Friday, May 29, 2009

Redesigning the Edgeless Capitol Region

The Regional Plan Association and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy have been working together to research policies to redesign suburban activity centers. The Capitol Region Council of Governments brought the work to Hartford this week.

If the two-day session on Redesigning the Edgeless City didn't fit into your schedule, please see the resource materials at The workshop's focus was planning performance-based solutions for sucessful urban places in a carbon-constrained world.

A highlight of day one was a discussion of the seven principles of sustainable community design.
  • Conserve land and services within a 5 minute walk to transit.
  • Provide diferent dwelling types in the same neighborhood, and even the same street.
  • Dwellings should present a friendly face to the street.
  • Car storage and services should be handled at the rear of dwelling units.
  • Interconnect the street network.
  • Make streets narrow and shade with rows of trees.

Day two will include a Capitol Region planning exercise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

AARP releases recommendations on making streets friendlier for older folks

AARP Public Policy Institute Releases “Planning Complete Streets for an Aging America

This report addresses the need to create Complete Streets that are safe and convenient for travel by automobile, foot, bicycle and transit regardless of age or ability. The study encourages roadway planners and engineers to approach road design through the lens of Complete Streets and employ design strategies that support older drivers and pedestrians. Findings from original research conducted for this study show that:

· Two-thirds of planners and engineers report that they have not yet begun considering the needs of older road users in their multi-modal planning.

· More than 80 states and localities have adopted Complete Streets policies, but less than one-third of these explicitly address the needs of older road users.

· Forty percent of adults age 50 and older report inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods. More sobering, nearly 50 percent report they cannot cross main roads close to their home safely.

The report suggests revisions to five intersection treatments in the Federal Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians to better balance the needs of both older drivers and pedestrians.

The paper recommends three basic planning and design principles:

Slow Down – Engineer roadways to reduce vehicle travel speeds in areas where drivers and pedestrians interact and where older drivers and pedestrians need more time to make decisions.

Make It Easy - Make the physical layout of the transportation network easy to navigate for older drivers and pedestrians by creating a connected network of streets with lower-speed routes and intersections that are easier to maneuver.

Enjoy the View - Make it easy for drivers and pedestrians to notice, read, understand, and respond to visual cues by reducing sign clutter, creating better access management, and improving landscaping, signs, and lighting to make the roadway more intuitive.

Find the report at:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Academy of Pediatrics says how we build is bad for our kids!

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics adopted a ground-breaking policy statement on the link between how we build communities and the health of the children in those communities.

"The current approach to development isn't good for kids." Richard Jackson, Professor and Chair, Environmental Health Sciences UCLA School of Public Health, says.;123/6/1591

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

CNU Award Winning Video

PrintBuilt to Last 
Fri May 15, 2009 at 4:24 PM

The Congress for New Urbanism recently held a competition to explain just what the connection is between urban planning and the environment--and if you're fuzzy on the issue, you need to watch the winning video, created by John Paget. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Legislative Count Down

For robust cities and downtowns, to sustainably grow our state and local economies, and to protect critical natural resources, we must make comprehensive changes to the state’s development policies and investment priorities. Those changes must include: 1. reducing our reliance on the property tax; 2. improving regional cooperation; 3. modernizing local zoning codes; and 4. investing strategically and in the long-term best interests of the people and the state.

The 2009 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends June 3rd. A Smart Growth Working Group of legislators and stakeholders labored mightily this past year to create a comprehensive legislative package.

The following is an update on the progress of the smart growth agenda date. Below, please see the status of bills in the smart growth package and those that were not introduced as part of the official package but would shift our growth patterns toward smart, sustainable development.

The list includes bill status and an impact rating. (Positive\high impact means 1000 Friends of Connecticut supports the legislation and it will result in a meaningful change to where and how we develop as a state.

Contact your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to support positive\high impact and positive\moderate impact bills. We also ask you to contact legislators to intervene to fix the bad bill.

