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Sustainable Communities


Vol 2, No 1 • Winter 2012 • • $12

Beyond Big Oil Texas cities Look ahead

Specialists in Affordable Housing Lending At Silicon Valley Bank we pride ourselves on providing financial solutions to not only the businesses in the communities we serve but to the people of our communities too. Silicon Valley Bank’s Community Development Finance Practice is committed to serving the needs of our communities’ housing and community development organizations. We provide a consistent and dependable source of financing for projects.

Christine Carr, Manager, Community Development Finance 555 Mission Street, Suite 900, San Francisco, California 94105 Phone 415. 764.3124 Email

©2012 SVB Financial Group. All rights reserved. Silicon Valley Bank is a member of FDIC and Federal Reserve System. SVB>, SVB>Find a way, SVB Financial Group, and Silicon Valley Bank are registered trademarks. B-12-12026. Rev. 02-24-12.

Sustainable Communities

Letter from the Editor


Vol 2, No 1 • Winter 2012 •

Unleashing the lawyers

Sustainable Communities Magazine 6i-2

By Andre Shashaty


uman beings are wonderfully oblivious creatures. Tornadoes tear apart Midwestern towns in February, and wildfires threaten western cities in the winter. But we laugh it off and smile as the weather forecaster predicts another warm sunny weekend. For affluent Americans with homes above sea level and well away from the path of the tornadoes which will begin in earnest in April, the wisdom of Alfred E. Neuman prevails: “What, me worry?’ Despite the coming election, carbon emissions and global warming are not on our political radar. The subject came up only briefly in the 26 debates between Republican candidates. That’s understandable, given that none of the remaining candidates acknowledge the threat of manmade climate change. But if you go to the front lines of climate change, you will find a much more dramatic story of both fear and hope. “We’re engaged in an epic battle to save planet Earth,” Johnson Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau, told the United Nations in February. He and other leaders of small island nations are angry about the painfully slow pace of international negotiations to address climate change. While other nation’s weigh the impact of carbon emission reductions against the cost and economic impact, Toribiong and his countrymen are fighting for survival. They are making contingency plans and even thinking about going into exile as they watch sea levels rising. Every year that the U.N. delays in reaching agreement on new global standards for carbon controls brings them closer to disaster and the loss of not just homes, but potentially their national sovereignty. The good news is that Toribiong and others are finally suggesting a new approach to carbon emission reductions: Stop negotiating and start suing. That’s putting it far too bluntly for a diplomat like Palau’s president. But the fact is, he and other leaders of small island nations are not accepting their fate or knuckling under to far more powerful nations who want to delay and evade responsibility. They are working to persuade the U.N. General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the responsibilities of states to ensure that their greenhouse gas emissions do not damage other states. It’s a small first step, but it raises the possibility that nations with little or no legal control on their carbon emissions could be held accountable in the international court. It may be the first round in a legal battle that could go on for decades or even centuries. While an international court may not be able to hold China, the U.S. and other countries accountable, the process of seeking legal standards could easily spill over to private companies and domestic courts. And the mere hint that the courts might eventually hold them liable for billions and trillions of dollars in damage might do far more to motivate our corporate leaders then any government mandate to cut emissions. The damages to be collected for problems caused by global warming could make past settlements on tobacco and other liabilities look like chump change.

Editor and Publisher Andre Shashaty, Office & Member Services Manager Carol Yee, Art Director Kay Marshall, Advertising & Conference Sales Manager Wendy Chaney, Assistant Editor Megan Truxillo, 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 Leadership Advisory Board Richard Baron, Chairman and CEO, McCormack Baron Salazar Doug Bibby, President, National Multi Housing Council Christine Carr Manager, Community Development Finance Silicone Valley Bank 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 Mitchell Silver, PP, AICP Director Department of City Planning for Raleigh, N.C. Sustainable Communities Magazine is published by Partnership for Sustainable Communities (“PSC”) is a private nonprofit organization incorporated in California. It is not affiliated with the United States federal interagency “Partnership for Sustainable Communities,” which is a venture between HUD, DOT and EPA. PSC is not supported by government funding. It depends entirely on membership dues and charitable donations to cover its costs. To make a donation, go to and click on the “donate now” button at the top of your screen in the green bar on the left. To join our cause, click on “become a member” also in the green bar.

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Businesses face rising environmental costs; Preparation key to cut risk, tap oppportunities By Evan Robertson


ajor corporations have a long mitigate future business risk and act on way to go to factor environmenopportunities. tal challenges into their finan“We are living in a resource-concial reporting and planning, according to strained world. The rapid growth of new research from KPMG International. developing markets, climate change, However, corporations can reduce their and issues of energy and water security risk from environmental problems or are among the forces that will exert treeven turn them into opportunities by mendous pressure on both business and being proactive, the firm reported. society,” said Michael Andrew, Chairman The KPMG research finds that the Photo: Wikimedia commons external environmental costs of 11 key industry sectors jumped 50 percent from $566 to $846 billion in 8 years (2002 to 2010), averaging a doubling of these costs every 14 years. The report calculated that if companies had to pay for the full environmental costs of their production, they would lose 41 cents for every $1 in earnings on average. (The report notes that it is referring to the overall costs of environmental damages to society ▲ Yvo de Boer as whole and not to actual corporate expenditures that would properly be of KPMG International. found on a financial statement). “Governments alone cannot address KPMG identified 10 “megaforces” these challenges. Business must take a that will significantly affect corporate leadership role in the development of growth globally over the next two desolutions that will help to create a more cades in a study entitled, Expect the sustainable future,” he added. Unexpected: Building Business Value in Yvo de Boer, KPMG’s Special Global a Changing World. Adviser on Climate Change and SustainIt explores issues such as climate ability, said global sustainability megachange, energy and fuel volatility, water forces will significantly increase the availability and cost and resource availcomplexity of the business environment.  ability, as well as population growth “Without action and strategic spawning new urban centers.  The planning, risks will multiply and opanalysis examines how these global portunities will be lost. Corporations forces may impact business and indusare recognizing that there is value and try, calculates the environmental costs opportunity in responsibility beyond the to business, and calls for business and next quarter’s results; that what is good policymakers to work more closely to


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

for people and the planet can also be good for the long term bottom line and shareholder value,” said de Boer. KPMG says it takes a leadership role in helping organizations to understand the opportunity side of the equation, not just the risk. “KPMG’s clients and others are seeing the link between sustainability and financial results becoming increasingly clear,” said John B. Veihmeyer, Chairman of KPMG’s Americas region and Chairman and CEO of KPMG LLP (U.S.) Companies that recognize the external influences on their organizations and leverage them as opportunities are realizing a competitive advantage. To that end, the exercise of measuring and reporting sustainability activities to stakeholders with clear, accurate data is increasingly relevant and quickly becoming a priority, he stated. The 10 global sustainability megaforces that may impact business over the next two decades are: Climate Change: This may be the one global megaforce that directly impacts all others. Predictions of annual output losses from climate change range between 1 percent per year, if strong and early action is taken, to as much as 5 percent a year—if policymakers fail to act. Energy & Fuel: fossil fuel markets are likely to become more volatile and unpredictable because of higher global energy demand; changes in the geographical pattern of consumption; supply and production uncertainties

and increasing regulatory interventions related to climate change. Material Resource Scarcity: as developing countries industrialize rapidly, global demand for material resources is predicted to increase dramatically. Business is likely to face increasing trade restrictions and intense global competition for a wide range of material resources that become less easily available. Scarcity also creates opportunities to develop substitute materials or to recover materials from waste. Water Scarcity: it is predicted that by 2030, the global demand for freshwater will exceed supply by 40 percent. Businesses may be vulnerable to water shortages, declines in water quality, water price volatility, and to reputational challenges. Population Growth: The world population is expected to grow to 8.4 billion by 2032. This will place intense pressures on ecosystems and the supply of natural resources such as food, water, energy and materials. While this is a threat for business, there are also opportunities to grow commerce and create jobs, and to innovate to address the needs of growing populations for agriculture, sanitation, education, technology, finance, and healthcare. Wealth: the global middle class (defined by the OECD as individuals with disposable income of between US$10 and US$100 per capita per day) is predicted to grow 172 percent between 2010 and 2030. The challenge for businesses is to serve this new middle class market at a time when resources are likely to be scarcer and more price volatile. The advantages many companies experienced in the last two decades from “cheap labor” in developing nations are likely to be eroded by the growth and power of the global middle class. Urbanization: in 2009, for the first time ever, more people lived in cities than in the countryside. By 2030 all developing regions including Asia and Africa are expected to

