Categories
Local Government Transportation Funding US DOT US HUD

A Sidewalk to Nowhere: White House Administration Highlights Priorities for Sustainable Community Grant Applicants

It’s not every day you hear the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy from the US Department of Transportation describe transportation as a “means to an end, not the end itself.” Today the White House Office of Urban Affairs hosted a video panel / live chat on Facebook, including leaders from the Sustainable Communities Partnership — which has made available the $700+ million in grants for sustainable community planning. The panel included Beth Osborne (DOT), Shelly Poticha (HUD), and Tim Torma (EPA) and much of the discussion focused around what the Partnership is looking for in grant applications from local government.

Beth Osborne laid out clearly that the “purpose of transportation is to support opportunity” and that while the history of the transportation program has focused on fixing problems by retrofitting roads, DOT is now looking to fund projects that: “do more than slap down a sidewalk because it doesn’t matter how far you walk down a sidewalk if there’s nothing to walk to.” Osborne characterized the types of projects the Sustainable Community Partnership wishes to fund through federal grant programs by the ability to answer if you can walk somewhere to get a pizza in your community.

I’ve included some highlights below to share with those local governments applying or considering applying for the HUD Community Challenge Grants, DOT TIGER II Discretionary Planning Grants, HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants, or EPA Climate Showcase Communities Grants.

Highlights include:

  • an emphasis on the Livability Principles;
  • creation of “Preferred Sustainability Status;”
  • investment priorities in existing rather than new communities;
  • updates to local zoning codes to facilitate private investments in development;
  • need for more technical resources such as those at www.epa.gov/smartgrowth; and
  • TIGER grants, DOT Strategic Plan, and Transportation Reauthorization to prioritize: livability, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, and safety for all users.

Grant proposals are due on July 26 and August 23 and applicant registration must be submitted by July 16.

Read more and view the Federal Grant Flow Chart and Matrix at the links below:

Categories
Education/Webinars Federal Policy NewsFlash Transportation Funding US DOT US HUD

White House to Host Live Chat with Sustainable Communities Partnership on Thursday July 15

On Thursday, July 15th the White House Office of Urban Affairs will host a live chat with the leadership of the Sustainable Communities Partnership, anunprecedented agreement between HUD, Transportation, and EPA to coordinate federal housing, transportation, and environmental investments. A part of President Obama’s broader urban and metropolitan agenda, the partnership, aims to break down traditional silos and craft federal programs and policies that take a more collaborative and holistic approach to better respond to the needs of communities.

Last month, the Partnership released a joint notice of funding availability (NOFA) – $35 million in TIGER II Planning grants and $40 million in Sustainable Community Challenge grants – for local planning activities that integrate transportation, housing, and economic development. And, HUD also announced $100 million in funding for Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant program that will support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic development, and transportation.

We invite you to join us for a live discussion on Sustainable Communities – the progress they’ve made, the funding programs available, and what the future of the partnership looks like – at www.whitehouse.gov/live on July 15th at 2:00pm EST or you can submit questions in advance to Planetizen.

What: Sustainable Communities Live Chat

Who: Shelley Poticha, Director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, HUD

Beth Osborne, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Policy, Department of Transportation

Tim Torma, Deputy Director of the Office of Sustainable Communities, EPA

Moderated by Derek Douglas, Special Assistant to the President on Urban Policy, White House

When: 2:00PM EST, Thursday, July 15, 2010

How: Watch and participate at www.whitehouse.gov/live

Send questions in advance to Planetizen.

For more information on the partnership, read their latest blog that summarizes their work and accomplishments.

Categories
GHG Reduction Local Government NewsFlash Research Transportation Funding US DOT

UC Davis Seeks Partnerships with Local Governments on HUD/DOT Grants

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Local Climate Policy for Transportation

The UC Davis Urban Land Use and Transportation Center (ULTRANS) aims to support the design and implementation of new land use and vehicle demand policies through research, education, and public outreach. The Center’s results-oriented research illuminates the relationship between land use, transportation, and the environment. Models and methods developed at ULTRANS will support the development of policies that encourage sustainable cities and regions.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector can be addressed in three basic ways: reducing the carbon content of fuels, improving vehicle fuel economy, and changing individual travel and vehicle choices to be more climate-friendly. Local and regional climate policies focus on the third category of emission reduction strategies – encouraging behavioral change. In California, most local and regional governments are currently experimenting with programs to reduce the carbon footprint of their communities, in response to state policy established in Senate Bill 375 in 2008. However, rigorous evaluation of program effectiveness remains uncommon. This project aims to help change this situation.

