CNU June 2010 E-Update Newsletter

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CNU E-Update
June 2010

1. CNU 18: If You Missed It, Don't Kick Yourself (Too Much)
2. Contributing Ideas to the Next Congress Just Got a Lot More Interesting
3. CNU Policy Report by John Norquist
4. Flurry of Federal Grant Announcements Confirms Value of Planning
5. Host a Walkable Thoroughfares Training
6. Code Hearing Result Reveals Challenge in Demonstrating Common Interest of Fire Officials and Advocates of Sustainable Communities
7. New at
8. Session Proposal Deadline Nears for New Partners Conference
9. Upcoming Webinars and Courses from the National Charrette Institute

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CNU 18: If You Missed It, You Don't Have to Kick Yourself (Too Much)
It was an invigorating Congress in a pivotal year -- and our new library of webcasts will take you inside CNU 18, whether you attended it or not

Couldn't clone yourself and make it to simultaneous sessions? Or couldn't make it at all to Atlanta for CNU 18?

You can still experience CNU 18's history-making sessions, Watch the Webcasts CNU 18 Block Logoplenaries, and 202 seminars through our virtual Congress. More than 47 non-ticketed Congress sessions and all 10 NU 202 advanced seminars are being made available via audio-or-video-enabled webcasts.

If you attended the Congress, watch for a special e-mail from CNU tomorrow with a code for you to use to gain complimentary access to webcasts of regular Congress sessions. If you attended a ticketed 202, you will receive a follow-up message with an access code for that content too.

webbieCNU members who didn't attend the Congress or who want to purchase additional ticketed content can take advantage of a code good for a 15% discount at checkout. Visit the member benfits area of -- -- to retrieve this code. Logging in at is required. If you can't remember your password, here's everything you need to know to get a new one. 

You may also find it helpful to check webcast site requirements.

 We hope you find these webcasts to be a valued additional benefit of Congress attendance and CNU membership.

And Don't Forget: Your Feedback on CNU 18 is Highly Valued
Share it and you could be selected to win a free viewing of a 202 seminar at the virtual Congress

Please let us know what you thought of CNU 18 by filling out our short survey. CNU is built on collaborative efforts among representatives of many different sectors and disciplines. Help make the annual Congress the premier interdisciplinary forum for changing the way we shape our built environment and, in turn, how this built environment affects us. Please voice your opinion!

As an extra incentive, we'll randomly select two CNU 18 attendees who complete the survey by July 16th and award them a coupon for the complimentary viewing of one NU 202 webcast at our virtual Congress. So respond now.

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Contributing Ideas to the Next Congress Just Got a Lot More Interesting
Share ideas, vote on the ideas of others, help us set goals and expectations for CNU 19, in addition to program content

Drawing on Madison's close relationship with its agricultural neighbors and its in-town agricultural resources -- as well as its bustling bike networks, home-grown bicycling industry and its abundance of neighborhood character -- CNU 19 will build on the theme of "Growing Local." Madison's balance of urban and rural life creates an engaging and stimulating context for considering models for regional growth that are in tune with an age that demands and rewards greater sustainability, energy efficiency, livability and public health.

CNU 19 is your forum and now is the time to share your ideas for making it truly exceptional. We want to hear not only your ideas for great speakers and lively sessions, but also your vision for goals and objectives the Congress should achieve.

And this year, your ideas won't just go into a box to await further evaluation. A new interactive platform will make your suggestions visible to other CNU members, who can comment and vote on them. And you can comment and vote on their suggestions. Although ideas that rise to the top will attract the most notice from the program committee, that committee will still have the responsibility of using your input to build a diverse and dynamic program.

Submit your ideas now.

CNU 18 Block Logo

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CNU Policy Report
Secretary Donovan's address was exciting to hear -- and a sign for us to accelerate our reform efforts

By John Norquist
After HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan's urbanism-affirming speech in Atlanta, HUD official Salin Geevarghese raised the question to CNU 18 attendees, "What do you do when you get what you ask for?"