have the majority of their inhabitants living in urban areas; virtually all Population Growth over the next 30 years will be in cities. These cities will require extensive improvements in infrastructure including construction, water and sanitation, electricity, waste, transport, health, public safety and internet and cell phone connectivity. Food Security: in the next two decades the global food production system will come under increasing pressure from megaforces including Population Growth, Water Scarcity and Deforestation. Global food prices are predicted to rise 70 to 90 percent by 2030. In waterscarce regions, agricultural producers are likely to have to compete for supplies with other water-intensive industries such as electric utilities and mining, and with consumers. Intervention will be required to reverse growing localized food shortages (the number of chronically under-nourished people rose from 842 million during the late 1990s to over one billion in 2009). Ecosystem Decline: historically, the main business risk of declining biodiversity and ecosystem services has been to corporate reputations. However, as global ecosystems show increasing signs of breakdown and stress, more

companies are realizing how dependent their operations are on the critical services these ecosystems provide. The decline in ecosystems is making natural resources scarcer, more expensive and less diverse; increasing the costs of water and escalating the damage caused by invasive species to sectors including agriculture, fishing, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and tourism. Deforestation: Forests are big business – wood products contributed $100 billion per year to the global economy from 2003 to 2007 and the value of non-wood forest products, mostly food, was estimated at about US$18.5 billion in 2005. Yet the OECD projects that forest areas will decline globally by 13 percent from 2005 to 2030, mostly in South Asia and Africa. The timber industry and downstream industries such as pulp and paper are vulnerable to potential regulation to slow or reverse deforestation. Companies may also find themselves under increasing pressure from customers to prove that their products are sustainable through the use of certification standards. Business opportunities may arise through the development of market mechanisms and economic incentives to reduce the rate of deforestation. ❧

Defend Sustainablity: Join PSC With political attacks on transit and land use planning increasing, the community sustainability movement faces severe setbacks. If you care about making communities sustainable, now’s the time to act. Take a moment now to become a member of Partnership for Sustainable Communities®. Go to and click on “become a member” in the green bar at top, or call 415-453-2100 x 302. You pay just $45 for an entire year. You will be supporting a good cause, and you will receive these practical tools you can use immediately to advance your organization’s goals: • Receive Sustainable Communities magazine, the only magazine focused on planning and community development with sustainability in mind. • Get access to our unique, 24/7 online Land Use Research Library • Free access to premium content on our web site • A free listing in our membership directory

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities




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First sustainable communities strategy draws fire When the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) came out with the first Sustainable Communities Strategy as part of its transportation planning process last fall, it was bound

to get a lot of attention. It was the first of California’s metropolitan planning organizations to to adopt a transportation plan with a sustainability component, as is required under Senate Bill 375. But SANDAG is getting far more criticism than it bargained for, as well as a lawsuit challenging its plan.

contents High school gets LEED gold for existing buildings............................ 6 Facing disaster as sea levels rise............................................................ 8 New capital for CDFIs, Tax Credits awarded.......................................10 Land planning takes root in Texas as cities strive to remake themselves..................................................14 Dallas: New transportation options, higher density planning complement push to improve environmental results....................... 17 Houston: California transplant leads mayor’s drive for greener buildings, lower emissions......................................................20 Austin: Capital city pursues very aggressive carbon emission reduction goal............................................................23 Top municipal users of renewable energy..........................................25 The breakdown of US Transportation Policy.....................................26 Obama seeks 105% hike in transit funding $2.5 billion for high-speed rail development........................................................ 29 State, local governments bemoan funding shortfalls...................... 31


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012



The 40-year blueprint, known formally as the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, was the result of two years of careful work and extensive public input. But it immediately ran into criticism for putting too much emphasis on freeway construction rather than public transit. The Sierra Club recently joined the

Cleveland National Forest Foundation and the Center for Biological Diversity as a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit to block the plan. According to the plaintiffs, SANDAG used a deficient process to develop a flawed plan that will invest heavily in freeways at the expense of public transit. The plan will unnecessarily increase pollution and exacerbate global climate change. “The agency missed an opportunity to be a leader. It could have set an example of how to plan for future transportation needs without putting public health and the environment at risk, but didn’t,” said Kathryn Phillips, Director of Sierra Club California SANDAG’s plan will lead to more sprawl and traffic. What the region needs—and what the law calls for—is a visionary future that accommodates growth while protecting our air and natural resources. We need a plan that recognizes that the world has changed and that people want a transportation system that includes more and better transit,” she said. SANDAG’s plan relies so heavily on freeways and sprawl that regional per capita greenhouse gas emissions will actually increase over the coming decades, interfering with California’s landmark efforts to curb climate change, another critic charged.



Construction starts on Atlanta streetcar Construction of the new 2.6-mile Atlanta Streetcar line got underway this winter. The project will run through the heart of Atlanta’s business, tourism and convention corridor, bringing jobs and new economic development to the city. “Today’s launch of the Atlanta Streetcar project is the first step in a project that will transform our downtown corridor, and it reflects President Obama’s blueprint for an America that’s ‘built to last,’” said Mayor Kasim Reed. The project is funded with a TIGER II grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Atlanta Streetcar will traverse an economically distressed area of downtown and is expected to serve as a catalyst for millions of dollars in new residential, office and retail development. It also reconnects the eastern and western sides of the city that have been divided by two interstate highways for half a century. Operated by MARTA, the streetcar line will include 12 stops with access to major attractions like the World of Coca-Cola, CNN Photo: ©central atlanta progress

▲ Proposed Atlanta streetcar

Center, the Georgia Aquarium, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the historic Auburn Avenue corridor, which is the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement. The line will

and CEO Philip Shucet predicts that The Tide will hit its 20-year projection of 7,200 daily rides within three years.

also connect with MARTA’s rail and bus systems with eventual connectivity to the Atlanta BeltLine. The Atlanta Streetcar is the first phase of what will be a city-wide and potentially region-wide alternative transportation system. The Atlanta Streetcar provides the “last mile” link from MARTA to important activity centers in the downtown. New bicycle facilities and upgraded sidewalks and pedestrian environments are all part of the Atlanta Streetcar project.




Ridership strong for Virginia rail The Tide, Virginia’s first light rail

▲ The Tide, Virginia’s light rail

system, opened for service in Norfolk on August 19, 2011. It extends 7.4 miles from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center complex east through downtown Norfolk and adjacent to I-264 to Newtown Road.  Eleven stations provide access to dining, shopping and entertainment as well as the Norfolk State University and Tidewater Community College (Norfolk) campuses.  There are four park-and-ride lots where parking is always free. The line has drawn an average of 4,642 riders on weekdays, 4,850 on Saturdays and 2,099 on Sundays, when trains run fewer hours, according to The Virginian-Pilot. About 2,900 weekday riders had been forecast. Hampton Roads Transit President


Tennessee politicians attack planning Land use regulation and local zoning are under attack in Tennessee, with one legislator trying to abolish any local control over private property rights. The most radical opponent of zoning has also cited a conspiracy theory peddled by the Tea Party, that governments participating in ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, an association of over 1,220 local governments worldwide, are dupes of a United Nations plan to take away Americans’ property rights. Rep. Glen Casada Casada has filed a bill in the state’s General Assembly — HB 1345 — that “prohibits the rezoning of private property by local governments without written consent of property owner.” State Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro is the bill’s co-sponsor, according to an article in The Tennessean (Area leaders wary of U.N.’s Agenda 21 sustainability plan defend local regulations) Casada is also pushing for passage of a separate resolution that aims to reject anything tied to a 1992 United Nations declaration called Agenda 21 because of its “underlying harmful implications” and “destructive strategies for sustainable development.” Another legislator is taking a less extreme approach to the protection of private property rights. His proposal is to ensure that there are more ways for land holdings to be “grandfathered,” or exempted from zoning restrictions enacted after the land was acquired. humphrey/2012/02/restoring-propertyrights-vers.html ❧

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities



High school gets LEED gold for existing buildings


incolnshire, Ill.–Adlai E. Stevenson High School here has achieved U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Certification, becoming the first high school in America to be certified LEED Gold for Existing Buildings (EB). Stevenson, one of the largest high schools in the U.S., educates more than 4,500 students each year and has received the President’s Award for Excellence in Education five times. The sprawling campus features all the amenities and encompasses more than 1 million square feet of classroom, athletic, performing arts and administrative facilities. Through a comprehensive