Program evaluation studies are commonplace in many fields of applied research, especially when behavioral change is the program goal. These studies are designed to systematically evaluate the effectiveness of policies and programs in achieving measurable goals. Often, program evaluation studies are done during a pilot or demonstration phase of the program so that the research results can be used to fine tune the program before it is expanded to apply to a larger population.

ULTRANS aims to conduct pilot evaluations of the effect of programs in each of the above categories on greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers will then use these program evaluation experiences to develop standard methodologies that practitioners across the nation can use to evaluate the performance of their own programs. To accomplish this, ULTRANS is looking to partner with local governments that are currently implementing programs in each of the following categories.

The universe of local climate policies that address transport sector emissions can be divided into six categories:

  1. Encouraging “smart growth” land use to bring origins and destinations closer to each other, e.g. infill projects, strip mall redevelopment projects;
  2. Restricting parking through fees and/or supply changes, e.g. downtown parking meters, satellite parking facilities;
  3. Encouraging alternative modes (including carpools) by making them cheaper, safer, faster, and more convenient, e.g. real-time information at bus stops, bicycle boulevards;
  4. Restricting driving through pricing and/or supply changes, e.g. reduced speed limits, selected road “diets”;
  5. Implementing “soft measures” that utilize social norms and peer pressure to achieve behavior change; and
  6. Encouraging the use of lower carbon technologies, both fuel efficient vehicles and low-carbon fuels, e.g. targeted rebates, preferential parking.

Please contact the Urban Land Use and Transportation Center via email if you are interested in collaborating on this initiative:

Deborah Salon, Research Economist – ddsalon@ucdavis.edu

Susan Handy, Professor – slhandy@ucdavis.edu [out of office until July 19]

Categories
Public Transit Transportation Funding US DOT US HUD

2011 Appropriations Process Starts This Week; TIGER III Included

Last week the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation marked up the draft appropriations bill for 2011 –also known as “Transportation Housing and Urban Development” or “THUD”

The following are key points summarized from an article in Transportation Weekly:

  • Highway funding increased by ten percent
  • Transit funding increased (if additional spending authority is provided by the authorizing committees)
  • Transfers $200 million of formula bridge and highway funding to a new discretionary liveable community grant programs;
  • Creates a TIGER III program at $400 million ($200 million less than this year);
  • Provides $1.4 billion for High Speed and Intercity Rail Grants (also less than last year); and
  • Provides $145,980,000 in Highway and Transit earmarks for California.

Earmarks account for roughly $17.8 million through Federal Highways Administration and $128.2 through Federal Transit Administration

Categories
Federal Policy GHG Reduction Local Government Metropolitan Planning NewsFlash Transportation Funding US DOT US HUD

$748 Million in Federal Grants Available for Sustainable Communities

The Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities integrates efforts across US DOT, EPA and HUD — including the release of a Notice of Funding Availability for cities, counties, MPOs, and transportation agencies to apply for sustainable community planning grants emphasizing performance outcomes from integrated land use and transportation plans.  Grant proposals are due on July 26 and August 23 and applicant registration must be submitted by July 16.

Read more and view the Federal Grant Flow Chart and Matrix at the links below:

Policy in Motion is offering a “Sustainable Community Grant Navigation” package to assist local governments in optimizing successful grant submissions for both the five federal grant opportunities totaling $748 million, and the California Proposition 84 grant awards totaling $22 million this cycle.

Consultancy services for the Navigation package include:

  1. overview of how federal and California policy direction ties into the scoring criteria for federal and California planning grants, and
  2. custom consultation for applicant on which grants to pursue and how to prepare grant materials through strategic planning submissions.

For more information contact Lauren Michele at lauren.michele@policyinmotion.com.  Lauren Michele is also an editor for Fehr and Peers’ climate change blog, CoolConnections.org, and recently posted an article detailing four federal grant opportunities for sustainable communities planning.

