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Sustainable Communities • $12


Cities Discover Economic Benefits of Sustainable Development

Inside HUD’s New Focus on Sustainability .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 8 Builders fight sales slump with efficient homes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p. 26 Housing & Transit: What’s being done to preserve affordability .p. 32

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Sustainable Housing & Community Development Live • Learn new strategies for affordable housing, mixed-use & transit-oriented development in the era of resource efficiency • Make connections with potential partners and financing sources. • Meet experts in green building, renewable energy, nontraditional financing sources, land use planning and design.

Save time and money on our succinct and economically priced one-day conference format.

Breakout sessions will cover topics such as these types of topics: n Track

1: The “greening” of affordable housing

• The outlook for inclusionary zoning and more supportive land use policies to encourage housing near jobs, transit • Housing tax credit and other government program rules • Green affordable housing programs and case studies • Financing sources & methods, syndication trends • Energy and water-efficient building techniques and certifications • Renewable energy generation n Track

A one-day conference for developers, financiers and associated professionals interested in sustainable planning & development and green building and the financial intricacies thereof. There will be a keynote plenary session with a prominent speaker, plus a working lunch for small group discussions and an evening networking reception.

Date and location San Francisco, CA. May, 2011

2: New opportunities for infill, mixed-used and transitoriented development. • How to find development opportunities and benefit from new planning efforts around transit expansions • Ideas and incentives for land acquisition, site assembly • Financing structures and sources • Winning zoning, design and parking concessions • Dealing with CEQA and VMT generation

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: • Real estate developers involved in housing, tax credit housing, commercial, mixed-use, infill and home building. • Real estate consultants, lawyers, accountants • Financing providers • City, county & regional planners • Community development, housing and redevelopment officials • Architects • Land planners

For details on the conference, location and date, go to For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact: Andre Shashaty, Email: • 415.453.2100 ext 303

Contents January/February 201 1

To receive the complete first issue with all the stories listed here become a member of PSC. Go back to the home page and click on “become a member” or “register now.” Or call 415-453-2100 x302




2 Letter from the Editor 3 Land Planning & Design:

Design Ideas for Transforming malls into neighborhoods

5 Affordable Housing:



Housing Finance Agencies embrace Enterprise standards

6 New Directions 16 Urban & Regional Planning

Features 8

U.S. Promotes Sustainability, ‘geography of opportunity’

41 World Roundup 42 Around the nation

26 Slow Home Sales Solution:

The Obama Administration will undoubtedly meet resistance from the new Republican majority in the House, but federal policy has taken a fundamental turn toward sustainable planning and development. Our package of stories puts it all in perspective:

29 KB Homes Uses Batteries

11 PSC Leadership Forum:

HUD’s Poticha Takes the Lead on sustainability

13 Money flows for integrated planning of development, transportation

14 Federal Transportation Policy Supports Sustainable Communities

Cities discover economic benefits of sustainable planning, land use

to improve economics of Solar-Powered Homes

32 Housing & Transit:


Meritage bucks bad market with high efficiency

Cities Plan for Affordable Housing Preservation along Transit Lines With transit lines being developed and expanded throughout the nation, cities are debating how best to plan for the use of land near new stations. Is enough being done to encourage density and preserve housing affordability? What cities are leading the way on these issues? Our story begins to shed some light on these issues.

• California • Massachusetts • Texas • Washington, DC

44 Green Building

California launches First State wide Green Building Code

46 Finance:

Federal grants, utility programs sustain financial appeal of new solar installations


