Spotlight on Sustainability: Thurston County, Washington

The following is based on an interview with Kathy McCormick, Senior Planner for the Thurston Regional Planning Council.

When the state of Washington adopted a Growth Management Act in 1990, local jurisdictions set about creating Comprehensive Plans; soliciting public participation in the process. Thurston County was one of them. Now, in the twenty-plus years since that piece of legislation was enacted, the region has grown by over 100,000 people, making it one of the fastest growing counties in the state. “We have a great foundation in the plans that exist from the 90s,” says Kathy McCormick, Senior Planner for the Thurston Regional Planning Council, “But, how can we continue to grow if people don’t know about those plans and how can we address the needs of a changing population if we don’t know what those needs are?” Over two decades later, the region is getting the chance to revisit those issues.

Partnership For Sustainable Communities Grantees Host Briefing On Capitol Hill

This week, Smart Growth America brought together representatives from groups who received Department of Housing and Urban Development regional planning grants as part of the interagency Partnership for Sustainable Community for a briefing on Capitol Hill. The grantees who spoke at the briefing represented a diverse cross-section of communities that are implementing regional planning grants, including representatives from the Metro-Boston region, Northern Maine, and Metropolitan Des Moines. Shelley Poticha, Director of HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Community Development, shared the agency’s perspective of the transformative potential of regional planning grants and the unique cross-agency collaboration between HUD, DOT and EPA that defines the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

HUD distributed just shy of $100 million for regional planning grants to 45 different grant recipients as part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities in fiscal year 2011. So far those grant recipients have managed to leverage almost another $100 million out of local private, non-profit and local government partners to support their efforts. Shelley noted that kind of financial investment in support of a non-construction project was remarkable. Why is there so much excitement from the business community, local governments, universities and other partners on the ground when it comes to these regional planning grants?

Webinar: Overcoming Obstacles in Regional Planning (Feb. 1)

Smart Growth America is pleased to host the following webinar on February 1, 2011:

Overcoming Obstacles in Regional Planning

Did you apply for or receive a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant? Are you trying to start or advance a regional plan? Join Smart Growth America to hear from Mariia Zimmerman, Deputy Director U.S. HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, and several HUD grant recipients from diverse parts of the country in various stages of regional plan development. The speakers will highlight the importance of regional planning, discuss coalition building, challenges they have faced in the planning and implementation process, and keys to success.

White House’s sustainable communities efforts covered in City Limits

City Limits magazine recently published a piece on the Obama Administration’s urban policy work, arguing that significant change has been happening — but most of it is flying below the radar of the press and public. The article provides information on the Sustainable Communities Partnership, discusses some projects that the Partnership has funded, and provides background context for urban-focused federal efforts to encourage sustainable communities.

Conference: Renewing the Regional Commitment: An Exploration of Federal Activities (Feb. 13-15, 2011)

With so much momentum around sustainability at the federal level, including the critical role of regional coordination, the 2011  National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) conference topic is apt: “Renewing the Regional Commitment: An Exploration of Federal Activities.” The conference agenda features topics such as: Exploring the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee National implications of … Continued

Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant finalists announced!

HUD has just released the list of successful applicants for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants. View the list here. From the HUD Press Release: WASHINGTON – For the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is awarding nearly $100 million in new grants to support more livable and sustainable communities … Continued

DOT & HUD receive nearly 1,700 applications for TIGER II and Community Challenge grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation received nearly 1000 applications for TIGER II construction grants, while DOT and the Department of Housing and Urban Development together received nearly 700 applications for TIGER II/Community Challenge planning grants. Applications were received from all 50 states, D.C., and territories. As part of the Sustainable Communities Partnership’s efforts to break … Continued

Recording of Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant webinar now available

If you’re working on a HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Application and you missed last week’s webinar on the application’s data and geography needs, rest assured. The National Association of Development Organizations has made the recording available here. As a refresher, the original webinar announcement explained: Speakers from HUD will discuss the data requirements … Continued