Spring Remembrances and Upcoming Presentations by MZ Strategies, LLC

We see daily the highs and lows that our nation continues to experience in advancing equity, affordable housing, and inclusive communities. Despite the unexpected flurries, devastating storms, and unpredictable temperatures we face today in our work of creating strong, prosperous and resilient communities, there remains truth in Reverend Dr. King’s famous quote, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

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Our Mobility Future May be More Autonomous, but Will it be More Equitable?

So, will autonomous vehicles be a panacea or another pandemic for low-income households and communities of color?  Only time will tell, but so far, most discussions of a brave, new autonomous future fail to happen within broader discussions of economic and racial disparities that exist today, much less are they being considered within a broader regional context of housing and land use policy. We all need to recognize the interconnections between transportation, housing and equity.

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Infrastructure and Housing: Local Dreams and Federal Illusions

In our excitement over what may possibly happen with a new infrastructure proposal, let’s not lose sight of what is happening right now in the world of housing infrastructure. Actions by this administration to cut funding for affordable housing, suspend Fair Housing requirements, and reduce the impact of public sector investment in housing needs to be part of our forthcoming infrastructure debate.

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Addressing Affordable Housing at the Structural Level: Calling out the Elephant in the Region

This week Enterprise Community Partners released a new report calling for the creation of a new regional housing entity to address the Bay Area's alarming housing crisis. MZ Strategies co-authored the report with Enterprise staff, and while the report details specific recommendations and a set of actions for Bay Area partners, many of the ideas presented have resonance in other communities. The report includes case studies of innovative tools, structures and partnerships being deployed in New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Washington. The Elephant in the Region: Charting a Course for Bay Area Metro to Lead a Bold Regional Housing Agenda challenges the many partners and public agencies involved in housing to think differently and seize this moment in time to write a new chapter for the region.

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In Thanks of Communities for All Ages

I’m excited to journey to Kansas City, MO next week to join the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and local partners in discussing how the Kansas City region can ensure that its many diverse and remarkable communities remains places where people of all ages (and income levels) can thrive. MARC is among the country's top regional planning agencies. It's leadership on such topics as complete streets, transportation equity, and active living make it a national leader. 

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A Tax Reform Sucker Punch

Tax reform was an area that many who care about infrastructure held out hope. Would Congress fix the Highway and Transit Trust Funds by indexing the gas tax for inflation? Would new tax incentives be created to foster greater private sector investment in a variety of infrastructure asset classes? Would loopholes be closed to bring off-shore funds back to invest in America? Could we create a new tax credit to address housing displacement and stabilize neighborhoods? The answer to each is a resounding no. Rather than recognize and respond both to the need and the bipartisan demand for infrastructure investment that benefits the economy, the environment and the average American, this Congress provides a sucker punch.

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Imagine If We Really Committed to Building Livable Communities

Read my latest reflections from this year's Rail~Volution, my pitch for voting on the 50 Most Influential Urbanists, and highlights of new research by AARP and MZ Strategies documenting how states, regions and localities are stepping forward to support transit-oriented development and walkable urbanism. We still have far to go to restore the walkability and vibrancy in our communities so that living well without a car becomes more viable, but many places are stepping up.  While a start, we need many more to follow suit.

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Lighting a SPARCC to fight Displacement

Sharing musings on a new initiative MZ Strategies, LLC is proud to be a part of working with an amazing group of partners to launch the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). SPARCC is designed to support local cross-sector collaboratives working in six regions to develop policies and projects that advance racial equity, climate and public health goals. These six regions – Memphis, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area – each have created their own visions for how community-led investment can create stronger neighborhoods that intentionally work to stem displacement and create shared prosperity for existing and future residents and entrepreneurs. Additional thoughts on gentrification, including reading recommendations.

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Marking an MZ Strategies Milestone

Five years ago, I launched MZ Strategies, LLC with the crazy idea that I could bring my passion and almost twenty years of experience in policy and planning to support partners who shared a desire to make communities more inclusive, economically-vibrant and sustainable. Since then, we have worked with a terrific group of partners, communities, and organizations working to achieve this vision. Policies change, shift and adapt to face the problems and assets unique to every community, but common across the nation.

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Infrastructure Week: #TimeToThink

Infrastructure is key to the national economy and to the economic opportunity that every Amercian faces. Safe water. Affordable energy. Mobility and accessibility. We have artificially made infrastructure investment a zero-sum game by letting the “no tax” voices win.  Infrastructure is the ultimate public good. Public investment in all forms of infrastructure costs the individual user less than paying for it through user feeds, or perhaps not even getting the service if it’s too cost prohibitive for the private sector. Yes, it’s time to build, but even more importantly, it’s time to think.

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MZ Strategies, LLC at the American Planning Association 2017 National Conference

Mariia Zimmerman, Principal of MZ Strategies, serves as Vice-Chair for Metropolitan Planning on the American Planning Association's Regional and Intergovernmental Planning Division. She will be speaking at numerous events between May 5 - 8, 2017 at the National Planning Conference in New York City. Among the topics she will cover, which represent work MZ Strategies is doing with several clients and communities, are emerging best practices in regional planning, changing federal support for innovative planning and community development, regional economic resiliency, and the role of private-sector planners in affecting change.

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In Response to Trump Budget, A Lenten Appeal for America's Communities

It’s that time of year again. For Catholics, March is Lent, a time of commitment to sacrifice and good deeds. It’s also when we get the annual Lenten Appeal request to tithe in support of the Church’s ability to serve as God’s emissary on earth and help those most in need. In Washington DC, March is budget season. The time of year when the Administration unveils its spending priorities for the coming year and when Congress demonstrates where it will invest the trillions of dollars provided by American taxpayers. This year, the disconnect between God’s priorities and Republican priorities could not be more clear, unless we focus only on the word sacrifice.

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Metropolitan Planners Leaning In to Make Regions Great

Two new resources spotlight ways planners working at the regional and metropolitan level are leaning in to solve complex social, environmental and economic issues through better use of data, improved partnerships and collaboration, and a mix of innovation, tenacity and leadership. “Emerging Trends in Regional Planning*” released last month by the American Planning Association celebrates the ways that regional planning is evolving across the country with numerous examples of regions large and small tackling water and land resource issues, regional economic development and housing issues, climate change and public health issues through integrated planning strategies.  Meanwhile, Transportation For America this week released national survey results detailing how metropolitan planning organizations are developing and using transportation performance measures. Both are useful documents for learning how planners are pushing the envelope, innovating and making great regions.

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New Publication by MZ Strategies, LLC: Advancing Equitable Transit-Oriented Development through Community Partnerships and Public Sector Leadership

Over the past four years, MZ Strategies has worked with numerous communities to advance equitable development strategies ranging from specific policy initiatives and funding programs, to strengthening multi-sector coalitions, and updating regulatory approaches. Today, we are excited to release a new publication, "Advancing Equitable Transit-Oriented Development through Community Partnerships and Public Sector Leadership." The new report spotlights strategies being used in four regions to create more inclusive communities near transit, and discusses federal tools available to support development of transit real estate assets for affordable housing.

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October Speaking and Report Release Events featuring MZ Strategies

This month MZ Strategies is at Rail~Volution in San Francisco, the Shared Use Mobility Summit in Chicago and releasing a new report funded by the Ford Foundation on local and federal strategies to support equitable Transit Oriented Development (eTOD). Follow us on Twitter @MZStrat and check back later this month to download a free copy of "Advancing Equitable Transit Oriented Development through Community Partnership and Public Sector Leadership."

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