Kaid Benfield

Kaid Benfield
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Kaid Benfield is director for sustainable communities and smart growth at The Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. He has his own blog on land development and community issues and enjoys contributing here, too, since there is so much common ground.

Does a Sustainable Community Need a Good Drinking Establishment?

My friend Eliot Allen first introduced me to the concept of neighborhood completeness:  that the quality of a place is...

New HUD Grants Will Help Communities Pursue Sustainability

This is exactly how the federal government should be supporting sustainability: helping communities who want to do the right thing...

Are Big-Box Stores a Good Measure of Equity?

It’s been cause for celebration here in the DC region, and rightfully so, that suburban Prince George’s County, Maryland, has a new, high-end Wegmans...

Revitalization With Palm Trees

The trendiest neighborhood in West Palm Beach is Northwood, a collection of historic districts, fading industrial areas, and blocks of small bungalows and grand...

Help Restore Post-Katrina NOLA Neighborhoods by Tearing Down the Freeway

As we reflect on the five years that have passed since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, we can observe both progress and much, much...

Instantly See Average Transportation Costs, Emissions for Any Location

The latest in the snazzy series of useful tools and research on housing and transportation costs published by the Center for Neighborhood Technology is...

Washington Post Misses the Point on Inclusionary Zoning

Earlier this week, The Washington Post featured an article by Jeffrey O’Connell headlined, “DC affordable housing policy has put up a goose egg.” ...

Tassafaronga Village: Affordable Green, Gold and Platinum in East Oakland

Oakland, California’s Tassafaronga Village is a new mixed-income, green neighborhood development that is bringing a high degree of environmental excellence to a traditionally underserved...

The Case For Rentals Over Homeownership

Richard Florida, chronicler of societal trends and Twitter addict (follow him at your peril), believes that there is a strong case to be made...

Had Enough of the Spill? Stop Sprawl and Support Revitalization

Enraged at the spill in the Gulf and the American appetite for oil that ultimately caused it? Stop land development on farmland, forests...

How Immigrants Are Revitalizing America’s Fading Suburbs

The Urbanophile, Aaron Renn, has an interesting new post about how American suburbs, particularly inner-ring suburbs, are being revitalized by immigrant populations. His...

Helping Johnny (and Joanie) Walk to School

“Aside from reduced CO2, less traffic time and health advantages, the most important benefit of walk to school programs is teaching children self-reliance.”The quote...

The Most Important Land Use Analysis You’ll See This Year

The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology has dramatically expanded its location efficiency mapping and analysis to 337 metropolitan areas across the country. This impressive...

Using Urban Density to Support City Parks (and Vice Versa)

To some, today’s title will sound a little counterintuitive. Using residential and commercial density to revitalize downtowns or bring people closer to rail transit...

Greening Indy’s Redevelopment District

About two miles from downtown Indianapolis is the city’s designated smart growth revitalization district, a distressed area with many vacant properties, including a largely...

Inclusive Revitalization In the South Bronx: Melrose Commons

I’m sure many in the Rooflines readership are familiar with the inspiring story of Melrose Commons and Nos Quedamos in the South Bronx. ...

DC Population Rises While Crime Plummets

New end-of-year data confirm what some of us have been reporting for a long time: central cities in the US are no longer in...

Have Yourself a Merry TRANSIT Xmas!

I’ve posted a bunch of great transit holiday photos over on my NRDC site. Please check them out, and happy holidays!photo here of...

Habitat Retrofits Oakland Brownfield for LEED-ND Pilot

Habitat for Humanity’s East Bay affiliate is retrofitting a brownfield into 54 affordable homes on two acres of land in Oakland, Calif. With excellent...

‘Housing First’ Offers Hope for Homeless Veterans, Others

On this Veterans Day, when we remember those who have served, it is troubling to note that, although veterans make up around 9 percent...

Enviros Lacking In Indianapolis Redevelopment Push

Last week I had the honor of being one of seven smart growth types recruited by the American Institute of Architects to work with...

Inspiring Revitalization in the Third World: Jamaica’s Rose Town

A great story is emerging in Rose Town, Jamaica, a community in the process of being reborn with the help of HRH the Prince...

Sustainable Revitalization For America’s Smaller Cities

Andre Leroux, executive director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, believes that New England’s smaller cities hold the potential to absorb much development that...

Boston’s Asian CDC Creates Life and Affordability in Chinatown

Every summer, Boston’s Asian Community Development Corporation has been hosting an informal grassroots Asian film festival in a vacant lot near the city’s Chinatown...

It Takes a Village to Age In Place

A major challenge that has come with sprawl over the last half-century has been that growing up, maturing, and growing older has required, more...

The Smarter Cities Project Wants Your Input on Sustainability Criteria

As some of you may know, Smarter Cities is an initiative that ranks US cities on a number of key sustainability criteria as well...

Awesome Choice: Shelley Poticha to Take Sustainability Post at HUD

Wow. Only a week after I wrote a post celebrating how well the Obama administration seems to be getting its...

The Obama Administration’s Remarkable Week on Sustainable Cities, Smart Growth & Revitalization

Wow. Last Monday, before heading out to toss the first pitch at Tuesday’s baseball All Star Game, the president kicked off a White...