38 Reinventing the Suburbs:

Tyson’s Corner Plan calls for high density, mixed-use around transit

january/february 2011 • Sustainable Communities


Sustainable Communities

Letter from the Editor

Vol 1, No 1 • Jan/Feb 2011 •

Remaking cities, changing the world

Sustainable Communities Magazine 6i-2

By Andre Shashaty


ondon–Walking the streets of the West End just before New Year’s, dodging tourists from across the globe, I realized why this city always makes me so hopeful for the future. New York offers excitement and financial power, Istanbul intrigues the senses and Shanghai vibrates with ambition. But London speaks to the resilience of cities, their ability to adapt to change, and their potential to provide inspiration and direction for entire nations. The city on the Thames has withstood the collapse of empires, invasions, plague, tyranny, conflagration, firebombing, killer smog and more. It has survived physical destruction and mass killing, coming back stronger and evolving into the diverse, thriving world center it is today. The current challenge is more wide-ranging and complex. We must combat the threat of climate change by curbing greenhouse gas emissions, reverse the worst impacts of suburban sprawl, and improve the resource-efficiency of our built environment. Cities must deal with declining economies, rapidly growing populations, and in some cases, both. London is one of many cities at the forefront of the transition from the old economy of manufacturing and resource exploitation to a new economy based on knowledge-based and service industries, including alternative energy generation and low carbon construction. It is also one of the cities that sees the need to change their land use polices, to build more affordable housing close to jobs and transit, to increase density and to reduce reliance on private cars and the pollution and congestion that goes with it. London is not necessarily ahead of other cities, but it is especially bold. It pioneered congestion pricing for driving a private car into the central city. Now, The London Development Authority wants this city of 7.5 million to be one of the world’s leading low carbon capitals so it can prosper in the new “global low carbon economy.” It is not alone. Hundreds of cities throughout the world and right here in the U.S. want the same thing, including Cleveland and other Rust Belt cities that can no longer rely on automotive and steel jobs for viability. I know cities are prone to bold thinking mixed with more than a little hype. But they are matching the bravado with action. Innovation is everywhere as we move into the second decade of this new century, and there is much more to come.

There is a long way to go, but the new era of sustainable community planning and development is well underway. Sustainable Communities magazine is your guide to this exciting time of change, and this is our very first issue. The magazine is published by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a nonprofit group I founded in 2009. If you like what you see, visit our web site at, and become a member. You’ll ensure that you get all six yearly issues plus other valuable benefits. You’ll also be supporting our work to make our communities more sustainable -- not just environmentally, but socially and economically as well.


Sustainable Communities • january/february 2011

Editor and Publisher Andre Shashaty Managing Editor Deirdre Greene Advertising & Conference Sales Manager Wendy Chaney Office & Member Services Manager Carol Yee Board of Directors Rev. Betty Pagett, Community Acceptance Strategist Todd Sears, Vice President of Finance, Herman & Kittle Properties Patrick Sheridan, Senior Vice President for Housing Development, Volunteers of America Dianne Spaulding, Executive Director, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California Leadership Advisory Board Richard Baron, Chairman and CEO, McCormack Baron Salazar Doug Bibby, President, National Multi Housing Council Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman, CityView; former secretary, U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development F. Barton Harvey, Former chairman and CEO, Enterprise Community Partners William C. Kelly, Jr., President, Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF) Kerry Mazzoni, public policy consultant, former state legislator and former California Secretary of Education Nicolas P. Retsinas, Director, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University Caleb Roope, President/CEO, The Pacific Companies Sustainable Communities Magazine is published by Partnership for Sustainable Communities a non-profit organization

To become a member or to make a tax-deductible contribution, contact 900 Fifth Ave  Suite 201 San Rafael, CA 94901 415 453 2100 ext 303


Housing finance agencies embrace Enterprise green building standards


s the 2011 tax credit allocain 2010, is one of several states that make tion cycle begins, 18 housing them a thresshold requirement. Other finance agencies are using Enagencies that make them a requirement terprise Green Communities Criteria as are Washington, D.C., and the New York either a threshold, option, or a tool to Department of Housing Preservation. enhance the developer’s overall score A new version of the Enterprise for choosing projects in the competiGreen Communities Criteria, updated to tive process. reflect current technology and national The HFAs are: California, Colorado, standards, is available online. Duany Plater-Zyberk reference & Company Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Georgia, The revisions were made after reviewing Fall 2010 1/2pg Ad Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, 320 comments from interested parties. New Mexico, New York City, North Dakota, Enterprise says the criteria are a Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington framework for comprehensive green and Wisconsin. building practices, which are applicable Colorado, which adopted the criteria for all affordable housing development

types, in any location in the country. In regard to location type, the 2008 Criteria included only one set of mandatory and optional measures for all projects in the “Location and Neighborhood Fabric” category. The 2011 update includes mandatory and optional measures focused around smart growth principles that are most appropriate for three different location types — • urban/small city, • suburban/mid-size town or • rural/tribal/small town. Some mandatory and optional —continued on page 48

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Sprawl Repair Manual

“Hugely instructive and formidably inspirational” (Leon Krier), a planning manual to comprehensively address sprawl.

Light Imprint Handbook

Integrating community design and stormwater management, “a sustainable place-making must-read” (the Original Green).

The Smart Growth Manual

All you need to know about smart growth in one compact package. Recently released, this is a Planetizen Top Ten.