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

understanding of the technical and operational aspects of the campus’ building automation, HVAC systems, lighting and other elements, Siemens Building Technologies Division was able to help the Stevenson Green Initiative committee develop a broad operational plan to systematically reduce water consumption and help the school cut back on electricity and natural gas use after hours. Among key deliverables, Siemens provided full transparency of CO2, energy consumption and pricing through the company’s cloud-based Energy Monitoring and Control platform. Highly skilled energy

technicians using cloud-based tools from Siemens Services group also delivered a comprehensive existing building continuous commissioning program—an essential element of LEED EB certification. As a result, Stevenson was able to achieve its first set of energy consumption reduction targets set forth in its sustainability mission statement: Seven percent lower electricity use and five percent less natural gas consumption. According to Stevenson officials, those measures have saved the school over $100,000 in electricity and natural gas costs over the 22-month certification process.❧

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Facing disaster as sea levels rise Island nations explore legal action to hold polluting nations accountable for damage from carbon emissions


or developed countries, increases extend or replace that agreement. in sea level due to climate change The Alliance of Small Island States are just one of many environmen(AOSIS) is fighting to avoid delays in settal and developmental concerns. But for ting more aggressive goals for controlsmall island nations where most of the ling carbon emissions. land is near sea level, rising seas are a “ After a year of record emissions threat to their very existence and reducgrowth and the hottest temperatures ing the carbon emissions that lead to Photo: Courtesy IISD climate change is extremely urgent. According to a recent article in the ABA Journal, some island nations have “begun to explore the possibility of asking international tribunals such as the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the U.N., to advise them on whether they have a right to protection against damage from emissions produced by other states.” The ar▲ Dessima Williams ticle is by Kristin Choo and can be found at this site, on record, the push by the world’s bigmagazine. gest carbon polluters to delay (adoption The Alliance of Small Island States of stricter emission reduction goals) and the 11-member Pacific Small Island flies in the face of the overwhelming Developing States are actively lobbying evidence in support of immediate action and represents a betrayal of the people Photo: Courtesy Flickr: USFWS Pacific most vulnerable to climate change and the world,” said Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of

island nations. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change goal is an increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over preindustrial levels. The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, resulted in a decision to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, and no later than 2015. In a statement to UN delegates to the Durban Conference, one leader of the island nations described what’s at stake: “Already, communities in our islands have been forced to flee their homes to escape rising seas, and unless  bold action is taken, much of my region could be rendered uninhabitable within our grandchildren’s lifetimes,” said Sprent  Dabwido, M.P., President of the Republic of Nauru. Last fall, Palau and the Marshall Islands announced that they would put forth a resolution asking the General Assembly to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the responsibilities of states to ensure that their greenhouse gas emissions do not damage other states.

“We’re engaged in an epic battle to save planet Earth.” —Johnson Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau

The Marshall Islands

the United Nations to give more attention to their concerns in global negotiations over implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and more recent efforts to


Grenada to the United Nations and Chair of AOSIS. The Alliance of Small Island States has identified a warming of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over preindustrial levels as the limit necessary to protect low-lying

Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

Another key issue emerging is where islanders will live if they are displaced due to sea level rise, according to the ABA Journal article. In accordance with the Compact of —continued on page 32

RAISING EQUITY + SUPPORTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING = CREATING JOBS NATIONAL EQUITY FUND, INC. 120 South Riverside Plaza, 15Th Fl. Chicago, Illinois 60606-3908 P 312.360.0400



New capital for CDFIs, Tax Credits awarded New authority for community development financial institutions to tap bond markets investment capital coming closer to fruition.


n the past year, the Treasury DepartThe NMTC awards were announced ment’s CDFI Fund has been making at Federal City Town Center, a retail significant progress towards launchcomplex that is the heart of a 155-acre ing the Bond Guarantee Program, which redevelopment of the former Naval was created by the Small Business Jobs Support Activity New Orleans military Act of 2010 and will offer CDFIs a new base. NMTCs were part of a public-prisource of long-term, patient capital for vate partnership that allowed the mililoans and investments in low-income tary to transform part of the base into a communities. new walkable community accessible to The CDFI Fund is the administrator the surrounding neighborhood. for this program. It has hired two-full The 70 organizations receiving time staff to lead the program and conawards were selected from a pool of 314 sidered 60 comment letters from the applicants that requested over $26.7 bilpublic and the industry, and explored lion. They are headquartered in 29 difways to incorporate or address them ferent states and the District of Columinto the program’s regulations. bia; but have identified principal service As a federal credit subsidy program, areas that will cover nearly every state the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program must in the country, as well the District of adhere to the Federal Credit Reform Act Columbia. (known as FCRA), related regulations, President Obama’s budget proposes and OMB circulars. In fact, any federal to reauthorize the New Markets Tax program that provides direct loans or Credit Program in 2012 and 2013 with loan guarantees is subject to FCRA. $5 billion in allocation authority for each The Office of Management and year. In addition, it proposes a new alBudget has approved the CDFI Fund’s located tax credit to support investments zero credit subsidy model—a major victory for the implementation and The Crossings at New Rancho future success of the program. Key next steps for FY 2012 include publishing the program’s regulations, releasing application materials for qualified Issuers and eligible borrowers and hiring the program administrator. Pending Congressional action, the first bond guarantee should be made in Fiscal Year 2013, which begins this coming October 1. Meanwhile, CDFIs are also undertaking projects with the latest award for federal New Markets Tax Credits. A total of 3.6 billion in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) were awarded nationwide.


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

in communities that have suffered a major job loss event, especially communities where a military base or major manufacturer has closed or substantially reduced its workforce. This proposal would provide $2 billion in credits each year for three years beginning in 2012.

Affordable housing tax credit allocation season starts A new crop of affordable housing projects are being selected for funding as states begin making allocations of low-income housing tax credits. The Internal Revenue Service sets tax credit authority for each state. Revenue Procedure 2011-52 sets each state’s 2012 Housing Credit authority cap at the greater of $2.20 per capita or $2,525,000. This is an increase from $2.15 per capita or $2,465,000 in 2011. Each state’s 2012 private activity bond cap will be the greater of $95 per capita

Commited to   quality housing.    Committed to   sustainable communities. 

Investor Contact: Greg Judge | 617.488.3556| Developer Contact: Greg Voyentzie | 617.488.3203 Boston | San Francisco | Los Angeles WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities



or $284,560,000, reflecting no change from the 2011 per capita amount and an increase from the 2011 minimum of $273,775,000. For a list of state tax credit allocating agencies and the deadlines for applying for tax credit authority, go to, a service of the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association. California has about $80,232,120 in federal credits to allocate. However, proposed projects will have to make do without loans or grants from redevelopment agencies, which were an important piece of the financing for most urban projects until this year. When the California Supreme Court refused to rescue redevelopment agencies from abolition, housing advocates asked the state legislature to try to at least preserve the funds the agencies had set aside for affordable housing.

The state Senate responded by passing SB 654 to ensure that any existing fund balances on deposit in the Low and Moderate Income Housing Fund of a dissolved redevelopment agency would be transferred to the successor agency of the sponsoring community and expended pursuant to the law under which the funds were originally collected. The money is sorely needed to fill gaps in the financing for tax credit and other assisted housing projects throughout the state. Unfortunately, the State Assembly has shown no urgency to consider the measure, let alone pass it.