In the case of CNU and the Obama Administration, the answer is express gratitude, cooperate and set even higher expectations for policy advances. Meetings with HUD Sustainable Communities director Shelley Poticha (CNU's former executive director) and HUD economist Raphael Bostic confirm that federal officials are listening and CNU policies are finding their way into HUD programming. Shelley Poticha, Director of HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities
CNU 18 Block LogoThis is particularly so with the new HUD Sustainable Communities grants, administered by Shelley and her office.  When CNU Board member Stephanie Bothwell and I met with her at HUD headquarters in DC on June 16, accompanied by representatives of the Natural Resource Defense Council and Green Building Council, she confirmed that LEED for Neighborhood Development serves as important source of policy details and metrics for grant criteria. It was clear to all that having Shelley in place at HUD is a big plus for the new urbanist and smart growth agendas as HUD, DOT and EPA develop their plans to encourage sustainability. (Shelley and her team were extraordinarily busy last week issuing grant availability notifications for two significant programs - Sustainable Community Challenge Grants and Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants. Read more belowabout webinars and other information sources to help you better understand how these grants represent opportunities for urbanists.)

Representatives Jim Oberstar( D-MN) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are showing great interest in reforming federal transportation investments to better serve urban areas. Currently the system favors road segment width expansion over more comprehensive enhancement of networks of streets and transit. Read my testimony to DeFazio's subcommittee, which reviews benefits of urban networks and includes practical suggestions for incorporating them using the new CNU/ITE Urban Thoroughfares manual. DeFazio chairs the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Oberstar. The opportunity to change National Highway System policy will come with the Transportation Reauthorization Bill or perhaps earlier if Congress passes another Jobs bill. I have also held meetings with Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Tom Petri (R-WI) and John Olver (D-MA) and staff for Senators Rockefeller and Boxer to promote funding sustainable networks. CNU transportation engineers and planners are planning a short meeting in Chicago in July to help prepare street network policies that could be useful to members of Congress.

CNU member and EPA policy staffer Lee Sobel is leading an internal effort in EPA to address a problem new urbanists have complained about for many years. Both big federally chartered mortgage corporations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, impose crippling restrictions on purchasing mortgages in mixed-use development projects. These restrictions discourage mixed-use urban commercial development. Sobel is studying the origins and rationales for these restrictions. Meanwhile CNU board members Steve Maun and Sam Sherman, have worked with CNU and the National Town Builders Association to advocate for relaxed Fannie and Freddie restrictions on non-residential development. CNU has also had contact with House Banking Chair Barney Frank to gain his support for reforms promoting more fair treatment of mortgages in mixed-use buildings. With FHA, Fannie and Freddie now overwhelmingly dominating the housing mortgage market this issue has become even more important. Fortunately, as mounting fiscal problems at the agencies make structural reform unavoidable, CNU has the ear of some key architects of those reforms to be sure they're considering coming change at the agencies as an opportunity to bring them finally in line with the principles of sustainable community-making.

At the Atlanta Congress discussions among Eleanor Smith, AndrĂ©s Duany, Scott Ball, Ed Steinfeld, Elinor Bacon, Ray Gindroz and others continued. HUD officials express interest in advancing accessibility in a way that's compatible with good urbanism and addressing the unpredictability that now plagues the federal Fair Housing approach. This group of new urbanists and accessibility advocates are working to produce specific standards that will be submitted to HUD.  These ideas  can enhance accessibility and visitability while also recognizing that urbanism has great benefits to all people.  This work is greatly advanced by a new pattern book, Inclusive Housing: a Pattern Book, by Ed Steinfeld and the IDeA Center at the University of Buffalo

Stormwater Management
With EPA preparing to issue updated stormwater regulations, CNU wants to influence these new policies so the blessings of urbanism, environmental and beyond, aren't short-changed through a too-narrow focus on individual site absorption. While stormwater management has gone through a revolution in recent years, it is still focused on mitigation, not prevention. Preventive aspects of smart growth and new urbanism -- like infill redevelopment and compact, walkable neighborhoods -- are not recognized and often punished. Since the rules are silent on location, efficiency and overall development footprint, watersheds can decline even as individual new development projects meet current regulatory targets. This siloed thinking is inconsistent with the EPA/HUD/DOT Sustainable Communities Partnership and we have an opportunity to transform stormwater regulations to work in concert with urbanism. The CNU Rainwater Initiative, which continued its urgent work at CNU 18 in Atlanta, is to call on the three agencies and advance the case that the regulations themselves are evolving as an environmental challenge.

