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In the Loop: April 17, 2014

Flickr user Richard Eriksson

The Toronto region is about to see a $29 billion infusion into its transit and road networks.

In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit. @metroplanners news Transportation is not the end goal of any meaningful planning process—rather, it is a means to an end. Appropriate investments in transportation can help produce healthy, sustainable and livable communities where people want to live and work. That’s why the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is a strong advocate for transit-oriented development (TOD). Last month, MPC introduced its page on the City of Chicago’s new TOD Ordinance, which allows higher densities and fewer required parking spaces on land located within a close distance of rail transit stations. The TOD Ordinance, along with appropriate design standards and…

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Weather Proof: Collaborative stormwater solutions through optimization, communication and integration

MPC's April 8 roundtable focused on the benefits of collaborating to solve stormwater problems

This past weekend was a rainy one, followed by a rather jarringly snowy Monday, followed by a damp Tuesday melt. It was April 15, and pardon the pun, but the whole thing was pretty taxing for two groups of people—the system of actors involved in managing stormwater, and the system of actors simply ready for spring to get here already. In fact, those two systems of actors are largely the same system, and not just because stormwater engineers like sunshine and daffodils just as much as anyone else. Rather, they're the same system because it rains and snows on all of us, and from private property owners to open space managers, water quality regulators to stormwater engineers, and then all the rest of us that pay taxes into the system, we all have some role in stormwater management.…

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How budget sequestration continues to impact Illinois families

Eric Allix Rogers—Creative Commons

Between falling wages and rising rental costs, Americans across the income spectrum are increasingly being squeezed to cover living costs in integrated, livable, transit-rich neighborhoods.

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program is the nation’s largest rental assistance program. It assists families, the homeless, the elderly and the disabled to find affordable, quality homes in neighborhoods that are safe, have good schools and are close to job opportunities. Households are free to choose homes in the private market, allowing families to move as their needs change without losing assistance. The fact that these rental assistance vouchers allow families to choose homes in the private market also helps the economy. In 2012, landlords in Illinois received $661 million in rental assistance payments. These payments allow owners to make property tax payments and maintain their properties in good condition, preventing community blight. Research has demonstrated that 72…

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Creating affordability in all of Chicago

Flickr user Ian Freimuth (cc)

Lincoln Park is ending a 35-year drought of new affordable units.

You’ve probably heard by now that the old Children’s Memorial Hospital site in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is being redeveloped. Dozens of news articles have detailed developer McCaffery Interest Inc.'s $350 million plan for a health club, ample retail space, two 21-story residential towers, 60 condos and 156 assisted living units—as well as the controversy the plan has elicited among some neighbors who’ve called it “out of character” for a low-rise neighborhood. What you probably haven’t heard is a detail that’s been buried amidst news of rowdy community hearings and extended Plan Commission meetings: Of the 540 rental units planned for the site, 64 will be affordable. This is worth a standing ovation for several reasons:…

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Why metropolitan Chicago should re-examine its parking policies

When on-street parking is priced too low, demand exceeds supply, causing drivers to circle the block looking for a space. The result: clogged streets (in fact, up to 30 percent of cars in traffic are actually cruising for on-street parking) and air pollution. That’s why MPC has been advocating for better parking policies to manage demand in Chicago, by analyzing on-street parking demand in busy districts like Wicker Park and by promoting better city policies. So I read Eric Jaffe’s recent Atlantic Cities article 3 Enormous Benefits to Charging the Right Price for Parking with great interest. He correctly argues that, “Most U.S. cities … undervalue the price of street spaces. They keep parking so cheap it encourages driving (and thus undermines their own transit…

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The Connector is MPC's blog, written primarily by MPC staff members, with occasional guest posts from volunteers and partners. 

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For 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area’s toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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