January 1 – 18, 2012

The American Dream Communicator
The most comprehensive digest of news & commentary about urban and suburban policy in America!

** Top Reads **
Deja voodoo: Detroit repeats Big City rail mistakes – Randal O’Toole, Detroit News
What Lies Ahead for Transportation in 2012? – Ken Orski, New Geography
Focus on Agenda 21 Should Not Divert Attention from Homegrown Anti-Growth Policies – Cox, Utt & Shaefer, Heritage Foundation

Mobility & Transportation
The Driving Decline: Not a “Sea Change” – Wendell Cox, New Geography
Motorists Paying for Bike Paths, Museums – Russ Harding, Mackinac.org
Americans drove less, spent more on gas in 2011 – WTOP.com
Will Driverless Cars Become the New Road Rage? – Bloomberg Businessweek
Turnpike over twice as safe as other Ohio interstates – TOLLROADSnews
U.S. plug-in vehicle interest driven down by high pricetags – Autoblog Green
Detroit unsure over the future of green cars – Breitbart.com
In Maryland, Intercounty Connector use meets officials’ expectations – Washington Examiner
After being stranded, Metro riders rethink riding rails – WTOP.com
Back to Basics for Detroit Light Rail – the Transport Politic
Building light rail line would affect more than 340 properties, Maryland says – Washington Post
Intercity Bus Riders Surge as Free Wi-Fi Beats Driving – Bloomberg.com
The Uber cab model deserves a chance – Washington Post
After Hillsborough fails in bid for light rail, Pinellas proceeds cautiously – Tampa Bay Times
The trouble with federal financing of transportation – Gabriel Roth, Philadelphia Inquirer
Can Public–Private Partnerships Fill the Transportation Gap? – Reinhardt & Utt, Heritage Foundation
Privatizing means better roads, bridges, etc. – Ron Utt, Fredericksburg.com

This Is Sprawl, Pittsburgh Edition – Aaron Renn, Urbanophile
All Sprawl is Not Created Equal – Steve Clowney, PropertyProf Blog

Housing & Land Use
Three Cheers for Urban Sprawl – Martin Durkin, New Geography
Maryland governor orders comprehensive land-use plan – American City & County
A Cheer for the End of Redevelopment Agencies – Colleen O’Connor, Coronado Patch
Falling home values mean budget crunches for cities – Bloomberg Businessweek
Florida’s Quick Rebound – Richard Reep, New Geography
Montreal density plan seen as environmental threat – Montreal Gazette
Imagine Austin vs. Environmentalists: Make water a priority – Austin CultureMap
The Great Dakota Boom – New Geography
Town would seek affordable housing moratorium – Ridgefield Press, Connecticut
Decline of affordable housing has many causes – Washington Post
Developers battle over affordable housing & government subsidies – Dallas Morning News
Montgomery tries to spur affordable housing – Washington Post
Developers plan to ask for TIF for University Commons – WBIR.com, Knoxville
Norfolk needs this like it needs a ferris wheel. Oh, wait – Virginian-Pilot
Hoped-for commercial hub slow to develop – West Volusia Beacon

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Freedom & Grassroots
Taxi Regulation and the Failures of Progressivism – Sam Staley, The Freeman
Another Way California Wastes Taxpayer Dollars – Steven Greenhut, Reason.com
FTA finds LA Metro in civil rights violations – California Progress Report
Five myths about the American dream – Washington Post
How the Tea Party is Upending Urban Planning – Atlantic Cities
Reason-Rupe poll: Americans want more tolls, not higher taxes – Hot Air
Milwaukie light rail petition could “confuse things” for City Councilors – Portland Oregonian
What Portlandia Really Says About Portland: A Portlander’s View – Slate

Not So Sustainable
Monorail bondholder sues for fraud – Nevada Journal
Why Metro is getting more costly – Washington Post
Metro plans to hire 1,000 new workers as it considers fare hikes – Washington Post
D.C. cancels proposed streetcar deal – Washington Business Journal
Streetcar idea along Veterans in Metairie will get a $75,000 study – New Orleans Times-Picayune
MBTA riders lament proposed fare increases & service cuts – Boston Globe
Virginia Gov signs off on state’s contribution to Dulles Metrorail extension – Washington Post
Chevy Volt Costing Taxpayers Up to $250K Per Vehicle – Michigan Capitol Confidential

High Speed Hype
California Rail Fail: Captain Brown and the Great White Train – Walter Russell Mead, American Interest
California’s High-Speed Rail Fibs – Cox & Vranich, Wall Street Journal
A Devastating Verdict for California HSR – Ken Orski, New Geography
China High-Speed Rail Report Cites Flaws in Program Development – Sam Staley, OCP Blog
High-speed rail: A £250m lesson for Britain’s rail enthusiasts – London Telegraph
Scott: ‘Shocking’ California Panel Warns of High-Speed Train Risk – Sunshine State News
Experts: Don’t build $99 billion California bullet train – Silicon Valley Mercury News
High-speed rail around the world – Washington Post
Doubts cast on cost estimates for high-speed rail alternatives – L.A. Times

Around the World
The Evolving Urban Form: Kolkata: 50 Mile City – Wendell Cox, New Geography
New cities fail to lure investors – Viet Nam News
Tory MP sells home blighted by HSR line weeks before project green light – 24dash.com
Auckland least affordable housing region – National Business Review

Across the Tracks
Resolutions for America – 2012 edition – New Urbanism Blog
Maps Show Striking Link Between Car Commuting and Obesity – D.C. Streetsblog
Playing Tea Party: Planning and Agenda 21 – Better Cities & Towns
Escape to the Red States – Salon
What sprawl costs Northeast Florida – Florida Independent
Can the 99 Percent Movement Reinvigorate Congestion Pricing? – Streetsblog.org
A City Is A Startup: The Rise Of The Mayor-Entrepreneur – Tech Crunch
Infographic: How Americans commute with public transportation – Mother Nature Network
2011’s Biggest Transportation Failures – The Atlantic Cities
Should public transit have to serve sprawl? – OpenFile

Blast From the Past
Your Garden State Parkway
– YouTube
JFX turns 50: Baltimore’s six-lane Main Street – Baltimore Sun

Vibrant Urbanism
Video Shows METRO Light Rail Train Hitting Woman – MyFox Houston
Metro suicide toll mounts amid slowed prevention program – Washington Examiner
Pantsless riders to take over light rail on Sunday – MyNorthwest.com

Notable Quotables

“There is simply just no identification of a long-term funding source or commitment, and we think that is a fundamental flaw. There is a huge risk they could be stuck with (only) that initial section of track.” Will Kempton, former Caltrans chief executive on the new finding that California’s proposed high speed rail project is financially unsustainable.

“The high-speed line has been a very, very bad result for taxpayers and passengers. The taxpayer paid for it and the idea was that the money would come back from the train company. But that isn’t going to happen.” Rikus Spithorst, spokesperson for a Dutch passenger pressure group on high speed rail in the Netherlands where trains are running running up to 85 per cent empty.

“I read with alarm the news that the state of Hawaii may go forward with a 20-mile elevated train. I have lived in New York City for many years, and can testify to the noise and ugliness these elevated trains bring to every community through which they pass. Bette Midler (yes, the Bette Midler), on the ugliness of elevated rail.

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