Welcome to the Fall Platform newsletter. As I write this, Congress has just returned after its recess with a mountain of issues awaiting action. Policy Director Sarah Kline takes a look at what’s at stake while Chief of Staff Allison Brooks and Deputy Policy Director Darnell Chadwick Grisby explore the America Fast Forward proposal.
Reconnecting America, often in collaboration with our partners at the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD), has been working with regional stakeholders to articulate the benefits and challenges of transit and transit-oriented development (TOD) in regions around the country. This year, we have completed regional reports in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and the Baton Rouge/New Orleans area. Each region has its own specific opportunities and challenges.
After narrowly avoiding a global economic meltdown by raising the U.S. debt limit at the beginning of August, Congress returned to a packed agenda in September. Since most legislation – particularly that involving the expenditure of federal dollars – was on hold until the debt limit deal was reached, Congress must spend the fall dealing with appropriations as well as several major expiring authorizations, including surface transportation. But will Congress complete action on these important measures, or simply push off dealing with them until a later date? The latter is more likely.
Long known as a land of sprawl and disconnected communities, Los Angeles has emerged as a leader in transit investments, providing forward-thinking leadership for how infrastructure finance can and should continue, even in difficult financial times.
The Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) continues to be engaged on multiple topics, from research to technical assistance to sharing of best practices in policy and implementation. Over the past few months we’ve continued our applied work in regions across the country, a new national publication, and several research projects that will bear fruit over the fall and winter.
The last edition of Platform discussed the growing emergence of formal partnerships between multiple jurisdictions, non-profit groups and philanthropy to promote equitable, sustainable development. Longstanding collaborative partnerships focused on growth management - such as Envision Utah and the Treasure Valley Partnership in Boise, ID - have been more recently joined by efforts focused specifically on maximizing the community and economic benefits of transit investments without displacing vulnerable communities. Growth management, community development, economic development, housing, transportation, energy and infrastructure are all fields that require unique expertise, and that have thus been necessarily divided. But it is increasingly evident that no jurisdiction, discipline, organization, or funding source will singlehandedly achieve regional sustainability.
The Great Communities Collaborative (GCC) in the San Francisco Bay Area has worked for years to maximize equitable TOD opportunities. GCC commissioned the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD) and the Bay Area Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to conduct an initial feasibility study for a fund that would be targeted to acquiring properties near quality transit for the purposes of building and preserving affordable housing, mixed-use development and other community amenities. This work helped convince the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the MPO, to dedicate $10 million as top-loss funding as long as the fund managers could raise an additional $50 million from private sources. MTC’s ability to leverage non-governmental sources of funding was a key incentive that made the dedication of funds politically feasible with elected officials on the commission, and might not have been as successful if the GCC had not initiated efforts to study the feasibility…
Beyond our regular updates on what the Center for Transit-Oriented Development has been up to and the latest from our Policy team's efforts in Washington, DC, the Summer 2011 Platform newsletter looks at our involvement in collaborative efforts to support creation and preservation of equitable transit-oriented developments. In addition to an overview of our work across the nation, we take a detailed look at Denver's TOD collaboration and the Bay Area Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing Fund. The newletter also recaps our 2011 Transit Space Race report and introduces the new FTA-sponsored webinar series.
It is time to talk budgets in Washington. The president and Congress are discussing debt ceilings and budget cuts, and “living within our means” is a common refrain. As we engage in this exercise, it is useful to understand that we need to be smart about our cuts and make investments in our future. The rest of the world—including nations that are belt-tightening too, such as Britain—is spending money on infrastructure. There are clear reasons why.
Partnerships in support of equitable transit-oriented development – such as the Great Communities Collaborative (GCC) in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative in the Twin Cities – have been around for several years. These collaborations bring together local and national philanthropy with non-profit and community-based organizations to ensure that all populations have access to the benefits provided by transit. Some groups, such as the GCC, are focused on ensuring that station area plans around existing fixed-guideway transit consider affordable housing needs and maximize development potential, while others are motivated by workforce development opportunities, mitigating business impacts during transit construction or augmenting access to employment, education and services. Almost all are focused on transit…