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The Official Transit and Urban Development Thread

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http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,298271,00.html

Its a start. It also only has a snowball's chance of going anywhere, but I raise my glass to Rep. John Dingell. Figures it'd take someone who has almost nothing to lose to seriously propose something like this...

Dingell! Good on you, sir.

It's immaterial whether or not it's a ploy to distract attention from more easily attainable goals; he's right.

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IMO using tax policy to influence has merit. Increasing the amount of revenue made available to Congress to spend/waste does not. It would be an interesting idea if he proposed a dollar reduction in other taxes for every dollar in gas/carbon taxes collected.

Yeah.

I was thinking, maybe the govt. could find a way to cut taxes on property and buildings developed in either officially urban areas (say, the top 20 cities in America) and in areas with a minimum specified density, to encourage in-fill out in the burbs and exburbs.

Just raising gas prices and other taxes will make people feel like they are cornered with no way out, you also have to make cities and smart urban development (ie, ways out) more appealing too.

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http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/mi15_dingell/PR092707carbontax.shtml

Dingell Invites Feedback on Carbon Emissions Fee Proposal

Legislative Summary Posted for Review on Congressman’s Website

Washington, DC - As part of his continued efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050 and limit the damaging effects of global warming, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15) has developed a legislative proposal that would create a fee on carbon emissions. Before introducing a formal bill, the Congressman is inviting constituents and other interested parties to review his current proposal and provide feedback. A summary of the draft legislation has been posted on Dingell’s Congressional website along with a form that allows reviewers to offer opinions and suggestions on the carbon tax proposal.

“In order to reduce greenhouse gases and make the planet safe and healthy for future generations it will take a significant investment from all of us,” Dingell said. “A fee on carbon emissions requires a tithe from all citizens and industries, but no one entity will be unfairly leveled with a devastating burden. More importantly, it provides an incentive for change in our economy and our way of life. I welcome public input on how this policy proposal can best balance our environmental and economic concerns and I look forward to receiving feedback.”

...

Main page:

http://www.house.gov/dingell/

Summary:

http://www.house.gov/dingell/carbonTaxSummary.shtml

Feedback form:

http://www.house.gov/dingell/carbonTaxComment.shtml

I'll probably just toss in a few kind words and one or two suggestions. Not even sure he'll ever read it (doubt it), but perhaps an influential staffer will.

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Dingell! Good on you, sir.

It's immaterial whether or not it's a ploy to distract attention from more easily attainable goals; he's right.

I'm glad he is doing this, but Dingell is the #1 guy who is keeping the CAFE standards increase from getting through the House.

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I'm glad he is doing this, but Dingell is the #1 guy who is keeping the CAFE standards increase from getting through the House.

I'm not really for higher CAFE standards, anyway. I think they'll promote more driving, unless they're accompanied by a higher carbon tax and tax incentives for denser development as NOW mentions.

I'm in no way an expert on this, but I think Dingell is right on that issue.

We need more mass transit, paid for by a much higher carbon tax. Anything that makes driving easier, IMO, is heading in the wrong direction.

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http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-te.md.growth01oct01,0,1745679.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout

Checks on Md. sprawl go awry

Spending on projects not monitored as law requires, report says

By Timothy B. Wheeler | Sun reporter

October 1, 2007

It's nearly impossible to tell how effective Maryland's 10-year-old Smart Growth law has been at curbing sprawl because state agencies haven't kept track of where their spending goes, as the law requires, a new study finds.

The study, to be published today by the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, says that officials through two administrations did a poor job of monitoring whether state funds for building roads, sewers and other public improvements were spent in designated growth areas, as the law intended.

"The Glendening administration tried to do it but didn't succeed," said Gerrit Knaap, director of the research center. "And then Ehrlich dropped it."

Knaap, a co-author of the study, says that failure to monitor spending has undermined the growth-management law adopted in 1997, pushed through by then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

The law aims to use state funding to encourage development in and around existing communities. It required local governments to designate areas already served by public water and sewer as growth zones, and said state spending would be focused in these "priority funding areas."

"The way to guide state infrastructure spending using priority funding areas is not working well," Knaap said.

The report comes the same week that the Smart Growth center convenes a three-day conference assessing Maryland's 10-year-old growth management effort. The O'Malley administration has pledged to strengthen state efforts to curb sprawl, though it has yet to unveil any specific initiatives or proposed legislation.

By some measures, the effort to use the power of the state's purse strings to stop subsidizing sprawl has shown little, if any, progress since it began in 1998.

About three-fourths of all building permits for new homes from 1990 to 2004 were issued for development inside designated growth areas, according to state planning figures. But about three-fourths of the land developed for new homes was outside those growth areas.

Moreover, the share of all residential building permits that were issued outside of growth areas has increased since 1998, according to state planning data. So has the percentage of land developed for new homes that was beyond growth-area boundaries.

When Glendening was governor, state agencies tried to comply with the law's requirement that they report annually where they spent money, the study says, but there never was a full accounting. Reporting dwindled under Glendening's successor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who cut funding and staff for the Office of Smart Growth.

