Archive for the ‘Smart Growth America’ Category

Safer Streets, Stronger Economies

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Safer Streets, Stronger Economies
Source: Smart Growth America

What do communities get for their investments in Complete Streets? In this study of 37 projects, Smart Growth America found that Complete Streets projects tended to improve safety for everyone, increased biking and walking, and showed a mix of increases and decreases in automobile traffic, depending in part on the project goal. Compared to conventional transportation projects, these projects were remarkably affordable, and were an inexpensive way to achieve transportation goals. In terms of economic returns, the limited data available suggests Complete Streets projects were related to broader economic gains like increased employment and higher property values.

These findings are based on data collected directly by local transportation and economic development agencies as reported to Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition. The Coalition surveyed Complete Streets projects from across the country, and found 37 with transportation and/or economic data available from both before and after the project.

Safer Streets, Stronger Economies analyzes that data and explores the outcomes communities get for their investments in Complete Streets. In this tight budget climate, transportation staff and elected leaders want to get the most out of every dollar. This research shows Complete Streets projects can help them do just that.

Dangerous by Design 2014 highlights preventable pedestrian fatalities

May 21, 2014 Comments off

Dangerous by Design 2014 highlights preventable pedestrian fatalities
Source: Smart Growth America

Every day, in communities across the country, people are killed while walking to school, to work or to the store. From 2003 to 2012, more than 47,000 people were killed while walking – sixteen times the number of people who died in natural disasters, but without the corresponding level of urgency. But these deaths can be prevented and it is past time for our state and federal leaders to act.

Dangerous by Design 2014, a new report released today by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, takes a look at where these fatalities happen and who’s most at risk, presenting data from every county, metro area, and state. The report also ranks the major metropolitan areas according to the Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI), which assesses the safety of walking by normalizing fatality rates by how often people walk to work, and by the share of traffic fatalities suffered by people on foot.

As in past years, Sunbelt communities that grew in the post-war period top the list of most dangerous regions according to the PDI: Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Miami, Memphis, Birmingham, Houston, Atlanta and Charlotte. These areas developed rapidly, with many low-density neighborhoods overly dependent on extra wide, fast arterial roads to connect homes, schools, jobs and shops. Such roads rarely feature the facilities needed for safe travel by foot.

The report also calls out the unacceptably high number of pedestrian deaths seen in nearly every major metro region. The fact is that even our most walk-friendly communities can—and must—do more.

Where America is sprawling and what it means

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Where America is sprawling and what it means (PDF)
Source: Smart Growth America

People in compact, connected metropolitan regions are more likely to move up the economic ladder, have lower household costs, enjoy more transportation choices and lead longer, safer, healthier lives according to a new report out today by Smart Growth America and the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center.

Measuring Sprawl 2014 evaluates development in 221 major metropolitan areas in the United States, and ranks these areas based on how sprawling or compact they are. The report also examines how sprawl relates to life in those communities, based on factors like economic mobility, the cost of housing and transportation, life expectancy, obesity, chronic disease and safety.

Repair Priorities 2014

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Repair Priorities 2014
Source: Smart Growth America

Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads is the latest report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense analyzing road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. The update also assesses how these priorities have changed since the release of the first edition in 2011.

State leaders—including governors, legislators and DOT officials—have the ability to change these priorities for the better. This report recommends actions that state officials can take to increase the portion of funds going to repair, such as

  • raising the public profile of repair projects;
  • using asset management practices;
  • focusing repair investments on the most heavily used roads;
  • setting aggressive targets for pavement conditions; and
  • using cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments.

These strategies can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of America’s DOTs at the same time.

New report examines the fiscal implications of chronic underinvestment in road repair

March 21, 2014 Comments off

New report examines the fiscal implications of chronic underinvestment in road repair
Source: Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense

State departments of transportation (DOTs) are spending more money building new roads than maintaining the ones they have—despite the fact that roads are crumbling, financial liabilities are mounting and conditions are not improving for America’s drivers.

Those are the findings of Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads, a new report out today from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report examines road conditions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, how much states currently invest in road repair and how much they would need to spend to adequately maintain America’s roads.

Between 2009 and 2011, states spent $20.4 billion each year on road expansion. During that same period, states spent $16.5 billion on road repair—not enough to keep road conditions from declining. From 2008 to 2011, the amount of roads in good condition decreased from 41 percent to 37 percent, while the number in poor condition increased from 17 percent to 21 percent.

Building Better Budgets

May 22, 2013 Comments off

Building Better Budgets

Source: Smart Growth America

Local governments across the country have compared development strategies to understand their impact on municipal finances. These studies generally compare two or more different development scenarios, and help local leaders make informed decisions about new development based on the costs or revenues associated with them.

Many municipalities have found that a smart growth approach would improve their financial bottom line. Whether by saving money on upfront infrastructure; reducing the cost of ongoing services like fire, police and ambulance; or by generating greater tax revenues in years to come, community after community has found that smart growth development would benefit their overall financial health. Many of these findings have been made publicly available.

No national survey has examined these savings as a whole until now. This report is the first to aggregate those comparisons and determine a national average of how much other communities can expect to save by using smart growth strategies.

Federal Involvement in Real Estate

January 8, 2013 Comments off

Federal Involvement in Real Estate
Source: Smart Growth America

Each year, the federal government spends approximately $450 billion on real estate through a combination of direct expenditures and tax and loan commitments. Smart Growth America surveyed 50 federal real estate programs to better understand where this money goes and how it influences development in the United States. The spending examined in the report’s analysis includes tax expenditures, loan guarantees, and low-interest loans and grants. It does not include the Government Sponsored Enterprises, nor does it include non-real estate spending that greatly influences development, including investments in transportation, other infrastructure and federally owned real estate.

This spending has an enormous impact on the U.S. real estate market. Though usually viewed as a “free” market, the U.S. real estate sector is heavily influenced by direct and indirect government intervention. Much has been written about how zoning, infrastructure provisions, subdivision regulations, local approval processes and other factors make the real estate market a product of more than simple supply and demand. And recently, more has been written about the outsized role of the GSEs and the need for their reform. Taken as a whole, these expenditures and investments impact where real estate is developed and what kind of product is built.

Even a cursory analysis reveals this impact is uneven. For example, small multifamily buildings are less likely to receive financing, despite the fact that most renters in the United States live in these smaller buildings. Viewed as whole, federal funds are not targeted to those most in need, are not targeted to strengthen existing communities and are not targeted to places where people have economic opportunities.

Federal real estate spending should be reviewed and refocused. Smart Growth America’s survey revealed several instances where federal real estate expenditures and commitments could better meet our national needs and provide better benefits to homeowners, renters and communities. These shortcomings mean U.S. taxpayers are failing to get the most out of these large federal investments.