Government Affairs Platform

Board Confirms CNU Policy Platform

On September 1st, 2010, CNU’s Board of Directors approved four policy reform priorities proposed by the board’s Government Affairs Committee chaired by Sam Sherman.  Although each issue was already the subject of ongoing CNU outreach, the board action helps CNU chief executive John Norquist and the board organize CNU’s policy reform efforts around a clarified set of objectives.

Objective 1: Limits on non-residential development for capitalization of residential projects under three federally chartered entities or programs —Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and HUD's 221 d 4 Multi-Family Housing program — should be raised from 20%( Fannie and HUD 221) and 25% (Freddie) to at least 50% of imputed rent. CNU will seek this change in any legislation affecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or as part of any HUD budget authorization. Current Fannie, Freddie and 221 d 4 profoundly discourage development of mixed-use buildings.

Objective 2: Promote the integration of CNU/ITE Context-Sensitive Streets guide content into federal and state law and policy. The ITE Walkable Urban Thoroughfares guide should be adopted for use in urban contexts as a companion to AASHTO’s A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets (Green Book). Since current federal and state highway standards push subsidies to large-scale superhighways and arterials, the many benefits of well-connected networks of streets are not considered currently. Federal funding for "off system" transportation should be allowed if it improves traffic distribution and enhances the regional transportation system. Well-connected local street networks are compatible with sustainable development patterns, improving both mobility and destination access, especially when complemented with transit.

Objective 3: Encourage the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water in updating its stormwater program to promote regulations that are compatible with higher-density walkable development with significant environmental benefits. In place of its current emphasis on on-site storm water retention policies favoring large-lot development, the EPA should encourage shared stormwater strategies at the block-, neighborhood- and watershed-scale, calibrated to recognize the benefits of energy-efficient urban density.

Objective 4: CNU expresses its opposition to California Proposition 23 which would repeal California's comprehensive effort to address climate change.

Norquist praised the effort as a successful example of collaboration between staff and board. “It certainly is valuable to have these positions clarified and affirmed. Each is crucial in its own way to clearing our path of obstructions so new urbanists can truly transform communities for the better.”

The position opposing financial restrictions on mixed-use development “is a potential breakthrough,” he said. “In the past, we talked of somehow abolishing Fannie and Freddie’s restrictions on mixed-use development. That’s a tall order. Instead, we now have a much more palatable proposal to shift the limits on mixed-use to the point where any conceivable new urbanist projects wouldn’t be harmed.”