About $1.1 billion a year in state spending was deemed growth-related by state officials, researchers found, but that represents only about 5 percent of the overall budget. The vast majority of funding subject to the law was for transportation, though toll highways, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and harbor tunnels were exempt. So were school construction and renovation.

About 60 percent of state transportation spending covered by the law went to projects inside growth areas, the study says. The remainder was either "grandfathered" for projects that had been planned before the law took effect, went to highway and transit work stretching beyond any one location, or was exempted from the law for one reason or another.

There were 62 projects given exceptions to the law's requirement that state funds go to "priority funding areas."

But researchers found that the state Department of Planning, which shared responsibility for tracking spending, did not keep a complete tally of money involved in those cases. Among the projects exempted were the east-west Intercounty Connector highway through the Washington suburbs and a widening of Route 32 in western Howard County.

To some, the latest report's findings confirm the flaws they see in Maryland's Smart Growth efforts.

"Most people who are involved in growth management in Maryland understand that the priority funding areas aren't functioning as they were intended to," said Tom Ballentine, director of government affairs for the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Builders have complained particularly about building bans in growth areas where local laws bar new homes until roads, schools and utilities can be upgraded.

"We have a law, but if we're not going to have a monitoring and enforcement system, it's not going to happen particularly effectively, and the impact of the law will be lessened," said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, executive director of 1000 Friends of Maryland.

However, Knaap questions how effective the law would have been at limiting sprawl even if it had been rigorously monitored and applied. The amount of state money covered by the law was not that large, relatively speaking, Knaap said, and it appears that most of it already was being spent in designated growth areas.

"I think it makes sense for the state to worry and try to monitor where it spends its money, to do everything it can to avoid subsidizing sprawl," said Knaap. "But I don't think just that is enough to change development patterns."

Richard E. Hall, O'Malley's secretary of planning, concurs, though he contends that the law's biggest contribution was in requiring localities to map out where they wanted to grow.

"No one who knows anything about growth would think that the 1997 law would change things overnight. I think it is having an effect," he said, though he acknowledged it has been impossible to measure.

"We need to do more," Hall concluded. "What that more is, we haven't decided yet."

[email protected]

To summarize: Maryland doesn't care. The end.

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Wait, you mean Glendenning supported programs that were popular, then ignored them in office?

Don't blame me, I (would have, if I had been of age) voted for Sauerbrey! :P (And I may have actually put her over the top in 1994!)

Personally, I agree with the basic idea behind "Smart Growth", but I don't think there is a chance in Hell of anyone successfully implementing it in this state, Democrat or Republican. Most Republicans have other priorities, and are too pro-development anyway, and most Democrats have too much of a history of lying and breaking promises to be trusted.

Anybody want to join my new Demopublican Party and vote for me as governer? :P

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Maybe, if you could spell "governor" correctly.

Hey, if George Bush can make it as far as he has...

Actually, I noticed it after I posted, but decided to see if anyone else would say anything. You've now qualified to be my running mate :P

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http://www.mddailyrecord.com/article.cfm?id=3053&type=UTTM

Looks like critical mass is starting to happen...

Yeah, this looks like a group of people that could really make things happen. We just have to hope they advocate for the right things. Like NewOrioleWork said yesterday, they could be all about roads and just making sure we get our "fair share" of road $. I doubt that's the case, but it could be.

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Yeah, this looks like a group of people that could really make things happen. We just have to hope they advocate for the right things. Like NewOrioleWork said yesterday, they could be all about roads and just making sure we get our "fair share" of road $. I doubt that's the case, but it could be.

Don Fry, in particular, has long been a huge transit supporter, and the inclusion of Michael Sarbanes on there is also a good sign. It is true that the article assiduously avoids the word "transit", so we'll see what happens. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

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http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/politics/bal-growth1017,0,2153661.story?coll=bal_tab01_layout

The telephone poll, a random sample of 1,000 registered voters surveyed by 1000 Friends of Maryland, an anti-sprawl group, found that most want the state to take a stronger role in coordinating and steering growth to existing communities. Perhaps most surprising of all, a majority supported spending more on public transit even if it meant spending less on improving roads. That finding appeared to be paradoxical, given that traffic congestion was one of their top concerns.

Gotta love the editorializing by the woefully uninformed reporter there, don't you?

But seriously, these results are encouraging, although I would like to see the wording of the questions because something tells me they might have been a bit leading. The question it leaves me with, however, is whether the respondents actually favor smart growth or no growth. I wonder if they were asked how they would feel about, say, increasing residential densities around train station or reducing/charging for parking. What if they were given a choice between locating an affordable apartment building on an underutilized lot in their established neighborhood or in the middle of a farm field? It's nice that people don't like sprawl, but what's their motivation for not liking it (is it really the environmental degradation, bad traffic, and fugly urban form or do they just want to keep the black people out of Carroll County) and how much are they willing to sacrifice to combat sprawl. Moving a little road funding into transit projects isn't going to do the trick on its own.

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