Kansas City, Missouri Summary
While this meeting was intended to focus on rural and tribal issues, because of the attendee mix, additional issues were addressed. Key discussion points included:
- Challenges associated with the disconnect between regional and local priorities, coordination of many funding streams, and demonstrating the benefits of livability projects.
- Solutions associated with prioritizing livability (or related attributes) in project selection, establishing metrics to quantify livability benefits, and branding or developing other communication strategies to talk about livability.
- Livability primer issues such as the need to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, connecting any new guidance to previous publications, and branding it in a way to appeal to interagency coordination and to those who may not be otherwise receptive to the term "livability."
- Opportunities for marketing and communications such as standard marketing materials and PowerPoints for planners to use and that have been vetted through focus groups.
Based on input from this workshop, continued work in subsequent workshops focused on developing these ideas more thoroughly. The meeting structure included a number of presentations on regional practices, as well as a significant amount of brainstorming, facilitated discussion, and idea sharing. A summary of activities and key outputs follows.
Kansas City workshop discussions.
Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) office
600 Broadway Street
Boardroom in Suite 200
Kansas City, MO 64105
Date / Time:
April 7, 2011 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Welcome and Introductions:
Shana Baker from FHWA's Office of Human Environment welcomed participants and provided a brief overview of the day's goals. She reiterated that FHWA is focused on livability as part of comprehensive planning efforts to generate a framework for transportation decisions that result in safer and more convenient transportation options.
Representatives from the regional HUD/DOT/EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities gave opening remarks as well. Cindy Terwilliger, Deputy Regional Administrator for FTA Region 7, highlighted her agency's collaboration in Jefferson City, Kansas, on a diesel reduction grant, and the interagency reviews of grant applications on nationwide basis. Tracy Troutner, Transportation Planner for FHWA's Iowa Division, commended an inner city project in Iowa that is also a brownfield redevelopment project for its good coordination efforts, particularly at Federal level. Derrith Watchman-Moore, Regional Administrator from HUD Region 7, emphasized the focus on the quality of life for children now and in the future within livability. Matt Duran, Acting Deputy Assistant Regional Administrator for EPA Region 7, recognized that collaborating closely with Federal entities is essential to supporting sustainable communities. He mentioned how sustainability is important because where and how you build a community has an impact on public health, highlighting EPA's Greening America's Capitols (including nearby Jefferson City) and their increased outreach to State and local partners. Workshop facilitators, managers from ICF International and Renaissance Planning Group, and all participants introduced themselves.
Setting the Stage for Livability:
Harrison Rue from ICF International reviewed the purpose and outcomes of both the overall project and the day's workshop in particular. As the majority of participants indicated that they had not read the background paper developed for this project, The Role of FHWA Programs in Livability: State of the Practice Summary, Mr. Rue provided a comprehensive overview of the paper's content. This overview included a review of the Sustainable Communities Partnership and the associated principles, components included in the definition of "livability in transportation," benefits of incorporating livability, overall research findings, and a review of State of the practice examples from areas that have successfully incorporated livability into a variety of efforts.
Identifying Challenges to Livability:
During this large group discussion session, participants were asked to focus on the following three questions:
- What are the big challenges to implementing transportation solutions that advance livable communities?
- What is one solution that has worked for your agency?
- How do the challenges and solutions differ in:
- Urban, suburban, and rural contexts?
- Local, regional, and State agencies?
Participants identified five main categories of challenges, as well as potential solutions that could be used to overcome some of these challenges. During the discussion, participant recommendations were listed on flip charts and posted around the room for participants to reference during discussion. From the Atlanta meeting discussions, greater emphasis was put on identifying priorities among the different challenges through a dot-voting exercise (see description at the end of the section) and expanding the discussion on success stories/practices from the participant's experiences. The categories below of the five identified challenges reflect the voting priorities from this exercise.
- Interagency/Interdisciplinary Barriers
- Many transportation agencies, specifically State DOTs, view livability as a local concern. It is not necessarily incorporated into their design or projects.
- A disconnect exists between local authority and regional decisionmaking, especially when dealing with land use issues. If all localities assume strong growth, then the regional traffic projects are increased as well. It can be difficult to get everyone to transition from local to regional decisionmaking.
- Interdisciplinary projects are the anomaly, rather than the norm. It is not as common in practice as everyone would like.
