Posted on January 22, 2009 by Ben Welle
Alfonso Carrion, the Bronx Borough President
Some may be wondering if the new Obama administration has appointed its director for a new Office of Urban Policy. As far as we can tell, it hasn’t yet. But according to Bob Kapstatter of the New York Daily News, it is waiting for the urban-related cabinet approvals.
One of our deeper Deep Throats has come up with a plausible answer to why it’s taking so long for the Obama camp to name Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión as White House director on urban policy.
It’s out of the political playbook in Chicago, where Obama first cut his teeth.
“The White House now has the Chicago style of doing things. Obama’s people learned from the mayor’s office. It all has to do with deniability,” said our source, who’s wired into a high-level Obama/Chicago connection. “What AC will be is the White House messenger/enforcer to the cabinet secretaries when it’s about urban policy. That gives the President ‘clean hands.’
“Congress likes cabinet secretaries to be somewhat independent, so Obama’s people want to wait until they get through their confirmation hearings, maybe by the end of the month.
In other related news, Transportation Secretary-designate Ray Lahood talks about livable communities in his confirmation hearings.
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Posted on January 21, 2009 by Ben Welle
Some more information from City Parks Alliance supporting funding that could go towards city parks in the upcoming stimulus package….
Urban parks are critical to creating sustainable, livable and vibrant cities. Numerous studies have shown that parks support public health, workforce development, the economy, the environment, education and community cohesion. Yet urban parks are severely underfunded on both the local and federal levels. During his presidential campaign, President-elect Obama took the position that it was unacceptable that fewer than 50 percent of urban youth live within walking distance of safe and well maintained recreation areas. A stimulus package that includes funding for park systems could create quality jobs:
- According to data assembled by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the nation’s 75 largest cities presently have at least 268 “shovel-ready” park, recreation and trail projects that could immediately put nearly 25,000 people to work.
- A report by Transportation for America identified $1.22 billion in ready-to-go pedestrian and bicycling facilities that connect transportation networks, improve safety, provide least cost transportation options and recreational opportunities; and
- The City Parks Alliance estimates that $450,000,000 within a separate “green jobs” program could provide an immediate 15,000 jobs spread across 150 park systems nationally at a cost of $30,000 per worker.
Funding urban parks through the a stimulus package would achieve the dual goal of jumpstarting our economy and strategically creating more competitive metropolitan areas within the global marketplace. Please work to include these components in any stimulus package.
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Posted on January 18, 2009 by Ben Welle
The inaguration of Barack Obama as our 44th President is set to bring millions to our National Mall. What a better time to highlight the troubles of our nation’s front yard, and the opportunities a new administration and stimulus package could bring. Christopher Knight of the LA Times penns a piece explaining the issues:
Tragically, America’s front yard has gone to seed, its dilapidation over a generation chronicled with increasing regularity in the press, including The Times. The embarrassing disarray represents the larger state of the nation, and the time has come to fix it. Deferred maintenance alone stands at an estimated $350 million — without necessary improvements figured in. The National Mall should be a priority in the rehabilitation of America’s crumbling infrastructure, a target of Obama’s economic stimulus spending.
We may see just that. The House Appropriations Committee’s proposed list of spending includes the Mall, giving “$200 million to address the deterioration of the National Mall, such as repair of the Jefferson Memorial’s collapsing Tidal Basin walls.” Change may be coming to the Mall – though it may not even be enough. We will follow this and update.
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Posted on January 17, 2009 by Ben Welle
Over at the PPS blog Making Spaces, Ethan Kent has a nice post up about Ljubljana, Slovenia’s successful efforts to create vibrant public spaces in the cold winter. Says Ethan:
Temperatures average below freezing during the darkest month of the year in Slovenia. However, the country’s public spaces are overflowing thanks to a government program called “Happy December,” designed to infuse life into downtowns.
The best picture may be that of the main central park/square in the city, which is filled with people gathered for an outdoor concert. It would be nice to see a few outdoor winter concerts pop up in the States.
Incidentally, a big one is happening today, in Washington, D.C., as part of inauguration festivities. (We’ll try to update and show some pictures from that event in front of the Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool.)
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Posted on January 16, 2009 by Ben Welle
On a given city block, what is the revenue potential of a creating a new park as compared to that of new residential or commercial building(s)?
Say your city has a downtown parking lot. The average value of the adjacent developed properties is $2 million per property. The city is short on downtown park space and would like to create a park on that block, but is worried that it may lose out on maximizing property tax revenues.
We know from John Crompton’s research that parks can provide as much as a 20 percent marginal value to immediately adjacent residential properties, and additional 5 to 10 percent for those farther out. So let’s just assume 10 percent for only the immediately adjacent properties. In this case, the eight developed blocks would bring in a total of $17.6 million. Without a park and a development instead, the now nine developed blocks would bring in $18 million, only $400,000 more.
That’s not even considering farther out properties, which would bring even greater overall benefit. There’s also the non-property value costs that aren’t included here: added green infrastructure, a gathering place that can foster social glue, and a draw to visitors spending money at businesses and paying sales taxes.
Cities are finding that investing in parks is actually a smart economic development strategy: New York’s Bryant Park, Boston’s Post Office Square, Portland’s Courthouse Square, Houston’s Discovery Green and Chicago’s Millennium Park (for which the property value increase phenomenon has been called the Millennium Park Effect – pdf-). For cities with vacant parking lots sitting within their park poor downtowns, parks can indeed be a coffer-friendly key element in creating the economically beneficial, walkable, mixed-use downtowns they desire.
Filed under: economics | Tagged: property values | 2 Comments »