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California, Washington, New Hampshire, Idaho Communities To Get Assistance from EPA on Growth Issues

Release Date: 03/31/2006
Contact Information: Dave Ryan, (202) 564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C. -- March 31, 2006) Four communities around the nation will receive EPA-funded technical assistance from a team of private sector experts to help them plan for environmental and economic progress, so they can provide a better quality of life for all their citizens.

EPA's assistance will be customized to help each of the selected communities put the principles of more efficient, affordable, and environmentally sensitive growth into action.

"At EPA, we are committed to do our part as communities search for development strategies that grow their economies, build their neighborhoods, and protect the environment," said Associate Administrator Brian Mannix. "Our approach is to provide the best information, research, options, and resources to communities as they plan their future growth."

The communities were selected under a competitive, nationwide application process, and each will receive approximately $45,000 in contractor assistance. EPA and the contractors will organize multidisciplinary teams to help the communities by providing resources, information, and technical assistance to inform local decisions.

The communities selected are:

The Cities of Driggs and Victor, Idaho: Driggs and Victor are gateway cities in the ecologically sensitive Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and are impacted by rapid development in neighboring Teton County, Wyoming. The cities are partnering with Valley Advocates for Responsible Development, a local non-profit organization concerned about growth issues in the area, to request a review of their development ordinances for consistency with the goals in each community's newly adopted comprehensive plan. The new plans focus on maintaining the cities' existing character, preserving sensitive lands, providing affordable housing, and targeting development downtown.

City of Laconia, New Hampshire: A booming tourism industry and strong market for vacation and retirement homes have put substantial growth pressures on the city of Laconia. In response to these trends, the city has engaged the public in adopting a new master plan that protects water resources, creates walkable neighborhoods, and strengthens the downtown core. The city is seeking EPA assistance to review their ordinances so that they are consistent with the goals of their master plan.

Mecca, Riverside County, California: Riverside, in the Los Angeles metro area, is California's fastest growing county and has over a hundred unincorporated areas facing significant development pressure. In Mecca, a tightly knit Latino community of predominantly lower-income farm workers, there are plans to develop 25,000 acres (nearly 40 square miles) of surrounding agricultural land. The Department of Public Health, in partnership with the Planning, Transportation, and Economic Development Departments is seeking assistance to create a community based development plan and vision for Mecca. Ultimately, this effort will serve as a demonstration project to help guide planning in the other unincorporated areas of the county.

Spokane, Washington: In August 2005, after much outreach with the city's universities and surrounding neighborhoods, Spokane adopted the University District Master Plan. The plan focuses on creating greater bike and pedestrian opportunities, encouraging infill development, restoring the Spokane River, and improving accessibility. The City is requesting assistance to ensure that the zoning code is consistent with the District master plan, and to conduct outreach to encourage smart growth development in the District.

More information about EPA's Smart Growth program: