On occasion, the National Center for Smart Growth and the University of Maryland Urban Studies and Planning Program jointly organize brownbag lunch seminars on topics of academic and practical importance to planners and other policy makers. Whenever possible, these presentations are broadcast live as webinars, then recorded and posted to this website. Come back often to learn about upcoming webinars or to watch a recording of one you may have missed.
(We know. This needs to get cleaned up...)
From the Red Line to the ICC, Maryland has been roiled over the last decade by heated debates over major transportation projects. Oftentimes, the justification for these projects is economic development. Direct and indirect impacts are quantified and qualified, and cost-effectiveness measures and cost-benefit ratios are invoked. Proponents and opponents line up on both sides of the project, citing studies, models and data to bolster their case. Glen Weisbrod, one of the country's leading guides through such minefields, will provide wayfinding advice for those who seek the best pathways through such debates. Participants will take away a clear idea of the key questions to ask, the key factors involved and the right (and wrong) approaches.
The current federal program for funding surface transportation infrastructure in the United States is broken. This situation has created a state of perpetual uncertainty surrounding federal transportation funding. Lewis’s presentation details the circumstances that have led the U.S. transportation program to its current funding situation and explores how other nations have created sustainable mechanisms for ensuring adequate national-level investment in surface transportation systems. The Life and Death of the Highway Trust Fund is the result of an 18-month effort to evaluate the current political, economic, and legal forces behind the U.S. Highway Trust Fund (HTF), including an examination of peer countries and their lessons on providing long-term sustainable funding for transportation investment.
For decades, the promise of homeownership in the United States has focused on the importance of housing as a financial investment and the role that homeownership plays in building communities. On one hand, Americans hold more wealth in their homes than they do in any other investments. At the same time, we have long believed that the owner-occupied home is the centerpiece of upstanding citizenship and strong communities. In No Place Like Home, McCabe asks how the importance of building wealth through housing shapes the way homeowners engage in their communities. Often, as a way of protecting their property values, homeowners work to increase segregation and economic isolation in their neighborhoods, raising doubts about the civic benefits of owning a home. Investigating this core institution, No Place Like Home offers a new perspective on the place homeownership holds in American life.
Online spatial tools and data offer powerful opportunities for social science and health research on neighborhood conditions. Bader will describe how he harnessed the rich geographic information provided by Google Street View to measure the walkability and physical disorder of neighborhoods across the country -- the first national data using Google Street View in the United States. He will describe the online application that he and his team developed: the Computer Assisted Neighborhood Visual Assessment System, or CANVAS. The application allows for reliable and rapid data collection, which Bader and colleagues have applied to studies of walkability and health among children. These new tools also create new problems, including the possibility of unwittingly revealing personally identifiable information. Bader addresses some of these problems and then describes the next steps for the project including the incorporation of Mechanical Turks, the study of global neighborhoods, and the influence of neighborhood conditions on aging in place.