Regional/Greater Community Development News – July 9, 2012

    Multi-jurisdictional intentional regional communities are, in all cases, “Greater Communities” where “community motive” is at work at a more than a local scale. This newsletter provides a scan of regional community, cooperation and collaboration activity as reported in news media and blogs.
Top 10 Stories
City limits don’t limit much of anything anymore. The issues that really matter in metropolitan areas transcend political boundaries: efficient mass transit, good highways, a safe, clean environment.
Those regional challenges are becoming even more critical in a global economy, since good planning will be key to the economic competitiveness of megaregions like the Northeast, the Texas Triangle and the Great Lakes, says Louise Nelson Dyble, an assistant professor of history at Michigan Technological University.
“To be productive and prosperous, we need efficient, equitable, sustainable metropolitan areas with good infrastructure and appropriate transportation,” she said. “The role of our government should be to manage our resources in a way that results in our success, and to be successful, you need infrastructure that integrates a region.
“However, that infrastructure doesn’t arise on its own,” she said. “Agencies must plan for it.” But as sensible as regional planning may seem, , it is notoriously tough to implement. Its enemies are not usually the people, who stand to benefit from better services and economic growth, but the local agencies and governments that view regional planning as a threat to their sovereignty.
Seen from space at night, the southwestern coast of Lake Michigan shines in a blazing band of light that starts in Milwaukee and gutters out just south of Chicago. This uninterrupted glow must be one city, right? What else could it be?
In daylight, back on planet Earth, that one big city fragments into urban shards that are no longer the sum of their parts. Milwaukee anchors one end of this region, Chicago the other. The two cities have much in common - their lakeside geography, their rise in the industrial era, their decline as those industries vanished, their search for a role in the global economy.
It's hard to imagine two cities with more to talk about. And it's hard to imagine two cities that spend less time talking about their almost identical challenges. Instead, they seem happiest in competition, rooting for their Brewers or Cubs, poaching each other's businesses, content to let their state governments bash the other.
… But we're in a global economy now. Size matters, …
UCLA scientists last month released a landmark study with sobering & conclusive results: Global climate change is a profoundly local problem.
In just 30 years, the effects of climate change will be evident & measurable here in the greater Los Angeles region. We will experience climate change in our daily lives, in our homes, & in our communities. And we will have to adapt.
Using state-of-the-art science, UCLA researchers produced the most detailed projection of climate change ever done for a major city. The study, "Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region," provides high-resolution, precise forecasts of rising temperatures at the local neighborhood level.
Temperatures will rise significantly throughout Southern California by the middle of this century, with an average annual increase of 3.7 degrees to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of our region's varied topography & ecology, some communities will experience more dramatic warming than others, but temperatures will rise everywhere.
Even more disturbing is that warming will be most notable during the summer and fall, resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of heat waves and extremely hot days.
In the aftermath of storms that knocked out power to millions, sweltering residents and elected officials are demanding to know why it’s taking so long to restring power lines and why they’re not more resilient in the first place.
… Above-ground lines are vulnerable to lashing winds and falling trees, but relocating them underground incurs huge costs — as much as $15 million per mile of buried line…
The powerful winds that swept from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic late Friday, toppling trees onto power lines and knocking out transmission towers and electrical substations, have renewed debate about whether to bury lines. …
To bury power lines, utilities need to take over city streets so they can cut trenches into the asphalt, lay down plastic conduits and then the power lines. Manholes must be created to connect the lines together. .…
Pepco’s initial estimates are that it would be a $5.8 billion project to bury power lines in D.C. and would cost customers an extra $107 per month, …
Year after year the debates go on if the wild weather events that destroy parts of our urban, suburban and rural landscapes are the result of global warming or just freak events. Friday's high "Derecho winds" blowing in straight from Chicago and knocking over a lot more than just a few trees (1.5 million people without power in the Virginia, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania region) are just the latest example for news making weather events.
For examples of mundane vulnerabilities consider this list:
Power outages: Far-flung outer suburbs are vulnerable and so are older suburbs due to overhead power lines. …
Information Technology: ...
Traffic signals: …
Floods: …

