Regional/Greater Community Development News – August 27, 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
Governor Cuomo presided Tuesday over a day long presentation by the state's ten regional economic development councils.
The councils are pitching their ideas for another $750 million dollars in grants.
This is round two for the Regional Economic Development Councils, who have already received over three quarters of a billion dollars for projects ranging from cancer research and biotech to tourism boosters and downtown revitalization.
Governor Cuomo spoke before leaders from the ten regions, ranging from Buffalo to Long Island, presented ideas for more spending projects. The governor says he’s trying to make up for years of neglect in New York, that he says helped lead to the once Empire State’s economic decline. Cuomo says governors of competing states acted as though they were “the head of the Chambers of Commerce”, while New York politicians sat back and waited for businesses to come. The governor says, as a result, the state fell behind. …
If the Regional Economic Development Council structure implemented by Gov. Andrew Cuomo has had an impact on the area, the main one has been to nurture a regional identity for the North Country.
… Cuomo told North Country Regional Economic Development Council co-chairs Tony Collins and Garry Douglas that they have done extraordinarily well in creating a North Country identity despite more challenges than other areas of the state.
"It's especially hard in the North Country, because there you have more identification for the locality," said Cuomo, who regularly vacations in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. "Even the roads in the North Country are not conducive to connectivity."
Despite those challenges, Cuomo said he feels a real sense of pride in the North Country now, and a regional feel that didn't used to exist. He said a region needs to buy in to a plan if it's going to be successful in springing back up from economic depression, and that's what's happening in the North Country.
The mood was somber at Wednesday’s board meeting of the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Three weeks earlier, the 10-county region resoundingly defeated a regional transportation sales tax that the ARC had worked on for the better part of two years.
And on Tuesday night, two of its county commission chairs lost their run-off elections — possibly in part to their support of the transportation sales tax referendum.
… ARC Chairman … Leithead
Citizen member … Waters…had never seen the leaders of the region more unified than they were last year when they approved the $6.14 billion list of transportation projects.
For some, the bottom line was that “all politics are local” — and that the region’s parts might be greater than its whole, according to … Burnette, a citizen member from Cherokee County. “We’ve just got to keep it locally relevant,” he said.
 Leithead…acknowledged the price that some elected leaders have paid when they’ve become more regional in their thinking.
“The history of this organization is that with elected members, the more they participated regionally, the more liability it created for them locally… Something about this referendum created something of a setback.”
“That is our mandate — continuing to be a regional voice ,” Leithead said.
I am a city planner and a native Atlantan. Like any effective planner, I’m an optimist by nature, seeking potential in every situation. It’s in my genes to convert community goals and expectations into action plans.
Like all native Atlantans, I was trained to promote what we want people to believe we are.
So, after the decisive failure of the Transportation Improvement Act (TIA)… many of us planners were genuinely surprised at how quickly the sentiments like the rising Phoenix and the “We are the heart of the South” have faded in the public discourse.
The transportation crisis we face is still here and is very serious. The TIA voting results were so dramatic that our region has actually stopped in mid-stride to wonder who “we” really are and what went wrong. I wonder what we do next.…
My biggest take-away is that whatever is next must be profoundly different. As a planner, I believe we need to broaden our characterization of costs and benefits. Here are a few myths and tips to keep our conversation on track:
1) “Only 3 percent of people take transit so it’s not worth the money.”
Reality: The majority of the population does not live near transit. In the City of Atlanta, where frequent train and bus routes exist ridership is 30+ percent. Using diluted percentages to justify the rejection of transit is a dangerous business case for the future of our region and state. Every successful city in the future is building a choice of roads and transit, and they are not mutually exclusive.
2) “We will save x amount of fuel and time with x road project.”
Reality: …
3) “Hey you planner, the car is king.”
Reality: …
4) “The Atlanta BeltLine is not a regional project and is only about economic development.”
Reality: …
5) “My county needs roads not transit.”
Reality: …
As three of Boulder County's representatives to…agencies, including DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments), RTD (Regional Transportation District), and the US36 MCC (Mayors and Commissioners Coalition), that help guide transportation policy decisions in the Denver region…appealing to join the tempest of indignation around the current state of the FasTracks program. A combination of national economic head-winds and some major planning miscalculations in the run-up to the original 2004 FasTracks vote are dealing a particularly rough blow to promised transit investments for our area. …
For the immediate term, we joined with our other US 36 colleagues to prioritize full build out of bus-rapid-transit (BRT) system. Why the focus on BRT? With an estimated daily ridership of 20,400 by 2035, the US 36 BRT system has long been recognized as the transit workhorse for Boulder/Denver commuters.
…we are focused on aggressively pursuing the most practical route toward achieving the vision of regional transit mobility that the 2004 FasTracks plan embodied. We hope you will join us in that fight.
“The purpose of this project is to serve as a pilot study for place branding the Greater Stillwater region,” said Dr. Karen Gulliver, MBA program chair at Argosy University in Eagan.