Project completed One recently completed project shows the kind of housing being produced with the tax credit program and redevelopment agency funds. The Crossings at New Rancho in

Rancho Cordova opened in February. The community features 12 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom apartment homes in two three-story buildings and has been built on a site formerly occupied by a dilapidated motel that had been vacant for nearly a decade. Phase Two of the community, called Horizons at New Rancho, will include 48 affordable one- and two-bedroom apartment homes for senior citizens. The builders are pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification for Crossings at New Rancho. To obtain this certification, solar panels for the apartments and carports have been included to generate electricity for the complex; flooring, railings, furniture, and trash and recycling receptacles are made from recycled content; zero-VOC interior paints and low-VOC interior finishes and adhesives, and —continued on page 32

Citi, Rose team up to preserve affordable rentals Renovation of existing multifamily properties using green technologies to help preserve affordability is the goal of a new fund sponsored by Citi Community Capital (Citi) and Jonathan Rose Companies. The $75 million Rose Green Cities Fund will make transformative investments in multifamily affordable housing along the Eastern seaboard. It will acquire and renovate existing multifamily properties with cost-effective, high-impact green technologies, and preserve their affordability for the long-term. The Fund will also evaluate select investments in the development of new, green, affordable housing. The Fund will target projects in high-demand, mass-transit accessible locations, focusing on locations in Connecticut, New Jersey and the Washington, D.C. metro area. “Environmental sustainability and reinvestment in the communities where we work and live are both pivotal components to our Firm’s commitment to responsible finance and we will continue to invest in high-quality, innovative projects that benefit our lo-


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

cal communities and uphold our core principles,” said Andrew Ditton, co-head and managing director, Citi Community Capital. In the past two years, Citi has committed nearly $9.4 billion in community development activities including the creation and rehabilitation of 57,000 units of housing, all of which have an affordable component in the apartment complex. Other activities include healthcare centers and education facilities to promote jobs and quality living in the communities Citi serves. The Rose Green Cities Fund leverages the expertise of Jonathan Rose Companies as a leading national developer, investor and fund manager with deep experience in green, urban affordable and mixed-income housing. Citi’s investment represents the latest institutional equity invested with Rose , confirming investors’ appetite for double bottom line strategies that enable them to “do well by doing good” and repairing the fabric of communities. Rose Investments relationships include other major financial institutions as well as leading foundations and family offices.

Community (com mu nit


n. 1. A group of any size whose members reside in a specific location, and often have a common cultural and/or historical heritage 2. A locality inhabited by a group with a shared interest or common mission. (e.g., Contact Enterprise to learn how New Markets Tax Credits can revitalize your community.) 3. The Enterprise New Markets Tax Credit Team

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Land planning takes root in Texas as cities strive to remake themselves


f you still think it’s oxymoronic to talk about planning Texas cities, you need to take another look. The days of unbridled sprawl are over. Private cars and trucks are no longer the only mode of transportation or the most important consideration in planning. Walkable town centers, new urbanist planning concepts, complete streets and public transit are all gaining ground. It’s correct that Houston is the largest city with no formal zoning code, but it’s not true that development there is not planned and controlled. It’s just more likely to be done in a way that makes more sense to entrepreneurial Texans, such as by using special tax and investment districts. The point is that unbridled growth is no longer the rule in the Lone Star State. Landowners and city officials throughout the state are finding that good planning is good for profits, land values and tax revenues. In Dallas-Forth Worth, there are 250 incorporated areas, and many of them are trying to find ways to distinguish themselves from the overall pattern of sprawl that has enveloped them over the years, said Scott Polikov, President of Gateway Planning Group. The Forth Worth company is working with several of those towns, including Duncanville, which is trying to reinvent its Main Street as a mixed-use destination and prepare for higher density development around a planned commuter rail station. A number of these towns and those in other metro areas are embracing their sometimes nearly forgotten history and reinventing their downtowns to be regional urban centers. Central cities are trying to re-establish and enhance their historic character as a key part of revitalization and redevelopment. Town centers and walkable urbanism are also taking hold in the suburbs and exurbs, where developers can still start from scratch on green fields. The overarching trend is the growth of urban transit and regional light rail that will eventually connect regional centers with the downtown cores. More cities are using design and planning to help increase land values and property tax revenues, not to mention creating jobs and generating business activity. They

Mockingbird Station in Dallas showed people in other neighborhoods the potential for higher density development around public transit stops.

are trying to get ahead of the growth curve and establish sustainable approaches to development, including special districts that allow for tax base sharing to fund reinvestment into public infrastructure and transit. The key is good design and planning to drive property values and to win local government support, Polikov said. In effect, the governments and their citizens are saying that

▲ Dallas regional transit system (DART) map

DART train in downtown Dallas

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities


if a project or a district plan is nice enough, they will let the property owners keep more of the taxes they generate to reinvest in making the place even better. Texans may be skeptical of land use regulation, but they are generally very entrepreneurial, he added. “Even conservative Republicans embrace government’s role in growth and development,” he stated. “The dirty little secret about the lack of zoning in Houston is that when residents or city officials don’t like something, they call it ‘zoning.’ But when they do like it, it’s described as a special purpose district,” Polikov said. There are a whole series of work-arounds to get the same result as zoning, he added. These include a variety of special districts, regulatory vehicles to impose development standards and do tax assessments to generate revenues for infrastructure development and maintenance. In a way, Houston’s resistance to traditional zoning is starting to look progressive. Many planners have begun to favor regulation of development based on the form, density and massing of buildings rather than the use to which the buildings are put. This is called form based zoning, where cities control the form of buildings, not their use. It is gaining popularity in Texas cities partly because developers and property owners see it as opening up more market opportunities.

Renewal in Austin In Austin, the state capital, Gateway is in the thick of a renewal plan for the Airport Boulevard corridor from Lamar Boulevard to I-35. Several changes along the corridor including the opening of the MetroRail Line, acquisition of Highland Mall by Austin Community College, and the development of a major employment center at the Travis County North Campus are providing the impetus for the redevelopment of the corridor itself. Gateway Planning with partners Kimley Horn and Associates and TXP, Inc., has been hired by the City of Austin to create a vibrant vision and an implementing form-based code for the revitalization of the corridor. In Fall 2011, the planning team successfully completed the visioning and master plan phases of the initiative. A vibrant vision is emerging with the redevelopment of Highland Mall into a true mixed use destination, a new Fiskville Station along the MetroLine with associated transitoriented development, an independent business area encouraging the incremental redevelopment of existing small businesses, and a major “gateway” development at I-35 and Airport Boulevard. The design team is currently in the process of finalizing the illustrative vision for the corridor and will be developing the form-based code to implement this vision over Summer 2012 with public adoption slated for Fall 2012. ❧


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012


New transportation options, higher density planning complement push to improve environmental results


allas–Ten years ago or so, city leaders here faced a turning point. Federal regulators were coming down on the city for failing to meet clean air requirements and standards for handling of storm water. The city council recognized that the city could only continue to grow if it changed its ways. Today, Dallas ranks among the top success stories for making substantial progress toward more sustainable policies in a very short time. “We realized we had to do business differently if we were going to continue to grow, attract business and offer the high quality of life our people wanted to have,” said Jill A. Jordan, P.E., assistant city manager for the city. In February, Dallas celebrated the eighth anniversary of the creation of the municipal Office of Environmental Quality and its environmental management system, which sets goals and targets for each city department and agency. Also in February, the city announced construction of its first electric vehicle charging station, just behind city hall. The movement toward more compact development and revitalization of inner city areas has been underway in Dallas for decades, but it is getting a new impetus as the economy recovers and the city’s public transit system expands.

▲ The recently completed Omni Dallas Hotel exemplifies the kinds of projects the city of Dallas is encouraging. It is located on a former brownfield site and close to public transportation. It has many green construction features and is under consideration for LEED Silver certification. It was designed by 5G Studio Collaborative.

Transit expands

▲ Vision for Bush Central Station, a regional TOD planned as a vibrant, mixed use center at Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway in Richardson, Texas by Gateway Planning Group, Inc.