Suburban Nation – 10th Anniversary Edition

The “bible of urbanists” (Wall St. Journal) and the best-selling book on planning since A Pattern Language. Find out why.

january/february 2011 • Sustainable Communities



Republican majority takes aim at GHG emission controls


he outlook for federal policy to promote community sustainability took a turn for the worse in January. Greenhouse gases officially became subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act, just in time for Republicans to assume control of the House of Representatives with a mandate to protect oil and coal interests that would be hurt most by controls. Fueled by political pressure to cut domestic spending, the Republican majority in the House will also be a tough obstacle for the Obama Administration’s fiscal 2011 budget proposals, including funding for transportation projects and regional planning to advance community sustainability. The government is being financed by a series of continuing resolutions,

PHOTO: US Coast guard

without support from the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats. But they will be able to force compromises on many issues, including funding levels for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation. They will also be able to block any new commitments by the government to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They will also be able to make a lot of noise. Republicans are promising to use their new power to hold hearings they hope will sow doubt about climate change and generate controversial headlines about the environmental and sustainability policies of the Obama Administration, including programs for mass transit and housing. The epicenter for the battle over greenhouse gas emissions is the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where the once open-minded chairAP PHOTO: Haraz N. Ghanbari man has taken up the mantra that policies to reduce greenhouse gases are job killers. He will be assisted by one of the oil industry’s staunchest supporters and congressmen from two of the biggest coal-producing states in the nation. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) assumed the chairmanship of the panel, promising to fight the EPA and their efforts to curb carbon emissions. “We will fight the administration’s relentless assault on jobs -- and stop them from doing through regulation what they have been unable to ac▲ ‘Deepwater Horizon’ Gulf of Mexico oil spill, complish through legislation,” Upton upper right: Rep. Joe Barton recently wrote to and it is unclear when a final appropriaUpton had been regarded as a tion bill might be passed for the fiscal moderate on environmental issues, but year that began back on Oct. 1. changed his tune recently, allowing him The new Republican majority in the to prevail over Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX). House won’t be able to change laws Barton was chair the last time Republi-


Sustainable Communities • january/february 2011

▲ Rep. Fred Upton

can’s had a majority. He is famous for his public apology to BP for the Obama administration’s reaction to the massive amounts of oil that leaked from the British oil company’s “Deepwater Horizon” rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Upton named Barton as “chairman emeritus,” an honorary post that includes two staff positions and a platform for public statements at any hearing Barton wishes to attend. Under Upton, the current Energy and Environment Subcommittee will be divided into two subcommittees. The new Energy and Power Subcommittee, which will have jurisdiction over energy and Clean Air Act issues, is headed by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY). The new Environment and Economy Subcommittee, which will focus on environmental regulations and their economic impact, will be chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL). In other key changes, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) replaces Barney Frank (D-Mass.) as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. At press time, no one had been named to chair the panel’s housing subcommittee. Bachus said his top priority was to end federal support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the secondary mortgage market makers which together control massive numbers of home loans. ❧

© Siemens AG, 2011. All Rights Reserved.

The world of tomorrow needs

answers that last. That’s why we’re building them today, with customers all over the world. It’s why we’re designing our technology to last longer and use fewer resources. It’s why we’re helping our customers reduce their CO2 emissions. And it’s why we’re pioneering new answers with one of the world’s largest environmental portfolios. As a result, we were just named the best in our business sector by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. And recognized as the top company overall by the Carbon Disclosure Project,

the world’s largest independent database of corporate climate change information. Yet we’d never claim to have all the answers. That’s why we’re working with 190 countries. Thousands of cities. Tens of thousands of companies. In energy, industry and healthcare. We’re working with the world today to create answers that last for the world of tomorrow. /answers

U.S. promotes sustainability, When President Barack Obama took office, no agency in the federal government needed a new direction more than the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Two years later, the housing agency is leading the way in the new era of holistic urban planning and sustainable real estate development.

Salt Lake City will be at the center of continued expansion of transit-oriented land use planning under a $5 million grant Salt Lake County received under HUD’s new Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program.


