I have spent most of the last twenty years working on an agenda grounded in, for lack of a better phrase, “smart growth.” That agenda basically holds that our regions must replace suburban sprawl with more compact forms of...
I say that it is time to become more ambitious and holistic in our thinking about cities, towns and neighborhoods. In the interest of being provocative and starting a conversation, I propose a list of ten questions that every community should ask in order to identify ways to improve.
Main streets are arguably the most American place. From the 1930s on, financial rules shut off the lifeblood to this American institution.
Why, then, did America shut off the lifeblood to main streets? From the 1930s on, financial rules put in place by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), US Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac discouraged low-rise mixed-use buildings — the very type that comprise main streets.
Abell-funded Report: Cleaning Up Our Act: Baltimore's new stormwater fee
Anyone doubting that a stormwater fee is necessary should read this. Here's an excerpt:
“Swimming in the harbor watershed area is not recommended. As with many urban waterways, contaminants may be present in the water that can cause illness. Symptoms could include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and headache. The risk of illness can be reduced by not swallowing any water."
Hats off to the Abell Foundation for funding this work.
There are number of other energy saving solutions, both solar and non-solar, that fall under the scope of home improvement projects, but sometimes, it’s the most down-to-earth strategies that can end up putting money back in your pocket.
Well-designed landscaping is one example of a potentially energy saving tactic for homeowners. By establishing a well-designed landscape that is suited to the regional climate and local weather conditions, homeowners can end up saving money on home energy costs, reducing the amount of water use, buffering their home from noise and air pollution, and staying more comfortable inside and out of the house. According to Energy.gov, a smart landscape design can reduce a home’s air conditioning costs by as much as 50%, planting windbreaks on three sides of a house can cut fuel consumption by 40%, and well-designed landscaping can pay for itself in less than 8 years.
Here’s a great infographic from Energy.gov that illustrates some energy saving landscaping tips...
Each day, numerous cities and neighborhoods across America continue to struggle as a result of economic instability, diminishing resources, unemployment, demographic shifts and political complexities.
"By taking a people-centric approach to creating and revitalizing our public places – neighborhood parks, community markets and downtown squares- we have the potential to truly transform the hearts of our local communities."
It is almost a tautology to declare that our future, and that of our children and their children, depends on how we shape our communities for the 21st century and beyond. Here in the US, we’re going to be...
"The degree of street connectivity is the single most important indicator of how much walking takes place within a neighborhood."
Is lack of access to money the reason communities remain underdeveloped, or are there more systemic issues at work?
it’s great that the federal government has recognized that inequality still plagues urban areas in significant ways and has provided the CRA as a way to counteract it. There is, however, limited room for a sweeping legislative measure to come in and clean up the mess. What is required is the collective work of community leaders, businesses, and financial institutions to build a network of support that fosters innovation, rewards good ideas, and creates collaborative working opportunities for businesses and people alike.
If Joe Gochar, president of the Hilltop/Maple Community Association hadn't been curious about the origins of a stone mill tucked away on a dirt path near his Catonsville community 13 years ago, the land forgotten for 90 years may have gone unnoticed for 90 more.
We are lucky, indeed, that Joe Gochar has a passion for this property and making it available to the public as open space.
"As economic engines, as talent attractors, and as highly productive real estate, these WalkUPs are a crucial component in building and sustaining a thriving urban economy. Cities with more WalkUPs are positioned for success, now and in the future.”
WBAL Radio 1090 AM - Last year, the number of people pedestrians killed crossing streets in Baltimore County rose to an all time high. Police say most of the incidents were the pedestrian's fault. That's why the Baltimore County Police and Fire Departments have launched a new public safety campaign.
"Last year, 22 people died after they were struck and killed by either a passing car or truck, while crossing the street in Baltimore County.
Fire Chief John Hohman tells WBAL News that in all but three of those incidents, the pedestrian was at fault."
A strong trend toward walkable urban places is turning around development in the 30 top US metro areas, according to a study by Christopher Leinberger and Patrick Lynch. read more
A strong trend toward walkable urban places marks "the beginning of the end of sprawl," according to Christopher Leinberger and Patrick Lynch, authors of Foot Traffic Ahead, a study of 30 top US metro areas.
"The end of sprawl is as significant as when historian Fredrick Jackson Turner proclaimed the 'closing of the frontier' in 1893," the authors note.
CBS Local Md. Nonprofits Spending $3.7M To Improve Stormwater Runoff CBS Local To slow urban stormwater runoff. Every time it rains, pollutants harmful to the Chesapeake wash off hard surfaces, feeding algae blooms that create dead zones in the bay.
"Big stormwater projects will cost tens of millions of dollars, but community based small ones:
“Are really helping to show how little, smaller incremental things add up to bigger benefits,” said Shawn Garvin, Mid-Atlantic EPA administrator.
These grants focus on improving more than the environment."
A Pew Research Center nationwide survey showed that America is divided nearly down the middle between preference for walkable urban and drivable suburban living arrangements.
The numbers are consistent with the 2013 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), which found that about half of respondents prefer the walkable neighborhood, and about 45 percent the conventional suburb.