Leveraging Public Assets for Public Benefit

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.

Read More…

Coming to Racial Terms with Trickle-Down Urbanism: A personal TOD journey (Part II)

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.

Read More…

SPARCCing New Strategies to Ensure Equitable Transit-Oriented Communities

MZ Strategies, LLC developed two new publications on Equitable Transit Oriented Development (ETOD) for the Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC). ETOD emphasizes transit’s role in serving mixed-income communities and prioritizes the needs of those who rely on transit. This includes broadening the definition of TOD to include issues of racial equity, community health, access to economic opportunity, and environmental goals. The six SPARCC-supported communities, reflect this shift in many ways and are at the forefront of ETOD strategies. Blog cross-posted from SPARCC. 

Read More…

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."

Read More…

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. 

Read More…

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.

Read More…
Main Image

Sharing Our Secrets to Making Great Communities

I'm looking forward to the national Rail~Volution conference happening Sept 21- 24 in Minneapolis, where I’ll join 1,500 of my closest friends who share a passion for transit and great communities. One thing I especially value about this annual conference is its ability to bring together a diverse set of "practitioners." By which I don’t just mean planners, engineers or architects. Yes – they will all be there. But also the community practitioners who ultimately make this stuff happen: the elected officials, developers and financial lenders, community advocates and philanthropic partners. Creating vibrant and inclusive communities takes many hands – sometimes clasped and working together, and sometimes wrestling for dominance.

Read More…

Finding Planning Inspiration on a Cold Winter Night

Much of the country has been in a brutal cold weather vice these past couple of weeks with no signs of warmth breaking though soon. At times like this, I’m inclined to grab a good book, a cup of hot tea and find someplace warm to hunker down. Luckily there are some great reads out there to cure the winter blues. Read my take a few of the notable new releases by F. Kaid Benfield, ITDP, Smart Growth America and SSTI.

Read More…

Planning Globally, Acting Locally with Arlington’s Streetcar

Over the past decade I have worked with many communities to help realize their local transit and development aspirations. During this same time, Arlington County, the community I am proud to call home, has been taking a painstakingly thorough path to re-introduce streetcar service along Colombia Pike. Funding remains elusive as sequestration threatens the proposed federal share, and local critics smell blood in the water. The current threat to Arlington’s own streetcar desire, is a reminder to me of the importance for transportation professionals to engage in these same issues when they are happening in our own backyard.  

Read More…

In Successful TOD, it’s the Little Things That Count

Density without design may fail to generate anticipated return on investment  -- both in terms of creating new riders and in transforming neighborhoods. A common mistake for planners and transit officials is to pursue TOD projects with a belief that building near transit will automatically create significant new ridership and increased property values. Too little attention is paid to the smaller scale strategies that can help to make TOD a success. Included in this category are smaller scale strategies that focus on improving the safety, convenience, and feel of a place to signal that people are welcome and transit is a preferred way to travel. Apart from design, top of the list should be education and outreach to enlist those who would be your obvious allies if only they knew it. Included in this category are hotels and convention centers located near transit, as evidenced by my recent trip to Miami, Florida.

Read More…

Searching for the Silver Lining in Financing Equitable TOD

Transit-oriented development brings unique challenges in securing financing and turning a profit. For developers and communities hoping to see a mix of income levels in TOD housing, additional challenges must be overcome. I appreciated the chance to write a guest blog on this topic in response to a recent Living Cities-sponsored webinar by Enterprise Community Partners and the Low-Income Investment Fund (LIIF). Despite challenges, there are indeed silver linings to the emerging TOD financing environment.

Read More…