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8th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference - Building Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities

From January 22-24, 2009, four members of the Richmond City Council (Butt, McLaughlin, Ritterman and Rogers) were attending the 8th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Albuquerque, NM.


Albuquerque is my birthplace (See Our Families' Home Front Stories, September 4, 2007), but this is the first time I had been back since I was three weeks old.


Also attending was Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, Tracy Rattray, Director, Community Wellness and Prevention Program, Contra Costa Health Services and Wendel Brunner, Director of Public Health, Contra Costa County Health Services, both of whom presented.  Andres Soto attended and presented representing West County HEAL Collaborative.

Mayor McLaughlin and I made presentations about Green Jobs in Richmond, as did Michelle McGeoy of Solar Richmond.


This is the premiere national conference on livable communities, and it is the first time ever that four councilmembers from Richmond have attended and the first time that a majority of the City Council has attended.


I believe this is indicative of the change the new City Council intends to bring to Richmond, making it a more livable and healthier community and a leader in the effort to both adapt to and fight global warming.


To see the entire program, click here, and to see the extensive list of speakers, click here.


As chair of the local government commission, I joined Albuquerque Mayor Martin J. Chavez, LGC Vice-Chair Jake MacKenzie and Charles Kent of the EPA in welcoming over 1,000 attendees from six foreign countries and 46 states.


The plenary sessions and breakout workshops I attended include the following:


Smart Growth for Economy, Community, Public Health and Environment

In a year marked by a volatile economy with rising fuel and energy costs, the housing and mortgage crisis, increasing food costs, rising health care costs, consumers are thinking more directly about how their decisions affect their quality of life. Some are driving less, others are moving to smaller homes, and everyone has turned to living green. While this dynamic has brought an air of uncertainty and desperation to many consumers, it has also created an bright opportunity to demonstrate how changing one’s lifestyle to highlight more walkable, compact, transit-rich attributes contributes to a better one for the economy, the community, public health and the environment.


·         Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health

·         Christopher Leinberger, Visiting Fellow, The Brookings Institution

·         Rob Dickson, Owner, Paradigm & Company, New Urbanism/Traditional Neighborhood Development

What Shade of Green is Right for Your Community

Every community is different. The “right shade of green” for one may be entirely wrong for another. This session will focus on the need for a careful examination of stakeholder goals and objectives for the use of their limited resources. Now more than ever sustainability planners must carefully screen the strategies available in search of those that will make a difference in specific areas that matter most to the community. Planning must include objective and transparent evaluation of a broad range of sustainable attributes that expand upon the triple bottom line (environmental, social, economic implications) to also address (1) Functionality, (2) Resilience, (3) GHG, (4) Green Jobs, and (5) Deliverability. This panel will focus on practical guidance from two progressive communities, leading planners and professionals that employ risk/benefit and business case analysis to help communities examine, prioritize and rank planning elements with the goal of maximum Sustainable Return on Investment. Speakers

·         John Williams, Senior VP/National Director, Sustainable Development, HDR Inc.

·         Rick Chaffin, Assistant City Manager, City of McKinney, TX

·         John Parker, Vice President, Decision Economics, HDR Engineering, Inc.

·         Karen Wolf, AICP, Senior Executive Policy Advisor, Office of King County Executive Ron Sims

Smart Growth at the Water’s Edge: Guiding Smart Growth in Waterfront and Coastal Communities

Waterfront and coastal communities have historically been, and will remain, desirable places to live. The unique amenities that draw people to the water - ocean, lake, or riverfront - also require special consideration when addressing growth and development. These issues range from understanding the dynamic ecology of the land and water interface to revitalizing waterfronts and protecting water dependent uses, providing public access, and planning for hazard resiliency and the impacts of climate change. Smart Growth at the water’s edge requires a tailored approach that recognizes the unique challenges and opportunities of waterfront and coastal development. A number of diverse organizations have recognized the need for Smart Growth approaches to help coastal communities address their unique waterfront characteristics. This session will overview waterfront principles guidance documents and approaches for implementing waterfront and coastal Smart Growth.


·         Lynn Richards, Acting Division Director, US EPA Smart Growth Program

·         Theodore Eisenman, Senior Editor, Scenic Hudson Riverfront Development Guide

·         Sarah van der Schalie, Coastal Management Specialist, NOAA/OCRM Coastal Programs Division

·         Lee Einsweiler, Principal, Code Studio

·         Sandia/Santa Ana Rooms


Green Jobs: Defining Opportunities in Economic Development for a Sustainable Future

Green jobs are an issue that is drawing national attention. It is clear that we ought to be moving towards a more sustainable future, but what does that mean in terms of job creation, availability, job quality, etc.? This session will draw a panel of national experts on the topic of green jobs to explore best practices for defining green jobs, identifying green jobs locally, customizing job training programs to reflect a greener economy, and ensuring that there is broad access to green jobs and their benefits. It will aim to clarify not only what constitutes a job, but also how to build a constituency of advocates for

local green jobs, and tackle the issue of ensuring there are adequate jobs to employ graduates of training programs. In particular, the session will move the conversation from the 30,000 ft. policy debate and explore on-the-ground solutions for getting people into employment in the green economy.