Sustainable Communities • january/february 2011


Secretary Shaun Donovan has been working hard since taking office to make sure that “federal dollars stop encouraging sprawl and start lowering the barriers to the kind of sustainable development our country needs and our communities want.” He has committed HUD to creating what he calls “the geography of opportunity” for people of all types and at all income levels. Donovan has launched a new era of active cooperation on policy and funding programs between HUD and the federal agencies in charge of transportation and environmental protection. His department is also helping cities and regions develop and implement inter-jurisdictional sustainable land use and transportation plans using one of the only pots of new domestic funding in the entire government. The $140 million in grants is being administered by HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. [See the following interview with Shelley Poticha, the head of that office.] In a speech to the Congress for the New Urbanism in May 2010, Donovan said he was determined to bring a holistic and interjurisdictional view of community development into the mainstream. Donovan explained the need for this fundamentally new approach in the context of home mortgage foreclosure patterns. He said they showed that “hidden costs like transportation can put families over the edge into increased financial

‘geography of opportunity’ vulnerability,” and that the highest foreclosure rates were often in the places with the least access to transportation.

AP PHOTO BY Harry Hamburg

Donovan explained the problem as follows: “During the housing boom, real estate agents suggested to families that couldn’t afford to live near job centers that they could find a more affordable home by living farther away. Lenders bought into the “Drive to Qualify” myth as well—giving easy credit to homebuyers without accounting for how much it might cost families to live in these areas or the risk they could pose to the market.” “And when these families moved in, they found themselves driving dozens of miles to work, to school, to the movies, to the grocery store, spending hours in traffic and spending nearly as much to fill their gas tank as they were to pay their mortgage—and in some places, more.” Donovan admitted that past federal intervention in

▲ HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan

community planning was not always successful. He said he wanted to reassert the federal government’s role in helping cities but without “returning to the one-size-fits-all approach we saw during urban renewal. Rather, we must use new tools that help us partner with local governments in ways that

january/february 2011 • Sustainable Communities




recognize the variations of communities—and neighborhoods within those communities.”

Mainstreaming Sustainability Donovan said HUD is trying to integrate principles of sustainable planning and development into decision-making for all its funding programs. He said that for all HUD notices of funding availability this year, HUD has established criteria that will incentivize grantees to think about how they can incorporate green building and features into their plans. HUD has also decided to try to make up for the federal government’s role in encouraging sprawl—”whether it’s building the beltways and highways in the second half of the 20th century that connected employment centers outside city limits or, more recently, a housing finance system that perpetuated the ‘drive to qualify’ myth.” He said more and more people are “voting with their feet—in search of walkable neighborhoods with transportation options,” and cited the threat of global warming to ▲

PHOTO COURTESY Capital City Partnership

St. Paul, Minn., was among the cities that received an award in the very first round of grants made under HUD’s new Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program.


Sustainable Communities • january/february 2011

explain why HUD will be using location-efficiency to score grant applications. According to Donovan, HUD will use the LEED-ND green neighborhood rating system CNU developed in partnership with the National Resources Defense Council and Green Building Council, to make sure “federal dollars stopped encouraging sprawl and started lowering the barriers to the kind of sustainable development our country needs and our communities want.”

Encouraging Diversity Donovan evoked the idea of “equitable, inclusive neighborhoods, with opportunities for people of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities.” He said that “diverse, inclusive communities offer the most educational, economic, and employment opportunities to their residents.” He tied the movement toward sustainable, inclusive development directly to the struggle for racial equality, saying “We don’t accept a worse set of health outcomes for one population—and another for everyone else. So, why should we when it comes to housing and community development— with all that we know about how central it is to creating a geography of opportunity?”❧

PSC Leadership Forum:

HUD’s Poticha takes the lead on sustainability Shelley R. Poticha is director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at HUD. The office is presiding over $100 million in new Sustainability Planning Grants intended to encourage metropolitan and rural regions to plan for the integration of economic development, land use, and transportation investments. The office is also awarding $40 million in Challenge Grants to fund land-use related planning activities that are linked to a future transportation investment—modernizing building codes, zoning laws, and other barriers to sustainable development. Poticha previously served as president and CEO of Reconnecting America, where she became a national leader for the reform of land use and transportation planning and policy with the goal of creating more sustainable and equitable development. Prior to joining Reconnecting America, Poticha was the executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism. Andre F. Shashaty, president of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, spoke with her recently. Here are highlights of their conversation: Shashaty: What are you able to tell me about the competition for HUD’s $140 million in Sustainable Communities Planning grants and challenge grants? Poticha: We had a lot of interest all over the country and expressions of interest from every state. The application due date was August 23, and we got a really great crop of proposals. Grant awards were announced after this interview; see related story in this issue. Do you have any thoughts on what cities are ahead of the curve? The thing that is just amazing to me, in a very gratifying way, is that we are seeing an interest in the program from the biggest metro areas in the country. We are also seeing [interest] from mid-size cities. A lot of interest from communities that have been hit by the economic issues in the country. I noticed that you have an article posted on your website by Angela Glover-Blackwell. Do you agree with her that bad planning and sprawl are “a hidden cause of