Standing Up to 1960s-Style Urban Renewal in New Orleans
A fast-moving plan to relocate and build two hospitals -- an LSU teaching hospital and a VA complex -- would level dozens of historic buildings, close multiple streets and create an enormous, isolated superblock from over 25 of New Orleans' compact blocks. Recognizing the level of devastation as well as the potential lost economic development opportunity from such an insular design, Jack Davis, CNU board member and trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has brought CNU into the fray and has been working local and national political channels to get the hospitals redesigned. About a week after his election, I joined new Mayor Mitch Landrieu along with APA President Paul Farmer, longtime New Orleans advocate Bill Borah, and Jack Davis in a meeting to alert the new Mayor to the ramifications if such a plan is allowed to go through. We were pleased when, this week, he put pending street closure applications on hold and brought in the planning firm Goody Clancy to review the hospital plan. Since the VA project is under federal control, we have informed top officials of the plan's incompatibility with Sustainable Communities goals and confirmed that there is heightened awareness of the project's problems.
The Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans' Treme Neighborhood Claiborne  ExpresswayJust down the street, CNU is advocating for the removal of the elevated Claiborne Expressway which carries Interstate 10. Recognizing the freeway as a mistake of epic proportions, the Unified New Orleans Plan suggests re-establishing street connections in this area and investigating the removal of I-10 over North Claiborne Avenue. Working with Smart Mobility and Waggonner and Ball Architects, CNU is soon to release a review of the existing and potential transportation configurations. What is clear is that the restoration of the surface boulevard will benefit from an interconnected street network for traffic distribution -- making Mayor Landrieu's decision to put the street closures on hold all the more important. 

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Flurry of Federal Grant Announcements Confirms Value of Planning
Watch webinars with Shelley Poticha and Beth Osborne, top Sustainable Communities officials at HUD and USDOT to learn about these new opportunities to advance urbanism

The Sustainable Communities Partnership of the US  Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency made two important announcements last week. Both demonstrate a growing recognition that the extensive investments the federal government makes in housing and transportation systems perform better when coordinated by planning that's in synch with new urbanist principles.

Here's the latest from Washington:
1) Early in the week, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced the first-ever grants that HUD and DOT will administer jointly -- $35 million in TIGER II Planning Grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge Grants for localized planning efforts that lead to projects "that integrate transportation, housing and economic development."

The $75 million in combined funding isn't a large sum compared to the $1.5 billion the DOT handed out earlier this year through its TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant program nor to large HUD programs that fund bricks-and-mortar development, but these new grants enable planning work that ensures public and private investments alike are handled in a way that yields economic value, environmental sustainability and improved quality of life for community members.

The two programs come at similar goals from different angles and thus mesh well. The DOT's TIGER II planning grants are for early-stage work on transportation projects that meet the TIGER II program's goal of enhancing economic vitality, environmental sustainability and community livability. HUD's Sustainable Communities grants go to planning projects that reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities, with HUD specifically envisioning efforts "amending or replacing local master plans, zoning codes, and building codes ... to promote mixed-use development, affordable housing and the re-use of older buildings for new purposes with the goal of promoting sustainability at the local level."

As if more evidence was needed that these are grants from agencies that increasingly "get it," HUD and DOT anticipate multi-disciplinary projects with elements relating to both programs -- such as planning related to an enhanced regional transportation system or a code change to foster sustainable development around a new rail station -- and it will allow a single application to be reviewed jointly by both departments.  

Applicants must be state and local governments, tribal governments, and governmental entities such as transit and port authorities and must submit pre-applications by July 24th. Read HUD's press release and full notification of funding availability for these grants.

2) HUD finished a strong week with the announcement of the availability of funds for more sound planning, this time at the regional scale. The first-of-its-kind $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program seeks to fund regional planning efforts that connect housing and jobs, foster local innovation and build a clean energy economy, thereby creating stronger, more sustainable communities.

Like CNU's Charter, HUD's vision for the program shows a keen awareness of interdependence between the shape and function of regions and results such as "economic competitiveness and revitalization; social equity, inclusion, and access to opportunity; energy use and climate change; as well as public health and environmental impacts." The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program seeks applications from diverse partnerships and regional consortia composed of "state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), educational institutions, non-profit organizations and philanthropic organizations." Funds can be used to create new regional plans supporting sustainable communities or to fine-tune existing regional plans.

Congress authorized funding for the grants as part of the $200 million 2010 budget allocation for the agency's new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, which is headed by former CNU executive director Shelley Poticha. Read HUD's press release or full funding announcement.

For direct-from-the-source insights into these programs, register for one of the following webinars.

A webinar this Thursday at 2 p.m. eastern hosted by the Federal Highway Administration on the TIGER II and Urban Development Community Challenge planning grants will feature the two officials at both DOT and HUD most directly responsible for the Sustainable Communities partnership: Beth Osborne, USDOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy and Shelley Poticha, Director for the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. Space is limited but webinars are also available for viewing after airing live. Learn more and register here.