The regional transit system, known as DART, is one of most successful light rail agencies in the country, said Jordan. The “starter” system of mostly aboveground rail was limited to the city at first, but after about 16 years, the system is well established in certain suburbs and is preparing to open more suburban lines soon. DART currently operates 72 miles of light rail with 55 stations (service opened June 14, 1996). The 14-mile Orange Line is a key component of a regional rail expansion that will lead to the growth of DART’s rail network to 90 miles by 2014. The Orange Line will run parallel with the Green Line through downtown Dallas to Bachman Station in Northwest Dallas. From Bachman Station, the Orange Line will head northwest to the Las Colinas Urban Center in 2012 and to Dallas/Fort

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities



▲ Jill A. Jordan, P.E., Dallas assistant city manager

▲ Rendering of Klyde Warren Park

Worth International Airport in 2014. The Blue Line to the northeast will add 4.5 miles and one station. Planning and development of higher-density mixed-use properties around transit stations is now gaining momentum after a period of cautiousness on the part of planners, Jordan said. As the first transit stations opened, the city tended to avoid major changes in land use patterns and zoning, Jordan said. “We had to promise neighborhood groups that it would not impact them.” People were afraid developers would buy them out and skyscrapers would go up, she explained. Attitudes began to change after development of Mockingbird Station, a mixed-use property adjacent to a DART station of the same name. It was very well-received and did a lot to open people’s minds toward the benefits of higher density development around transit, Jordan said. “When they saw the success of Mockingbird, people who own property or businesses around other stations said they wanted to change land use patterns, so now we are going back to revisit land use policies around stations,” she said. Completed a little over a year ago, DART’s Green Line is encouraging new development in South Dallas. A new apartment project is starting construction along with 18 new homes on Park Row. The City controls over 40 vacant residential lots in the Jeffries/Meyers area, which will be used to construct new affordable housing. All of the housing projects are affordable for people earning no more than 80% of area median income. “All of the funds used by the city require that we meet the affordability requirements and, therefore, create an environment to help minimize gentrification,” Jordan said. In addition to these housing related projects, the City has begun planning the


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

conversion of Grand Avenue to be a “complete” street so that people can easily walk from the rail station to the nearby retail area and adjacent residential areas. It’s been close to six years since the city council adopted “forwardDallas!,” a comprehensive land use framework intended to encourage smart growth, protect the environment, enhance transportation systems, and create strong and healthy neighborhoods. Forward Dallas has three main thrusts that have focused Dallas planning activity since 2006 – form based zoning, complete streets and strategic area planning. The city adopted form based zoning into Article XIII of Chapter 51A of the Development Code in 2008. This made available a new set of zoning options for private developers and land owners to seek voluntarily, Jordan said.

Planning progresses The city has adopted three major area plans covering Downtown Dallas, Stemmons Corridor – Medical District Area, and UNT-Dallas Area – arguably three of the most significant current and future employment and mixed-use centers in the City and the region. In addition, the CityDesign Studio has recently completed a plan for West Dallas aimed at positioning this area to take advantage of the economic development opportunities afforded by recreational development along the Trinity River. The CityDesign Studio is now launching another large area planning effort straddling the remainder of the central area portion of the Trinity River Corridor. Dallas is also working on expanding options for cyclists and pedestrians. The city recently updated its 1985 “bike plan” and is now working on implementation. It is also encouraging city staff to create more complete streets. The proposed Katy Trail, calls for a 12-foot-wide, 3.5-mile concrete trail with a parallel 8-foot-wide, 3.1-mile soft-surface trail. The Katy Trail will provide connections to three

Dallas major areas: the American Airlines Center and the West End at the south end of the Trail, Stemmons Park near the Infomart, and the Mockingbird DART station at the north end. The Trail will feature four major entrance plazas, seven stair entrances, and an additional seven wheelchair accessible entrances. Another piece of the puzzle is development of more public parks. The city is building a new park on a deck over the Woodall Rodgers freeway that previously had been a barrier between downtown and uptown neighborhoods. Klyde Warren Park will have 5.2 ▲ Main Street Garden Park acres when it is completed later this year. Total development cost is about $90 million, including the tunnel infrastructure. the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Woodall RodFinancing for the so-called “deck park” came from the city’s gers Park Foundation and its private partners. 2006 Bond Program, federal economic stimulus funds through —continued on page 30

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California transplant leads mayor’s drive for greener buildings, lower emissions


ith a strong economy and relatively plentiful supply of land for development, the city of Houston has become a showcase for what major downtown developers are doing to create more efficient buildings. With firms like Hines taking a lead role, Houston is fifth in the nation in number of LEED certified buildings (163 total) and has eight LEED Platinum office buildings. The Houston area ranks seventh on the EPA’s list of cities with the most Energy Star rated buildings (175 total), fifth in the nation in square footage (70 million square feet of space) and third in the nation in emissions prevented.  The development of environmentally-friendly buildings is primarily the result of tenant demand. After all, even big oil companies want to lay claim to being sustainable. But the city of Houston is actively encouraging the trend among private developers even as it works aggressively to improve its own facilities and reduce their energy consumption. Houston is also the biggest municipal consumer of electricity generated from wind farms. Mayor Annise Parker wasted no time getting moving on sustainability when she took office as mayor of Houston in 2010. Building on steps already taken by her predecessor, she hired Laura Spanjian away from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to be her city’s sustainability director. Spanjian’s goal is to be the No. 1 city in the number of LEED buildings and Energy Star buildings. Photo: courtesy city of houston

▲ BG Group Place was developed by Hines.

▲ View of Houston skyline


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

One of the tools she’s using to get there is the Houston Green Office Challenge ( The program encourages commercial office owners/managers and tenants in Houston to increase efficiency and reduce waste. The Challenge has 368 participants enrolled to date. Reduction goals for energy, waste and water range between 10 and 50 percent. Spanjian sees a lot of interest in retrofits of existing buildings. The city is helping through its Energy Efficiency


Annise Parker, Houston Mayor

Laura Spanjian, Sustainability Director

Incentive Program. Eligible commercial building owners can apply for funding to make energy efficiency improvements and reduce utility expenses and greenhouse gases. The City has committed approximately $3 million for the program and will provide incentives to offset 20% of the upfront implementation costs (up to Photo: Wikimedia commons $200,000). The project must show a minimum of 15 percent energy savings. Over half the funds have been set aside for Class B and C buildings, and smaller buildings. Houston also pioneered the concept of requiring owners to meet water efficiency goals when they resell their properties. The “retrofit on resale” requirement for water conservation was used as a model for a similar state law.

Setting constructive examples With more land that is open to development, Houston is seeing lots of new construction to LEED standards. One of the most impressive examples is BG Group Place in downtown Houston, which was developed by Hines and has been certified at the Platinum level under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Core & Shell rating system. BG Group Place is one of only three buildings in the world to be certified LEED Platinum for core and shell out of 3,373 total buildings registered in this category. This milestone marks Hines’ second Platinum building in downtown Houston, joining 717 Texas, which received Platinum certification under the Existing Building (EB) rating system (another first in Texas) in December of 2010. Sustainable features and programs include: a fully vegetated green roof; a landscaped “skygarden” terrace; highly

efficient heating and ventilation systems; façade sunshades that result in up to 40 percent of the building façade being protected from solar heat gain without losing daylight; and a condensate recovery system. The city is also working hard to green its own buildings. A total of 297 city facilities are expected to achieve guaranteed energy use reductions of 30%, saving over 22 million kWh of electricity every year, with paybacks of, on average, less than ten years. Houston has been working on measuring and controlling its greenhouse gas emissions since 2005. It has a MultiPollutant Emissions Reduction Plan (MERP) to monitor its progress toward emission reduction goals by project and strategy. Houston is the largest purchaser of renewable energy among municipalities, and the fourth largest among any entity, business or government. It is the first city to have a 100% privately funded electric vehicle infrastructure program in the country courtesy of NRG Energy. While 35% of the city’s current energy is supplied by renewables, mostly from wind, Spanjian’s goal is to get to 50%. There are no state incentives to defray the cost of solar power in Texas. Wind is affordable at market rates without subsidies, she explained.

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities


Houston Land use and transportation While Houston is widely known as the largest American city with no zoning laws, locals say there are other ways to direct and guide real estate development. And regional planning is now underway in the metro area courtesy of a sustainable communites planning grant from HUD. The Houston Galveston region is expected to see 4 million new residents in the next 30 years. The Houston Galveston Regional Plan for sustainable development is being put together to help prepare for that growth. The 13- county plan explores opportunities to improve the region’s most important resources, including clean air and water, good jobs, safe and attractive neighborhoods, affordable housing, transportation choices, and open spaces and parks. Public input is being accepted to help set goals and priorities for the plan. The city is working with over 25 other organizations such as the Houston-Galveston Area Council and Harris County, on the plan. The goal is “to cohesively develop a plan for the interaction of land use, transportation, housing, economic development, sustainable infrastructure, and environmental elements.” Houston is also getting on board the trend toward construction of new mass transit in the south. Houston METRO’s Main Street Line, or Red Line, its first light rail line, “offers undeniable proof that light rail makes sense for our region,” according to the transit authority. “Well ahead of expectations, this line carries an extraordinary 45,000 passengers per day, making it the nation’s most heav-

ily traveled per track mile,” the agency said. A system expansion now underway will add almost 30 miles and five new rail lines. The lines will connect citizens and visitors to every major activity center in the metropolitan area. Other highlights of the city’s work in sustainability are as follows: • The City has almost completed replacing the incandescent bulbs at all of its 2,450 signalized intersections with LEDs, which are 75% more energy efficient. In addition, the City is now realizing over $3.6 million a year in savings. • The US Department of Energy (DOE) has recently described the City of Houston as a leader in weatherization through the Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP). The City received $23 million from the DOE to help over 13,000 Houstonians • The City has launched Houston Drives Electric, the City’s comprehensive municipal and public electric vehicle readiness initiative. It has completed an EV deployment plan, installed numerous charging stations in public locations, offers 24 hour permitting for residential charging stations, launched a new website “Houston Drives Electric” (www. and is working on additional incentives to spur adoption of EV technology. • In addition, the City has the 3rd largest municipal hybrid fleet in the nation. Approximately 50 percent of the City’s nonspecialty, light-duty fleet have been replaced with hybrid vehicles. ❧

HOUSTON METRO’S LIGHT RAIL Expansion of Houston Metro’s light-rail system was

plan to connect Houston’s workforce with major down-

recently cleared to receive $900 million as part of two

town employment centers, including the Texas Medical

federal Full Funding Grant Agreements (FFGA).

