Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Big brother wants to plan your neighborhood

Oh, they don't want to control you, they say. Just to give you money for doing what they want. $4,000,000,000 is $4 billion. And if you don't... And you wanted more bureaucracy too, didn't you? CNS News "Republicans blast Livable Communities bill" The Senate Banking Committee passed the Livable Communities Act on Tuesday, moving the bill one step closer to final passage. The bill creates $4 billion in neighborhood planning grants for “sustainable” living projects and a new federal office to oversee them. Similar legislation in the House has been criticized by Republicans on the House Budget Committee, who charge that “the program’s aim is to impose a Washington-based, central planning model on localities across the country.” In the Senate version, written by outgoing Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), the Livable Communities Act would designate $4 billion to aid local governments in planning high-density, walkable neighborhoods. Premised on helping local governments to combat suburban sprawl and traffic congestion, the bill sets up two separate grant programs. One, known as Comprehensive Planning Grants, would go to cities and counties to assist them in carrying out such plans as the following: -- “(1) coordinate land use, housing, transportation, and infrastructure planning processes across jurisdictions and agencies” and -- “(3) conduct or update housing, infrastructure, transportation, energy, and environmental assessments to determine regional needs and promote sustainable development; [and] -- “… (5) implement local zoning and other code changes necessary to implement a comprehensive regional plan and promote sustainable development.” The second grant type – Sustainability Challenge Grants – funds local efforts to: --“(1) promote integrated transportation, housing, energy, and economic development activities carried out across policy and governmental jurisdictions; -- (2) promote sustainable and location-efficient development; and -- (3) implement projects identified in a comprehensive regional plan.” To administer and regulate these new grants, the bill creates the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The legislation is designed to prod local communities toward high-density, public transit-oriented neighborhoods that concentrate large numbers of people into small geographic areas connected by train and bus networks. These high-density neighborhoods would be combined with high-density commercial districts that – in theory – would reduce the need for daily driving and commuting.

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