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Tue Jan 17, 2012, 12:16 PM

President Obama and the forgotten urban agenda

President Obama and the forgotten urban agenda

By Greg Hanscom



<...>

The thumbnail version is this: Under President Obama, key federal agencies have begun to shift away from subsidizing suburban sprawl and toward reviving cities and creating dense, walkable, transit-friendly communities. Obama has put smart-growthers and new urbanists in key positions, begun to realign government agencies to prioritize sustainability, and launched partnerships and initiatives that one Bush administration veteran calls “mind blowing” — in a good way. Even Obama’s allies agree, however, that serious reform may have to wait for a second term. If there is one.

The bigger picture includes a jumble of agencies and acronyms that’ll glaze your eyes and numb your brain. But here’s a quick list of some of the more notable things that Obama has done for cities, followed by a tale that might make you tear your hair out.
  • Obama created a special post at the White House for cities. Derek Douglas, a Yale-trained attorney who once worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, served as the president’s special assistant for urban affairs until he departed recently for a post at the University of Chicago.

  • The administration funneled more than $2.6 billion in stimulus money to transportation projects through the so-called TIGER grants. A significant chunk of this money went to transit and “complete streets” projects that benefit bicyclists and pedestrians as well as cars.

  • Another stimulus offshoot, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, sent $7 billion to cities and states to help deal with the aftermath of the housing crisis. The funding allowed cities to repurpose or redevelop abandoned and foreclosed properties.

  • Through a pilot program called Strong Cities, Strong Communities, six struggling burgs have received expert help in the form of “fellows” who’ve helped fill understaffed city offices and promote economic revitalization.
Obama’s most far-sighted effort — and the one that best illustrates what he’s up against — is the Sustainable Communities Initiative, which brings together the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to decide where government development dollars are best spent. How sensible, you’re thinking — let’s get the people who build the roads (or train lines or bike lanes) together with those that oversee housing and development policy, and toss in the people charged with making sure that we don’t create a mess of the environment in the process. But this wasn’t happening before.

<...>

Over the past two years, the partnership doled out roughly $200 million in sustainable community grants to promote dense, transit- and pedestrian-friendly development. The 2011 grants helped create a loan fund to build affordable housing and a food distribution hub near public transit in Sacramento, Calif.; fund a revitalization plan for the St. Charles parish in New Orleans; improve access to public transit for low-income residents in Boston; create a sustainable building code for the Kansas City region; and the list goes on. (For a much more detailed description of all this, check out Alyssa Katz’s supergreat story, “Reverse Commute,” in The American Prospect.)

- more -

http://grist.org/cities/president-obama-and-the-forgotten-urban-agenda/


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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply President Obama and the forgotten urban agenda (Original post)
ProSense Jan 2012 OP
ProSense Jan 2012 #1
bigtree Jan 2012 #2
hootinholler Jan 2012 #3
ClassWarrior Jan 2012 #4
chowder66 Jan 2012 #5
barbtries Jan 2012 #6
Scurrilous Jan 2012 #7
Whisp Jan 2012 #8
zipplewrath Jan 2012 #9
ProSense Jan 2012 #10
zipplewrath Jan 2012 #12
ProSense Jan 2012 #13
zipplewrath Jan 2012 #14
ProSense Jan 2012 #15
zipplewrath Jan 2012 #17
ProSense Jan 2012 #18
niyad Jan 2012 #11
Bobbie Jo Jan 2012 #16

Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 12:48 PM

1. Kick! n/t

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 12:51 PM

2. glad someone took the time to dig this up and lay it out

You can find flashes of these policies and initiatives but it's good to see a comprehensive look at the President's efforts.

Thanks for posting.

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 03:46 PM

3. What an excelent summary

Thanks for posting this!

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:15 PM

4. A hearty K&R for our cities!

NGU.

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:17 PM

5. K & R!!!

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:18 PM

6. thank you

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:21 PM

7. Thanks ProSense.

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:29 PM

8. wonderful. thanks. nt

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:29 PM

9. It's not going well

"The sustainable communities grants, and even the TIGER funding, pale in comparison to the money that continues to prop up the suburbs, however. Federal highways, to take an obvious example, scarf down more than $40 billion annually. “There’s a huge amount of federal resources going directly into financing real estate — and we’re not even talking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” says Preuss. “TIGER and sustainable communities grants are peanuts.”

The article goes on to describe how much of what he has tried to accomplish is being undone by the current congress.

And the bottom line is that this is the kind of basic effort one expects from a democratic president. This really isn't "compensation" for not prosecuting torturers, expanding wars, keeping Bush's Sec Def, and promoting mandates after killing off the public option.

There is such a thing as "minimum expectations" and coordinating inner city recovery agendas is on the list.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:40 PM

10. That

"It's not going well"

...more money is going to other initiatives, does not mean this is not "not going well." Funding for these programs have increased.

"The article goes on to describe how much of what he has tried to accomplish is being undone by the current congress."

