February Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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February Media Tips

Mid-South Communities Invited to Help Plan Retail, Transportation Access

Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th Ward), in partnership with the Quad Communities Development Corporation, and the new initiative Reconnecting Neighborhoods, invites community members to a series of local meetings on Feb. 20, 27, and March 5, to:

  • Voice their opinions about how to make their neighborhood more convenient and vibrant.
  • Plan improvements that will increase access to transportation, shopping and jobs.
  • Learn more about transportation and retail amenities -- both current and potential -- in the Grand Boulevard, North Kenwood, Douglas, and Oakland neighborhoods.

These meetings are the first community meetings for Reconnecting Neighborhoods , which will invite residents of three Chicago mixed-income neighborhoods to participate in the planning for the future of their communities. The project will result in recommendations for enhanced transit services, retail, and improved public infrastructure in Near North, Near West and Mid-South neighborhoods. The project is being led by the City of Chicago Dept. of Planning and Development, with support from the Regional Transportation Authority and MPC. HNTB, a planning firm, will handle the project’s technical work and research.

For more information, including locations, contact MPC Reconnecting Neighborhoods Manager Brandon Johnson , 312-863-6046 or bjohnson@metroplanning.org. And check out the Reconnecting Neighborhoods Web site next week for a revamped look, profiles of community members, and more details about this initiative.

New Case Studies Show Local Leaders Are Working to Balance Housing Options

Earlier this month, St. Charles, Ill., adopted an inclusionary zoning ordinance and housing trust fund, joining a handful of municipalities in metropolitan Chicago taking steps to address the regional and national affordable housing crunch. MPC, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, and Chicago Metropolis 2020 are helping to promote such actions through the expanded edition of Home Grown: Local Housing Strategies in Action , featuring 51 best practices from the region.

Home Grown helps municipal officials and housing developers learn how their peers are solving housing challenges, and provides ideas for replicating or improving upon these approaches. This collection is a “living” resource that is updated annually with new, local examples of case studies on innovative housing policies and developments, including regional programs such as employer-assisted housing. New to the guide this year are profiles from Bartlett, Chicago, DuPage County, Elgin, Glenview, Joliet, Kane County, Naperville, Northlake, Park Forest, Plainfield, and Schaumburg.

Download a copy of Home Grown ; or contact MPC Community Building Associate Josh Ellis, 312-863-6045, or jellis@metroplanning.org .

MPC Encouraged by Proposals to Improve Federal Transportation Funding

Voters in metropolitan regions like Chicago are going to the polls in record numbers, calling for federal leadership on issues critical to their daily lives. Like healthcare and homeownership, transportation – not only how people get from place to place, but also a major factor in the amenities they have access to – needs a dose of fresh thinking at the federal level. MPC is encouraged by the bold thinking in the report “Transportation for Tomorrow ,” the product of a national commission charged by Congress with improving transportation funding policies, including recommendations to:

  • Increase transportation funding at the state and federal level to improve aging bridges, roads, transit systems, and rail infrastructure.
  • Institute performance and accountability standards that require economic justification for projects.
  • Increase funding for transit, passenger rail, and freight projects.
  • Hike the gas tax. (Note: MPC also recommends exploring alternative funding sources for the highway trust fund, as gas tax revenues continue to decline.)
  • Expand authorization for congestion pricing and public-private partnerships.

Many of these recommendations mirror MPC proposals for state action. In preparation for reauthorization of a federal surface transportation bill in 2009, and in partnership with The Brookings Institution’s Blueprint for American Prosperity , MPC will push for a new federal transportation framework to support metro regions. Contact MPC Regional Policy & Transportation Director Michael McLaughlin, mmclaughlin@metroplanning.org or 312-863-6022.

Modeshift Conference Will Encourage Communities to Be Low-Carbon Leaders

The Climate Group recently issued a report stating, “State and regional governments around the world are fast becoming an essential part of the movement to combat climate change.” In metropolitan Chicago, municipalities, too, have more actively been seeking strategies for curbing emissions and saving energy. Local planners and community leaders will have plenty of ideas to choose from at the Healthy Streets Conference , taking place Thursday, Feb. 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Metcalf Federal Building, 3rd floor, 77 W. Jackson, Chicago.

The theme of this year’s conference, "Modeshift," encourages community leaders and planners to calculate their communities' transportation carbon footprints and equips them with the tools they need to significantly reduce them. Keynote speaker Martha Roskowski, of Go Boulder, will give an account of Boulder’s efforts to be a low-carbon leader in Colorado and the nation.

Registration is $35 for Chicagoland Bicycle Federation members and $45 for non-members. Lunch is included. Attendees may register online. Reporters may attend free of charge, but registration is appreciated.

This event is presented by the U.S. EPA and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, and co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Planning Council, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

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