PHOTO BY Dennis Whitehead

our economic woes”? She implies that better planning and compact development, transit-oriented development, and green building can help solve our economic problems. How do you see it? We are finding a tremendous alignment between the issues that sustainable communities are looking at and the mission that HUD is now engaged in: to be a key player in rebuilding the economy. We have, for lots of reasons, disconnected our thinking about where people live and where they work and what kinds of options people have about getting around in their communities. The regions that are showing the highest rates of foreclosures are also the regions that we call the “drive till you qualify suburbs”— the places where, if you just keep going out farther, the houses will be less expensive. And one of our concerns is that when people are in one of those places and they have to do every trip by car and commute a long way, they rack up expenses. Some of these [expenses] are hidden and you don’t really think about them as part of your calculus when you are going to buy a house. One of the things that we are investigating right now is the connection between the cost of transportation based on where households are located and the viability of different communities in terms of affordability. There are ways in which we could reduce that burden for working families.


january/february 2011 • Sustainable Communities


much does it concern you that public transit >> projectsHowseems to be so troubled these days and are raising their fares and cutting service? There are a couple ways to look at this. The first is that the demand for public transportation options is probably the highest it has been in the last 50 years. The American Public Transportation Association has been documenting this. [Demand] just [keeps] going up, and simultaneously the number of local ballot measures to self-fund public transportation projects is also at an all time high. Parts of the country are doing it on their own: Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas, to some extent Denver. They are all working out agreements with private-sector partners to invest in public transportation projects. The issue of a lack of funding for operating transit systems is a huge problem. But I don’t think this initiative around sustainable communities is tied to the fate of public transportation. A lot of the places that we are going to be working with don’t have a lot of public transportation. So, for those places, creating opportunities for people to safely walk, bike, be able to take shorter driving trips, or park in one place and take care of a whole bunch of errands is key. When you look at how people move around in this country, 80% of trips are local trips to shopping, to school, to the park—those kinds of trips are not commuting trips. How do you deal with the fact that Americans tend to love their cars, they love highways, and they are okay with government spending on highways—and at the same time, they hate density—any kind of density, low-income density, high-income density. Does that make it harder to encourage less dependence on cars? The federal government is not here to tell somebody to do something that they don’t want to do. This is a program that is about supporting communities that already want to do this kind of work. This is not imposing rules on anybody to live and invest in a way that they don’t want to do. Public support has to be there for any of this work to move forward. The wake-up call is that we received thousands of letters from every possible place in the country expressing support for this program when we sent out our advance notice for public comment on the planning grant program. There’s a big group of communities out there that understand the economic imperative and see that there’s a shift in demand. Not everyone is going to want to get out of their car, but there is a sizable group that’s ready for some options. What is your thought about implementation on


Sustainable Communities • january/february 2011

PHOTO BY Dennis Whitehead

California’s Senate Bill 375, and does that factor into what you are doing in any way? Certainly, your California applicants are going to dovetail what they applied for with their California obligations under SB 375, but what are your thoughts about SB 375? Well, this is not an official opinion…this is my personal opinion. I think that it is ground breaking that the state of California has ambitious goals (for GHG reductions through changes in land use). I think it’s probably one of the first in the nation to acknowledge specifically that our pattern of development has a connection to climate. Also, that it is not just pollution from cement plants and factories that causes our global warming challenges, but transportation emissions. We are not going to be able to get a grip on our contribution to climate change without looking at the pattern of development in our communities and promoting the ability for people to not have to drive for every single trip. The fact that the state is recognizing that it is going to need a bundle of tools in order to combat global warming is really important. Do you want to say anything about the extent to which you think that other states will come to see the wisdom of California’s path? I really think that what communities and states are struggling with is the economy. They are looking at every possible way in which they can rebound. The places with diverse economies, the places that responded to the real estate market, to demographic changes, and market preference changes, have weathered the economic cycle (this latest one) better than others. I really think that that’s the key to getting the community and states engaged. There are also, along the way, a whole bunch of other benefits, including climate benefits. ❧

