On the docket: helping communities collaborate on foreclosure recovery, fighting flooding, financing regional transportation investments
(Chicago) … The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC)—which forges innovative, pragmatic solutions, bringing together government, industry and community leaders to achieve a competitive and livable Chicago region—has set forth an ambitious 2013 policy agenda focused on five regional outcomes:
- Vibrant neighborhoods and a competitive regional economy;
- Responsible, productive use of Chicago’s water assets;
- A transportation network that serves people and the economy;
- Innovative financing that unlocks regional growth; and
- Quality homes in attractive communities.
MPC’s 2013 Plan for Prosperity identifies specific projects and partnerships MPC will pursue in 2013 to realize these goals. The policy agenda is available at metroplanning.org/2013planforprosperity. Highlights include the following:
As climate change brings big storms, MPC helps communities fight flooding.
Rain is a free resource, but often it becomes a costly nuisance for communities and property owners when it overﬂows sewers, ﬂoods streets, and ruins basements. Part of the problem comes from more frequent and intense storms due to climate change. Aging infrastructure can’t manage such large volumes of rain, pointing to one solution: Communities need to invest in maintaining existing pipes and pumps (known as “grey” infrastructure), while modernizing systems where appropriate. MPC is researching and advocating for appropriate revenue streams to fund necessary investments; and working with communities to explore “green” infrastructure strategies, such as rain barrels, rain gardens, green roofs, permeable paving and other practical and relatively inexpensive ways to contain rain where it falls. With a range of regional partners and funding from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, MPC has been assisting Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and the south suburb of Blue Island with demonstration projects to showcase how green infrastructure works, how attractive and affordable it can be, and how it can complement grey infrastructure to manage stormwater and prevent flooding.
In the face of shrinking public funds, MPC identifies new ways to finance transportation infrastructure investments.
Higher gas prices, longer delays, more potholes— drivers deal with these headaches year after year. In Chicagoland alone, gridlock costs an estimated $7.3 billion a year due to wasted time and fuel, and environmental damages. Yet drivers don’t necessarily realize or relate to the fact that the nation’s Highway Trust Fund and Mass Transit Accounts are shrinking in size and purchasing power. The federal motor fuel tax has not been raised in 20 years and is not indexed to inﬂation. Americans are driving less and making fewer trips to the pump as a result of higher fuel economy standards. These factors add up to signiﬁcantly less state and federal funding to support regional transportation improvements. It’s time to dramatically rethink how we invest in our transportation system.
MPC is pursuing a variety of new ﬁnancing tools in partnership with area decision-makers, including value sharing. Studies of the Chicago region show a 10 to 20 percent increase in land values near transit stations. With value sharing, the increase in private land values generated by public transportation investments help repay their costs—thus connecting the beneﬁt of an infrastructure investment with the cost of providing it. To help Chicago-area decision-makers identify opportunities to apply this new tool, in 2013, MPC is researching the potential for value sharing to ﬁnance regionally significant transportation improvements, such as a redesigned Union Station and a Bus Rapid Transit route along Western or Ashland avenues.
MPC assists communities to plan and develop more effectively and cost-efficiently by collaborating with their neighbors.
While many municipalities coordinate with neighboring communities to provide services such as ﬁre protection and waste management more efﬁciently and cost effectively, few communities work across municipal borders on planning and development. Since 2009, with a broad range of public and private sector partners, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), and MPC have been assisting three clusters of towns in Cook County to pursue interjurisdictional strategies for housing and community development. In December 2012, the three organizations issued the report Supporting and Sustaining Interjurisdictional Collaboration for Housing and Community Development, which presented recommendations for strengthening these clusters and establishing more like them across the region over the next decade. In 2013, MPC is pursuing policy reforms identiﬁed as essential to effective, efﬁcient actions by clusters of towns.
For more information, contact MPC Communications Director Mandy Burrell Booth, at 312-863-6018 or email@example.com.