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Funds finally available to make land-use and transportation more sustainable

Marc Lefkowitz  |  07/29/09 @ 12:53pm

The Sustainable Communities Initiative, designed to coordinate efforts of multiple federal departments and agencies to promote smart growth, is taking shape, New Urban News reports.

At the 2009 Congress for New Urbanism, Regina Gray of HUD outlined the budget which includes $100 million for metropolitan area growth planning and to apply federal transportation, housing and other investments in an integrated way. Metropolitan planning organizations (such as the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency) and local recipients of HUD block grant assistance would submit joint applications. Funds would be used to draft regional development plans that use the latest analytic, modeling and mapping tools.

One such regional development tool that is gaining notice is the I-Place tool being used in King County (Seattle), Washington. King County is mapping where carbon dioxide emissions are generated by household.

The King County map will provide a baseline that can be used in its development review process. When a development is submitted to the county, it can be checked to see how its emissions compare to the baseline or average level of emissions countywide. The county can then determine what mitigation is needed.

Planners need tools that can evaluate and compare the potential CO2 effects of rezoning, comprehensive plans, transit investment and transit-oriented development. King County looked at the relationships between urban form, air quality, transportation and health. We integrated research results into I-PLACE3S, a web-based scenario planning tool developed by Sacramento Area Council of Governments (for) real-time feedback about the implications of planning decisions.

NOACA-and its new effort to incorporate land-use and transportation's impact on carbon dioxide emissions in its long-range plan-will now have a funding source, if it elects to pursue one, for in-depth analysis of Northeast Ohio's land-use and transportation planning process and a similar policy of mitigation fees for sprawl development.

Grey said some of the $13.6 billion in the stimulus bill for energy efficiency / green jobs, shovel-ready projects and prevention of foreclosures / community decline may be tapped for smart growth and New Urbanism.

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