·         Madeline Fraser Cook, LEED AP, Program Director, Green Development Center, Local Initiatives

·         Support Corporation

·         Councilmember Tom Butt, City of Richmond, CA; Board Chair, Local Government Commission

·         Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, City of Richmond, CA

·         Carmen Rhodes, Executive Director, FRESC

·         Rey Garduno, Councilor, City of Albuquerque, NM

·         Cathy Calfo, Co-Director, Apollo Alliance

·         16

·         Stacy Ho, Esq., Policy Associate, Green For All

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

The American debate over sprawl and smart growth has sharpened with rising oil prices and climate change. But we are just beginning to grasp the titanic change that globalization is forcing on us. It represents the classic duality of "crisis" written in Chinese: danger/opportunity. This talk highlights rapid changes occurring in China and the Mideast, focusing on the overlapping and inexorable rise of global trade, finance, oil prices, food prices, energy usage, temperature, car ownership and pollution. By "connecting the dots" between how we live here with the rapid urbanization of the rest of the planet, the talk underscores the global stakes of our land use and transportation policies. Zeroing in on zoning, it brings the global issues home and lays out what local communities can - and must do - to create a new global model for sustainable, livable and prosperous communities.


·         Rick Cole, City Manager, City of Ventura, CA

Smart Growth in the West: National Lessons about Population Growth, Resource Conservation and Planning for a New Tomorrow

The Western US epitomizes large open spaces, vast economic opportunity and endless possibilities. New research indicates that by 2050, the Southwest alone will double its population and jobs. This growth will put additional strain on land, air and water. As communities grapple with their role of managing growth while conserving natural resources, they will need to realize that their actions can, and will, inspire the entire country. Yet with the current downturn in the economy, the time is right for local government and regional partnerships to reassess their smart growth strategies and adopt innovative policies that can provide a more sustainable and viable tomorrow.


·         Robert J. Grow, Senior Counsel, O’Melveny & Myers LLP

·         Arthur C. Nelson, PhD, FAICP, Presidential Professor of City and Metropolitan Planning and Director

·         of Metropolitan Research at the University of Utah

Working on Smart Growth in Low Income, Ethnically Diverse Communities

The Smart Growth movement recognizes the importance of engaging a diverse group of residents in community planning programs and projects. But these sectors of our population are often difficult to reach and engage. This session will explore how several organizations have worked with Latino, African-American, and Native-American communities on community planning and projects. The session will discuss how to get folks to participate, how to build consensus in diverse communities and how to work on implementation. Speakers will talk about actual projects and lessons learned. At least minutes will be allocated to the Q&A discussion portion of the session to insure that participants have a chance to discuss their issues and get advice on projects they are working on.


·         Paul Zykofsky, AICP, Director, Land Use and Transportation Programs. Local Government Commission

·         Jacky Grimshaw, Vice President for Policy, Transportation & Community Development, Center for

·         Neighborhood Technology

·         Rosa Soto, Regional Director, California Center for Public Health Advocacy

Building a Sustainable Food System...from the Ground Up

A variety of forces such as global warming, rising energy prices, exploding obesity rates, and a lack of healthy foods in neighborhood stores are converging to create new bountiful landscapes, more fully realized local food sheds, and sustainable and equitable food systems. Local food production is cropping up from backyards to rooftops, from vacant lots to high-density, master-planned communities—and high-rise vertical farms might soon be on their way. Likewise, communities are promoting new solutions to the grocery store gap in many low-income communities of color—from farmers' markets and CSA boxes to community-owned grocery stores. This food revolution has the potential to connect individuals to their food system, improve people's health, transform blighted neighborhoods, and generate new economic opportunities. This session will explore practical solutions and tools to integrate healthy, sustainable food systems into all corners of the built environment—from new and planned communities to existing inner city neighborhoods.


·         Heather Wooten, Planning and Policy Advocate. Planning for Healthy Places

·         Serena Unger, Associate, Bay Area Economics

·         Brandon Silar, Designer, Calthorpe Associates

·         Sarah Treuhaft, Senior Associate, PolicyLink

·         Richard Brandt, Farm Manager, Dragon Farm


Bringing Old and New Partners Together to Reduce VMT and Associated Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Groups at the cutting edge of Smart Growth policy are finding ways to bring an increasingly broad group of people together to work toward a future of vastly reduced auto dependence and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In California, the health community has joined with environmentalists, local government officials, open space advocates, and many other constituencies in a joint effort to get the state to embrace transportation and land use as a key element in the implementation of the state's greenhouse gas reduction law. Youth are being trained to join the chorus, as the one group that will be the most severely impacted by autodependent land use decisions. Others are experiencing success mobilizing diverse constituents on a National scale. This session will look at lessons learned from pioneers in this effort. Then we'll engage in a dialogue among the speakers and the audience to share ideas and identify how can best to quickly move Smart Growth from an interesting exception to business as usual.