    Categories
    Federal Policy Public Transit Transportation Funding US DOT

    US DOT: New Transit Solutions Promise Jobs Now, Livability Gains for Years to Come

    This morning, as part of President Obama’s livability initiative, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and I announced over $290 million in new transit funding for projects that will enhance the quality of life in communities across America. The 53 grants will fund new streetcars, buses, and transit facilities from Manchester, NH, to Albuquerque, NM, through FTA’s Urban Circulator and Bus Livability programs.

    Administrator Rogoff summarized the benefits of this funding perfectly: “These projects mean jobs now and major transit improvements that will last for years to come.”

    Portland_streetcar
    With these grants, six more US communities will soon have streetcars like Portland

    I am thrilled about these awards because the jobs and the economic development and the mobility choices this livability funding sets in motion demonstrate so clearly the progress the Obama Administration has made possible in just 18 months.

    Communities around the US have been enthusiastic partners, looking for opportunities to advance good projects that have solid ridership expectations, that create opportunities for economic development, that have demonstrable environmental benefits, and that increase access for transit-dependent people.

    DenveTransit

    For $130 million in urban circulator grants, we received more than $1 billion in applications. And for the $160 million in bus grants, we received over $2 billion in applications.

    That’s a sign that America is ready for better connectivity, more transportation choices, and greater livability.

    And streetcars have become a very popular way to achieve those outcomes. In Charlotte, for example, the streetcar will provide an east-west transit spine connecting people to the 10,000 jobs and array of top-flight medical services at Presbyterian Hospital. It will also connect to Central Piedmont Community College, whose students are all commuters. And it will connect to the Charlotte Transportation Center for access to the Charlotte Area Transit System’s many bus lines and Lynx light rail system.

    Minneapolis-streetcar

    Cincinnati is another example of a promising streetcar through an urban core. Mayor Mark Mallory and the Cincinnati City Council realize that streetcars are a great engine to improve livability and drive economic development in Cincinnati’s downtown. Cincinnati’s residents and visitors don’t want to wrestle for scarce parking spaces; they don’t want to fight roadway congestion. They want to get to jobs, services, and retail stores without a hassle.

    Alameda County transit
    Alameda County, CA, is already greening its fleet with hybrids and  zero-emission vehicles

    With 47 projects, bus transit is also a huge part of these awards. The 34th Street Transitway in New York City will create a distinct bus lane, isolated from automobiles, and make 34th Street safer for pedestrians. A grant for more efficient buses will allow Manchester to provide better service in communities with smaller roadways–allowing elderly residents access to medical care while reducing transit operating costs and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

    In San Francisco, the Phelan Loop Bus Facility project offers a model of the gains our Partnership for Sustainable Communities with HUD and EPA can achieve. That project includes plans to maintain and create affordable housing, relocate a bus turnaround that dates back to the 1930s, and introduce service by Zero-Emission Vehicles. Walking access from affordable housing to a major transit center that is served by a green fleet–that is livability.

    Look, in the end, our goal is to provide cleaner, safer, and more efficient ways to get around in communities that want those alternatives. And today’s grants are a huge step in that direction.

    Categories
    GHG Reduction Local Government NewsFlash Transportation Funding

    HUD Announces $100 Million Available Under New Sustainable Regional Planning Grant Program

    HUD No. 10-133
    Andrea Mead
    (202) 708-0685
    FOR RELEASE
    Thursday
    June 24, 2010

    HUD SECRETARY DONOVAN ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION IN GRANTS AVAILABLE AS PART OF NEW SUSTAINABLE REGIONAL PLANNING GRANT PROGRAM

    Announcement comes during speech to The Atlantic’s Future of the City Forum


    WASHINGTON – During a keynote address to The Atlantic’s inaugural Future of the City Forum in Washington, D.C., U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced that HUD is launching a $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program, the first of its kind designed to create stronger, more sustainable communities by connecting housing to jobs, fostering local innovation and building a clean energy economy.

    The Regional Planning grants will be awarded competitively to multi-jurisdictional and multi-sector partnerships as well as regional consortia consisting of state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), educational institutions, non-profit organizations and philanthropic organizations. The funding was approved by Congress for the first time in HUD’s 2010 budget, as part of a $200 million fund for the agency’s new Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. To read the full text of HUD’s funding announcement, visit HUD’s Sustainability website.

