New Report Generating a Buzz

New study with Urban Institute and Institute of Transportation Studies looks at links between transportation, housing and economic opportunity for voucher recipients.

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Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS)

PALS is a new, campus-wide initiative designed to provide high-quality, low-cost assistance to local governments while creating valuable real-world problem solving experience for UMD students. 

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Purple Line Corridor Coalition

The NCSG has formed a coalition to stimulate sustainable and equitable economic development throughout the Purple Line corridor without displacing affordable housing or small businesses.

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Makeover Montgomery 2

Along with the Montgomery County Planning Department and the UMD Planning Program, the NCSG hosted Makeover Montgomery 2 on May 8-10, 2014.

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Education, Infrastructure and Affordable Housing Key to Maryland’s Economic Growth

A new report released by the National Center for Smart Growth states that while Maryland boasts a strong economic foundation, it must respond to 21st century challenges—like aging infrastructure, a diverse population and regional economic disparities—if it wants to ensure long-term economic success.

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New Studies: To Boost Jobs, Target Job Hubs

To stimulate economic development and job creation, the State of Maryland should target incentives to a few dozen urban and rural “employment centers” with the most economic potential and transportation infrastructure, recommends a pair of studies by the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG).

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New Report: Impact Analysis of a Beverage Container Deposit Program

The University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, with support from the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Inc. and the Abell Foundation, recently completed a study on a prospective beverage container deposit program in Maryland. The study looked at potential impacts on recycling rates, employment, beverage sales, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

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New Program to Improve Air Quality at Port of Baltimore

The Maryland Port Administration (MPA)/Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced today that it is providing funding to enhance the Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association (MARAMA) and the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center.

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Building height restrictions, land development and economic costs

Beijing has a unique spatial pattern that is characterized by an inverted U-shape building height curve and geometrically developed transportation network (rings of highways and axial roads). The inverted U-shape curve of building heights is mainly the outcome of building height restrictions in inner city for historical preservation. This paper estimates the economic costs of the building height restrictions by using land development data. Through comparing land development without building height restrictions and simulations, we show that the economic costs are substantial. The impacts of the building height restrictions include land price decrease by up to 60%, housing output decrease by up to 70%, and land investment decrease by 85%. To accommodate the loss of housing output, the city edge has to expand, causing urban sprawl (given all other things equal). In order to offset building space reduction, housing prices rise by 20% and the city edge expands by 12%. Finally, induced travel costs resulting from urban sprawl and low density caused by building height restrictions may not be trivial.

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Polycentrism as a Sustainable Development Strategy

We present in this paper an analysis of economic centers and their role in shaping employment development patterns and travel behavior in the state of Maryland. We begin by identifying 23 economic centers in the Baltimore-Washington region. We then examine these centers first in their role as centers of economic activity then in their role as nodes in the state’s transportation system. Finally, we identify the commute sheds of each center, for multiple modes of travel and travel times, and examine jobs-housing balance within these various commute sheds. We find that Maryland’s economic centers not only promote agglomerative economies and thus facilitate economic growth; they also generate a disproportionate number of trips and promote transit ridership. These results provide empirical support for policies that promote polycentric urban development, and especially policies that promote polycentric employment development. Further, they suggest that polycentrism as a sustainable development strategy requires careful coordination of regional transportation systems designed to balance jobs and housing within a center’s transit commute shed. Based on these findings we recommend that the Maryland state development plan and regional sustainable communities’ plans across the nation should encourage the concentration of employment within economic centers and encourage housing development within the transit commute sheds of those centers.

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Smart Growth Facts

Nationwide, less than 5% of all commute trips are by transit.