The El Paseo corridor is a1.70 mile corridor that extends southeast from Main Street downtown Las Cruces to the New Mexico State University campus. El Paseo is an active mixed-use corridor with a diverse population of residents. Physically the corridor is characterized by a number of viable businesses and institutions that provide a variety of goods and services to the community, including several national and local restaurants, a big box store, a chain grocery, a bank, a movie theater, home improvement/builder supply businesses, health care and social services offices, small and large retail, and a local organic foods co-op. Adjacent to the avenue are a range of residential areas (from middle-class to subsidized housing), the local housing authority office, a retirement center, a day care center, the major local high school, a hospice, auto repair businesses, a business school, a resale shop, offices of a non-profit affordable housing organization, and a magistrate court.
The corridor is also home to some of the highest commercial vacancy rates in the city. The design is heavily auto-oriented, and is dominated by strip malls separated from the street by vast (mostly empty) asphalt parking lots. These design factors, combined with heavy automobile traffic make the area unpleasant and dangerous to pedestrians. The annual average daily traffic along this corridor ranges from 12,000 to 19,500. In addition, the intersection of Idaho Avenue and El Paseo Road is the site of the highest number of pedestrian-related accidents in the city, according to a recent study by the Las Cruces Metropolitan Planning Organization (see map). Increased economic development and multi-modal transportation will be two key goals for the project.
The City of Las Cruces is committed to developing a robust public participation model that includes a deliberative planning and visioning process applicable not only to the corridor but to other areas of the city that share a similar demographic. To that end, the city is seeking assistance from EPA, HUD, and DOT, to develop a model for outreach and public participation that uses multiple and non-traditional techniques to engage and build collaborations among the government, local residents, and stakeholders. The goal is a set of creative strategies to invite and maintain the participation of ethnically diverse, low-income populations and others that have had limited to no previous involvement in community planning and design. These strategies will be "beta-tested" in the El Paseo corridor, and ultimately applicable to the regional comprehensive planning process currently being developed (Vision 2040).
It is essential that the public participation program initiate interest, build trust and confidence that the City regards their concerns as vital to decision making. The process will involve the community in shaping the vision, policies, and recommendations that lead to projects, programs, construction, and operational decisions. More than generating broad public consensus, the goal is to inspire public ownership and excitement that builds the political will to implement proposed projects, all of which requires good communication among all concerned.
In order to identify strategic policies and regulatory tools that will support fair choices in housing, mobility, and commercial activity, corridor planning requires complementary strategies to address the need for comfort, safety, mobility, and enjoyment such as:
These strategies often require a re-tooling of the transportation network to enable and support the restructured development pattern, and to support its role in the regional transportation network. Other issues to consider are that the restructuring of the development pattern and the street design need to work in concert with one another in order to stimulate and support new investment.
Public involvement strategies developed for the El Paseo Corridor shall therefore result from observations made of the existing conditions along the corridor and community input that will help identify among other issues:
Ultimately this process will help develop strategies to encourage community awareness and involvement in identifying the issues along and around the corridor. The primary focus is developing a diverse and creative set of public participation strategies that balance technical issues and community values. This includes addressing a variety of issues such as accommodating future transportation demand, improving mobility for all modes and accessibility to uses along the corridor, improving aesthetics, reduce flooding, and finally, providing an overall ability to increase corridor redevelopment opportunities.
EPA began discussions with the City of Las Cruces, the municipal planning organization, and federal partners (HUD and DOT) in October 2009. The initial project site-visit is planned for winter 2010. Project completion is expected by December 2010.
Clark Wilson, US EPA Smart Growth Program
Susan Lowell, City of Las Cruces, Las Cruces, NM
Frank Padilla, US HUD, Region 6
Sharlene Reed, US DOT, Federal Highway Administration
Joanne Waszczak, US DOT, Federal Transit Administration
The Floyd's Fork area is a 47,000-acre watershed at the eastern fringe of Jefferson County, Kentucky, 16 miles from Louisville's metropolitan core. The Floyd's Fork stream corridor is a beautiful meandering waterway winding through hills and farmland in a semi-rural countryside.
The area has seen some development but growth is slow and complicated by terrain, inadequate roadway systems, lack of sewer, and recent economic conditions. Low-density development on large parcels in unplanned locations has had a noticeable impact on the rural landscape, quality of life, and road infrastructure. Much of the existing development in the Floyd's Fork area is not walkable, lacks sidewalks, has poor public transportation, and is characterized by single-use development projects making it difficult to get around without a car in an area with rising traffic congestion and over-used roadways.
Although, development like this is common across the country, the Floyd's Fork area serves as an opportunity to improve connectivity for its residents, while providing for new ways to grow that do not over burden the road network, maintain a walkable environment, and enhance the rural countryside.