It describes the attacks from the House, but the fact is the funding and initiatives listed in the article are in progress.

Backers of the Sustainable Communities program, including Smart Growth America, working with allies in the Senate, managed to restore funding for Poticha’s office, but there is no money in the budget for grants this year. HUD may find some money to keep the grants going, but the agency will have to take it from another program.

One thing is certain, the administration is working with whatever cushion it has. This article is calling attention to the House's attempts to underfund these initiatives.



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Response to ProSense (Reply #10)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:46 PM

12. May, might, hope

those are words about the future. They are currently seeing their funding reduced by the house basically. And as the article pointed out, the funding was never huge. It was more that things were coordinated through to the federal level.

Like I say, kinda what one presumes when they elect a democratic community organizer.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #12)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:50 PM

13. Well,

"May, might, hope those are words about the future. "

...that's a statement about going forward. The article is primarily about what has already been done.


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Response to ProSense (Reply #13)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 08:08 PM

14. And what's been done is ending

The efforts are being hampered by the GOP congress. The funding was puny by any measure and that's now being cut. And I'm suppose to find great interest in that whilst GITMO is still open and we're still spending whole integer multiples more in Afghanistan, not to mention that we can't seem to find money to provide health CARE to the most needy.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #14)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 08:19 PM

15. I see

"And what's been done is ending...The funding was puny by any measure and that's now being cut."

...the fact that House Republicans are working to cut funding for the initiatives means the funding for these initiatives, which received little to no attention in the past, was "puny."

Let me quote directly from the OP:

Obama’s most far-sighted effort — and the one that best illustrates what he’s up against — is the Sustainable Communities Initiative, which brings together the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to decide where government development dollars are best spent. How sensible, you’re thinking — let’s get the people who build the roads (or train lines or bike lanes) together with those that oversee housing and development policy, and toss in the people charged with making sure that we don’t create a mess of the environment in the process. But this wasn’t happening before.

<...>

Over the past two years, the partnership doled out roughly $200 million in sustainable community grants to promote dense, transit- and pedestrian-friendly development. The 2011 grants helped create a loan fund to build affordable housing and a food distribution hub near public transit in Sacramento, Calif.; fund a revitalization plan for the St. Charles parish in New Orleans; improve access to public transit for low-income residents in Boston; create a sustainable building code for the Kansas City region; and the list goes on. (For a much more detailed description of all this, check out Alyssa Katz’s supergreat story, “Reverse Commute,” in The American Prospect.)

Initiatives start somewhere, and the point is that these are getting attention from the administration. The goal and purpose is to ensure that the funding continues and is expanded. It's clear the administration will find funding for the programs where it can, including from its discretionary funds.

Now, these may not mean much to you, but they are vital to the programs that rely on them.




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Response to ProSense (Reply #15)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 10:05 PM

17. You posted it, I'm just quoting it.

From the very article you posted:

The sustainable communities grants, and even the TIGER funding, pale in comparison to the money that continues to prop up the suburbs, however. Federal highways, to take an obvious example, scarf down more than $40 billion annually. “There’s a huge amount of federal resources going directly into financing real estate — and we’re not even talking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” says Preuss. “TIGER and sustainable communities grants are peanuts.”


Peanuts, as in puny, as in "pale in comparison..."

Hey, you're the one pushing this article.

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #17)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 10:27 PM

18. Ah

The sustainable communities grants, and even the TIGER funding, pale in comparison to the money that continues to prop up the suburbs, however. Federal highways, to take an obvious example, scarf down more than $40 billion annually. “There’s a huge amount of federal resources going directly into financing real estate — and we’re not even talking about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” says Preuss. “TIGER and sustainable communities grants are peanuts.”


...so the point you choose to use to denegrate the importance of the initiatives is the one designed to show that the funding isn't comparable to that of federal highways in order to illustrate how ridiculous Republicans are being?

But even peanuts were too much for the Tea Party, which tried to drown the Sustainable Communities Initiative in the bathtub this winter. In December, Tea Party Republicans in the House zeroed out Poticha’s budget in a 2012 appropriations bill. If they’d had their way, it wouldn’t have stopped there. The house bill would have banned HUD from spending money to support “ill-defined rubrics, such as ‘sustainability,’ ‘livability,’ ‘inclusivity,’ and ‘equity.’”


I mean, Preuss is the person quoted earlier in the piece stating the significance of the new focus.

“The major difference now is that (smart growth) is getting White House support, and there is this cross-agency partnership,” Preuss says. “That is a night and day difference.”


"Hey, you're the one pushing this article."

So the information is upsetting to you or is it the fact that I'm "the one pushing this article"?

Whichever or whatever it is, clearly something is upsetting you.

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 07:40 PM

11. thank you for this most informative post

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Response to ProSense (Original post)

Tue Jan 17, 2012, 09:50 PM

16. Interesting piece

Bookmarked. Thanks Pro!

K&R!

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