January 21, 2021
Dear Friends,
Many of us watched Governor Murphy’s virtual State of the State address last week. Pre-recorded in an empty theater at the Trenton War Memorial, we were reminded that our strange new pandemic reality did not end at the stroke of midnight on January 1. Despite the empty seats, the speech was filled with hope. We are filled with hope as well, though there is much work to be done. The Governor highlighted the New Jersey Economic Recovery Act in his remarks, which has a strong focus on place. We applaud this and offer our analysis below. 

December was a busy month! We hosted two very successful virtual eventsour annual Smart Growth Awards and Jersey Water Works Conference. You can read more about the Smart Growth Awards below and see the video showcase of this year's winners. Looking forward, we are honored to partner with the New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association in offering the first ever joint New Jersey Planning and Redevelopment Conference to be held virtually in Aprilwatch your inbox for updates coming next week.

December wasn’t our only busy month last year. We’ve included a summary of our 2020 accomplishments below and it is even longer than previous years. While the pandemic has hit our communities hard, the virtual workplace has proven its worth. 

We welcome our new Board officers and look forward to a productive 2021. We are diving right in, with a focus on equity and inclusiveness in all of our work. To that end, we are highlighting Smart Growth America’s Equity Summit to be held later this month. You can read more about the summit and register for it below. We hope you will join us. In fact, we hope you will join us in all of our 2021 endeavors. Onwards and upwards, and forward to a brighter and more sustainable future.

Peter Kasabach
Executive Director
At New Jersey Future, we persevered and worked hard, though most of our work was remote. We learned that we can still accomplish great things together even if we are not physically together. 2020 taught us some valuable lessons and highlighted inequities that have perpetuated for far too long in New Jersey and in our country. And we all learned how critical access to clean water is during a pandemic. 

We continued to drive policies and programs to make our communities healthier, stronger, and more resilient for everyone. New Jersey remains a heavily segregated state and we launched an initiative in 2020 focused on the geography of equity and inclusion. Read about this initiative and the other highlights of our work last year in the New Jersey Future Year in Review 2020
There is much for smart growth advocates to like in S3295/A4, the economic incentives legislation passed by the New Jersey Legislature. The comprehensive package of programs represented in this bill recognizes that place matters and that government subsidies, when directed toward places where we want and need growth, can help achieve a New Jersey in which everyone can thrive. Additionally, virtually all of New Jersey Future’s smart growth recommendations have been incorporated into the legislation.

This is a very large and complicated bill that includes many details that are not yet fully researched or understood. It is the kind of bill that would have benefitted from additional time for the public and policymakers to understand the nuances and detailed parameters being imposed by the legislature. However, New Jersey Future does look forward to working with the legislature and administration to move from vision to incentivized projects on the ground.  

New Jersey Future, with funding from The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation, developed Creating Great Places to Age in New Jersey: A Community Guide to Implementing Aging-Friendly Land Use Decisions to provide local communities with a step-by-step process to design their towns for the needs of older adults. The guide can be used by professionals, municipalities, or residents.

Land use is a critical factor in a town’s livability, and especially for older residents. Including aging-friendly factors in local planning for features like affordable and diverse housing, transportation, walkability, flexible employment opportunities, and access to daily activities and socialization helps towns ensure that older residents can continue to live and thrive independently in the communities they know and love.

2020 Smart Growth Awards
New Jersey Future hosted its annual Smart Growth Awards celebration on December 15th. This event honoring the very best of smart and sustainable planning and development in New Jersey and our Carey Edwards Leadership Award recipient was offered for the first time virtually.

Our 2020 Smart Growth Award winners included two repurposed historic buildings, two mixed-use art spaces, a citywide lead service line removal program, and a historic street redesign. These projects exemplify the best of planning and development to bring people together, and to create more equitable and sustainable communities and individual opportunities. It was a privilege to acknowledge these projects and their teams and the impact they have had in building community. 

Check out this amazing parade of award winning projects and plans. You can also access the individual winner videos. We invite you to check out this fantastic showcase of smart growth at its finest!
New Jersey Future is proud to announce Kathleen Ellis as the new chair of its Board of Trustees. Kathleen is the chief executive officer of Kathleen Ellis Strategic Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in energy policy, state government relations, and crisis communication. She also served in a variety of senior leadership positions at New Jersey Resources and, before that, as director of communications to Gov. James McGreevey.

Additional trustees elected to leadership positions include: Vice Chair Meishka Mitchell (Cooper’s Ferry Partnership), Secretary Courtney McCormick, Esq. (PSEG), and Treasurer Todd Gomez (Bank of America). 
Legislative Updates
  • A bill (S2607/A2785) that would amend the Municipal Land Use Law to add a requirement to the land use element to include a climate change-related hazard vulnerability assessment passed both houses of the Legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
  • The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is accepting comments on the combined sewer overflow Long Term Control Plans through January 31.
Smart Growth for Everyone
Smart Growth is equitable growth. It is also restorative; meaning smart growth and redevelopment can help break the cycle and correct historic and systemic racial and economic segregation and disparities. As New Jersey Future drives land use decision-making toward more equitable outcomes, we will be sharing resources and lessons in this monthly spotlight that we have found useful. Please give us your feedback and share with us any particularly good articles, talks, events, or videos that you come across.
This month, we spotlight Smart Growth America’s virtual and free Equity Summit taking place January 26-28. In places of all sizes, land use and transportation decisions have created or exacerbated racial disparities. Improving these disparities is fundamental to smart growth. But where to start? Advocates, local leaders, developers, planners, and residents may be unsure how to elevate this part of their smart growth work, or simply need help bringing others along to understand why it’s so urgently needed. The three-day virtual summit is designed to help fill some of these gaps. You can learn more about the summit or register here.
Featured Resources

New Jersey Future has created the Creating Places To Age: A Community Guide to Implementing Aging-Friendly Land Use Decisions to provide communities with a step-by-step process to make it easier to design for the needs of older residents.

The New Jersey Stormwater Utilities Resource Center is a one-stop shop, housing technical legal and financial information, case studies, and helpful guidance on stormwater solutions, community process, and public engagement.

The Developers Green Infrastructure Guide 2.0 breaks down New Jersey’s Stormwater Rule amendments and helps developers and decision-makers understand more clearly green infrastructure options and advantages, compare alternatives, and evaluate costs and benefits.

This report from the Jersey Water Works Lead in Drinking Water Task Force outlines actions New Jersey can take to virtually eliminate lead in drinking water in 10 years. New Jersey Future is a member of the Jersey Water Works collaborative.
Social Media Highlight
New Jersey Future in the News
Founded in 1987, New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes sensible growth, redevelopment and infrastructure investments to foster vibrant cities and towns, protect natural lands and waterways, enhance transportation choices, provide access to safe, affordable and aging-friendly neighborhoods and fuel a strong economy. New Jersey Future does this through original research, innovative policy development, coalition-building, advocacy, and hands-on strategic assistance. Embracing differences and advancing fairness is central to New Jersey Future’s mission and operations. To effectively advance its mission, New Jersey Future is firmly committed to pursue a culture of greater justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion through its programs, internal operations and external communications.