Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Warner's High-Quality Commission

Gov. Mark Warner yesterday announced the creation of a Commission on Transportation in Urbanized Areas which will, as the release says, "recommend strategies for better integrating planning and transit options in Virginia’s urbanized areas." It's supposed to come up with those recommendations by Dec. 31.

There are seventeen members on this commission, with Norfolk City Council member Randy Wright serving as chairman. You can see the rest at the above link. Here's the commission's five-point mission, as taken from the executive directive:

-Establish a statewide framework for high quality urban growth.

-Identify any obstacles to high quality urban growth, including any inappropriate or outdated transportation, land use, or open space policies or programs.

-Identify long term savings in transportation initiatives by utilizing alternative sources of energy through the promotion of transit-oriented development.

-Identify possible legislative, regulatory and incentive programs to support transit-oriented development and open space preservation.

-Evaluate regional smart growth land use studies and the potential advantages and disadvantages of such studies.

-Examine other issues as appropriate.


At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed the other bullet point, the one you can only read between the lines: Garner some earned (free) media coverage to complement the advertising and campaign events around this theme, recently adopted by the Tim Kaine campaign. As Seinfeld would say, not that there is anything wrong with that.

Going to be a pretty busy 60 days for that group to meet that deadline.

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

And they are supposed to do this by Dec 31? And these people have other jobs? Who decides what "better is? Any one of these bullets is a five year job. Take them one at a time:

1) A statewide framework for high quality urban growth. This seems to imply a bias toward urban growth. It might be that solving transportaion in urban areas means moving part of the urban areas elsewhere, as planned in Tokyo and other cities. Each city has individual characteristics and needs, so a statewide "framework" is likely to be so vague as to be meaningless, or to work for some cities and not others.

2) Identify obstacles to high quality urban growth. What is high quality? Does that mean we are going to mow down low qality areas and put up places that the current residents can't afford? If we arfe going to study outdated transportation, are we going to start with the trains? Who decides what is inappropriate? No doubt there are obstacles that should be removed - brownfield redevelopment liability for example, but the residents of Love Canal might disagree with that idea. Most open space policies promote open space; does this mean that open space in cities, where it is needed most, is going to be fair game?

3)The third bullet should read "-identify long-term fiscal and energy savings through the promotion of mass transit-oriented development" it doesn't say anything about alternative fuels. Almost no one believes me when I say this, but a systems level view of transit oriented development is not likely to show either fiscal or energy savings.

4)Develop incentives to support transit oriented development. See 3) above. If transit oriented development provides fiscal and energy savings, then why does it need incentives to support it? Who is going to pay the incentives, and will the cost of incentives be considered when evaluating 3)? If this group is supposed to study "better transit and planning" options, why ask the question in a way that pre-supposes the answer is transit oriented? What open space are we talking about? Is this urban open space which is desperately needed or some undefined open space outside the urban area, and presumably outside the areas under consideration by the panel?

4) Evaluate regional smart growth land use studies and the advantqages or disadvanteges of the studies. I thought this was a commission on transportation, not a commission on studies. Probably this is mis-stated and really means consideation of the advantaqges and disadvantages of the recommendations included in the studies, not the studies themselves. If the kind of fuzzy thinking in the mission statement is continued throughout the commissions work, then it is likely to be meaningless. Regional issues may be important to transportation in urbanized areas, but the commision has to limit the scope of the problem somehow.

5) Examine other issues as appropriate. The commision needs to limit the scope in order to meet the deadline, but this is a blank check to study anything and everything.

There is not a single road, rail, finance, or development, or social services, expert on the panel. What is the Governor thinking?


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