Massachusetts announces a “common vision” for housing, transportation, and the environment

Boston skyline

In fiscally challenging times, states can achieve more when their agencies work together toward common goals. Massachusetts is doing exactly that.

Yesterday at the Multi-Family Housing Summit in Boston, three members of Governor Deval Patrick’s Cabinet announced their common vision for growth in Massachusetts. The vision highlights the housing, transportation, and environment agencies’ strong commitment to plan ahead for future growth and the Commonwealth’s Sustainable Development Principles. The goals are to:

  • Build 10,000 multi-family homes a year through 2020, particularly near transit, city/town centers and employment centers;
  • Shift the way we travel, by tripling the share of travel by bicycling, transit and walking; and
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from the 1990 levels by 2020.

“We will achieve [the vision] only if we work together,” Transportation Secretary Richard A. Davey said during the Multi-Family Housing Summit where the announcement was made. Understanding the key connections between housing, economic development, transportation, environmental protection, and land use, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki, whose agency hosted the Summit, said, “This [vision] is a pledge that we will think about each others agencies throughout our work.”

The 10,000 multi-family housing production goal was announced in November 2012 by Gov. Patrick as an outcome of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design workshop, which was held that summer.

In addition to the partnership, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development announced the formation of the Multi-Family Housing Advisory Committee to build broader support for multi-family housing and provide a structured forum for assessing and recommending new policies. The Advisory Committee will consist of 28 members, representing municipal and regional officials, members of the business and development community and non-profit and advocacy organizations, and will be staffed by state and quasi-public agencies. The formation of the Committee was also a recommendation made by the Governors’ Institute.

Similar stakeholder groups attended yesterday’s Multi-Family Housing Summit to discuss tangible strategies in achieving the 10,000 multi-family housing production goal. Bill Fulton, Director of the Governors’ Institute, presented on the recommendations that GICD provided in 2012 and facilitated the discussion.

The Governors’ Institute’s technical assistance is made possible and guided by the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Partnerships promotes better coordination between housing, transportation, and other infrastructure investments to create more prosperous and vibrant communities.

Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment Districts: how the state program works

Map of Arts and Entertainment Districts in Maryland

The semi-annual deadline for communities in Maryland to submit an application for the statewide designation as an Arts and Entertainment (A&E) District is fast approaching, on October 1. Communities can apply as a sole entity or combination of entities for the state designation which makes them eligible for various tax incentives.

The benefits offered to designated districts include:

1) property tax credits for new construction or renovation of certain buildings that create live-work space for artists and/or space for arts and entertainment enterprises;

2) an income tax subtraction modification for income derived from artistic work sold by “qualifying residing artists”;

3) an exemption from the Admissions and Amusement tax levied by an “arts and entertainment enterprise” or “qualifying residing artist” in a district.

These incentives promote smart growth, creative placemaking and community design by focusing economic development in a specific area as well as around creative industry.

This program is but one of many in the state of Maryland that supports neighborhood revitalization–other examples include Main Street Maryland, Community Legacy and Neighborhood BusinessWorks. However, when the program was created by the General Assembly in 2001, it was the only (and remains today), the only arts-based revitalization program sponsored at a state level.

Watch this space to learn more about how the program revitalized one community, and for details about this year’s selections from the Maryland State Arts Council.

Gov. Glendening challenges Ranson, WV to plan for the future, to protect resources, and to stimulate economic growth through community design

Governor Glendening in Ranson, WV

Last night, President of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, Governor Parris Glendening delivered the keynote address to kickoff a weeklong planning workshop in Ranson, WV (crossposted from Smart Growth America).

Together with EPA Assistant Administrator Mathy Stanislaus, Governor Glendening provided context at the opening session. Governor Glendening addressed how the Ranson community can meet changing demographic trends, protect natural resources, and overcome current economic challenges through planning dense, walkable, livable areas connected to housing and transportation. More information on the opening session here.

In the weeklong ‘mega’ planning workshop (September 8-14), the Ranson community will discuss issues and ideas before draft plans are completed for each of four, linked and interdependent projects that are being funded by the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Ranson is one of only two communities that was awarded grants by all three partner agencies for a combined total of $1.4 million in planning grants (the other community is Denver, CO). Read more about the weeklong workshop and the four projects at Ranson Renewed.

Since the Partnership for Sustainable Communities was created in 2009, the Governors’ Institute on Community Design has supported the Partnership’s efforts to improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities. The Governors’ Institute has served as a liaison between the Partnership and state administrations, hosting meetings to allow for a dialogue between federal and state officials. To learn more about the partnership agencies, see Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

Governor Whitman: Great places are created by good design and smart policy

Policy plays an important role in building great places. That’s the message Governor Christine Todd Whitman delivered to leading civic leaders, policymakers, urban designers, and entrepreneurs participating in the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary forum on July 14, 2011.

Gov. Whitman, a key member of the GICD’s Governors’ Council, spoke about the importance of design in creating great places. Stating that “one of things we found early on is that part of what defines neighborhoods is their physical aspects – what they look like,” she discussed how elements such as front stoops allow for the the development of community. She recounted how, as Governor of New Jersey, she saw first-hand how many well-intentioned rules and regulations prevented such design elements and planning strategies from creating great places.

Governor Whitman also addressed the role of governors in creating vibrant, livable cities. Stating that “governors can do a lot to help create an atmosphere that allows for cities to grow,” she stressed the importance of coordinating the efforts of state government and breaking down silos. Governor Whitman mentioned the Governors’ Institute on Community Design workshop she had recently attended and how such efforts to align state administrations and policies are critical to the success of cites — and how without such alignment the best of intentions and investments can be for naught.

The panel, which was moderated by E.J. Dionne Jr., columnist for The Washington Post, included Isabel Wilkerson, journalist and author; Jean Quan, mayor of Oakland, Calif.; and the Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick; as well as Governor Whitman.