Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Livable Communities Act: Senate Hears from County, Regional Council Representatives

In June 9, 2010 testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, representatives of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), the National Association of Counties (NACO), and the National League of Cities (NLC) testified in support of the Livable Communities Act, S. 1619.

NADO especially endorses the Act’s strong role for local governments and regional councils. A NADO board member’s hearing testimony laid out two provisions NADO would like to see included in the legislation:
1. Reserve no less than 20 percent of the regional planning and program implementation resources for small metropolitan and rural areas; and
2. Retain the bill's focus on providing incentives, not mandates, for regional development strategies that are locally developed and locally controlled on a voluntary basis, meaning absent any federal mandates.

NARC supports the Act’s voluntary, competitive and incentive-based approach to promoting comprehensive regional planning and implementation that allows each region to meet broad, federally-established goals by setting regionally-driven objectives.

NARC testimony specifically included transit as part of the interrelated transportation set of pedestrian/bicycle/transit systems and the “half-mile radius of proposed stations along the new bus rapid transit and commuter rail systems—for the economic and social benefit of the region as a whole.” Smart growth, neighborhood design, and commuter and long-distance public transportation options were the livability interests that NARC concentrated on, with a strong belief expressed in regional coordination.

NACO is pleased with legislation that meets counties where they are, with many just planning sustainability initiatives, but lacking the funds for implementation. NACO supports the multi-jurisdictional and coordinated approach that the Livable Communities Act envisions.

An NLC representative spoke of the Act’s integrated approach that coordinates the work of federal agencies that every city interacts with.

Written testimony and a video of the hearing are available at http://banking.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=1f6b01b1-bcec-41c3-80e1-cd93ae7aa161.

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