State and Local News - January 10, 2003

The start of the new year finds Washington absent from urban affairs where
it should be present and engaged where it should be absent. An Op-Ed by
Bruce Katz in the Baltimore Sun calls on Congress to provide states and
cities necessary fiscal relief and to reverse its drift toward unfunded
mandates and programmatic inflexibility.

Sprawl Defined

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Are State Budget Shortfalls Shortchanging Smart Growth Initiatives?
In the 1990s, public opposition to suburban sprawl spurred states to create a spectrum of innovative smart-growth initiatives. They included better planning rules and incentives, tax credits for historic preservation, funding for development rights purchases, and increased transit spending. Some of these initiatives were adopted by governors, some were established by legislation, and still others were born of ballot measures.

Despite recent signs of an economic recovery, states are struggling to balance their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. Plummeting revenues have led to budget shortfalls of millions, and in some cases, billions of dollars. How are smart growth initiatives faring?

Green Infrastructure: Smart Conservation for the 21st Century Report(pdf) calls for states and communities to make green infrastructure an integral part of local, regional and state plans and policies. The report introduces green infrastructure as a strategic approach to land conservation that is critical to the success of smart growth initiatives. To order a copy please contact allison@sprawlwatch.org

"Creating A Healthy Environment: The Impact of the Built Environment on Public Health". When people consider factors adversely affecting their health, they generally focus on influences such as poor diet or the need for more exercise. Rarely do they consider less traditional factors, such as housing characteristices, land-use patterns, transporation choices, or architectural or urban-design decisions, as potential health hazards. This monograph suggests that applying public health criteria to land-use and urban design decisions could substaintially improve the health and quality of life of the American people. Written by doctors and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

BellSouth's Atlanta Metro Plan
A case study in employer-driven "smart growth"

Abstract: In January of 1999, BellSouth, an Atlanta-based telecommunications corporation, announced that the company would close its scattered suburban offices and consolidate 10,500 employees at three locations on the MARTA rapid rail system. Although the decision was made purely for business reasons, it has been hailed locally and nationally as a case in which a company's enlightened self-interest also performed a valuable service for a region awash in traffic congestion and smog.

A number of American business leaders are beginning to recognize that sprawl can raise the cost of doing business and reduce long-term profitability. Find out what they're up to: http://www.sprawlwatch.org/economy.html


On April 9, 2001, President Bush submitted his fiscal year 2002 (FY02) budget plan to Congress. Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse and the Natural Resources Defense Council highlight what the budget would mean to smart growth issues. For the full document: http://www.sprawlwatch.org/bushbud.html

"The Last Best Places: The Impacts of Sprawl on Gateway Communities in the American West."
This Sprawl Watch report reviews the unique challenges to gateway communities in the context of land use and sprawl. Last Best Places addresses the economic incentives in place that encourage growth in gateway communities, the attendant environmental impacts, and social and quality of life issues such as rapidly changing demographics, congestion, overcrowding, and inadequate provision of public services due to costs of provision. The piece also offers a 'what’s working and what’s not' review of projects currently in place that address the problem of gateway community growth. To order a copy (at $5 each), please contact allison@sprawlwatch.org

Unions and Smart Growth

Talking to Union Leaders About Smart Growth. This Sprawl Watch report explores the different ways that sprawl harms specific union members, provides detailed information on how unions are structured and their situation today, and finally will help you understand the process in which to reach out to union leaders.

Unions are the nation’s largest organized force for the concerns of working families, they can join the fight for smart growth solutions that will benefit everyone. To order a copy (at $7 each), please contact allison@sprawlwatch.org