EPA Recognizes Smart Growth Achievement

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized Sacramento’s La Valentina building complex as the Built Projects winner of the 2013 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

The National Award for Smart Growth Achievement recognizes communities that use innovative policies and practices to develop in ways that protect the environment, provide housing and transportation choices, and strengthen their economies. Seven projects were honored at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5.

“The winning projects show us that we can develop, grow local economies, and protect public health and the environment all at the same time,” says EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “These projects also act as models for others, so they too can chart their own path toward healthier, more sustainable communities.”

Lying vacant for over 20 years, the area surrounding the Alkali Flat/La Valentina light-rail station in downtown Sacramento was known for crime, blight and contamination. In 2007, a public-private partnership between the city of Sacramento and Domus Development brought together community groups to address neighborhood concerns and create a new vision for the area. From that vision came an affordable, mixed-use building complex—La Valentina and La Valentina North—that has cutting-edge energy-efficient features, bike parking and is located next to a light-rail stop.

The La Valentina project achieves the goals of the Sacramento Region Blueprint, a 2004 EPA Smart Growth Award winner, to accommodate population growth while mitigating factors that contribute to climate change. California’s 2008 Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, or SB 375, is the nation’s first legislation to link transportation and land use planning with climate change. SB 375 requires regions in California to develop Sustainable Communities Strategies like the Sacramento Region Blueprint and encourages projects like La Valentina throughout the state.

The 2013 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement recognized five winners and two honorable mentions in the following categories:

    Overall Excellence – Winner: Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail/Historic Fourth Ward Park, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Atlanta
    Corridor or Neighborhood Revitalization – Winner: Historic Millwork District and Washington Neighborhood, Dubuque, Iowa
    Plazas, Parks and Public Places – Winner: Charles City Riverfront Park, Charles City, Iowa
    Policies, Programs and Plans – Winner: GO TO 2040, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Metropolitan Chicago
    Built Projects – Winner: La Valentina, Sacramento, Calif.
    Policies, Programs and Plans – Honorable Mention: Lower Eastside Action Plan, Detroit City Planning Commission, Detroit
    Built Projects – Honorable Mention: Via Verde, New York City Department of Housing Preservation, Bronx

La Valentina was selected from among 77 applicants in 31 states. The winning entries were chosen based on their effectiveness in creating sustainable communities; fostering equitable development among public, private and nonprofit stakeholders; and serving as national models for environmentally and economically sustainable development.

EPA created the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in 2002 to highlight exceptional approaches to development that protect the environment, encourage economic vitality, and enhance quality of life. In the past 12 years, 61 winners from 26 states have shown a variety of approaches that states, regions, cities, suburbs, and rural communities can use to create economically strong, environmentally responsible development. EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities manages the awards program.

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