One way to create sustainable communities.

Building Stronger, Sustainable Communities Through Strategic Coordination
[Via White Blog Feed: Blog]

This morning at the National Press Club, I joined HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson to discuss the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Partnership is an initiative that brings together the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure that the agencies’ policies, programs, and funding consider affordable housing, transportation, and environmental protection together. Founded on the idea that how and where we build our communities affects our economy, our environment, and our everyday lives, the Partnership is supporting communities that want to give Americans more housing choices, make transportation systems more efficient and reliable, and support vibrant neighborhoods that attract businesses. This is good for our communities and good for our economy.


Sustainable communities need several things and the Partnership works towards some of those. The Partnership provides some vision of just what Sustainable Communities look like:

Sustainable communities are places that balance their economic and natural assets so that the diverse needs of local residents can be met now and in the future.


Sustainable communities allow people to live closer to jobs and save money on personal transportation, usually the second largest household expense and sometimes the largest for low-income Americans. Neighborhoods that make it easy to walk or bike to work, school, stores, parks, and other destinations help people stay healthy by incorporating regular exercise into their daily routines. Sustainable communities also reduce air and water pollution and protect treasured land- scapes and prime agricultural land.

Seattle is seeing the results of this right here. $30 million went from the Partnership’s Transportation INvestment Generating Economic Recovery Grants (TIGER) to work on the Mercer Mess. Here is the description:

The project involves the reconstruction and realignment of the main roadway through the growing biotechnology hub in South Lake Union, connecting a number of urban centers to I-5 in Seattle. The project will build multi-modal improvements along Mercer and Valley Streets, including widening Mercer to create a two-way boulevard, reconstructing Valley Street as a local access street, providing new and wider sidewalks, improving connections to transit and adding bicycle lanes.

And the proposed benefits:

The project area is in extremely poor condition and in need of rehabilitation. The roadwork will reengineer a key bottleneck and will also upgrade the water, sewer and electrical infrastructure that serves the area. The project is fully integrated with Seattle’s transit, bicycle and pedestrian plans, and it re-routes traffic flow and opens space for alternative transportation options and mixed-use development. The design criteria include innovative options for stormwater runoff, lighting and other project components. The South Lake Union development area is a pilot for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND).

We also just got a TIGERII grant for $34 million for the South Park Bridge replacement. And almost $5 million to the Puget Sound Regional Council to support metropolitan and multi-jurisdictional planning efforts that incorporate housing, land use, economic development, transportation and infrastructure.

In addition, the DOT has now created a new bicycle/pedestrian policy that, for the first time, puts non-motorized transportation on an equal footing with motorized. And now the FTA will extend eligibility for federal transit funds to bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Quite a bit going on. The next year could be even more exciting.

2 thoughts on “One way to create sustainable communities.

  1. And what about Southern cities where the temperature in summer is VERY high and the only reason people survive (literally) is because they have air-conditioning? Are we just to be ignored or forced to move?

    1. Not sure just what can be done by this group since they are focussed on housing and transportation issues. Business as usual will probably result in much higher energy costs as either necessary fuel sources are depleted or as air temperatures increase. It will not be an easy thing to solve.

      But then, few of the things we need to solve to reach a sustainable society are easy.

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