- Local and regional processes have evolved to respond to Federal requirements and those processes now have their own self-imposed restriction. What are the changes we need to make to leverage the flexibility offered at the Federal level?
- Local and regional priorities start from different places and are different — the challenge is in reconciling or balancing them.
- Environmental justice is defined differently by EPA and FHWA, which challenges practitioners.
- Local governments may not enforce their own zoning and sidewalk ordinances in their own plan, which complicates achieving the regional vision.
- Funding Priority Mismatch
- Particularly on the FHWA side, the funding programs are not very well established to support livability projects. Many funding program are not accessible for community-level projects that support/promote livability
- With priorities–for example, livable community projects are competing with major bridge projects. DOTs are not hearing from communities that livable communities are higher priority than the bridge. Also big projects have been waiting to be built so they stay on the project list as higher priorities.
- Specifically with congestion mitigation and air quality (CMAQ) funding, the State gets CMAQ funding which they do not use for bicycle and pedestrian projects in urban areas that maintain their attainment. Those communities are being punished for doing their job well.
- Different agencies have different requirements at different points in time. They don't have pots of money that come out at the same time that are being used in a given State in a coordinated notice of funding availability (NOFA) so that you can target a local project for a true livable communities effort. Agencies have different implementing regulations and definitions. Even the basic time horizons for the programs are different and uncoordinated.
- Making Livability Less Politically "Hot"
- Too few policymakers and elected officials at local level understand these concepts and their value to the community.
- Shifting national priorities makes it difficult for local elected officials to grab on to the livability concept and this happens at all levels of government.
- City staff will be on-board for building complete streets, but it is stuck when it gets to council members who will not vote for new zoning code. (Despite this concern, it was noted that more than six local governments in the Kansas City region have adopted complete streets policies in 2011)
- It can be difficult to insulate many projects from kinds of political changes mentioned here.
- Demonstrating the Value of Multimodal Transportation (in a range of contexts)
- People do not value multimodal transportation systems, in both rural and urban regions, and all of the related benefits.
- It is difficult to evaluate multimodal transportation and its benefits.
- Very common to have conflicts between State DOT and local project sponsor, especially when road in question is a State route but very important locally.
- Current scorekeeping practices do not recognize economics/pedestrian/health benefits of livability projects.
- It can be hard to implement many multimodal solutions in the existing right-of-ways.
- Cost/benefit Analyses to Quantify the Benefits Related to Larger Community Goals
- With the cost of building the roadways, many communities are looking at short-term costs rather than long-term benefits.
- Economic benefits do not officially count in transportation decisionmaking. Most investments do not require cost benefits analysis.
- Sustainability measures and solutions are not included in transportation analyses.
- Other Challenges
Design standards, manuals, and technical concerns:
- Real/perceived conflicts with design standards that engineers need to follow.
- Engineers tend to stick with the most conservative option even within flexible standards.
- Standards do not differentiate enough between different types of community contexts.
- Safety is still limited to automobile measures.
- Planners and engineers are always designing for more growth in 2030, but that is a value judgment and an assumption that may not be true.
- The goals for highway and transportation officials may not match what the communities and residents want. Many visions for community design in places are controlled by transportation engineers and they do not necessarily have the attitude that we are looking for.
- Current curriculum for traffic engineers in colleges does not include courses on traffic design and courses on how traffic affects businesses.
- The environmental scale of the decisions may be different from the transportation scale of decisionmaking.
- Hard to know how to reconfigure a mile grid structure to a smaller scale, are the tools missing?
The impacts of changing demographics: Designing and collaborating across sectors for an aging population is not well accounted for.
Sprawl is still a viable choice: Opportunity to sprawl out in these communities still exists.
A summary of the solutions that participants mentioned are listed below. As many of these solutions are broadly applicable to a variety of challenges, they are not grouped into discrete categories.
- Provide design standards that engineers can/will follow
- Re-title those documents to help frame it differently in people's minds.
- Create tools that show them how to use/embrace the flexibility the standards give them.
- Add a way to account for other benefits in the transportation project selection process, such as for economic, pedestrian, environmental/sustainability, health outcomes, etc.
- Redefine success for State highway officials so that they can feel good about accomplishing the livability goals. Create more training and training opportunities for transportation decisionmakers, specifically on street design. Community design in many places is controlled by transportation engineers.
- Expand safety statistics to include other users, such as creating a Level of Service (LOS) measure for other modes.
- Do not design for an "always growth in cars in 2030 traffic" scenario and be clear about assumptions and goals behind planning.