Senate Democrats: 860/240-8600 Senate Republicans: 860/240-8800
House Democratic Leadership: 860/240-8500 House Democratic Rank & File: 860/240-8585
House Republican Leadership: 860/240-8700 House Republican Rank & File: 860/340-8787

HB6585 An Act Concerning Regionalism Positive/High Impact Allows a portion of the sales tax to be shared on a regional basis so long as the towns within regions meet prescribed criteria, including adopting a regional comprehensive economic development strategy and working together to gain efficiencies. House Calendar 309
HB6561 An Act Concerning State Support for Regional Initiatives Positive/High Impact
Provides $50 million from the sales tax to municipalities that cooperate regionally to meet prescribed criteria. House Calendar 600
HB6467 An Act Concerning Smart Growth and Plans of Conservation and Development Negative/Potential High Impact
Defines “smart growth” and establishes smart growth principles, gives OPM extra time to complete the next iteration of the state land use plan, authorizes the Legislative Continuing Committee on the Plan of Conservation and Development to review state planning, and REQUIRES THE STATE PLAN TO CONFORM TO 169 LOCAL PLANS. Passed House, Senate Calendar 621

HB6097 An Act Concerning Brownfields Development Positive/Moderate Impact
Allows brownfield remediation and redevelopment of historic mills in flood plains so long as the new development is within the existing footprint, establishes a timeframe for remediation, and provides some liability relief. House Calendar

SB1033 An Act Establishing a Tax credit for Green Buildings Positive/Moderate Impact
Would provide a tax credit for LEED Certified buildings on transit oriented sites. LCO

SB271 An Act Concerning Floodplain Management and Mill Properties Positive/Moderate Impact
Allows for mill property reuse in floodplain so long as new development occurs within old mill activity and all critical activity is above the 500-year-floodplain. Passed Senate, House Calendar 624

HB5267 An Act Concerning the Use of Small Town Economic Assistance Program Funds to Convert Prime Farmland to Nonagricultural Use Positive/Moderate Impact
Would prohibit the use of STEAP grants on prime farmland. House Calendar 318

HB6464 An Act Concerning Coordinated Preservation and Development Positive/Moderate Impact
Would require certain state investments be screened for compliance with smart growth. House Calendar 916
SB384 An Act Promoting Regionalism Positive/Low Impact
Creates a grant program for any two cooperating towns. Passed Senate on consent. House Calendar 625
SB735 An Act Improving Bicycle and Pedestrian Access Positive/Low Impact
Would require a reasonable sum, but not less than one percent, of all transportation projects be devoted to bike and pedestrian amenities. Senate Calendar 970
HB6387 An Act Concerning The Small Town Economic Assistance Program
House Calendar 242 Positive/Low Impact
SB384 An Act Promoting Regionalism Passed Senate House Calendar 625 Positive/Low Impact
HB6588 An Act Concerning Training for Local Land Use Commissioners Passed House, Senate Calendar 623, Positive/Low Impact
HB6463 An Act Concerning Membership on Regional Planning Agencies Passed House, Senate Calendar Positive/Low Impact
HB6466 An Act Concerning Projects of Regional Significance Passed House, Senate Calendar
Neutral/Low Impact
SB379 Pilot Land Value Tax Senate Calendar 228 Neutral/Low Impact
HB6589 An Act Concerning Land Use Appeals Passed House, Senate Calendar Neutral/Low Impact
HB6595 An Act Concerning the State Conservation and Development Policies Plan
House Calendar 382 Neutral/Low Impact
HB5254 An Act Extending Certain Permits Passed House, Senate Calendar Neutral/Low Impact

Find your legislators on the Web at Click on House or Senate then leadership or members. Or, call us 860/523-0003. We’ll help you track them down.

Taking a furlough day? Contact us if you’d like to volunteer. info at 1000friends-ct dot org

Friday, May 15, 2009

Century of the City Released -- get your free copy

Century of the City: No Time to Lose
by Neal R. Peirce and Curtis W. Johnson with Farley M. Peters
The Rockefeller Foundation 447 Pages

One in every ten people lived in urban areas a century ago. Now, for the first time ever, most people live in cities. By 2050, the United Nations projects, almost three-quarters of the world's population will call urban areas home. The majority of this growth is centered in struggling, developing countries of the Global South, but cities in developed (or Global North) countries face increasingly complex challenges as well.

Around the world, unplanned urban expansion is multiplying slums, overburdening housing, transportation and infrastructure systems, stifling economic growth, and leaving millions vulnerable to new environmental and health threats.

To help manage and plan for this accelerating urbanization, the Rockefeller Foundation convened an exceptional group of urbanists--leading policy makers and government officials, finance experts, urban researchers, members of civil society organizations, and other innovators--for a Global Urban Summit at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center. This book shares their diverse perspectives, creative approaches, and urgent agenda for harnessing the vast opportunities of urbanization for a better world.

TO ORDER, email and include 'Century of the City' in the Subject line of the email form. There is no charge for the books; however, you can order only up to two copies this way.

Central CT Chamber Backs Rail, Invites Joe Marie to Breakfast

The Central Connecticut Chamber of Commerce will host DOT Commissioner Joe Marie at its Eggs and Issues Forum, May 20th in Bristol. The Chamber, in conjunction with local communities, has been advocating for expanded commuter rail service from Waterbury through Plymouth, Bristol and Plainville into New Britain, Berlin and Hartford. 

The Central CT Regional Planning Agency recently requested federal funds to upgrade the line. 1000 Friends of Connecticut supports that application.  

Chamber Executive Mike Nicastro wrote, "The cost and efficiency of reopening this line could put mass transit back in business in Central Connecticut very quickly. It will immediately drive economic development and will make even a stronger case for the improvements to the New Haven/Springfield Line." "We should take this opportunity to be bold and utilize the assets we already have in the form of the rail right of ways to 'strike while the iron is hot'," he continued.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


There are only two ways to achieve property tax reform. Cities and towns can cut costs or cities and towns can diversify the revenues they collect. This bill does both. It offers meaningful incentives to municipalities that opt in, and opting in requires working more efficiently.

1. It encourages towns to cut costs by creating incentives for to:
· Reach economies of scale delivering services like health care, special education, marketing, and human resources.
· Buy in bulk with pooled purchasing
· Negotiate labor agreements regionally
· Research and development curriculum
· Provide special education
· Educate pre-school age students, …

3. It gives municipalities new revenue by:
· Distributing a share of the property tax on new economic development regionally
· Distributing a portion of the sales tax generated in the region to participating towns
· Distributing a share of the hotel tax collected in the region to participating towns
· Making it possible for municipalities to compete for federal economic development grants and operating assistance. (Cities and towns are currently ineligible for this assistance.)
· Generating new property tax revenue, making our regions more competitive locations for new business creation and existing business expansion.

4. It stops the race to the bottom:
· Participating cities and towns will agree not to compete with their neighbors for new development, thereby reducing the tendency to give away future tax revenues to lure economic development from a neighboring city or town today.
· It encourages cities and towns to channel development to appropriate sites in the region thereby reducing the costs of building new infrastructure and maintaining it.
· It encourages cities and towns to preserve cultural assets and the beautiful sites that foster a tourism economy and residents of choice.

Monday, May 11, 2009


TO: Department of Public Utility Control
FROM: Heidi Green, President, 1000 Friends of Connecticut
REFERENCE: Docket 08-07-04, United Illuminating Company’s request to increase rates and fees
DATE: May 8, 2009

1000 Friends of Connecticut is the state’s preeminent smart growth organization. Through research, citizen education and policy advocacy, we are working to change the template for how Connecticut grows. We work to strengthen and direct new development towards communities where infrastructure is already in place in order to reduce sprawl and related environmental damage, revitalize urban centers, and maximize taxpayers’ investments. I write today to encourage you to reject the United Illuminating Company’s request for a rate increase to move its corporate headquarters from downtown New Haven to out-lying Orange.

The proposed move violates all tenets of smart growth and all we know about environmentally- and economically-sustainable development. The utility proposes to move from a vibrant, transit-oriented urban center to a low-density, single-use, auto-dependent, suburban strip. It also proposes to consume active farmland in the process.

Connecticut loses between 7 and 9,000 acres of farmland a year and has made preservation of farmland a key priority for state action. The state’s official goal is to permanently preserve 130,000 acres of farmland. Because the state is far off the pace to meet that goal, the DPUC should honor it and do its part to protect farmland resources, even in areas zoned for commercial development.

This proposal violates the Connecticut Plan of Conservation and Development, the Connecticut Climate Action Plan, farmland protection goals, and regional economic development goals. We urge the Department of Public Utility Control to reject the request and suggest the United Illuminating Company find a transit-rich, urban site instead.

Healthy cities are critical to a competitive, sustainable future for our state. Healthy cities provide a robust mix of housing, jobs, transit and amenities that attract new residents and entrepreneurial thinking. Compact, walkable, transit-accessible places like downtown New Haven or Bridgeport combat climate change by reducing residents’ and employees’ greenhouse gas emissions. Every mile we drive, we produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. People who live and work in areas where transit is a safe, convenient option drive 7 fewer miles every day than those who live and work in auto-dependent locales like Marsh Hill Road in Orange.

The public health impacts of where and how we develop are substantial as well. People who live and work in walkable, mixed use environments have lower obesity rates, lower rates of diabetes, and a reduced incidence of certain cancers. They also tend to be more socially connected and suffer from less depression.

