Guest on The Infra Blog: Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director, Coalition for Smarter Growth

Posted by Steve Anderson on Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

schwartzA founder and the longtime Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Stewart is responsible for the organization’s overall strategic direction, is their primary spokesperson, and leads their advocacy at the regional level and in Virginia.

Before the Coalition for Smarter Growth, Stewart worked for the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, the Land Trust Alliance, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and as a volunteer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. He had little idea of what he was getting into with the Coalition, but 15 years later he’s still going strong!

Stewart is an attorney, but he’s also a retired Navy Captain with 24 years of active and reserve service. He holds a BA and JD from the University of Virginia (a “double-Hoo”) and an MA from Georgetown University. He has been recognized by the Washington Business Journal as Business Person of the Year (2002), a finalist for their Green Business Visionary Award (2009), and as a member of their D.C. Region Power 100 (2012).

Coalition For Smarter Growth: Goals and Activities
We’re trying to promote a better way to grow in the Washington, DC region.  We believe that a network of transit-oriented communities represents the most sustainable and competitive future for our region. “

Stakeholders MUST Join the Dialogue
“Citizens are critical and non-profit advocacy groups are particularly important.  Frequently, the business community advocates for infrastructure investments, but I think you need a broader coalition and I think you need to have the conservation and smart-growth community, affordable-housing advocates, transit advocates and others at the table in advocating for infrastructure.”

Dispelling Doubt About Investment
“There’s some resignation that traffic is a fact of life in your metropolitan areas of the U.S., and that you don’t see great improvements after years of mega investments in many areas.  So there’s some doubt that we can solve the problem, and again, that’s why we think that it’s so important to not only say that inaction is not a solution, but also to try to tie the action to a more comprehensive approach linking land use and transportation.”

Three Tenets of Smart Growth
“First, it’s a commitment to your existing cities and towns, reinvesting where you already have infrastructure…Second, it’s creating a framework within a region around high-capacity transit such as metro rail and light rail, commuter rail.”

Citizens Demand Livable Cities
“There’s a huge shift in demographics and market demand, where first of all it’s young people who have moved to our cities, they’re moving to communities in our area, like Arlington, Virginia where there’s lots of transit…They, at the same time now, are being joined by baby boomers, who are now empty nesters, and who are seeking to downsize.” 

Download full transcript (PDF): Stewart Schwartz on The Infra Blog

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