Funding Not the Only Variable in Sustainable Planning's Success

As Congress presses to eliminate funding for many of the federal government's sustainable planning initiatives, increased collaboration among agencies around smart growth policies may be irreversible.
July 22, 2012, 9am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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The Republican-led Congress has had success of late in de-funding some of the Obama administration's progressive planning initiatives. But, as Tanya Synder of Streetsblog writes, many initiatives introduced in the name of greater environmental sustainability are finding sustainability themselves by forming stronger partnerships with partner agencies around smart growth principles. She notes, "[w]ith or without a name or funding, government agencies are beginning to work together around a common mission of smart growth and livability."

Collaboration among agencies has been found to lessen delays, cost less money, and, in the case of FEMA, allow communities to rebuild smarter than before. For example, FEMA "has formalized its close working relationship with the Partnership for Sustainable Communities," says Synder, "In concert with the other agencies, FEMA is trying to rebuild smarter after disasters, making damaged streets complete streets when they rehab them."

Still, Congress seems keen on killing off such sustainability efforts. Where Congress may fail is understanding just how strong these cross-departmental relationships have become. "The Partnership has seen the smart growth ethic permeate much of the work of the agencies involved," reports Synder, "'they're coordinating their day to day work,' said EPA's [Abby] Hall. 'It's not just a top-down partnership. The strength of it has been putting regional staff in touch with each other.'"

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Published on Thursday, July 19, 2012 in Streetsblog
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