Policies that Perform

The CNU 17 agenda reforms transportation and housing to deliver benefits we all need more than ever

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If handled well, the reurbanization of America won't be just a necessary response to crises in the economy, energy sector, and the environment. It will reward Americans with communities that provide more — more affordable transportation costs, more value from their investment in their homes, more convenient access to daily destinations, and a range of housing types to serve the needs of an aging population (and younger households as well). Through the careful application of the principles and strategies of New Urbanism, the reurbanization will yield diverse, livable communities full of valuable urban activity and humanizing parks and public spaces.

The theme of accelerating a livable reurbanization of America will be highlighted in Wednesday's opening plenary and will weave through sessions and events across the four days of the Congress. In particular, a set of sessions will tackle strategies for aligning government policies with new urbanist principles.

CNU Legislative Strategy Session (Friday)
Join CNU President and CEO John Norquist and members of the CNU board for the latest on CNU’s agenda for change in federal laws and practices. Special guests include the Center for Neighborhood Technology's Scott Bernstein — who will describe urbanist opportunities in the HUD and DOT Sustainable Communities partnership, on which he's consulted extensively — and Nick Donohue, Virginia Assistant Secretary of Transportation, who has helped supply Gov. Tim Kaine with the right combination of reform ideas and value propositions to usher in a set of new policies requiring better connected local street networks, identified urban development areas, and coordinated land use and development planning where the state makes transportation investments. The Virginia experience offers lessons for taking similar pro-urban policies to other states and the federal level, including the message that only when transportation design moves beyond an exclusive focus on mobility to consider mobility and proximity together can truly cost-effective and lasting solutions emerge. Moderated by Jacky Grimshaw.

CNU and HUD: Opportunities for Innovation in Affordable Housing (Friday)
After the impressive progress on housing issues achieved through the New Urbanism-influenced federal Hope VI program in the 1990s — and the period of federal inactivity on the issue that followed — the goal of transforming distressed and isolated public- and low-income housing into vital mixed-income traditional neighborhoods is moving up the national agenda again. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made $1 billion in competitive grants that can be bundled with funds from other programs to create Hope VI-type transformations. And in announcing its 2010 budget, HUD announced $250 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, which “will build on the lessons of HOPE VI and revitalize high-poverty neighborhoods through transformative investments in distressed public and assisted housing and closer linkages with school reform and early childhood interventions.” In this session, Ray Gindroz, a key new urbanist advisor to the Hope VI program, development consultant and former HUD official Elinor Bacon and Sunia Zuterman, president of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities will help the audience better understand the administration’s policy approach and the role CNU and its members can play in renewing a partnership with HUD and improving built results for long-lasting positive results.

New Urbanism and the Transportation Reauthorization (Saturday)
The federal government's vision for transportation has hardly changed since the Interstate Highway System was announced 50 years ago. We need policies that do more than strive unsuccessfully to reduce automobile congestion. With the federal Transportation Bill coming up for reauthorization this year, what is the best way to get Congress to focus on linking people to their destinations by the best means possible and on leveraging the ability of traditional urban places from small towns to big cities to support a range of convenient, efficient transportation options including walking, bicycling, using transit, and reduced driving?

CNU's partner Transportation for America has built a broad coalition and developed a multi-layered strategy for success on this front, so T4America co-chair Geoffrey Anderson will discuss the key messages, strategies, and pressure points to get Congress and its constituencies committed to real reform. We'll also take a closer look at CNU priorities within the T4 agenda. Better support for non-driving modes of transportation — transit, biking, walking — is an important part of the equation. But these modes require a compatible setting — traditional mixed-use neighborhoods — to function efficiently. How do we get Congress to tackle transportation and the design of the built environment as a combined challenge and opportunity? As we involve CNU members with extensive political experience in the discussion (including Roxane Qualls and Mike Krusee), this session will define how CNU members and chapters can become effective advocates for change and increase our prospects for success.

“What we’re talking about is a vision for high-speed rail in America…” (Thursday)
Come learn from key leaders about how to best implement the President's vision for high-speed rail linking vibrant, efficient urban nodes. “Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city…Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination,” said President Obama on April 16th. “Imagine what a great project that would be to rebuild America.” Join T4 America co-chair Geoff Anderson, influential high-speed rail advocate Howard Learner of the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Christopher Leinberger, Brookings Fellow and President, Locus Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors

And don't forget: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Dispatches from the Front Lines (Thursday), your guide to the spending (and the opportunities) in the unprecedented federal stimulus, with Sunia Zuterman of CLPHA, Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory, Jeannie Renné-Malone of HDR and more.

If you want to help shape emerging policies or benefit from change that is already underway, don't miss these sessions. And if you haven't registered yet, it's not too late to register now.