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail competitive grant program.


Amtrak Unveils First Rebuilt Passenger Car from ARRA Investment: Passenger car no. 25103, damaged a few years ago in a yard collision but now completely refurbished - complete with that "new car" interior smell - was shown off at Amtrak's maintenance facility in Bear, Del. More than 100 hard-hatted workers joined Amtrak president and CEO Joseph Boardman in celebrating completion of its restoration.


Senate Approves $150 Million Appropriation for Washington (D.C.) Metro: The Senate Appropriations Committee included $150 million for Metro in a spending bill for the next fiscal year. The House approved a spending bill last week that includes the money. On Tuesday night, by unanimous consent, the Senate approved a change in Metro's compact that allows the agency to receive federal funds.


Analysis: High Speed Rail Supports American Business: Whether you agree or disagree with the premise of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, it is clear that higher-speed rail most completely fulfills the goals of ARRA. Government is often criticized for spending money on projects that generate no economic benefit. If the numbers above are accurate, high speed rail can generate more than $8 in private investment for each public dollar spent.


Analysis: Might Delay in High Speed Rail Allow for Better Projects?: Now the U.S. is in a great position to take advantage of being late to the game by eliminating common challenges faced by those who preceded us, such as the improper maintenance of sensors on tracks or not being able to respond to major sporting or weather events when scheduling trains through the largest cities. Just observing what has and hasn't worked in other places can save the U.S. billions of dollars as we build our high-speed passenger rail systems. This savings can be critical, considering the tight budgets the states will be working with.