Louisville Metro is committed to accommodating growth and development that maintains the area's rural character and preserves the scenic and environmental benefits of Floyd's Fork stream corridor. Cornerstone 2020, the Louisville-Jefferson County comprehensive plan adopted in 2000, focuses on growth patterns that encourage the creation of mixed-use "centers" that create walkable, compact development at project-specific sites while connecting new projects to existing development.
Louisville Metro requested assistance through EPA's Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program to develop a public education campaign around their model for creating centers (Centers Concept), that will explain the benefits of this kind of development and a toolkit for suburban retrofit that will guide development in the Floyd's Fork area.
EPA began discussions with Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Division of Planning and Design Services, the municipal planning organization, and federal partners (HUD and DOT) in October 2009. A public workshop about the Centers Concept is planned for spring 2010. The workshop will serve to illustrate how the development of centers is beneficial to the community and also increase access and connectivity with the residents and businesses in the area. The project team will also identify a suite of policy tools and resources and will assist the community in identifying development opportunities that meet the goal and objectives of Cornerstone 2020.
To achieve the many goals of Cornerstone 2020 a campaign is needed to educate the community about focusing new development around centers and using retrofit strategies for the existing built landscape in the Floyd's Fork area. Centers, town-, neighborhood-, or regional- do not act in isolation of the surrounding community. In order for Louisville Metro to develop a successful toolkit for suburban retrofit, to help implement the Centers Concept in the Floyd's Fork area and elsewhere in the county, it is necessary to consider where housing, job, and the transportation network are and to address any issues to insure that the surrounding community thrives in relationship to its commercial center. A toolkit might include the following strategies:
Lee Sobel, US EPA Smart Growth Program
Kendal Baker, Codes and Regulations, Louisville, Kentucky
Krista Mills, US HUD, Region 4, Kentucky office
Shana Baker, US DOT, Federal Highway Adminstration
Phone: (202) 366-4649
Montgomery County has been a leader among local governments in implementing land use policies that support compact, transit-oriented development in suburban cores while protecting rural agricultural areas. By their very nature, these approaches mitigate against climate change by reducing vehicle miles travelled, preserving natural areas that serve to sequester carbon, and creating more compact, energy-efficient buildings. Yet the lack of a coordinated methodological approach at the county has prevented them from measuring the benefits of these approaches as steps towards meeting their climate protection goals.
The county requested assistance through EPA's Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program to develop such an approach -- one which would estimate the greenhouse gas reduction impacts of various land use alternatives, thereby supporting local decision makers' ability to approve projects that contribute to the community's climate protection goals. The resulting tool will serve as a model for other communities around the country as they develop their own climate protection strategies, and demonstrate the important role of land use in protecting the climate. The project will be completed by November 2010.
EPA is assembling the contractor team, which will include consultants with expertise in greenhouse gas reduction plans, scenario planning tools, and modeling impacts associated with land use and transportation investments.
EPA is also coordinating a team of staff from EPA's Smart Growth Program, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The project team from Montgomery County includes representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The county's own Sustainable Working Group - a broad-based stakeholder group spearheading the county's climate protection planning efforts - will also be involved to ensure that the resulting tool supports the goals they have for their community.
John Thomas, US EPA Smart Growth
Doug Weisburger, Montgomery County, Dept of Environmental Planning
Sharlene Reed, US DOT, Federal Highway Administration
The state of California and its local governments have long been on the forefront when it comes to implementing policies to support more sustainable development. The state's landmark AB 32 legislation sets the bar even higher, creating ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets that affect both public and private sectors. The state requested assistance through EPA's Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program to create a framework that will help local governments determine which combination of GHG reduction strategies, smart growth practices, and sustainability policies are best for their type of community. Through this process, the state can also better determine how to tailor its tools and resources to meet the needs of all local jurisdictions. The final products from this project will also be helpful to communities around the country. The project will be completed by November 2010.
EPA is assembling the contractor team, which will include consultants with expertise in greenhouse gas reduction plans, urban design and code reform, transportation planning, sustainable community development, rural and small-town development, and assessing the cost-effectiveness of strategies.
EPA is also coordinating a team of staff from EPA's Smart Growth Program and the Region 9 office, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also been invited to participate.
The state of California will assemble two groups: an Advisory Committee that will meet three times to review interim deliverables and a smaller Project Team that will participate in monthly calls. The project team is led by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research and includes representatives from the Air Resources Board; the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency; California Energy Commission; California Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Transportation; Department of Housing and Community Development; Department of Public Health; and the Institute for Local Government.
Megan Susman, US EPA Smart Growth Program,
Julia Lave Johnston, California Governor's Office of Planning & Research
Wayne Waite, US HUD, Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities