Kaid Benfield Archive


Cong. Blumenauer launches Livable Communities Task Force

Kaid Benfield

Posted October 21, 2009 at 1:29PM

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Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore) has long been the U.S. Congress's leading champion of smart growth.  On Monday, he announced the launching (if I recall correctly, actually a re-launching) Congressman Earl Blumenauer (by: Center for American Progress, creative commons license)of a Livable Communities Task Force within the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives in order to work more effectively together on these issues.   

According to Blumenauer's web site, the Task Force will identify ways in which the federal government can be a stronger partner to local communities to improve Americans' quality of life.  This includes reducing the nation's dependence on oil, protecting the environment, improving public health and investing in housing and transportation projects that create jobs and give people more commuting choices.  Blumenauer will serve as Chair. 

 "When I first came to Congress thirteen years ago, people looked at me curiously whenever I used the term livability," said Congressman Blumenauer in a press release.  His statement continues:

"Today, not only are policymakers talking about how to make our communities more livable, but we have an administration that has established a Partnership for Sustainable Communities. As Chairman of the Livable Communities Task Force, I am eager to work with the administration on this initiative and ensure that the federal government is a better partner to local communities.  By making smart investments in transportation and housing, for example, we can give people more choices, reduce America's dependence on oil, and grow the economy.  With a diverse group of members from around the country, this new Democratic Task Force will play a vital role in coordinating with the administration to improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in communities big and small, urban and rural."

As part of its mission, the Task Force intends to hold public briefings and roundtable discussions with experts and stakeholders, including members of the administration, nonprofit organizations, experts, and members of the business community. The group will also issue a bi-monthly newsletter highlighting Hill and non-Hill events in Washington and important legislative developments.

A list of members of the Livable Communities Task Force is on its website.  No doubt reauthorization of federal transportation law will be high on its list of priorities.  smart growth on display in Blumenauer's district, Portland (by: EPA Smart Growth)In addition, Blumenauer has introduced a bill that would establish a fund to provide assistance to state and local transportation planning efforts to reduce carbon emissions from transportation.  The concept was partially included in legislation that passed the House in June, but has not been taken up by the Senate.

Another Task Force member, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), has introduced a bill that would mandate that the EPA administrator designate at least three centers for regional smart growth planning and would establish a grant program to improve smart growth data collection and model development; implement comprehensive regional smart growth planning programs; apply planning outcomes to regional transportation plans; and work with units of local governments to coordinate land use, transportation and air quality planning.

This is great news and great leadership from Blumenauer, as usual.  My only misgivings are that this should be a nonpartisan issue rather than one owned by Democrats, and it should have strong leadership in the Senate as well as in the House.  Both concerns are eminently fixable.