Among the articles in this newsletter: Building The New Transit Town -- Reconnecting America’s New CEO Shares His Experiences; AARP, National Housing Trust and RA Report Finds Thousands Could Lose Affordable Apartments Near Transit; TOD Help For MPOs; CTOD Takes Its Transit and TOD Database Online; A TOD Strategy For Central Maryland; What Is The Definition Of “Successful TOD” In Los Angeles? and Can A Streetcar Capture Value In Washington D.C.?
In this issue of Reconnecting America's e-newsletter is the announcement of a new book that should push public transit to the top of the conservative (and liberal) agenda; Mariia Zimmerman's testimony to Senate Banking; a briefing book on bringing equitable, sustainable TOD to scale; a new paper on how connecting destinations will help ensure high ridership; and a big welcome to Catherine Cox Blair, who has joined Reconnecting America and the Center for TOD team.
Reconnecting America is co-publishing the book Moving Minds: Conservatives and Transit, a collection of studies by renown conservative transit advocates Paul Weyrich and William Lind. Weyrich, who in 1977 founded the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative Washington, DC, think tank that focused on grassroots political organizing, died this past year. The studies that he and Lind did on public transportation helped conservatives understand why transit should be an essential part of the conservative agenda: because it enhances national security, promotes economic development, helps maintain conservative values including a sense of community, and provides welfare recipients with access to jobs.
Reconnecting America Policy Director Mariia Zimmerman testified before the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development on June 3. She talked about the trends that are boosting the market for sustainable transit-oriented development. But she noted that the way that the FTA evaluates transit proposals determines whether we will be able to build enough transit to capitalize on these promising development trends.
The Center for Transit-Oriented Development, Living Cities, and the Boston College Institute for Responsible investment convened a group of more than 50 developers, investors, foundations, government officials and not-for-profit organizations last February to discuss the roles each can play in advancing TOD that meets critical economic, environmental and social goals. Living Cities is an innovative philanthropic collaborative of 21 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions working together to re-engineer America’s cities by investing in tangible community assets. Among the conclusions:
We welcome Catherine Cox-Blair to Reconnecting America and the CTOD team! Catherine is joining us as a program director, and will provide TOD training to regions and help set up land acquisition funds. Catherine had been a senior associate with Cherokee Investment Fund in Denver, a leading private equity firm that invests in brownfield redevelopment. Before that she had worked for the City of Denver for eight years, managing the city’s exemplary transit oriented development program. In that position she worked with eight city departments, many partner agencies, the mayor’s office and several national organizations, and she had worked with Reconnecting America CEO Shelley Poticha and Strategic Economics principal Dena Belzer on a TOD strategic plan for the city. Catherine also led station area planning efforts and a number of other TOD initiatives including a public housing redevelopment strategy.
The effectiveness of transit is typically measured by ridership – ridership projections, for example, often determine whether a project will win federal funding. But the complex movements of people within a region make accurate predictions difficult. Indeed, three of the most successful lines that have opened since 2003 (Minneapolis, Denver’s Southeast line, and Los Angeles Orange BRT line) received only a medium-low rating from the Federal Transit Administration, and under current rules would not have been funded.
In this issue of Reconnecting America's monthly email newsletter are short case studies on essential TOD tools, prepared for US EPA and Phoenix LISC; a video of Michael Powell from Powell's Books talking about the economic development benefits of the Portland streetcar; a link to Senate Banking Committee testimony from CTOD's Shelley Poticha and Scott Bernstein, plus a link to the housing and transportation affordability index for 54 metro regions; and pie charts showing how three cities assembled funding for their streetcars.
Reconnecting America CEO Shelley Poticha and Center for Neighborhood Technology President Scott Bernstein told Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee members and staff that transportation and housing policy and funding must be linked to unlock the market for development near stations and to enhance affordability.
Developers and realtors in Phoenix are intrigued by the opportunities for higher-density mixed-use development along the new 20-mile light rail line connecting downtown to Tempe and west Mesa, in part because it’s so different than the sprawling low-density growth that otherwise characterizes the city. Melinda Korth of CB Richard Ellis told GlobeSt.com, an online commercial real estate news source, that the new rail line will create value that will help justify the conversion of the many surface parking lots along the line into development that will strengthen the urban core and make it more walkable.