- Make livability a State DOT concern.
- Promote interdisciplinary teams.
- Change the curriculum for traffic engineers in colleges so that they include some review courses on traffic design and courses on how traffic affects businesses.
- Educate and train policymakers/elected officials at local level so they understand these concepts.
- Promote partnerships between governmental and aging institutions–medical centers — to prepare for future demographic and lifestyle changes/trends (aging, obesity).
- Changes/reevaluate the noise and vibration standards in highway and roadway considerations
- Identify a path to coordinate the time horizons for different Federal planning requirements
- Create a way to "pick a planning process" and just follow one agency's public process for a plan, but meet the requirements of all other planning statues in other processes.
Following this discussion, participants received four dot stickers, which they used to vote for the challenges they thought were the most significant. No limit was placed on this voting process, and participants were allowed to use one or all four dots on any one particular challenge, depending on the significance they placed on it. As mentioned above, the categorization of the five identified challenges reflect the voting priorities from this exercise.
Four of the workshop participants presented on successful livability efforts in the region, allowing all workshop participants to see and hear about successful livability examples in their region. Tom Gerend from the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) spoke about their Transportation Outlook 2040 as a foundation for public discussion around regional goals, aiming to understand how transportation can be used to leverage us collectively to respond to all of these challenges together. Dean Katerndahl from MARC spoke about their green impact zone initiative, which was a way to concentrate resources in one specific neighborhood area to make a substantial impact — by addressing all those social problems/dimensions simultaneously, the investment could have a bigger impact. Scott Bernstein from the Center for Neighborhood Technology talked about their housing and transportation affordability tool, which analyzes the financial/economic benefits of location efficiency. Janet Attarian from Chicago DOT discussed their streetscape and sustainable design program policies, which use sustainability as a driver for their work. She also emphasized that performance measure ground livability and sustainability to ensure that what is built is performing in the way you said it would, helping to move the practice forward. Afterwards, there was a panel discussion, focusing on the key elements of their success:
- Having the leadership of mayor who supported these initiatives and having key people in the departments. Chicago has a green team–one person from each department — and they meet monthly and has been instrumental in breaking cross-agency barriers and creating cross-agency relationships.
- Shifting from project orientation to a way of life - getting people to think about this as something that would be done every day.
- Playing the role of translator/ambassador between different parties' counts a lot. Translating these concepts to a set of maps/calculators/websites has tremendously helped with people and their understanding. Organizing people into a user group so they know they are not alone.
- Solidifying project goals up front, which provides a foundation for future work and purpose — supports the collective vision and message. As a result, regional partnerships have largely contributed to success in securing Federal partnerships.
- Strong and committed community engagement. The Green Zone is their project and does not fit into any Federal program funding scheme, but that engagement and commitment is essential to place-based approach. Partnerships and persistence have also been key.
- Using local funding, rather than Federal monies. Currently, Federal monies are very difficult to use for these projects in Chicago.
Following this roundtable discussion, participants divided themselves into five groups with a mix of State, regional, local, and Federal representatives. During this hour-long discussion, participants were asked to consider examples where they had overcome a project challenge and use that experience to answer the following questions:
- What effective strategies have helped you to overcome challenges?
- What was important for you to succeed?
- What, if anything, did the Partnership do to facilitate success?
- How have you measured the success of your efforts?
- What helped you to align or integrated different funding and agency priorities?
- What kinds of public and interagency process worked?
Each group provided a quick summary of their discussion.
Funding Priority Mismatch
- Improving the interagency alignment between Federal funding agencies would be helpful.
- There is a lack of available funding for livability-focused programs, as they do not often qualify for application to many funding sources. For those sources where livability programs do qualify, the application process is often very competitive.
- Unlike other programs where reliable funding sources have been around for an extended period of time, livability programs do not have a dedicated, reliable funding source. Existing funding processes should be reexamined to identify if efforts could be combined so that funding requirements are revised to offer increased opportunities for pursuing livability projects.
- Local decisions and higher-level State and Federal decisions often do not follow similar timelines, which can generate a disconnect between the decision-making process. Often, by the time local decisions are made, higher-level decisions have already been made.
- Developing a "livability standard" could help compare projects across Federal agency disciplines.
- Coordinating regional efforts can help align funding resources to accomplish a common objective. Supporting interregional communication can also keep regions informed on activities being undertaken elsewhere.