Federal Grants:

Money flows for integrated planning of development, transportation WASHINGTON – After a very long retreat from supporting regional and local urban planning, the federal government got back into the game to the tune of $168 million in 2010. But this time, the feds are not dictating what cities must do or how they do it, and they are not neglecting rural areas either. Forty-five regional planning agencies were chosen to receive close to $100 million under the first round of new Sustainable Communities Planning Grant awards from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Meanwhile, a groundbreaking collaboration between HUD and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $68 million in “challenge grants” for 62 local and regional partnerships seeking to create a more holistic and integrated approach to connecting affordable housing, job opportunities and transportation corridors.

Integrating housing, transit The funding included $40 million in new Sustainable Community Challenge Grants to help support local planning designed to integrate affordable housing, good jobs and public transportation. Meanwhile DOT awarded nearly $28 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) II Planning Grants to implement localized plans for projects that integrate transportation, housing and economic development. The $98 million in Sustainable Communities planning grants will support state, local, and tribal governments, as ▲

well as metropolitan planning organizations, in the development and execution of regional plans that integrate affordable housing with neighboring retail and business development, according to HUD. The funding will help regions devise new plans for economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools and transportation, HUD said.

Becoming competitive “Regions that embrace sustainable communities will have a built-in competitive edge in attracting jobs and private investment,” said Shaun Donovan, HUD secretary. “In awarding these grants we were committed to using insight and innovation from our stakeholders and local partners to develop a ‘bottom-up’ approach to changing federal policy as opposed to ‘top-down.’ Rather than sticking to the old Washington playbook of dictating how communities can invest their grants, HUD’s application process encouraged creative, locally focused thinking,” Donovan stated. HUD’s Sustainable Communities Challenge Grants will be used in conjunction with transportation projects to increase the efficiency of local transportation while encouraging mixed-use or transit-oriented development. Such efforts may include amending or updating local master plans, zoning codes, and building codes to support private sector investment in mixed-use development, affordable housing and the


For more details on grant awards, go to

Atlanta Peachtree Corridor streetcar project.

january/february 2011 • Sustainable Communities


New Era for DOT:

>> re-use of older buildings. Other local efforts may include

retrofitting main streets to provide safer routes for children and seniors, or preserving affordable housing and local businesses near new transit stations. TIGER II Planning Grants will prepare or design surface transportation projects that would be eligible for funding under the TIGER II Discretionary Grant program. These projects include highways, bridges, transit, railways, ports or bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Rather than require applicants to navigate two separate grant application procedures that might be on different timelines and with different requirements, HUD and DOT joined their two new discretionary planning programs to create one point of entry to federal resources for local, innovative sustainable community planning projects.

Transportation funding Meanwhile, DOT also awarded TIGER II grants for 42 capital construction projects. “These are innovative, 21st century projects that will change the U.S. transportation landscape by strengthening the economy and creating jobs, reducing gridlock and providing safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. Roughly 29% of TIGER II money goes for road projects, 26% for transit, 20% for rail projects, 16% for ports, 4% for bicycle and pedestrian projects, and 5% for planning projects. An example of projects funded is $47.6 million to the City of Atlanta to construct a new streetcar line connecting many of the most important downtown residential, cultural, educational and historic centers. TIGER II funds are being used to support a $546 million TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to build the Crenshaw/ LAX Light Rail Line, a key piece of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 30/10 initiative to construct 12 major transit projects in 10 years. ❧

The biggest Sustainable Communities Planning grants went to these major metro areas: Boston Chicago Cleveland Fresno Hartford Kansas city


