Posts tagged "Smart Growth"
The Atlantic Cities:
“Americans Are Very Confused About What They Want Out of a Community
KAID BENFIELD Nov 25, 2013
The latest national community preference survey, conducted periodically by the National Association of Realtors, was released earlier this month. The results are all over the place. Looking for evidence to support reported trends toward smart growth living in walkable, mixed use neighborhoods? You’ll find it in the poll. But, if you’re a smart growth skeptic who believes Americans still prefer conventional suburban development with large lots, you’ll find plenty of evidence for that, too.
Results favoring smart growth
The good news for smart growth advocates is that, while jobs, education, crime and health care dominate the issues of top concern for Americans, clear majorities believe that certain elements of the smart growth and sustainability agenda should be “extremely high” or “high” priorities for their state governments. These include improving the availability of affordable housing (59 percent either “extremely high” or “high” priority), protecting the environment (57 percent), and preserving farms and open spaces from development (54 percent). The portion of respondents concerned about affordable housing was up eight percent from the results of a similar poll two years ago.”

Photo: Flickr user Photo Dean

The Atlantic Cities:

Americans Are Very Confused About What They Want Out of a Community

KAID BENFIELD Nov 25, 2013

The latest national community preference survey, conducted periodically by the National Association of Realtors, was released earlier this month. The results are all over the place. Looking for evidence to support reported trends toward smart growth living in walkable, mixed use neighborhoods? You’ll find it in the poll. But, if you’re a smart growth skeptic who believes Americans still prefer conventional suburban development with large lots, you’ll find plenty of evidence for that, too.

Results favoring smart growth

The good news for smart growth advocates is that, while jobs, education, crime and health care dominate the issues of top concern for Americans, clear majorities believe that certain elements of the smart growth and sustainability agenda should be “extremely high” or “high” priorities for their state governments. These include improving the availability of affordable housing (59 percent either “extremely high” or “high” priority), protecting the environment (57 percent), and preserving farms and open spaces from development (54 percent). The portion of respondents concerned about affordable housing was up eight percent from the results of a similar poll two years ago.”

Photo: Flickr user Photo Dean

The Atlantic Cities:
“Homes Near Public Transit Are Less Likely to Go Into Default
KAID BENFIELD JUN 27, 2013
An exhaustive analysis of 37,000 mortgages on multifamily rental properties has found that, when other factors are appropriately controlled, those properties in smart locations are substantially less likely to incur default on payments than those in average locations. Specific locational factors found to reduce the risk of default include reduced commute time, use of rail transit, walkability, the presence of retail uses, the integration of affordable housing, and proximity to parks and open space. Proximity to a freeway was found to increase the risk of default, as was increased commute time.
The research was performed by Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona and supported andpublished by Fannie Mae. An excellent synopsis was published earlier this month by Laurence Aurbach in his blog PedShed.”
Photo: Jonathan Rose Company

The Atlantic Cities:

Homes Near Public Transit Are Less Likely to Go Into Default

KAID BENFIELD JUN 27, 2013

An exhaustive analysis of 37,000 mortgages on multifamily rental properties has found that, when other factors are appropriately controlled, those properties in smart locations are substantially less likely to incur default on payments than those in average locations. Specific locational factors found to reduce the risk of default include reduced commute time, use of rail transit, walkability, the presence of retail uses, the integration of affordable housing, and proximity to parks and open space. Proximity to a freeway was found to increase the risk of default, as was increased commute time.

The research was performed by Gary Pivo of the University of Arizona and supported andpublished by Fannie Mae. An excellent synopsis was published earlier this month by Laurence Aurbach in his blog PedShed.”

Photo: Jonathan Rose Company

Switchboard: 
Greening America’s capital cities
Kaid Benfield. Jan 30, 2013
"The federal Environmental Protection Agency sponsors an innovative planning program designed to help bring more green infrastructure and green building practices to our country’s state capitals, making them simultaneously more environmentally resilient and more beautiful.  Implemented with EPA’s cohorts in the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities - the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development - Greening America’s Capitals launched in 2010 and thus far has been selecting five capitals each year for design assistance.  The program is not very well known but deserves to be. 
The idea is that these particularly prominent communities are inevitably ambassadors of a sort for their respective states and for other cities.  Indeed, elected representatives and their staffs – leaders, by definition – from all across their states work at least part-time every year in the capital cities.  What they experience there, good or bad, imparts observations and lessons that can be taken back to the representatives’ home districts or even incorporated into statewide policy.  There are also many visitors to state capitals for business or pleasure, each forming and taking away impressions.”
Photo: Jimmy Emerson, Creative Commons license
 