Center and the University of Houston. With 18 new pas-

The money will fund construction of the 5.3-mile

also take riders to Reliant Park, Toyota Center, Minute

(Purple) lines, marking the first time rail projects in the

Maid Park, a new major league soccer stadium now under

region received FFGAs, according to Metro President/CEO

construction, the Museum District, and the George R.

George Greanias.

Brown Convention Center/Discovery Green Park.

The two $450 million grant agreements are funded

The new light rail lines, both scheduled to open for

through FTA’s New Starts capital transit discretionary

service in 2015, will provide alternatives to congested In-

grant program. The total construction cost for the two

terstate 45 and U.S. Route 59. They are expected to carry

lines is $1.6 billion dollars.

more than 58,000 riders on weekdays, including more

The transit agency expects to continue receiving the federal funding over the next few years. Expanding Houston Metro’s light rail service to the north and the southeast is part of the city’s sweeping


senger stops along the way, the expanded light rail will

North (Red) extension and the 6.6-mile Southeast

Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

than 13,000 new transit riders a day, by the year 2030. Story/2011/11/Houston-Metro-FTA-sign-light-railfunding-agreements.aspx


Capital city pursues very aggressive carbon emission reduction goal Austin, Texas –If you think your city has done a good job publicizing its achievements in becoming more sustainable, don’t look at this city’s “Climate Action Report” for 2011. The report provides an impressive summary of what the city has achieved in a fairly short time frame. Austin is working to make its operations, facilities and vehicle fleets carbon neutral by 2020. Led by the Austin Climate Protection Program, a cross-departmental group of City of Austin staff, has identified strategies that may look small on their own but which will equal significant carbon reductions when implemented across all city operations. Since 2007, departmental teams have watched the overall municipal carbon footprint fall by more than 49,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. The report cites the following accomplishments for 2011: • Austin Energy Green Building celebrated its 20th anniversary. • Voters passed the City’s first mobility bond package focused on multi-modal livability. • The City, along with regional partners, is using a $3.7 million federal Sustainable Communities grant to pursue a regional Sustainable Places Project.

• Austin is one of 10 pilot cities now refining a new national sustainability benchmarking tool, the STAR Community Index. • The Austin Convention Center earned a Gold certification under the LEED for Existing Buildings rating system. Lucia Athens joined the city staff as its first Chief Sustainability Officer in 2011. In her introduction to the report, she made some important observations. Her comments are reproduced below. Central Texas has just had a brutally hot summer and is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, leading to tragic wildfires that burned more than 30,000 acres, killed two people, and destroyed approximately 1,600 homes. The drought has killed trees, plants and wildlife and affected our entire ecosystem. Stressed wildlife must compete for scarce food and water: the drought affects the entire food chain. No one can say definitively global warming caused any single event. What we do know is that a pattern of increasing extreme weather events is consistent with climate change projections. 2011 has given us a taste of the future predicted by

Photo: Wikimedia commons

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities


Image Courtesty Gateway Planning Group Inc.


▲ A draft illustrative vision for the redevelopment ofAirport Boulevard from Koenig Lane to I-35

climate science. In Central Texas, we can learn from this year’s record heat wave and drought to assess our vulnerabilities and take positive steps to manage risks in the decades to come. As global warming is already occurring, and the sources of GHG emissions continue, some future temperature rises are unavoidable. Lower Colorado River Authority modeling predicts that climate change is very likely to increase net evaporation and reduce stream flows in the Colorado River within this century. Extended drought conditions and water shortages are projected in the decades ahead as Texas warms. The City of Austin must begin planning to adapt to a changing climate in Central Texas. By teaming up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control, the Climate Protection Program is looking at how climate change will impact health, food, emergency rescue, water, electricity and a host of other issues. Fiskville Station, a new urban destination as envisioned during the Airport Boulevard Design Workshop

Image Courtesty Gateway Planning Group Inc.


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

How might emergency vehicle routes be impacted by flooding? Are vulnerable populations located within walking distance of food sources? Is Austin ready to Lucia Athens, Austin’s receive disaster refugees Chief Sustainability from neighboring regions? Officer Proactively working with other agencies to develop models and share information will help prepare us for the unpredictable. Only one other major city in the world— Melbourne, Australia—has a municipal climate action target as aggressive as the City of Austin’s. Other major U.S. cities with reduction targets are shooting for less improvement within a longer timespan. Average targets equate to approximately 2.3 percent per year, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Our 2020 goal sets a tone of leadership and innovation in everything we do to address climate change. In the four years that the Austin Climate Protection Program has shepherded Austin’s pursuit of that goal—by developing Austin’s greenhouse gas inventories, leading the reduction efforts of City staff, and reaching out to the community—it has become clear that solutions to climate change are the same ones that keep our air breathable, our water clean, our economy vibrant and our communities healthy. When we have reduced our emissions as much as technology allows, we’ll focus on maximizing our natural carbon sinks as well as investing in carbon reduction projects in Central Texas—building local jobs and regional prosperity. ❧ For more information on the Austin plan and report, click here:

Top municipal users of renewable energy 1. City of Houston, TX 438,000,000



Reliant Energy

100% Wind

Austin Energy°



TXU Energy



Washington Gas Energy Services°



Renewable Choice Energy°



Renewable Choice Energy°


Solar, Wind

PPL EnergyPlus°, On-site Generation






Element Markets°, On-site Generation



Champion Energy Services


Biogas, Wind

Austin Energy°


Biogas, Biomass, Solar, Wind Shell Energy North America, 3Degrees°



2. City of Austin, TX 406,000,000 3. City of Dallas, TX 295,883,744 4. District of Columbia 244,267,000 5. City of Chicago, IL 215,000,000 6. Montgomery County Clean Energy Buyers Group 134,599,000 7. City of Philadelphia, PA 127,300,000 8. Suffolk County, NY 123,000,000 9. Chicago Public Schools 107,709,620 10. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport 87,000,000 11. Austin (TX) Independent School District 65,640,000 12. Marin Energy Authority 65,525,000 13. Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission 59,637,000

Constellation NewEnergy

14. Forest County Potawatomi Community 54,677,205

100% Wind



Biomass, Wind

Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power


Biogas, Solar

On-site Generation



Integrys Energy°



On-site Generation

15. Los Angeles World Airports 35,827,829 16. City of San Francisco, CA 31,593,977 17. Chicago Park District 31,072,406 18. Nassau County, NY 29,121,457 19. City of Santa Monica, CA 28,000,000

100% Geothermal, Wind

Commerce Energy


On-site Generation

20. City of San Jose, CA 27,525,018

Biogas, Solar

The local governments above participate in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that supports the procurement of green power by offering expert advice, technical support, tools and resources. The first number on the left refers to the number of Killowatt Hours of power derived from renewable sources and the next number is the percentage of their power requirement met from those sources. The next column shows the type of renewable power used and the next gives names of suppliers. For a complete list of the top users of green power among governments, go to top20localgov.htm WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities


Going Nowhere The breakdown of US Transportation Policy Transportation reauthorization caught in political gridlock Republicans seek elimination of funding for mass transit

Congress sets the country’s transportation and infrastructure priorities every six years by passing a reauthorization bill for federal programs. The current legislation expires on March 31, and at this writing, it was unclear if Congress would let federal funding grind to a halt or pass a reauthorization bill. This legislation has traditionally been developed on a bipartisan basis, and ever since Ronald Reagan was president, it has involved a balance of funding for highways as well as mass transit. While other countries have moved aggressively in recent years to upgrade and modernize their transportation systems, the U.S. has been stuck in the mud. The last comprehensive transportation authorization bill expired on September 30, 2009. We have limped along with short-term, stopgap legislation since then. This article looks at what is at stake in the debate over long-term transportation reauthorization legislation.


