32 St. & Loc. L. News 1 (2008-2009)

handle is hein.journals/stlolane32 and id is 1 raw text is: /M    Section of State and Local Government Law

LOCAL LAW
The Section serves as a collegialforum for its members, the profession, and the public to provide leadership and educational resources in
urban, state, and local government law andpolicy.
Three Key Challenges That Offer States and
Localities a New Opportunity for Smart Growth
By Darren M  Springer

ver the past year, the headlines in newspapers and on
television have been connecting the dots on three key
challenges that taken together highlight the vital need
for increased smart growth policies, planning, and develop-
ment. Gas Prices Apply Brakes to Suburban Migration says
the Washington Post. Housing Crisis Hits Exurbs Hard
leads an article in the Christian Science Monitor. Funds for
Highways Plummet as Drivers Cut Gasoline Use warns the
Wall Street Journal. These three key and interlinked chal-
lenges-rising fuel prices, the downturn in the housing mar-
ket, and underinvestment in transportation--offer states and
localities a unique opportunity to create less auto reliant and
more livable and sustainable communities.
Many have noted the individual effects of these three
challenges. For example, high gasoline prices have reduced
vehicle miles traveled (down 3.3 percent in the second quar-
ter of 2008) and increased transit use (up 5.2 percent during
second quarter 2008).1 The foreclosure crisis and the general
downturn in the housing market has received significant at-
tention from media and policymakers. Lastly, a number of
experts, policymakers, and interest groups are calling atten-
tion to the transportation infrastructure deficit between the
amount we currently invest and the amount needed to en-
hance our system and reduce congestion, which is projected
to be $135 billion annually.2
Apart from their individual effects, however, these three
Darren M. Springer is program direc-
torfor Energy and Transportation, in
the Environment, Energy &Natural
Resources Division of the National
Governors Association Center for Best
Practices. The opinions expressed here-
in are those of the author and do not
necessarily represent the views of the
National Governors Association.

challenges are all interlinked. High gas prices and congestion
have severely affected the housing crisis in exurban areas,
changing the previous dynamic ofdrive till you qualfy' where-
by buyers attracted by the prospect of cheaper homes on larger
lots were willing to make longer commutes from fast-growing
exurban communities. Now it is the exurban markets where
prices have fallen most, according to analysis by Fiserv Lending
Solutions.' The desirability of moving to the urban edge has
decreased as people realize that at $4 a gallon, long commutes
on congested routes with no transit alternatives is not afford-
able. Some half-finished and partially vacant exurban commu-
nities wait for signs of an upturn to bring buyers.
The linkages continue in that our ability to invest in trans-
portation infrastructure is largely tied to motor fuel taxes, rev-
enues from which account for 82 percent of all federal high-
way and transit funding and 38 percent of all state highway
and transit funding.4 It is the single largest source of funding
for transportation, but its purchasing power is eroding. The
federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and the cost
for infrastructure construction between 1993 and 2015 is pro-
jected to increase by 70 percent.5 While some states have
continued on page 13
 Chairs Message, page 2
 Section News
-Call for Jefferson Fordham Nominations, page 3
-2007-08 Student Excellence Awards, page 4
-Join a Committee Committee, page 5
-2009 Spring Meeting, St. Thomas, V.1., page 7
 S & L Profile: An Interview with Past Section Chair
and Section Delegate Sholem Friedman, page 8
 Supreme Court Watch: District of Columbia v. Heller,
page 10

Vol. 32, No. 1, Fall 2008

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