Connecticut’s competitiveness rides on the health of its cities. Our cities house tremendous cultural, educational and medical assets. And they are the seats of identity for our regions. Our major utilities should be headquartered in our cities. The State’s comprehensive plan makes state agency investment in our cities a priority. The DPUC should as well. Do not force ratepayers to foot the bill and enable the United Illuminating Company to abandon New Haven.

For more information about the relative merits and cost-savings for urban reinvestment over suburban sprawl, please contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Friday, May 8, 2009

DeStefano, Bysiewicz and Blumenthal to Hold News Conference to Oppose UI Rate Increase and their Costly Headquarters Move to the Suburbs

** High Priority **

John DeStefano, Jr.
City Of New Haven


May 8, 2009


DeStefano, Bysiewicz and Blumenthal to Hold News Conference to Oppose UI Rate Increase and their Costly Headquarters Move to the Suburbs

At a Time When Families can Least Afford to Pay More, UI Seeks to Raise Rates, Abandon Needed Safety Repairs and Spend Millions on a New Headquarters Site in Orange

WHO: Mayor John DeStefano, Jr.
Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Senator Majority Leader Martin Looney (D-New Haven) Senator Anthony Musto (D-Bridgeport) Local Merchants Impacted by UI’s Plans to Leave the City Members of the New Haven Board of Aldermen

WHERE: Outside of 157 Church Street, New Haven

WHEN: Friday, May 8, 2009 at 11 a.m.

WHAT: Mayor DeStefano and Attorney General Blumenthal will hold a news
conference in front of the United Illuminating headquarters in New Haven to express opposition to the company’s request to reopen the rate case. The DPUC will hear public comment and argument on Monday about reopening the rate case, which could result in a rate increase to residential and commercial customers. DeStefano and Blumenthal will speak about the impact of a rate increase on UI customers and UI’s plans to scale back on needed repairs and improvements to its system which it promised that it would make over the next 5-10 years. UI’s request and its planned deferral of necessary infrastructure projects come at a time when UI is funding its multi-million dollar new headquarters facility at ratepayer’s expense.

Jessica A. Mayorga
Director of Communications
City of New Haven
203.627.4224 (mobile)

Friday links: changing habits

While no one was looking, it looks that Americans are changing their habits in very significant ways.

  • Driving less: We are using the car less that we used to, even after gas prices have come down again back to earth after last year's spike. Nate Silver crunches the numbers, and he sees signs that the change of habits strongly suggests a long term trend.
  • The new exurbs: the suburbs are changing - and not all suburbs are created equal. Ben Adler chronicles the tale of two very different Washington DC suburbs (one walkable and transit friendly, the other car oriented) and how the former is being mostly unaffected by the real state crunch. Americans might like having transit options, after all.
  • Why high speed rail is necessary: Richard Florida (someone I link a bit too often) talks on how a high speed rail network would be a huge smart growth boost for the economy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

House Bill Brings State Plan to its Knees

We lost ground in the House yesterday with the passage of HB 6467 An Act Concerning Smart Growth and Plans of Conservation and Development. The strike all amendment to the bill did five things:

1. It defined smart growth and established smart growth principles.
2. It required that the Continuing Legislative Committee on State Planning and Development study the state plan of conservation and development including the process for adopting the state plan, incorporating smart growth into the plan, and how the smart growth principles are incorporated into the actions of state agencies.
3. It gave OPM until March 2011 to complete the next revision of the state plan.
4. It required the next revision of the state plan be consistent with the Climate Action Plan.
5. It required that the next revision of the state plan be consistent with local plans of conservation and development.

While we were actively involved in negotiating 1, in slipped 5 which takes any semblance of teeth out of the state plan.

If this bill passes in the Senate and is signed by the Governor, there will be no comprehensive state vision. Instead, the state plan will become an aggregate of 169 atomistic visions. We will not break down inter-governmental silos, we'll codify them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Picture It. Then, Make it Happen

Imagine your neighborhood grown smarter. Hard to see? Not anymore with a new online tool from the The Natural Resources Defense Council.

This dynamic "Picturing Smart Growth" tool shows how sprawling, unwalkable places around the US could become more livable and sustainable with just a little bit of work.

NRDC's Kaid Benfield explains, "Open the map, zoom in on a location, without leaving our web site, you will be shown a Google Maps satellite view of the existing site, given some context about the metro area, and treated to a brief slide show demonstrating how each can be converted, step-by-step, from sprawl, vacant property or disinvestment into a lively, beautiful neighborhood." You can explore 70 different locations from coast to coast. (