- Federal and State policies are not always aligned.
- Develop educational materials on the rules surrounding funding and flexibilities that may already exist. Flexibilities are present, but are not well known.
- An outcome-based approach to project funding would help prioritize effective projects as they relate to regional goals.
- The HUD Sustainable Communities grant uses a performance-based approach and may serve as a good example.
- Funding programs should recognize the quick timescale involved in project development. Oftentimes, by the time a project receives approval and funding, the solution is no longer relevant, as the community has already changed.
Making Livability "Apolitical"
- Developing effective performance measures such as different kinds of data, calculators, and/or tools can help people quantify project/activity impacts.
- Incorporating robust public engagement processes can assist in identifying local priorities, needs, and visions into project.
- Institutionalizing effective processes at every level can help maintain good decisionmaking even across leadership change. For example, Janet Attarian's presentation on the role that Green Committee involvement played in project success involved partnership efforts between EPA, HUD, and DOT. Staff members had buy-in and had therefore invested in project implementation and success.
- Developing design standards can be adopted into standard practice and readily followed.
- Integrating State, local, and Federal processes can help unify efforts.
- Use information sharing among individuals and organizations to develop relationships and advance projects effectively.
- Gain support from a leadership level, which can provide resources and support.
Demonstrating the Value of Multimodal Transportation
- Demonstrating the value of providing multimodal transportation options would help overcome one of the significant barriers to project implementation and funding. Many decisionmakers may be happy with the current system and therefore unmotivated to devote resources for improvements.
- The cost of multimodal system construction and maintenance does not necessarily reflect the true cost of the transportation system.
- Identifying funding opportunities for multimodal transportation improvements is difficult, as many of these opportunities are stand-alone and do not offer financial incentives.
- Resource investment in education and communication could help residents understand what is meant by a "livable community" and the technical tools involved in creating such a community. The average decisionmaker and resident may not understand what is needed to achieve some of the goals associated with livability. For example, if a community is interested in generating affordable transportation options, these tools could lay out the steps involved in doing so.
Cost/benefit Tools for Quantifying the Broader Benefits of Livability for Communities
- Anecdotes have captured that communities based on the livability principles enjoy the following benefits: increased real estate values; reduced living costs; job creation and higher job availability; lower congestion and increased travel speeds; increased job accessibility; health improvements; increased road safety; natural resource improvements; and reduced operating costs for businesses and homes. Capturing these benefits into materials that people understand and are accessible can help generate support for livability projects.
- Develop educational materials on transportation costs–both owning a car and purchasing a home that is not accessible to multimodal options. One of the challenges facing support for livable communities is that people do not understand the full costs associated with owning a car as compared to using or supporting multimodal transportation options. Currently, we do not place value on multimodal accessibility. People may be inclined to make different housing choices if they were aware of the transportation choices associated with moving to an inaccessible versus an accessible location.
- Goals often differ from the bottom up or top down, as well as across an organization. For example, the goals, strategies, and mission Statements of State, local, and Federal organizations within the same focus area, differ widely.
- Recognize that each community will choose to set its own priorities and should have the freedom to do so. For example, Cedar Rapids is dedicating 20% of its funding to trails and pedestrian improvements; however, not every community will choose to do the same.
- Strategies for addressing interagency barriers include:
- Identifying differences can serve as an initial first step in working to bridge efforts toward a unified goal. Specifically, determining where tradeoffs exist between pursuing one goal over another can help ensure one agency's goals are not compromised.
- Improving communication and coordination between agencies.
- FHWA should identify a clear mission as it relates to livability so that practitioners have a clear framework with which to operate and plan.
- Strengthening partnerships at the State level.
- Work on usable definitions for "sustainability" and "livability."
- Bring a variety of stakeholders to the table so that everyone understands the vision and goals of planning efforts.
- Within a region, identify those common goals and agendas and use these to develop a workable plan.
- Focus on bringing about change at the core.