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

By Andre Shashaty


hen future historians get around to analyzing the rise and fall of American civilization, they very well might point to the completion of the interstate highway system as the high point of our civil engineering and construction. But they will also be struck by how badly we have stumbled since then. We have gone from having bold objectives and a strong financial commitment set with bipartisan support to a state of political stalemate that looks a lot like complete aimlessness. We have gone from having unity of purpose and a long-term vision to a politicized struggle that has more to do with ideology than economic progress. Republican House Leader John Boehner has apparently given up on winning House passage of the Republican version of the federal transportation reauthorization bill (H.R. 7). In the Senate, a final vote on a somewhat more bipartisan bill (S.1813 or MAP 21 for short) was being held up at press time due to a battle over what amendments should be allowed. At this writing, pressure was increasing for Congress to act on the transportation reauthorization, but it was unclear if a bill could be passed before March 31 or even before the November election. (for a more current status report on the legislative debate, go to The Republican House bill (H.R. 7) would end the longstanding policy of dedicated funding from the gas tax for public transportation. This funding was originally started under President Ronald Reagan almost 30 years ago. Cutting out that funding stream places every public transportation system in “immediate peril and leaving millions of riders already faced with service cuts and fare increases out in the cold,” according to Transportation for America. The proposal would take away the 2.86 cents out of the total 18.4-cent motor fuel tax currently directed into the transit account of the Highway Trust Fund and redirect those 2.86 cents into highway spending. Transit would no longer have a guaranteed and protected funding source, instead becoming subject to yearly appropriations fights and the need to find offsets for funding. With gas prices rising, and the combined cost of housing and transportation becoming less affordable in more places, the best thing Congress could do is to increase spending to help American get around in ways that will cost them less than driving, including transit, cycling and walking. “Even with the House and Senate neck deep in the

Bridge and road repair face funding shortfalls

▲ House Republicans’ priorities: More car travel, more oil drilling to power it, and less public input on highway projects

process of updating national transportation policy, few in Congress are willing to point out the obvious: The next transportation bill is a golden opportunity to save Americans money by giving them more affordable ways to get around,” according to Ben Fried and Ben Goldman, writing on “John Boehner’s transportation policy is a recipe for impoverishing people. Americans can’t afford a transportation bill that forces families to burn fuel every time they want to go somewhere,” they continued. [Read more here: americans-cant-afford-a-highway-centric-transportation-bill/

H.R. 7 criticized Other criticisms of the House transportation bill from Transportation for America are as follows: The bill abandons any true national interest in transportation. It would kill all national discretionary programs — no Projects of National and Regional Significance, no competitive TIGER program, no freight program. The Interstate highway program itself could never have been built if everyone in Montana was asked to pay for their own stretches of I-90 and I-15. It worked because it was and is a national system. H.R. 7 threatens cuts to overall funding in just about every state and relies on royalties from expanded oil drilling,

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities


▲ Mass transit could be heading for hard times

federal pension cuts and other undefined sources to make up the difference between gas tax revenues and the spending. “H.R. 7 relies heavily on unproven funding sources,” wrote North Carolina DOT Secretary Gene Conti. “According to the Congressional Budget Office, the combined shortfall of the Highway Trust Fund reaches approximately $50 billion in FY2016,” Conti said in the letter. “The energy portions designed to raise revenue…remain unpredictable.” And an unusual cross section of groups including NRDC, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the National Taxpayers Union wrote to every member of Congress last week with a simple message: “we urge you to reject the unprecedented linkage of drilling bills with the transportation law.” The bill would take away local control, planning authority and resources. While H.R. 7 is wrapped in the rhetoric of devolution and shifting power away from Washington, the bill is increasingly being criticized for concentrating power in the hands of the states rather than further empowering local governments and regional agencies. The National Association of City Transportation Officials warned: “If enacted this terrible bill would give authority back to states from cities; provide maximum flexibility to state transportation departments to choose what transportation projects to fund without regard to the need of cities,” and flat line funding to metropolitan areas. The House bill eliminates two small but overwhelmingly popular programs — Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School — that have helped communities do every-


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

thing from revitalize their Main Streets to make it safer for kids from to walk and bicycle to school. Effective and popular as they are, these two programs represent less than 2 percent of overall funding, even as they help to reduce the thousands of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths each year. It eliminates the bridge repair program and offloads responsibility for thousands of deficient bridges to local governments. Though we have more than 69,000 deficient bridges in our country the House bill eliminates the bridge repair program. Unlike the counterpart bill in the Senate, it fails to require states to ensure their bridges meet an overall standard for state of good repair. The bill would allow transportation money in a pollution-control fund to be used on new roadways for solo drivers. The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program today is dedicated to help communities deal with two of the biggest outcomes of an excess of people driving alone at rush hour: air pollution and congestion. A provision in H.R. 7’s section 1108 upends that intention by opening the fund to construction of regular highway lanes.

Bureaucracy required It would require more bureaucracy at transit agencies. In addition to ending dedicated transit funding, H.R. 7 goes even farther to pull some funds from larger transit systems immediately. Transit providers that operate both bus and rail services would be barred from a program used to buy buses or build bus facilities. As an ironic consequence, this could actually spur creation of new bureaucracies as agencies split themselves into separate bus and rail providers in order to qualify for this critical source of funds — approximately $900 million total. This needlessly diverts tax dollars to bureaucratic overhead that should be used to provide much-needed transit services to local communities. The legislation takes dramatic steps that would severely undermine the most basic environmental and citizen participation safeguards in how transportation dollars are spent and roads are planned. As the New York Times editorialized: “(H.R. 7) would demolish significant environmental protections by imposing arbitrary deadlines on legally mandated environmental reviews of proposed road and highway projects, and by ceding to state highway agencies the authority to decide whether such reviews should occur.” ❧

Obama seeks 105% hike in transit funding $2.5 billion for high-speed rail development By Ray LaHood, US Transportation Secretary


t has been more than two years and four months since America’s transportation funding expired. Congress has extended the law with short-term patches eight different times. But, with bridges crumbling and highways choked with congestion, our nation needs the planning certainty that comes from a long-term transportation bill, a bill that puts people back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, transit systems, and airports. Earlier this winter, President Obama out- Ray LaHood lined a six-year surface transportation proposal–part of his blueprint for an America built to last. The transportation budget the President proposed has three broad goals: • Creating jobs and investing in infrastructure for our

future; • Modernizing transportation through focused research and technology; and • Pressing forward on our number one priority--safety. An America built to last needs a strong transportation infrastructure. Without the ability to move goods and people safely and efficiently, we’re stuck standing still. That’s why the President’s budget will improve America’s highways, rail lines, and transit networks, allowing for growth and continuing to ensure that these systems are safe.  Of the President’s proposal, $305 billion would fund road and bridge improvements. Now, that›s a long overdue 34 percent increase over the previous transportation bill. And this proposal will also streamline and simplify our highway

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WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities


system by consolidating more than 55 different programs down to just five. Our roadways cannot bear the burden of America’s growing population on their own; investing in the nation’s transit systems is another critical need, which is why President Obama’s budget includes $108 billion over six years for transit -- a 105 percent increase -- prioritizing projects that rebuild and rehabilitate existing transit systems, and including an important new transit safety program.