“Place branding is a special application of product branding where brand principles are applied to a country or region. Tourism isn’t the only reason for place branding. Often, the brand is crafted around the desire to attract outside investment or to stimulate exports from the area just as much as to bring visitors into the area.”
The studies follow the lead from last year’s Community Symposium, which identified six categories of economic development opportunities, including downtown revitalization.
“We’re delighted Argosy University has chosen the greater Stillwater area to conduct a series of economic studies that will surely benefit the entire region,” said Todd Streeter, chamber executive director.
Virginia's budget surplus touted by Gov. Bob McDonnell comes at a cost to already strapped cities and counties, claims an association for local governments.
McDonnell last week reported a surplus of $448.5 million for fiscal 2012 -- an amount including $192.2 million in extra, unexpected revenue and $319.3 million in savings from unspent general fund appropriations, higher education and other areas. This marked the third year in a row the state reported a surplus, with the three-year total nearing $1.4 billion.
Approximately $60 million of the surplus came from localities remitted as "local aid to the state," according to data from the Virginia Municipal League. The VML noted the budget revenue surplus falls short of the $310.7 million in fiscal 2011 and $220 million the previous period.
None of the surplus has been directly allocated to local governments.
Localities in the Northern Shenandoah Valley have paid their shares for "aid to the commonwealth." Shenandoah County in fiscal 2012 remitted $231,891; Warren County, $324,881; and Frederick County $293,812, according to information provided by each locality. Frederick County already has remitted $252,850 for fiscal 2013.
Frederick County Board of Supervisors in February adopted a resolution calling for an end to "local aid to the state." Warren County supervisors passed a similar resolution a year ago, which noted that localities will have given the state approximately $220 million by the close of fiscal 2012 on June 30. The Warren County resolutions also states the restriction shifts the costs to local taxpayers and "artificially increases the amount of state surplus revenue."
THE federal government has grouped the whole of Australia into eight regional areas to assess the likely impact of rising global temperatures on every kind of terrain, from expensive coastal residential areas to the rangelands of central Australia and the monsoonal north, reports The Australian Financial Review.
It has allocated $8 million in funding to entice research institutions to work with planners in National Resource Management (NRM) organisations to assess climate change impacts, potential adaptation responses and guidance on how to apply all this in regional planning.
The eight clusters come from grouping Australia's 56 NRM regions. There should be one project per cluster, and perhaps one or two national projects to stitch the results together.
The researchers will be looking at possible changes in water availability, vegetation composition, biodiversity, carbon storage in the landscape and rises in local sea levels. ...
From a 'big country town' to the second-fastest-growing region in Australia: how big is too big for Brisbane?
According to estimates used to draft the latest South East Queensland Regional Plan, substantial growth is expected to see the greater region grow to house 4.4 million people by 2031.
In the plan, due for review in 2014, that population is spread over 11 regional and city councils including the Gold and Sunshine coasts, and requires 754,000 additional homes…
The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the population of the Greater Brisbane Region (which excludes the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast) was 2.15 million people at July 2011, a figure nearly half the state's population of 4.47 million people.
We put the following question to various stakeholders in the future of Brisbane. Their responses are below. Q: What is the ideal population for the greater Brisbane region and why do you think that number is the right size? …
Our collective passage through and reorganization after the release phase of this pivotal adaptive cycle can be thought of as an evolutionary event. And, as noted above, evolution is driven by cooperation as much as by competition. Indeed, cooperation is the source of most of our species’ extraordinary accomplishments so far. Language—which gives us the ability to coordinate our behavior across space and time—has made us by far the most successful large animal species on the planet. Our societal evolution from hunting-and-gathering bands to agrarian civilizations to industrial globalism required ever-higher levels of cooperative behavior: as one small example, think for a moment about the stunningly rich collaborative action required to build and inhabit a skyscraper. As we adapt and evolve further in the decades and centuries ahead, we will do so by finding even more effective ways to cooperate.
Ironically, however, during the past few millennia, and especially during the most recent century, social complexity has permitted greater concentrations of wealth, thus more economic inequality, and hence (at least potentially) more competition for control over heaps of agglomerated wealth. ...

The Miller Center has released a new report proposing practical, actionable ways to sell the American public on the need to invest in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. With the nation’s roads in disrepair, projects for the future sidelined, the Highway Trust Fund needing chronic bail-outs, and Congress unable to agree on a solution, the report aims to raise public awareness about an issue that greatly affects the U.S. economy.
“There is a lack of confidence and trust in the ability of policymakers to make good decisions in transportation policy and planning. And without a mandate from a broader public, most policymakers don’t want to risk reforming the current system in a political landscape fraught with many other challenges and competing demands,” said former Transportation Secretaries Norman Mineta and Samuel Skinner, co-chairs of the Miller Center’s David R. Goode National Transportation Policy Conference on which the report is based.
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