Knoxville Saint Louis Saint Paul Salt Lake County Seattle South Florida

Sustainable Communities • january/february 2011

Federal transportation Community development professionals have long decried the destructive impacts of federallyfunded highways on America’s cities. In fact, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has probably done more to encourage suburban sprawl than any other federal agency. Under the Obama Administration, however, there’s a new attitude at DOT. For the first time ever, the agency is actively cooperating with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make sure federal transportation spending makes communities stronger, and that funding decisions are considered in coordination with housing and other development needs. PSC President Andre Shashaty caught up with one of the key architects of the new policy, Beth Osborne, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Transportation Policy at DOT. Here is a summary of their conversation. What’s the significance of DOT’s collaboration with HUD on holistic regional planning for cities, and regions, and people concerned about the sustainability of our cities? Beth: I think the significance of this program is that it gave folks the opportunity to bring a wide range of stakeholders to the table. Having a little bit of federal money there to help pay for planning may be enough to convince folks to go ahead and join together and look at their regions holistically. From your vantage point in Washington, is this a milestone in terms of federal policy? Beth: Absolutely. We have had a lot of programs that were developed looking at very particular things, like how to build a good roadway network, or how to build affordable housing. And programs like this allow local government and regional entities to look at all of the needs of their community over the next several decades and make sure they’re not making disjointed investments; that they are looking at them as a whole, how each investment will affect the other. When they do these comprehensive looks at their community and they focus their development where infrastructure already exists, they avoid the need to build more and more things, and that also saves money. And at a time when we’re all facing stretched budgets, a little bit of planning money can mean a lot of savings for the tax payer and these governments down the road.

policy supports sustainable communities

▲ Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood travelled to Atlanta to announce TIGER II grants to 75 innovative projects in 40 states. The Department of Transportation said the nearly $600 million in competitively awarded TIGER II grants will put people to work “building a 21st century foundation for tomorrow’s economic growth.”

The Secretary of DOT has talked about livability, and he has talked about the extent to which you can get people out of their cars. How much of a change has taken place in the last two years in DOT’s orientation on the alternatives to private cars? Beth: Well, we have certainly taken opportunities with our discretionary dollars to make sure we’re looking at the end goal and not the mode. So, if the goal is to make sure that somebody can get to work conveniently, affordably, and cleanly, a community gets to figure out what that means for them. And if they can track the results of their project in a meaningful way, we use our discretionary dollars to reward that. And that has certainly in many cases meant good funding for good transit programs like the Tucson street car or the New Orleans street car. It has also meant replacement of deteriorating bridges [and work on roads and highways]. So it feeds a lot of different things in a lot of different places. In California, Southern California’s regional governments responded to state directives setting very ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying they could only do it if the state could promise them significantly more public transit funding. Can you give me a comment on that given that so many public transit systems are financially challenged right now. Beth: We have certainly underfunded transit in the past and so it’s not to say that part of the solutions isn’t to build a lot more transit. One of the reasons that Secretary LaHood has been so interested in the initiative is because he hears people talk about these issues every time he goes out on travel. He hears people come to talk about wanting better

transit and wanting to be able to let their kids walk to school and things like that. So, you know, a lot of this is making sure the government supplies people with what they want. One thing I talk a lot about is that market surveys show the sort of communities people want to move into, and they tell you over and over they want vibrant walkable connected communities. And yet we don’t really build a lot of them. The formation of our partnership with HUD began because when a new rail transit line is planned, we found that developers gobbled up every strip of land along that new line for high-end developments. So one of the reasons we need transit is for those who can’t afford to own four cars, for a family of four. And so we recognize that the supply and demand were far off kilter and it was resulting in the land with transit accessibility going to people who frankly needed it less, but enjoyed the lifestyle. Give me a brief snapshot of the TIGER program. It seems to be the DOT’s main program that does the most for communities and sustainability. Tell us a little bit about it and what’s coming up in the next few months. Beth: I think you’re right to point to TIGER as the program where we’ve embodied our five priorities. The Secretary has laid out five priorities. They are improving safety, economic competiveness, community livability, environmental sustainability, and state of good repair. And so there’s a lot of things we’re trying to address with TIGER. And you will see in our first list of awardees, that we hit on all of those areas. I think that the program helps harness innovation at the state and local level by showing people the sort of things that we were looking for and inviting their best ideas. And we got way more great ideas than we could have ever funded. We got $60 billion in requests for $1.5 billion in funding. TIGER is the first DOT initiative that really is, you used the phrase multi- modal, but I would say it gets to the issue of how transportation plays into a community’s development goals, whether that be walking, biking, driving, or public transportation. Beth: I think that’s a good way to put it. It is outcome based. We were not looking at any particular mode; we were looking at what projects state and local government could bring to us that would have the best impact on the communities where they’d be built. ❧

january/february 2011 • Sustainable Communities


Conference to cover housing, sustainable development San Francisco--Developers, city officials and financiers working on sustainable development and affordable housing will gather here in May for a new conference hosted by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (PSC). Sustainable Housing & Community Development Live will focus on new strategies for affordable housing, mixeduse & transit-oriented development in the era of resource efficiency and GHG reduction. “Our conference is a great way to make connections for success and learn about fast-moving changes in land use planning, environmental regulation, renewable energy and financing,” said Andre Shashaty, president of PSC. Registration details are available on line. The early bird rate is $199, if you register before March 11. Members of