Building rail lines President Obama’s budget also provides $2.5 billion in 2013 as part of a $47 billion six-year investment to continue construction of our national high-speed rail network. The Federal Railroad Administration has been working with stakeholders to plan and develop high-speed rail corridors across the country that will create new choices for travelers.  And work is already underway on eight projects, which are on-time and under budget. President Obama’s 2013 budget will support the re-

search and technologies that America’s next generations will need to sustain a thriving economy. As we rebuild, we can no longer afford to continue operating our transportation systems the same way we did 50 years ago, with outdated processes and financial tools that were made for yesterday’s economy.   Keeping our transportation systems safe will always be the Department of Transportation’s top priority. In keeping with this commitment, President Obama has proposed a record level of investment in safety.  That includes $7.5 billion over the next six years to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote seatbelt use, get drunk drivers off the road, reduce distracted driving, and ensure that traffic fatality numbers continue dropping from current historic lows. The budget will also dedicate $4.8 billion to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to ensure that commercial truck and bus companies maintain high operational standards and that high-risk carriers and drivers are off our roadways. The 2013 budget proposed by President Obama reflects the central role transportation plays in the lives of Americans and in the continued vitality of our economy. I

New transportation options, higher density planning complement push to improve environmental results —From page 19

In the heart of the downtown area, where green space was in short supply, the city spent $20 million to buy land, tear down the existing structures and build the 2-acre Main Street Garden Park. Mixed-use development has also caught on in the suburbs. One of the most visible examples is Legacy, a master-planned business, retail and residential community in Plano, which is north of Dallas. The community covers 2,665 acres, and 50,000 individuals live and work there. Employers include The Frito-Lay Company, JCPenney, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Countrywide Home Loans, Ericsson, McAfee, Inc., Pepsico, Intuit and Cingular Wireless. The 150-acre Legacy Town Center features urban style homes, businesses, retail establishments, a full-service hotel, restaurants, offices and open spaces in a community setting. The lead architect and planner of the 150-acre center is Andres Duany. Legacy Town Center incorporates many of the principles of “new urbanism,” including pedestrian-friendly traffic patterns and streets, Mixed-use buildings, of apartment homes, shops, hotels and offices; and Park space with water features and landscaping. In early 2012, the housing options included quite a few attached models. For example, a 3 bedroom, 3.5-bathroom townhome with 2,125 sq. ft. was offered for sale for $256,990. Dallas and other communities are working together on a


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

HUD-funded planning effort focused on areas around 7 DART stations, primarily in Southern Dallas. This effort will be geared towards preparing the ground for specific catalytic transitoriented development and affordable housing in these areas. The grant includes money to pay for land acquisition and predevelopment costs to incentivize specific developments in each station area, Jordan said. The city expects to have interactive community workshops in May to engage the community.

Renewable Energy & Green Buildings The City of Dallas purchases 40 percent of its power from clean, green sources—primarily wind farms. It is buying nearly 334 million kilowatt-hours (kWh). This makes Dallas the second largest purchaser of clean power of any city in the nation. All City-owned buildings over 10,000 square feet must be built to LEED Silver standards. In 2003, Dallas completed its first building under the Green Building Program - the Jack Evans Police Headquarters. As of 2010, the City had completed 17 green facilities since its Green Building Program was adopted in 2003 and has 26 others in various stages of design and construction. Of its current green buildings, the city has completed the certification process on several, boasting 5 LEED Gold, 9 LEED Silver and 2 Certified buildings. ❧

appreciate the President’s confidence in DOT and in the dedicated public servants who work hard every day to run the Department’s programs, and I look forward to seeing Congress pass this budget so we can put the President’s proposals into action. For further information, please read the Department of Transportation’s 2013 Budget Highlights on their website. ❧

Defend Sustainablity: Join PSC If you care about making communities sustainable, now’s the time to act. Take a moment now to become a member of Partnership for Sustainable Communities®. Go to and click on “become a member” in the green bar at top, or call 415-453-2100 x 302.

State, local governments bemoan funding shortfalls There is much to debate about the direction of US transportation policy. But for state and local governments, the immediate problem is to have enough money to maintain roads, bridges and transit systems. A survey of media reports and trade association research reveals a dire situation that could be leading us toward long-term economic decline. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) summarized the situation well, pointing out what no one in Congress seems to want to discuss: The federal gas tax is too low. It is generating less and less total revenue even as costs continue to go up. The gap between the revenue it generates and the cost to keep our transportation systems in good repair is growing every day. In a recent article on the NCSL web site, authors James B. Reed and Jaime Rall said the funding shortfall was obscured while federal stimulus money helped states pay for thousands of smaller transportation projects in 2009 and 2010. “But the shortterm successes of the stimulus could not fix the growing gap between available revenue and what is actually needed to maintain our transportation infrastructure,” they added. “The unprecedented investment of the federal recovery act failed to fill even a single year’s gap. Even with the stimulus funds, 21 states cut transportation programs in FY 2010 and at least 11 plan to do so in FY 2011, including nine that did in 2010,” the authors stated. “Years of underinvestment coupled with declining revenues and a ‘no new taxes’ attitude have built into a crisis,” they wrote. The average annual cost of maintaining the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems is about $277 billion, but the annual amount of transportation revenues at all levels of government—including federal and state fuel taxes,

tolls and fares—is only about $219 billion, they explained. That amounts to a shortfall of $58 billion a year just to maintain highways and transit systems, and $119 billion a year to improve them, they said, citing data from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The lack of investment in surface transportation will cost the American economy more than 876,000 jobs and suppress the growth of our GDP by $897 billion by the year 2020, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which issued the report, “Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Investment Trends in Surface Transportation Infrastructure.” “We are facing a funding gap of about $94 billion a year with our current spending levels,” the ASCE report stated. The federal gas tax has been stuck at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993, and increasing it is not something any politician will discuss publicly. The gas tax is somewhere around 5% of the cost of a gallon of gas, far lower than in many other nations. The revenue generated by the federal gas tax has declined as fuel efficiency has risen, and as the recession has reduced the amount people drive. As a result, states are forced to pay more of the cost for transportation from tax sources they control. Sources & further reading • running-out-of-gas.aspx • cfm • Articles/2011/08/16/How-Raising-the-Gas-TaxCould-Jumpstart-the-Economy.aspx#page1

WINTER 2012 • Sustainable Communities



Free Association, under which the Marshall Islands (which had been a U.S. trust territory after the end of World War II) gained independence, Marshallese have the right to live and work in the U.S, though they do not have automatic rights to citizenship. Some 4,000 Marshallese settled in northwest Arkansas, where many work at Tyson Foods plants, according to the ABA article. These migrants struggle with not only a language barrier but with cultural disconnects as well. A shared legal discussion about responsibility to control carbon emissions is needed now, according to Johnson Toribi-

ong, President of the Republic of Palau, who addressed the United Nations in February. Toribiong said 20 years of climate-change negotiations had shown that every nation saw the phenomenon differently — as an economic problem, or an issue of geopolitics. “For us, it’s about survival,” he said. The International Court of Justice process would raise awareness of that reality, in addition to providing guidance to the negotiation track. A court opinion would give us the guidance we need on what all nations must do,” he added. ❧


building materials that contain recycled content and do not emit harmful chemicals have been utilized. The buildings are all designed as nonsmoking to improve indoor air quality for health of residents. The Crossings at New Rancho is the result of a collaboration between developer Urban Housing Communities (UHC) of Santa Ana, California, the City of Rancho Cordova and its Community Redevelopment Agency, plus the California Dept.

of Housing and Community Development, and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The managing general partner and service provider is Valley Initiative for Affordable Housing, with property management provided by AWI Property Management Corp. The community was financed through RBC Capital Markets. Architectural services were provided by KTGY Group, Inc. and the general contractor was Competitive Edge Construction, Inc. ❧

Introducing the Friends of Sustainable Communities In this election year, it’s more important than ever to stand up for policies that help make our communities more sustainable. Make no mistake about it, powerful forces in this country are trying to turn back the progress we have made. That’s why the Partnership for Sustainable Communities needs your financial support. Give whatever you can to help us continue our work. We receive no government support and no foundation grants. We rely on individuals and organizations for our survival. We want to thank the following organizations for making donations in the last half of 2011 and the first two months of 2012: Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc. Low-income Investment Fund The Pacific Companies VLV Development

We want to thank the following individuals who gave $100 or more for their support during the same time period. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Peter Brown Robert Burns Peter Carey Will Cooper Sr. Conrad Egan William Kelly Bob Guerin Robert Hazelton Michael Hancox Bart Harvey David Reznick Mary Rogier Thomas Safran Geoffrey Stack Todd and Linda Sears

To become a member of Partnership for Sustainable Communities, go to and click on “become a member” in the green bar at top, or call 415-453-2100 x 302.


Sustainable Communities • WINTER 2012

SC Magazine Winter 2012 Issue  

SC magazine - Winter 2012 issue

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