At the Metropolitan Planning Council, we shape and help implement innovative policies that build a stronger region. The ingredients include inclusive housing strategies, sensible management of stormwater and a transportation network that provides more choices to the greatest number of people. In 2005, the region took a giant step toward realizing this vision by creating the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).
This week, I was honored to accept an appointment by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to join the CMAP Board. I start my four-year term as one of five mayoral appointees, filling the big shoes of outgoing CMAP Board member Raul Raymundo. While I have served on CMAP’s Transportation Committee since its founding, being a Board member will be an entirely new role. I have dedicated my professional life to tackling urban and regional growth and development challenges and am thrilled at the opportunity to pursue that passion as the newest member of the CMAP Board.
When CMAP was envisioned, the region projected future growth. The reality over the past decade has been very different. Chrissy Mancini-Nichols, MPC director of research and evaluation, has highlighted our lackluster growth in a series of web articles. My favorite compares us to Minneapolis and San Diego, both of which grew five times faster than Chicago from 2010 to 2013. Minneapolis is supported by the Metropolitan Council, and San Diego by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), both similar organizations to CMAP. However, these two organizations have more flexibility than CMAP. They have access to federal housing dollars, control solid waste disposal and invest directly in transit projects. We have much to learn from other regions while pursuing more robust growth in ours. Though we can’t attribute 100 percent of the recent growth of Minneapolis and San Diego to the work of the Metropolitan Council or SANDAG, we can learn from their successes and translate those practices where appropriate to our region.
Could CMAP coordinate the expenditure of over $75 million/year in federal Community Development Block Grant dollars around the region’s transit nodes for greater impact? Would a regionally controlled infrastructure fund allow CMAP to allocate capital to critical regional priorities? Can a stronger partnership with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency allow CMAP to prioritize distribution of the $100 million in State Revolving Loan Funds for water infrastructure within our region? These are just some of the questions I look forward to exploring in my new role on the CMAP Board, grounded by MPC's vision of a stronger region and better future for all residents.