    “At HUD, and across the Administration, we believe that the “future of the city” is tied to the future of the region-the cities, suburbs and rural areas that surround them, and that America’s ability to compete and create jobs in the 21st century depends on our metro regions,” said Donovan. “That is why I am proud to say we are taking another big step forward in the Obama Administration’s efforts to encourage more sustainable development as I announce $100 million for our new Sustainable Regional Planning Grant program for regions to integrate economic development, land use, and transportation investments.”

    “The Sustainable Communities Partnership is one part of President Obama’s broader urban and metropolitan agenda, which aims to break down traditional silos and ensure that federal programs and policies across all agencies better respond to the unique needs of specific communities,” said Melody Barnes, President Obama’s Domestic Policy Adviser. “The Administration’s efforts aim to develop urban and metropolitan areas that are economically competitive, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive.”

    The funding being announced today will support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers jurisdictions to consider the interdependent challenges of 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 program places a priority on partnerships, including nontraditional partnerships including arts and culture, philanthropy, and bringing new voices to the regional planning process.

    The program will support a number of activities related to the development and implementation of integrated long-range regional plans including, but not limited to:

    • identifying affordable housing, transportation investment, water infrastructure, economic development, land use planning, environmental conservation, energy system, open space, and other infrastructure priorities for the region;
    • establishing performance goals and measures;
    • providing detailed plans, policies, and implementation strategies to be implemented by all participating jurisdictions over time to meet planning goals;
    • engaging residents and stakeholders substantively and meaningfully in the development of the shared vision and its implementation.

    The program builds on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009, between the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more sustainable housing and transportation choices for families and lay the foundation for a 21st century economy. Guided by six Livability Principles, the Partnership is designed to remove the traditional silos that exist between federal departments and strategically target the agencies’ transportation, land use, environmental, housing and community development resources to provide communities the resources they need to build more livable, sustainable communities.

    Recognizing that areas are in different stages of achieving sustainability, HUD established two funding categories for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program. Category 1 Funds can be used to support the preparation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development. Category 2 Funds can be used to support efforts to fine-tune existing regional plans so that they address the Partnership’s Livability Principles, to prepare more detailed execution plans for an adopted Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, and limited predevelopment planning activities for catalytic projects. Of the funds available, $2 million will be reserved for capacity support grants distributed separately, and not less than $25 million will be awarded to regions with populations of less than 500,000.

    Ultimately, this regional planning initiative will provide a blueprint for public and private investment decisions that will support a more sustainable future for a region. The size of grants awarded will be determined by the size of the applicants geographic area, whether a large metropolitan region or a smaller rural community. Grant applications, which will be reviewed not only by HUD, but also by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, are due August 23, 2010.

    To demonstrate HUD’s commitment to listening and learning, HUD issued an advance Notice of Funding Availability in February 2010, which was posted on the Federal Register for 21 days for public comment and feedback. Many of the comments received through that process where integrated into the final Notice.

    In addition, Secretary Donovan and HUD are committed to providing the highest level of transparency possible as the Office of Sustainable Communities works to streamline federal investments. HUD’s new sustainability website will allow tax payers to see where funds are being spent and hold federal leaders accountable, and for local partners to access valuable information and resources.

    ###

    HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

    Categories
    Federal Policy GHG Reduction Local Government Transportation Funding

    EPA to Provide $10 million for Communities to Combat Climate Change

    Release date: 06/08/2010

    Contact Information: Dave Ryan (News Media Only) Ryan.dave@epa.gov 202-564-7827 202-564-4355

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making available up to $10 million in grants to local governments to establish and carry out initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Climate Showcase Communities program, EPA expects to award approximately 25 cooperative agreements ranging from $100,000 to $500,000, with approximately five percent of the funds ($500,000) being made available specifically for tribal governments.

    Local governments, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, and inter-tribal consortia are eligible for grants to create sustainable community actions that can be used elsewhere, generate cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions and improve the environmental, economic, public health, and social conditions in a community. A 50 percent cost share is required for recipients, with the exception of tribal governments and intertribal consortia, which are exempt from matching requirements under this grant.