Switchboard

Greening America’s capital cities

Kaid Benfield. Jan 30, 2013

"The federal Environmental Protection Agency sponsors an innovative planning program designed to help bring more green infrastructure and green building practices to our country’s state capitals, making them simultaneously more environmentally resilient and more beautiful.  Implemented with EPA’s cohorts in the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities - the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development - Greening America’s Capitals launched in 2010 and thus far has been selecting five capitals each year for design assistance.  The program is not very well known but deserves to be. 

The idea is that these particularly prominent communities are inevitably ambassadors of a sort for their respective states and for other cities.  Indeed, elected representatives and their staffs – leaders, by definition – from all across their states work at least part-time every year in the capital cities.  What they experience there, good or bad, imparts observations and lessons that can be taken back to the representatives’ home districts or even incorporated into statewide policy.  There are also many visitors to state capitals for business or pleasure, each forming and taking away impressions.”

Photo: Jimmy Emerson, Creative Commons license

 

“Streets.MN:
Tax Land, Not Buildings
by Chris Keimig. Dec 10, 2012
Earlier this year, the city of Minneapolis received a grant from Met Council to study possible strategies for doing away with its over-abundance of downtown surface parking. For lots of reasons, the fact that surface parking covers one-third of the entire surface area of downtown is bad news for the city. (You can find an exhaustive discussion of these reasons here.)
One solution to this problem that the city should seriously consider: taxing land at a higher rate than buildings.
The conventional property tax, which taxes land and buildings at the same rate, is essentially backwards when it comes to the behaviors it incentivizes. It penalizes property owners for building or making improvements to their structures, while rewarding speculators and absentee landlords who would rather allow their properties to decay than make expensive (and annually taxable) improvements.”
Photo: The owners of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange building pay nearly 42 times more per square-foot of land in property taxes than the adjacent surface parking lot.. Chris Keimig

Streets.MN:

Tax Land, Not Buildings

by Chris Keimig. Dec 10, 2012

Earlier this year, the city of Minneapolis received a grant from Met Council to study possible strategies for doing away with its over-abundance of downtown surface parking. For lots of reasons, the fact that surface parking covers one-third of the entire surface area of downtown is bad news for the city. (You can find an exhaustive discussion of these reasons here.)

One solution to this problem that the city should seriously consider: taxing land at a higher rate than buildings.

The conventional property tax, which taxes land and buildings at the same rate, is essentially backwards when it comes to the behaviors it incentivizes. It penalizes property owners for building or making improvements to their structures, while rewarding speculators and absentee landlords who would rather allow their properties to decay than make expensive (and annually taxable) improvements.”

Photo: The owners of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange building pay nearly 42 times more per square-foot of land in property taxes than the adjacent surface parking lot.. Chris Keimig

“Online Tool Helps New Hampshire Municipalities Examine the Cost of Sprawl
 GENEVA FAULKNER August 30, 2012
Urban planners can often find it difficult to assess the impact of sprawl in their municipalities. Calculating future infrastructure needs and the various fiscal impacts of different land use decisions can be challenging and time consuming. Enter New Hampshire’s new Cost of Sprawl tool (www.costofsprawl.org). The New Hampshire Cost of Sprawl (NHCOS) is an internet-based model to examine the impact of land uses and sprawl on municipalities in New Hampshire and allows planners to get a sense of the fiscal impact of certain land use patterns on municipalities. Created under the auspices of the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (NHOEP) and developed by RKG Associates, Placeways, and Urban Interactive Studio, this tool is geared toward town planners in New Hampshire.
Model creation involved two major and interrelated challenges. The first was compilation of a statewide database that contained an array of demographic, infrastructure, and financial attributes that had to be drawn from a variety of sources and normalized for use in the model. The second was determining which variables could be used to measure “sprawl-related” impacts, as opposed to, just the land use and fiscal impacts associated with any new development in a community.
The tool begins with users selecting one of the 239 municipalities that comprise New Hampshire. Once a municipality is selected, the user can choose a certain site within the particular municipality to explore in detail, which ranges from a parcel as small as 40 acres to an an entire community build out. Flexible site selection and comparative analysis makes this tool even more powerful, for it allows planners to see the impacts of both small-scale and large scale development.”
Via: Engaging Cities

