MZ Strategies, LLC provides strategic assistance on infrastructure, housing and development matters to policy makers, planners, and community leaders working to create thriving, inclusive communities.
— Mariia Zimmerman

Recent Entries to the Policies and Politics Blog

Policies and Politics Blog

Equitable community engagement recognizes local residents and community-based organizations as assets that can be resourced to play an active partnership role in designing solutions for their communities. Public agencies are advancing this work through adopting equitable engagement principles, creating Equitable Engagement Blueprint documents, and even more importantly committing public funds and redesigning how engagement contracts are being written, how staff are being trained, and how local organizations are being compensated for their time and partnership. MZ Strategies showcases some of these efforts in a new white paper released by SPARCC.

Creating an inventory of public lands, analyzing the inventory for its development and market potential, and revising policies to align with community goals are all steps that government staff and local elected leaders can take to ensure that these invaluable public resources facilitate the type of development that best serves the community. Leveraging public assets for public benefit requires partnership, and sometimes patience. But the rewards can be realized by residents for years to come.

Cross-positing a blog written for the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Initiative spotlighting work happening in California to address a growing affordable housing crisis at the regional level. The CASA Compact includes a comprehensive set of recommendations targeting production, preservation, tenant protections and institutional challenges to meeting the state’s housing needs. Lessons here for other regions as well, both in the value of regional approaches to housing but also the perils of only focusing on job growth and not also ensuring enough housing for workers.

Climate resiliency planning is becoming more important and common in American communities of all sizes. The focus when talking about infrastructure is often on the project or system, but resiliency requires a more expansive and interconnected view. This includes maximizing linkages across systems, deeper engagement with the community who is both affected by disruptions and is a funding partner, and expanding our notion of revenues and return on investment. Climate may play a role in accelerating gentrification, but a High Road Infrastructure Approach provides a pathway for greater resiliency.

Tranist Oriented Development is a field within urban planning that promotes mixed-use development near transit as a way to revitalize communities and improve the efficiency of our transportation system. It often involves strategies to create more housing, improve walkability and create more places for shopping, gathering, working and enjoying urban life. Last month I wrote about my own personal journey in understanding how cultural racism had influenced my work over the last twenty years on equitable Transit Oriented Development (eTOD).  This month I delve into some ways that racism is baked into our systems, structures and institutions making it an incredible (but not insurmountable) challenge to correct if we are to truly realize EQUITABLE TOD that works for people of all races and income levels.