Neighborhood Schools that Work for Kids, Communities, & the Environment

Smart Growth Schools expert Nathan Norris lists eleven key principles for measuring how well schools and school policies fit in with their communities. ...

Revitalizing Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine (Series Conclusion – Making It Green)

This is the final installment of my miniseries (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) about Cincinnati’s remarkable Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, potentially a national model...

Revitalizing Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine (Part 3 – the Progress)

This was going to be the final installment of my miniseries about Cincinnati’s remarkable Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, but I’m on too much of a roll...

GIS Mapping in Australia Shows How Transit Reduces Auto Dependence

GIS mapping in Melbourne, Australia, on patterns of car ownership shows that transit works: the closer one is to a rail transit line, the...

Revitalizing Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine (Part 2)

Last week I wrote the first installment of my miniseries about Cincinnati’s remarkable Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. As I wrote then, this distinct and historic...

Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine, On the Verge

Cincinnati’s historic and very centrally located Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is poised to become one of America’s greatest revitalization stories, in the process creating a national...

The Geography of Carbon Emissions from Driving, with Maps

The Center for Neighborhood Technology is releasing today a new series of GIS-based maps showing where carbon emissions from driving are the highest in...

NatGeo Surveys Countries’ Transit Use: Guess Who Comes In Last

Americans are far less likely to use public transportation than residents of other countries, according to the National Geographic Society’s 2009 Greendex report. Only...

Federal Stimulus Threatened to Overrun Small Town with Sprawl

The federal government has a history of subsidizing sprawl, wittingly or not. Even the Clean Water Act contains a mechanism...

Considering the Role of Density in Sustainable Development

Later this week, I am going to be participating with my friend David Dixon and marketing whiz Laurie Volk in a seminar on development...

My Favorite Revitalization Story: The Rebirth Of Old North

My view is that no other single category of activity is more important to sustainable development than revitalization. When done properly, it’s great...

Giving New Meaning to “Green” Transit

In the US, we tend to think of public transportation as inherently green, which of course it is compared to...

When the Market Recovers, Smart Growth Will Claim a Larger Share

Even before the recession began, the market for residential and commercial property in the US was changing away from a model of unmitigated suburban...

Strong Centers Make Healthier Regions

The signs continue to mount that the housing market continues to move in favor of central locations, and away from sprawl. It’s all...

It�s Time To Adjust To The Metropolitan Reality

One of the recurring themes of my writing (for example, here) has been that, to achieve sustainability in our cities,...

HUD & DOT Team Up To Promote Sustainable Communities

This is awesome. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s joint press release from HUD and DOT:“WASHINGTON — U.S. Department of Housing and Urban...

Giving Community Organizing A Good Name In East Hollywood

Through the combination of my insatiable curiosity and the wonders of the Internet, I have stumbled upon a magic kingdom in Southern California. ...

Sprawl’s share of US housing starts has declined dramatically, says EPA

A new report from the US Environmental Protection Agency documents a dramatic shift in the pattern of new development in the nation over the...

Where We Live Affects How Much We Drive and What We Can Afford

The Urban Land Institute has produced a remarkable report that examines in depth how where we live affects how much we drive, and consequently...

The Trailer Park as Affordable Urban Housing?

Where I grew up, a lot of people lived in mobile homes, as a way to enter the housing market at an affordable price....

Beyond the Stimulus: Whither Communities In The Next Transportation Bill?

I am immensely grateful to my colleagues at NRDC and in the broader smart growth movement for being on top of what’s been going...

Two Americas On Display: DC & Las Vegas

I was struck by two hugely contrasting stories in Sunday’s Real Estate section of The Washington Post. If you want evidence that John...

Transforming the market for development location

One of the most popular tags on the blogging site of my organization, NRDC, is “market transformation.” I’m a believer. Not everything...

To The New First Family: Welcome To My Hometown

What an exciting time to be a DC resident.In this historic and wonderful week, the Obamas are moving not only to a new...

Parks For Revitalization

The image in this post, which photographer Bill Lim has made available to us through the wonder of the Creative Commons, is of the...

Visions for Transforming America

President-elect Obama will take office next week vowing to fight climate change, tackle oil dependency and revive the U.S. economy. NRDC believes that...

For The Holidays: These Are a Few of My Favorite…Places

Herewith, some of my very favorite smart, livable places that are contributing positively to the environment, as I’ve written about them on my NRDC...

President-Elect Obama on Smart Growth, Transportation, Cities, and Regions

Here’s a little about what this week’s historic election may mean for smart growth, sustainable development, and metropolitan America, based on Barack Obama’s statements...

Smart, Sustainable Development Can Aid Economic Recovery

Whatever Wall Street does next, we’re going to have to find more efficiencies in our economy. Consumers are going to have less to...

Portland Shrinks Carbon Footprint with Revitalization, Walkability

Portland, Oregon has become such a recognized model of progressive planning and development that people like me are actually discouraged from talking about the...

Needed: National Leadership for Sustainable Development

As the United States enters a period of rapid growth that will have a profound effect on our national wellbeing, the next president will...

Katrina Documentary Gets Distribution in Wake of Gustav

Fortunately, Hurricane Gustav did not turn out to be another Katrina.But as major storms go, it appears mild only by comparison. After Gustav,...