Online Tool Helps New Hampshire Municipalities Examine the Cost of Sprawl

 GENEVA FAULKNER August 30, 2012

Urban planners can often find it difficult to assess the impact of sprawl in their municipalities. Calculating future infrastructure needs and the various fiscal impacts of different land use decisions can be challenging and time consuming. Enter New Hampshire’s new Cost of Sprawl tool (www.costofsprawl.org). The New Hampshire Cost of Sprawl (NHCOS) is an internet-based model to examine the impact of land uses and sprawl on municipalities in New Hampshire and allows planners to get a sense of the fiscal impact of certain land use patterns on municipalities. Created under the auspices of the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (NHOEP) and developed by RKG AssociatesPlaceways, and Urban Interactive Studio, this tool is geared toward town planners in New Hampshire.

Model creation involved two major and interrelated challenges. The first was compilation of a statewide database that contained an array of demographic, infrastructure, and financial attributes that had to be drawn from a variety of sources and normalized for use in the model. The second was determining which variables could be used to measure “sprawl-related” impacts, as opposed to, just the land use and fiscal impacts associated with any new development in a community.

The tool begins with users selecting one of the 239 municipalities that comprise New Hampshire. Once a municipality is selected, the user can choose a certain site within the particular municipality to explore in detail, which ranges from a parcel as small as 40 acres to an an entire community build out. Flexible site selection and comparative analysis makes this tool even more powerful, for it allows planners to see the impacts of both small-scale and large scale development.”

Via: Engaging Cities

"How Building Beautiful Spaces Can Foster Environmentalism
Kaid Benfield. April 23, 2012
Can placemaking - the building or strengthening of physical community fabric to create great human habitat - be a new environmentalism? The question is posed by a provocative short essay, which I first discovered last summer. Written by Ethan Kent of the Project for Public Spaces, the article has recently resurfaced, perhaps in honor of yesterday’s celebration of Earth Day. The essay influenced my own writing last year, and I’m returning to it today because the issues Ethan has raised continue to be important.
My answer, by the way, is a qualified yes: creating the right kinds of places for people, particularly at the neighborhood scale, has indeed become a new approach to environmentalism and one to which I am deeply committed. But I qualify my answer because placemaking is by no means the only important aspect of today’s environmentalism (not that Ethan suggested that). In addition, I think the physical building of community can become even stronger as an environmental tool by becoming somewhat more explicitly environmental in its content. I’ll get into all that in a minute.
First, though, I want to explore the phrase “new environmentalism” a bit.  A decade ago, the well-known urbanist Andres Duany was kind enough to write a cover blurb for NRDC’s then-new book about smart growth, Solving Sprawl. Andres wrote, “finally, here is a book on the environment that includes the human habitat as part of nature. This may be the first text of a ‘New Environmentalism.’” I was quite honored by the flattery that our book was being considered important and new, and by the parallel language to new urbanism, bestowed by one of that movement’s pillars. Might our way of thinking – advocacy for smart, green people habitat – be earning its way to an impact on the environmental movement as significant as that brought by the new urbanists to architecture and planning?
I’ll let others judge the extent to which that has come to pass, and quite immediately proclaim that, to the extent it may have, the philosophy expressed in Solving Sprawl was neither all ours nor all new. (New urbanism wasn’t really new, either.) All that said, there was indeed something new about the environmentalism that developed in the 1990s and continues so far in this century, in that now what we are for is every bit as important as what we wish (and need) to stop. I detailed my personal version of that transition (“NIMBY to YIMBY”) in an Earth Day essay written two years ago. And people habitat – neighborhoods, cities, metropolitan regions – is every bit as important to the environment as natural habitat and wilderness. Indeed, making cities great should be seen as a key strategy for protecting wilderness. 
Today’s environmentalism incorporates the truth that, yes, we do need to build things. We need homes, workplaces, shops, schools, streets, factories, warehouses, ports, mobility, sources of energy. We need sustenance and we need commerce. To me, the excitement in environmentalism today is in making all that as good and as sustainable as possible.  While there are still far too many things we absolutely must say no to, I’ve lost patience with the old environmental approach of saying no without a clear sense of the preferable alternative. It’s OK to be idealistic, if you must (I’m more of a pragmatist, myself), but please do have a vision if you want my personal support. 
So that brings me back to Ethan’s essay about placemaking, which is eloquent on the subject: “having less impact is noble, but aspiring to have a big impact, to create the world we want starting in the place where we live, work and play, is a transformative agenda.” And so it is, because placemaking is an affirmative act, fundamentally about creating something: quite literally, making a place. At the Project for Public Spaces, where Ethan is vice president, the focus is on our public realm – our streets, our plazas and squares, our waterfronts, our parks, our markets and so on. 
These are incredibly important aspects of our people environment and, by placing them in cities and walkable neighborhoods, they become incredibly important to our natural environment as well. To the extent we use great public spaces to anchor compact people habitat, we reduce the spread of environmental harm. I would argue that the shaping of the private realm is also an important aspect of placemaking, and that we must get that part of our community fabric right, too.”
Via: The Atlantic Cities
Photo: jah_maya/Flickr