Regional Livability Planning Strategies:
Four of the workshop participants presented on their organization's success in developing and implementing livability planning strategies at a regional level. Jay Hoekstra from the Grand Valley Metro Council discussed his organization's regional planning process, which uses scenario planning and 10-12 development options. They used a visioning process and asked people to place their population in areas around the region. There was remarkable consensus about where growth should go–into central urban area and the least should go into the agricultural and natural areas. Ruth Ann Wedel from Greensburg Greentown discussed how her town has used sustainability as a planning and development principle after 80% of the town was destroyed in a tornado. Their initiative is incentive and education based, and has been very successful. Stephen Hardy from BNIM discussed his firm's work with the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in southwest South Dakota. One challenge has been to identify who should be in charge of planning and how it is organized; they have also been focusing on using technology in new ways, experimenting with place-based text messaging and different crowd source regional tools to get feedback from people. Kerstin Carr from Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) discussed their lifelong communities' initiative, which links complete streets and healthy communities. Afterwards, there was a panel discussion, focusing on the key elements of their success:
- Having a central concept/vision of ecotourism with education and using it to get buy-in from the community and from other supportive agencies outside the community. Finding a way to rebuild successfully in a different way than New Orleans after Katrina.
- Listening was very important for MORPC to understand their concerns and working with them to understand the importance of lifelong communities. The process needs to be very inclusive of a variety of interests.
- Fitting the regional plan into some established process and using it as a basis for consensus and showing people alternative ways of development. The form-based code is working and they are being established in different places.
- Think about the plan and its implementation as you go.
- Make the case to rural communities that the same kinds of things that cities are doing pays off in rural areas.
- Linking the initiative back to heritage and conserving natural resources.
- If you can add in new jobs, which is a big win in a small community. In Pine Ridge, the need to maintain that infrastructure is an important consideration for local economy. We may never be able to call those rural areas urban, but we can rally them to be ready to face their challenges.
- A housing study in Grand Valley was effective in helping to convince developers and making them feel more assured and comfortable.
- Developers will start making the case for us very soon. At least locally, these benefits are starting to be recognized and celebrated.
Kate Ange from Renaissance Planning Group provided an overview of strategies and planning efforts that have proven most effective in supporting regional livability within a variety of geographic scales. Ms. Ange examined those focus areas that offer opportunities for implementing livability at a regional scale, and where best practice examples have proven effective: integrated planning processes, including interagency coordination; technical analysis and goal-setting, including translating values and quantifying benefits; plans, policies, and projects, including tapping into flexible funding sources; and program support and outreach such as making livability apolitical and better articulating multimodal benefits. Ms. Ange reviewed that many of these elements are present in existing planning requirements and processes, including long-range transportation plans, comprehensive plans, regional visioning efforts, regional environmental greenprints and watershed planning, regional transit plans, and economic development plans.
Participants broke into five groups with a mix of State, regional, local, and Federal representatives, for an hour-long small group discussion on the following questions:
- Do these key focus areas make sense?
- Integrated planning process
- Technical analysis, scenarios, and goal setting
- Policies, plans, and projects
- Implementation, program, and outreach
- For the FHWA primer on livability planning, what new information is needed?
Each group summarized their discussion, and the main points of each summary are listed below.
- Identify the intended guidebook audience. This audience should include program implementers and those who can implement the guidebook ideas.
- The products will likely face barriers to widespread publicity, as it requires agency staff members to become innovators. These people may face consequences for supporting these efforts.
- Recognize that the audience members may be in a variety of project development and/or implementation stages; therefore, this product may be viewed as out of sync with current efforts. Include information on integrating the product content into efforts at a variety of development phases.
- Consider co-branding with the other sustainable partnership agencies as a way to inform and remind people that the product and the ideas it supports, are supported from a variety of topic areas.
- Include information on involving a broad audience, particularly as it relates to local planning agencies. In order for the ideas to succeed, local agencies and residents must be able to see themselves as part of the local livability efforts.
- Take stock of the existing guidance that FHWA has already created and ensure that the new guidance is connected to these resources. Make sure that the existing guidance can be updated with the new rhetoric and context.
- Ensure that the product distinguishes between inventorying existing practices and generating new practices. Consider that it may be helpful to use current information to generate a clearinghouse of livability planning practices.
- Make the product's content real for the people implementing it by identifying how people's jobs are connected to it.
- Consider that livability may not be the right branding. Evidence shows that it is a politicized term that people define in a variety of ways. The final product should include a subtitle explaining what is meant by livability and as a way to encourage a wider audience to use the product.
- FHWA Product
- Prior to developing the livability primer, the audience needs to be more clearly identified. Currently, the intended audience seems to cover a broad spectrum, which does not allow for targeted information sharing.
- The primer should focus on making this a collaborative effort between agencies. For example, collaborating with FTA would allow information to reach a transit audience (e.g. transit operators), as these people would likely contact FTA for information before going to FHWA. If the product is only developed by FHWA, the product may only have the opportunity to reach a narrow audience.
