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Summary of New Partners for Smart Growth Conference: Building Safe, Healthy, and Livable Communities


Honorable Paul G. Clark, Council President                       
Joseph Reda, Councilman    
William J. Tansey, Councilman                       
Penrose Hollins, Councilman                       
Stephanie  McClellan Councilwoman                       
William Powers, Councilman
George Smiley, Councilman
Timothy Sheldon, Councilman
Jea P. Street, Councilman
David L. Tackett, Councilman
James W, Bell, Councilman

FROM:            Councilman Robert S. Weiner

DATE:             February 20, 2007

COPY:             County Executive Chris Coons, Chief of Staff Nicole Majeski, Land Use General Manager Charles Baker

RE:                   Summary of New Partners for Smart Growth Conference:  Building Safe, Healthy, and Livable Communities           

In February 2007, I attended the annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference sponsored by dozens of organizations.  The principle sponsors are the Local Government Commission and EPA.  The conference was in Los Angeles, California.  The conference featured cutting edge smart growth issues, the latest research, implementation tools and strategies, successful case studies, interactive learning experiences and new policies. 

On Thursday, I participated in tours of two model projects throughout the Los Angeles region. The two tours were facilitated by light rail, bus and walking.  The tours showcased community revitalization projects, suburban transit-oriented developments, cutting-edge urban infill and “green buildings” that provide innovative models for New Castle County to consider. 

On the morning of Thursday, 2-8-07, I participated in the “Striking Gold with Transit Oriented Development: New Mixed–Use Development on the Gold Metro Line”.  This mobile workshop surveyed mixed–use development that has occurred along the Gold Line, a light rail line that runs through a diverse array of neighborhoods in 3 cities from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena.  The tour viewed a new state park and economic redevelopment projects under construction in “Chinatown.”  The next stop included 4 new developments with over 500 affordable and market rate apartments and condominiums built in a formerly abandoned industrial area called “Lincoln Heights.”  The next visit was Mission Meridian, a mixed–use development with market–rate for sale homes, station parking, and neighborhood retail in South Pasadena.  The last stop was the Arch Stone Del Mar Station development.   On the afternoon of Thursday, 2-8-07, I took a bus and walking tour of the city of Santa Monica, which is recognized as a leader in sustainable and livable communities.  The tour visited some of the city’s most recognized destinations, including the 3rd Street Promenade, a 3 block pedestrian district of mixed use projects; the Transit Mall, a 10 block transit loop with a range of innovative amenities; Colorado Court, a group of sustainable and affordable apartments that produces 90% of its electricity from solar panels (named one of the top 10 green buildings in the country) ; the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Reclamation Facility (SMURRF) that treats dry weather runoff from streets and highways before it enters the ocean; the Robert Redford Building for the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), called the “greenest building” in the nation; and Bergamot Station, currently in an art district featuring the Santa Monica Museum of Art, which will be a future Expo Light Rail Station.

On Friday, 2-9-07, I attended a number of sessions:
1-      Community benefits agreement:  a development tool to ensure jobs, housing and other benefits for your community;
2-      Doing the deal:  mistakes and missteps in the market for transit oriented development,
3-   Translating smart growth principles into political victories,
4-   Reshaping America’s housing:  preparing for the next building boom. 

This final plenary session discussed the impact of shifts of national demographics over the next 30 years with the lack of a broad–based housing plan that addresses the needs of all Americans.  I had the honor of being one of the panelists for this final session.   

On Saturday, 2-10-07, I attended the following sessions:
1-      Changing the climate through smart growth,
2-      Smart growth codes makeover:  lessons for making the transition,
3-      Really getting sensitive:  a session which taught “context sensitive solutions”.  It focused on mixed–use new urbanist design, integration of transportation and land use in promotion of walking and biking.  It was a nuts and bolts session on how to design the process that meshes in context–sensitive solutions. 
4-      Boomburbs:  “the suburban landscape and smart growth’s future.”  This session dealt with the challenge of integrating smart growth policies into suburban areas.  It explored the demographic and policy trends of the nation’s largest suburban cities.  These trends have huge implications in shaping future smart growth policies, such as providing affordable housing, transportation and regional collaborations between local governments

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