White HouseThere’s this crazy idea spreading through the Obama administration: not only can you work with your opponents to get things done, you can work with your allies. Like today, for instance, comes news that the EPA, Department of Transportation, and HUD have built upon an earlier DOT/HUD deal to create a Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The landmark collaboration identifies six “livability principles” for the agencies to keep in sight as they work on policy. Which means, said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, “For the first time, the federal government will speak with one voice on housing, environmental, and transportation policy.”
The six principles are:
1. Provide more transportation choices.
Develop safe, reliable and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nations dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote public health.
2. Promote equitable, affordable housing.
Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
3. Enhance economic competitiveness.
Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers as well as expanded business access to markets.
4. Support existing communities.
Target federal funding toward existing communities through such strategies as transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling to increase community revitalization, improve the efficiency of public works investments, and safeguard rural landscapes.
5. Coordinate policies and leverage investment.
Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
6. Value communities and neighborhoods.
Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe and walkable neighborhoods rural, urban or suburban.
You see number one there? It could lead to more surprisingly good transit systems. And number four? That one’s about stopping sprawl in its tracks. Number six will make us healthier people — not only fighting climate change and obesity (also known as globesity), but making our towns and cities better places to be.
It’s so dreamy it’s almost ridiculous. Now if they can actually make headway, that’ll be the real miracle.