·         Judy Corbett, Executive Director, Local Government Commission

·         Doug Farr, AIA, President, Farr Associates Architecture | Planning | Preservation

·         James Muldavin, Executive Director, California Center for Civic Participation

·         Autumn Bernstein, Director, ClimatePlan

·         Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO, Smart Growth America

·         Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Environmental Health Sciences, UCLA School of

·         Public Health


Smart Growth and Equity for All Populations

This plenary addresses the needs and opportunities of a range of community members that depend on the choice that smart growth provides. Focusing on the aging community, working families, immigrant populations and communities of color, this discussion will highlight how these groups have made an impact on the smart growth movement and how their interests will shape the way America grows, consumes and interacts in the future.


·         Dena Belzer, President, Strategic Economics

·         Elinor Ginzler, Senior Vice President, Livable Communities Strategies, AARP


Tools and Strategies for Addressing Climate Change at the Local Level

Climate change and energy concerns are consuming our nation's attention. Community planners and government leaders are facing new challenges to address these increasing concerns. This workshop will focus on highlighting tools and strategies that local governments can use to address climate change. Participants will learn about available tools and models for local governments to inventory emissions and assess the effectiveness of various strategies to reduce GHG emissions. Speakers will use case studies to focus on how tools can be integrated into the planning process and how local governments can determine the cost-benefits of various implementation strategies. Additionally participants will be guided through the process of creating and implementing a local energy plan and greenhouse gas reduction strategy and will hear from a progressive city using the highlighted tools to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.


·         Suzanne Rynne, AICP, Manager, Green Communities Research Center, American Planning Association

·         John E. Bridges, FAICP, Principal, EDAW AECOM

·         Dave Mitchell, Senior Project Manager, Michael Brandman Associates

·         Michael Cadigan, Councilor, City of Albuquerque, NM

·         David Konkle, Municipal Energy Program Director, ICLEI


Innovative Strategies for Grocery Store Development

Many urban and rural communities have significant unmet demands for food retail. Learn how innovative new financing and business attraction strategies are influencing economic development trends in low-income communities and returning basic services like grocery stores to urban neighborhoods. Communities across the country are finding ways to creatively bridge barriers to grocery store development, resulting in new chain grocery stores, independent retailers, and cooperatives in previously underserved communities. Panelists will discuss how planners, developers, and advocates can leverage grocery store development to create healthy, equitable local economies and neighborhoods.


·         Hannah Burton Laurison, Senior Associate, Public Health Law & Policy

·         John Weidman, Deputy Executive Director, The Food Trust, Philadelphia, PA

·         Terry Bowling, General Manager, La Montanita Coop Food Market, Albuquerque, NM

·         Michael Levine, E V.P., Corporate Counsel, Corporate Secretary, Local Initiatives Support Corporation


Global Challenge, Local Solutions: Reversing 60 Years of Incentives for Sprawl

Smart growth provides the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve public health and enhance community quality of life. This session looks at emerging practices and policy mechanisms at the local, regional, and state levels -- and at the potential for increased coordination across these levels. Specifically, the session will examine the roles, tools and techniques that each level of government offers to combat climate change and the unique opportunities and limitations associated with each level.


·         Timothy Burroughs, Climate Action Coordinator, Dept. of Planning & Development, City of Berkeley

·         Panama Bartholomy, Advisor to Commissioner Douglas, California Energy Commission

·         Christy Riviere, Senior Planner, Association of Bay Area Governments

·         Dan Marks, Director, Dept. of Planning & Development, City of Berkeley, CA


Closing Plenary — The Smart Growth Legislative Tipping Point

Implementation is the cornerstone of any movement, especially for smart growth. In the past few years, issues and themes supporting smart growth principles have shifted from talking points and white papers to key aspects of monumental legislation at the state and federal level. During this plenary, we will hear about recent efforts that have created the mechanism for making this change. In particular, we reflect on an encouraging array of legislation with smart growth implications that have been approved and those to be discussed this year. For instance, the State of California is leading the nation by following up on its 2006 global warming law with equally robust legislation by linking transportation and climate change. Other states are sure to follow. On the federal side, a roster of legislation focused on complete streets, energy, brownfields, transportation and housing together will show how far we have come in connecting smart growth principles with public policy.


·         Cynthia Bryant, Deputy Chief of Staff & Director, California Governor’s Office of Planning and

·         Research

·         Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO, Smart Growth America