PSC pay just $169, a savings of 15% “This is a very tightly-packed day of interactive breakout sessions that will allow plenty of time for questions with our expert speakers, making the most efficient use of your time,” said Shashaty. “You will be so engaged you won’t even think of looking at your Blackberry.” There will be a keynote plenary session with a prominent speaker, plus a working lunch for small group discussions and an evening networking reception. For details, go to or call 415 453 2100 ext 302. For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact: Andre Shashaty by Email: Andre@


measures are applicable to all projects, regardless of lcoation. Other mesureas are applicable only for porjects in a specific type of area. In the Energy Efficiency category of the Criteria, the whole-building energy performance requirements have been updated to reflect revised national model codes, including the US EPA’s Energy Start for new Homes and its High Rise Multifamily Program. For example, for new construction single family and low rise multifamily, the new performance standard is 15% better than 2009 International Energy Conservation Code. For mid and high rise new constructions, the standard is 15% better than standard 90-1.2007 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers Global Green, USA, analyzed 2010 QAPS to determine how “green” they were in a report titled Green Building Criteria in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Programs, an analysis of 2010 QAPs by Global Green, USA ( The 2010 QAP analysis shows the continuation of the trend established in previous years of a steady increase in both required and optional green


building measures. It found that 33 states improved scores from 2009 to 2010. The highest scores were given to Connecticut and Georgia, who tied for first for the second consecutive year by earning 50 points out of a possible 55. The next highest scoring state was Maryland, with a score of 48. Colorado was a new addition to the A group, gaining 30 points from the previous year due to the state’s adoption of Enterprise Green Communities criteria as a mandatory component of their QAP. For on-line info about the Enterprise criteria, go to

Communicate to build Community Acceptance With reports from around the country coming in that community resistance to affordable housing development is increasing, a new report on how to change public opinion on the issue makes for important reading. It’s called “What Works and Why: Affordable Housing Communications Campaigns 2000–2010” and it was published by Partnership for Sustainable Communities®

Sustainable Communities • january/february 2011

The report examines efforts by advocates and government agencies to build public and political support for affordable housing developments and funding and to counteract the negative attitudes toward affordable housing found in many communities. It describes 15 campaigns from New York to North Carolina to California, with reproductions of some of the advertisements used in those campaigns. This report was sponsored by the Marin Community Housing Action Initiative, a collaborative organization in Marin County, Calif., with support from Greenbelt Alliance, Marin Community Foundation, the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. To read the executive summary of the report, go to The full text of the report, with illustrations, is available for $12.00. The report is available at no charge to members of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Information on membership can be found online at or by calling 415-453-2100, ext. 302. Fifteen communication programs are described in “What Works and Why: Affordable Housing Communications Campaigns 2000­­-2010.” ❧

High Stakes Land Use Decisions? Don’t make a move without consulting our database Join Partnership for Sustainable Communities for just $79 and receive: • Must-read reporting and analysis on the new land use policies, green building practices, and innovative development strategies that are remaking our cities and towns in Sustainable Communities magazine. Published six time per year, this is the only journal that brings together all the threads of change on land use, development, energy, and transit into one succinct, wellorganized, highly readable package. • Opportunities to network and promote your organization in our Member Directory.

When it comes to land use policies and project entitlements, you can’t afford to act without a firm command of the facts and precedents. Now you can get the information you need in one very user-friendly source. It’s the Land Use Research Library from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Whether you are a developer, a city land use official, or an elected leader, PSC’s Land Use Research Library brings you instant access to hundreds of academic studies and surveys on: • The impact of zoning policies • Housing cost trends and influences • Property values • The most effective economic development measures • Effects of various community development strategies • Economic contributions of inclusionary zoning and affordable housing development The Library is a benefit of membership in Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

• Critical news alerts in the subject areas of interest to you. • Premium website content at no extra cost (view an example here). • Discounted registration for the Sustainable Development Conference Join today and get the tools you need to make good land use decisions. You will also be supporting our advocacy work to advance the goal of sustainable communities including policies that encourage the development of affordable housing near jobs and transit. Join today, and be part of the new era of sustainable planning and development.

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Or request a FREE membership information packet by calling 415-453-2100 x302.

SC Magazine, free sample  

SC magazine, free sample issue