Urban Fold

Can The Feds Make Sustainability Happen?

The Obama administration is trying to rein in suburban sprawl. But is it any match for 70 years of unsustainable development?

This in-depth feature in the American Prospect looks at the HUD/DOT/EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities and director Shelley Poticha as they move to rein in sprawl and promote transit-oriented development.

Alyssa Katz writes, "Each Wednesday, Poticha meets with EPA smart-growth director John Frece and DOT policy chief Beth Osborne to make sure their agencies' programs are advancing "livability principles" -- transportation choices, affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods, economic growth -- and focusing development within existing communities. The agencies' policies and funding are beginning to address the fact that investments in places cannot be separated from the ways Americans travel between them."

You can here from Poticha and Osborne directly at the Sustainable Communities event this coming Thurss., July 15th at 2pm EDT, in an event co-produced by Planetizen and whitehouse.org.

Thanks to Alyssa Katz

Full Story: The Reverse Commute



Federal Policy Cannot Drive Local Land Use

Not only does the myth of the last 70 years need to be erased in consumer's minds, local zoning laws have to be changed to align with new urban methods.

A quick narrative on how easy THAT will be:

Denver just passed a new zoning code, with one of the original stated goals to increase residential density near light rail. There was so much pushback from people who hated how single family homes were being scraped in favor of large duplexes, that the new zoning map will accommodate about 60% FEWER dwelling units in the old R2 zones. In addition, 87% of the city rejected the new ADU zoning.

Lesson learned - Many vocal city dwellers that own a single family home hate density near them, and City Council will bow to these folks. In my interviews with individual council members, I got the impression that they would do just about anything to eliminate the angry phone calls from them.

Federal Policy and Land Use.

I'm glad you didn't call it "form-based code", Kevin. And Denver's...um...problematic code is a function of "leadership" not insisting on a quality product. This lack of insistence means no one took the time to explain it to the publics, so the caving happened. Too bad.

Nonetheless, I think there are some federal drivers that can shape local land use, and we have some today: stormwater and air quality. Bruce Babbitt in his book explains how our profligate waste is a driver for transboundary planning at larger scales, therefore more large-scale planning is needed.



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