Thursday, March 4, 2010

Smart Growth isn't FREE

Development of any kind always comes with a price tag. Even good development, smart growth, can actually cost quite a bit. Smart growth also has another kink in the chain because it also has to do with timing. Smart growth needs to happen early and often, yes, the usually means money before concrete plans for any development are in place.

For instance- I run a community development corporation in St. Paul and we are working on a corridor that is going to lead into one of the new light rail stations. Now, for about a year now I have been trying to secure funds for a smart growth plan for this corridor so it can take advantage of the opportunities and challenges that are going to be presented with the new LRT line and station. My requests to date have fallen on deaf ears.

My fear is that we are going to wait too long and private developers are going to move in and the community with be on the defensive, instead of the offensive, which is where we want to be. This process, planning, and work all takes money. Smart growth plans are great, but who is going to fund this planning five years out?

From the Washing Examiner article:

A lack of money is hobbling local governments' plans to transform their towns from sprawling cul-de-sac suburbs into dense urban centers. "The future of this region lies in creating walkable, livable communities," said Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. "Our country is broke, our local governments are broke and we need to make much better decisions about our investments."

Instead of clash for clunkers how about cash for communities, it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

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