"How Building Beautiful Spaces Can Foster Environmentalism

Kaid Benfield. April 23, 2012

Can placemaking - the building or strengthening of physical community fabric to create great human habitat - be a new environmentalism? The question is posed by a provocative short essay, which I first discovered last summer. Written by Ethan Kent of the Project for Public Spaces, the article has recently resurfaced, perhaps in honor of yesterday’s celebration of Earth Day. The essay influenced my own writing last year, and I’m returning to it today because the issues Ethan has raised continue to be important.

My answer, by the way, is a qualified yes: creating the right kinds of places for people, particularly at the neighborhood scale, has indeed become a new approach to environmentalism and one to which I am deeply committed. But I qualify my answer because placemaking is by no means the only important aspect of today’s environmentalism (not that Ethan suggested that). In addition, I think the physical building of community can become even stronger as an environmental tool by becoming somewhat more explicitly environmental in its content. I’ll get into all that in a minute.

First, though, I want to explore the phrase “new environmentalism” a bit.  A decade ago, the well-known urbanist Andres Duany was kind enough to write a cover blurb for NRDC’s then-new book about smart growth, Solving Sprawl. Andres wrote, “finally, here is a book on the environment that includes the human habitat as part of nature. This may be the first text of a ‘New Environmentalism.’” I was quite honored by the flattery that our book was being considered important and new, and by the parallel language to new urbanism, bestowed by one of that movement’s pillars. Might our way of thinking – advocacy for smart, green people habitat – be earning its way to an impact on the environmental movement as significant as that brought by the new urbanists to architecture and planning?

I’ll let others judge the extent to which that has come to pass, and quite immediately proclaim that, to the extent it may have, the philosophy expressed in Solving Sprawl was neither all ours nor all new. (New urbanism wasn’t really new, either.) All that said, there was indeed something new about the environmentalism that developed in the 1990s and continues so far in this century, in that now what we are for is every bit as important as what we wish (and need) to stop. I detailed my personal version of that transition (“NIMBY to YIMBY”) in an Earth Day essay written two years ago. And people habitat – neighborhoods, cities, metropolitan regions – is every bit as important to the environment as natural habitat and wilderness. Indeed, making cities great should be seen as a key strategy for protecting wilderness

Today’s environmentalism incorporates the truth that, yes, we do need to build things. We need homes, workplaces, shops, schools, streets, factories, warehouses, ports, mobility, sources of energy. We need sustenance and we need commerce. To me, the excitement in environmentalism today is in making all that as good and as sustainable as possible.  While there are still far too many things we absolutely must say no to, I’ve lost patience with the old environmental approach of saying no without a clear sense of the preferable alternative. It’s OK to be idealistic, if you must (I’m more of a pragmatist, myself), but please do have a vision if you want my personal support. 

So that brings me back to Ethan’s essay about placemaking, which is eloquent on the subject: “having less impact is noble, but aspiring to have a big impact, to create the world we want starting in the place where we live, work and play, is a transformative agenda.” And so it is, because placemaking is an affirmative act, fundamentally about creating something: quite literally, making a place. At the Project for Public Spaces, where Ethan is vice president, the focus is on our public realm – our streets, our plazas and squares, our waterfronts, our parks, our markets and so on. 

These are incredibly important aspects of our people environment and, by placing them in cities and walkable neighborhoods, they become incredibly important to our natural environment as well. To the extent we use great public spaces to anchor compact people habitat, we reduce the spread of environmental harm. I would argue that the shaping of the private realm is also an important aspect of placemaking, and that we must get that part of our community fabric right, too.”

Via: The Atlantic Cities

Photo: jah_maya/Flickr

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