RALEIGH – 9:15 a.m. -- I’m blogging today from the N.C. State Urban Design Forum. Topic du jour: “Creating Value: Designing for Resilient Cities.”
Excellent quote, to start the day, from NCSU College of Design Dean Marvin Malecha: The design of a community begins with the measure of the first human step.
9:30 a.m. Now Shelley Poticha of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. She's been active in New Urban and transportation and other community design initiatives for years. (She's speaking via Skype.) She has offered some fascinating tidbits.
Costs in Raleigh-Durham to living on the exurban edge: She ran some numbers on the combined household costs of housing and transportation in this area. For people living in the core city, she said, combined household/transportation costs are about 34-38 percent of income. But here's the amazing fact. For people living on the farthest edges of Wake County, combined housing/transportation costs can be as high as 75 percent of household income.
Federal revolution, under the radar?: 9:45 a.m. – Poticha is describing what has been an amazing, under-the-radar transformation at the federal level, where Shaun Donovan at HUD, with help from Ron Sims (former county exec for King County, Wash., i.e. Seattle) and the EPA and US DOT are – get this – trying to work together to remove federal barriers that keep cities and states from smarter urban growth/planning, or what she described as formerly being "a backwater set of issues."
They're trying to change some of the dumb stuff that doesn't require legislation. An example she cited: Used to be that HUD protocols made it impossible to use federal housing money for developing on a brownfield (former industrial) site. They changed that. Now, if you can get the EPA certificate that your site is OK, then you can get HUD money.
Another example: Used to be if your apartment building qualified for Dept. of Energy weatherization money, then you had to fill out a whole other bunch of forms for HUD. Now, no extra HUD forms needed.