    The grant program is administered by EPA’s Local Climate and Energy Program, an initiative to assist local and tribal governments to identify, implement, and track policies and programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their operations and surrounding communities. Over the course of the grant program, EPA will offer training and technical support to grant recipients, and share lessons learned with communities across the nation. This is the second round of funding for the Climate Showcase Communities program. Last year, EPA selected 25 projects to receive $10 million in grants.

    Proposals are due by July 26, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Grants are expected to be awarded in February 2011.

    More information on the grants: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/local/showcase

    Categories
    Federal Policy Public Transit Transportation Funding

    StreetsBlog DC: $2 Billion in Emergency Transit Operating Aid

    Policy in Motion Note:

    This week marks both the one-year anniversary for dc.streetsblog.org and the transitioning of the organization’s Capitol Hill coverage by Elana Schor.  Thanks for all the great coverage Elana and good luck at Greenwire!

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The following is a StreetsBlog Capitol Hill article by Elana Schor on May 25:

    Transit agencies forced to raise fares or cut service to close budget gaps would be eligible for $2 billion in emergency operating funds under legislation unveiled today by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and seven other Democratic senators, including two members of the party’s leadership.

    harry_reid_christopher_dodd_max_baucus_charles_schumer_richard_durbin_2009_8_4_16_40_23.jpgSens. Chris Dodd (D-CT), left, Charles Schumer (D-NY), right, and Dick Durbin (D-IL), second from right, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). (Photo: AP)

    The transit operating bill would authorize $2 billion in federal grants aimed at helping local transit agencies reverse already-imposed service cuts, fare increases, or worker layoffs — provided that those changes were forced by a shortfall in state or local transport budgets that took effect after January 1, 2009. Any agency planning future service cuts or fare hikes could use their grant money to stave off those moves until September 2011.

    “While families continue to struggle to make ends meet, the last thing we should do is make it harder and more expensive for people to get to work,” Dodd said in a statement. “This bill will prevent disruptive service cuts and help put money back in the pockets of families when they need it most.”

    Those transit agencies not pursuing service cuts, fare hikes, or layoffs would be allowed to use the extra federal money for maintenance or repair of existing infrastructure. The transit operating funds would be distributed according to existing formulas, but the authorizing nature of the bill means that the money will also need to be appropriated in a separate piece of legislation.

    Notably, the bill’s authorization remains in effect until September 2011, giving lawmakers more than a year to find suitable appropriations vehicles to which the operating aid bill can be attached.

    In addition, the legislation’s short-term nature meets the conditions set by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which had endorsed extra operating aid with the provison that it not become a permanent fixture of the federal transit program.

    Transportation for America (T4A), an infrastructure policy reform group that counts APTA as a member, hailed the bill’s release.

    “With demand for public transportation service at its highest level in over 50 years, Congress must act to protect Americans who rely on transit from service cuts and fare hikes that threaten their ability to reach jobs and daily necessities,” T4A director James Corless said in a statement. “This act will help to preserve an economically essential service with a one-time, emergency infusion that will help to save jobs and access to jobs.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Categories
    Federal Policy NewsFlash Transportation Funding

    TIGER II Grants To Target Major-Impact Trans Projects & Job Creation

    Press Release | May 28, 2010 8:32PM GMT

    The Journal of Commerce Online – Press Release

    Following on the success of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant Program, Secretary Ray LaHood today announced the availability of $600 million in TIGER II grants for capital investment in surface transportation projects. TIGER II grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area and can create jobs.

    “The enormous number of applications we received for the first round of TIGER grants shows that we have a backlog of worthwhile transportation projects waiting for funding,” said Secretary LaHood. “This money will go to the kinds of projects that will help spur lasting economic growth, reduce gridlock, provide safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices and create jobs.”

    In an overwhelming show of demand for TIGER I, the U.S. Department of Transportation received more than 1,400 applications from all 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia requesting funding for almost $60 billion worth of projects – 40 times the $1.5 billion available under the program.

    The TIGER II solicitation now available on the Federal Register website provides clear criteria for the department to make merit-based decisions on the new discretionary program.

    Primary selection criteria include contributing to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improving the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and improving the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections.

    The Department will also give priority to projects that are expected to quickly create and preserve jobs and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity.

    Pre-applications are due on July 16 and applications are due on August 23 from state and local governments, including U.S. territories, tribal governments, transit agencies, port authorities and others. The Federal Register notice can be accessed by clicking here.