The $100 million HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grants and the $75 million DOT-HUD TIGER II/Sustainable Communities Challenge grants will be the focus of a webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, June 30th at 3 p.m. eastern time. Speakers include Maria Zimmerman, Deputy Director, HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities; Kalima Rose, Director, PolicyLink Center for Infrastructure Equity; and Vu Bang Nguyen, Land Use Coordinator, Urban Habitat. Sponsors are PolicyLink, LISC, National Housing Conference, Reconnecting America, and Smart Growth America. Register here.

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Host a Walkable Thoroughfares Training
Help reform street and network design in your region

Join the movement to build streets that add value to your area.  CNU and the Institute of Transportation Engineers partnered to develop a new standard that uses the transect to plan major urban thoroughfares.  The CNU/ITE Manual on Walkable Urban Thoroughfares is now an ITE recommended practice--a new standard for transportation engineers.   You can order the manual online or download fact sheets about the manual here.  

CNU worked with the City of Elgin, IL to apply the manual to two major streets earlier this year.  Interested in developing a customized training to fit your public works or engineering department?  CNU has several members who helped author this new standard ready to help.   To learn more about scheduling a training in your area please contact Heather Smith
at CNU.

CNU ITE street section

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a6Code Hearing Result Reveals Challenge that Remains in Demonstrating Common Interest of Fire Officials and Advocates of Sustainable Communities

The Emergency Response and Street Design Initiative suffered a setback on May 20 when both of its suggested amendments to the International Fire Code were rejected at the International Code Council's Final Action Hearings in Dallas.

ICC voters ratified the Fire Code Committee's previous rejection (in October 2009) of the Congress for the New Urbanism's proposed change to the fire code's passage that currently mandates designated fire access roads have at least 20 feet of clear space. Voters also reversed the Fire Code Committee's previous overwhelming approval (12-1 at the October 2009 code hearings in Baltimore of our proposed Appendix K, which offered performance-based guidance to fire code officials on street designs and "... establish[es] requirements consistent with nationally and internationally recognized good practice for achieving a reasonable level of overall life safety, by taking into account and balancing the need to prevent road traffic deaths and injuries and the need to safeguard against the hazards of fire, explosions and other dangerous conditions."

Perhaps more disturbing, however, was the ICC's ratification of Fire Code language that states, "Traffic calming devices are prohibited unless approved by the fire code official," and defines traffic calming devices as " elements of fire apparatus access roads such as street alignment, installation of barriers, and other physical measures intended to reduce traffic and cut-through volumes, and slow vehicle speeds."

In other words, the ICC just acted to elevate fire code officials as the ultimate arbiters of street design and traffic engineering. Read the full report at

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a7New at
The latest news from our site

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Follow the instructions in the email and use the one-time login link to access your account. Note that the email contains a login link, not a password. After clicking the login link, you will be redirected to your account settings page to set your password. If you need further assistance logging in or renewing your membership, please contact Juantiki Jones at or 312-551-7300 x19.

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a8Session Proposal Deadline Nears for New Partners Conference
National Smart Growth event will be in Charlotte from February 3-5, 2011

The Call for Session Proposals for the 2011 New Partners for Smart Growth Conference deadline is quickly approaching.

The CFSP Submittal Form and the CFSP Instructions are posted on the conference web site and are available to download. This form should be used to submit any proposals for breakouts, workshops, trainings, tours, or networking activities. The submittal deadline is tomorrow June 30, 2010.

Today, more than ever, we are faced with environmental and economic challenges that will define our generation, shape our future, and test our resilience as cities, regions, states and a nation. Join leaders from across the U.S. as we tackle these challenges head-on and demonstrate solutions to curbing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating a green economy, and building more livable, walkable, and healthier communities.

To access the form and instructions, visit

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a9Upcoming Webinars and Courses from the National Charrette Institute
CNU members eligible for discounts on NCI offerings

The National Charrette Institute is a nonprofit educational institution that trains professionals and community leaders in best practices for charrettes -- using a design-based, accelerated, collaborative project management system that harnesses the talents and energies of all interested parties to create and support a feasible plan. Since NCI is a CNU continuing education partner, CNU members are eligible for a 10 percent discount

Upcoming NCI Charrette System Certificate Trainings are:
June 28-30 - Olds College, Calgary, AB
August 4-6 - Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

NCI Webinar Series
NCI is pleased to offer the following webinars for 2010. We are partnering with a range of experts on each topic to bring you fresh perspectives on these current issues. The next webinar is Charrettes for Form Based Codes in September, 2010. Read more.

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About the Congress for the New Urbanism
The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading organization promoting regions, cities and towns built around walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods.  Learn more.