The Senate and House of Representatives finished their conference on Friday, June 29, to finalize the new surface transportation bill. The bill is responsible for making it legal for the federal government to collect gas taxes and manage the Highway Trust Fund and its Mass Transit Account, disbursing revenues to road, transit, railroad, water, bicycling, and pedestrian transportation infrastructure projects. The previous bill, known as SAFETEA-LU, was extended for 1,000 days since its original expiration in 2009. The new bill is known as MAP-21 and will expire September 30, 2014, for a total duration of 27 months. President Obama is expected to sign the bill, H.R. 4348, on Friday.
There are many changes, good and bad, between the two bills that have transit, bicycling, and pedestrian advocates disappointed.
What’s changed
Transportation Alternatives
Three formerly independent programs that funded bicycling and walking infrastructure are now combined with roadway activities into “Transportation Alternatives”  ...
The Texas Department of Transportation released the state’s first transportation plan for rural areas last week, intending it to serve as a “blueprint” for the development of future transportation projects and services in rural areas through 2035 as more funding becomes available.
“That little, two-lane FM roadway that used to just be for farmers and ranchers is now carrying thousands of people a day coming from subdivisions, going from work, going to school,” said Will Conley, Capital Area Regional Transportation Planning Organization chairman and Hays County commissioner.
According to Census data released this year, Texas has the largest rural population of any state, more than 3.8 million people. But Texas has been becoming less rural since 2000…
While state law does not require a rural transportation plan, TxDOT spokesman Bob Kaufman said increasing population in the state and growing economic opportunity created the need for a long-range plan. …
The state released details Thursday on how hundreds of projects were scored in 2011 during the first round of grants issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 10 regional economic-development councils.
The scores showed how some Southern Tier projects gained little traction with local and state judges, and how state officials rejected some projects heavily backed by regional leaders. Eighty percent of each project's score rested with state judges and 20 percent with the regional councils.
The Regional Economic Development Councils are a community driven, regional approach to economic development in New York State. Each of the ten Regional Councils was tasked with developing a five-year strategic plan that included a comprehensive vision for economic development for that region, regional strategies to achieve that vision, and specific priority projects that are significant, regionally supported and capable of stimulating economic investment.
The number of restaurants and bars offering patio dining and drinking has surged in the last five years, according to statistics from the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
More than 20,000 new patio seats in the Greater Vancouver Regional District were approved by the body between July 2007 and July 2012, with 80 per cent of the permits going to restaurants and the remainder to bars. As of July 5, there are almost 60,000 outdoor seats in the GVRD for diners and drinkers.
But even though patio season is finally here, dining al fresco at popular city venues may still require a bit of patience …
The popularity of al fresco dining is also spreading into the Fraser Valley - the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association is working to get approval for 10 new patios before the end of the summer, according to executive director Tina Stewart.
"Everybody anticipates it will have a great economic impact on the downtown as a whole," she said. Patios could add as much as 30 per cent to a restaurant's sales, according to Ian Tos-tenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association.
Beijing Economic-technological Development Area (BDA) is the only state economic and technological development area that enjoys the preferential policies of both state economic and technological development areas and state high-tech industrial parks.
BDA, located on the Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Expressway, the Fifth Ring Road and the Sixth Ring Road, is situated in the eastern part of Beijing’s city development region. It is near the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan industrial circle as well as at the core of the Bohai Sea economic and industrial circle. The Beijing-Tianjin Intercity Expressway, the Fifth Ring Road, the Fourth Ring Road, the airport expressway, the urban expressway, the main road and the light rail link BDA with economic development areas and with transportation hubs.
Note: I visited the BDA in Beijing as part of the Regional Studies Association Global Conference. It is very impressive. Regional development initiatives from the municipalities like Beijing have been successful because of their grass roots nature, compared to top down policies.  
Plus +
Orion Magazine, a beautiful and lyrical nonprofit publication, is celebrating its 30th anniversary by publishing “Thirty-Year Plan,” a short book of essays by 30 writers, myself included, who were asked to describe “some thing—emotion, insight, technology, resource, practice, policy, habit, attitude—that’s going to be increasingly essential if humans are going to live comfortably, sustainably, and redeemably on Earth.” ...
Blechman (to Pete Seeger)
Orions’ doing a 30-years project. We ‘re trying to ask people to come up with some thing, a noun, that we’ll need for the next 30 years in order to survive well on the planet and to flourish and to live with some form of grace. Seeger responded this way:
Stabilization. Economists say you must grow or you die. And I sat up in bed at 1 o’clock and said if it’s true that if you don’t grow you die, the quicker you grow the quicker you die? The earth is only so big…. You cannot grow forever. I sing with very small children a song about this: …
 #8  A Larger Sense of Time.
#18 A Plan.
#27 A Different Kind of Growth.
Next issue July 23, 2012
Keep up via Twitter
Or Delicious: Topic Stacks or Links
Newsletter  subscription
Basic Geocodes - 
0000 - Earth
0900 - Arctic Ocean
1000 - Europe
2000 - Africa
3000 - Atlantic Ocean
4000 - Antarctica
5000 - Americas
6000 - Pacific Ocean
7000 - Oceana
8000 - Asia
9000 - Indian Ocean

"Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype" ©