- Consider using a format different from a guidebook to communicate.
- The final product should include assistance from FHWA, particularly to assist in interpreting the information. This assistance would also provide an opportunity to be engaged directly with the audience.
- Include guidance on effectively communicating priorities to decisionmakers to generate support and interest in one's efforts.
- Frame the discussion to portray livability as something that is implemented quickly and easily.
- Focus on performance measures related to livability. Frame performance measures as a positive and helpful practice. Consider developing an overview of performance measures currently being used around the country so that people have a database to choose from.
- Provide an overview of FHWA's authority and current limits.
- Focus Areas
- Recognize that MPOs are increasingly becoming more involved in planning efforts.
- Allow for increased funding flexibility in tailoring projects to a community need rather than requiring organizations to tailor a project to fit funding opportunities.
- Consider using a word other than "livability," as this term may be viewed unfavorably by politicians. Many of the concepts discussed would be captured under the phrase "integrated planning," which is not politically charged.
- The intended audience should include decisionmakers at all levels (local, regional, State, and Federal).
- If a regional plan does become a mandated requirement, FHWA should consider coordinating current planning requirements so that one plan is required for and developed by each area, rather than each agency.
- Consider developing two versions–a short one for politicians and a longer version for practitioners that includes best practice examples of livability project implementation, associated benefits (economic, environmental, etc.), and an overview of tools that could be used to help implement livability.
- Prior to developing guidance materials, ensure that there is a commitment from the Federal level down to the field level for the product content and ideas. Aligning the focus and processes at all of these levels will allow for coordinated direction and support to the implementing agencies.
- Invest in marketing to better educate people on why integrated planning is beneficial.
- The guidance materials should make a conscious effort to be nonpartisan.
- FHWA could provide an overview on the steps involved in building consensus and the potential issues that may arise.
- Identify and discuss the benefits that arise from implementing livability projects.
- Discuss the importance of placemaking in generating public support. When people can see what has been done in other places, it can inspire them to become more involved in the project development process. Metrics can also be helpful in assisting people with project evaluation.
- Recognize the challenges involved in project delivery and implementation.
- New guidance should provide helpful tips on discussing livability with State DOT staff members.
- Provide tools that local governments can rely on when working to justify livability efforts for State approval.
- FHWA needs to be more involved in the livability project approval discussions between local governments and State DOTs. Federal representatives may be at the table during discussions, but they are often not vocal and do not ask questions that would help lead to State approval for livability efforts. By acknowledging policy and funding support for livability projects at the Federal level, State DOTs would likely be more inclined to support local livability efforts.
- Stronger efforts should be made toward reviewing existing project funding across agencies to increase awareness about integration opportunities.
- Current planning requirements and processes should be reevaluated to identify opportunities for integration. The regional level may serve as an ideal opportunity for integrating planning efforts. If so, the local MPO would be the most likely agency to head this effort; however, issues would arise in areas without an MPO.
- Incorporate requirements for data gathering or research on existing tools into current planning requirements as a way to encourage agencies to investigate existing resources.
- Encourage and/or require a multidisciplinary team to be involved throughout the planning process. This could involve representatives from environmental, housing, and/or transit organizations.
- As there is a lack of useful and up-to-date data in rural areas, the Federal government should provide funding for data collection that is targeted toward these areas.
- Encourage people to develop and invest in livability projects by giving preferential treatment or financial incentives toward projects that follow certain livability guidelines.
Harrison Rue reviewed some successful communication and outreach efforts to identify some of the options available for messaging and marketing the concept of livability. Successful communication and outreach efforts have included fact sheets, summary brochures, summary posters, Web 2.0, and social media. Considering these efforts, participants were asked to reflect on the following questions in a large-group setting:
- What messages resonate with you and other practitioners to understand and help explain livability?
- What communications and marketing materials would help you to make the case for livability?
- What tools do you need?
- What technical assistance do you need?
- Are there specific products needed in urban, suburban, and rural contexts?
A summary of the discussion is included below.
- Is livability the right word? Maybe there needs to be a redefinition of comprehensive planning to incorporate livability principles? How does this relate to integrated planning? People are having problems with different definitions. Across the country, there is not a single brand name that works. It may be helpful to get the touchstones we are thinking about: prosperous, equitable, and healthy, which makes it more tangible.
- How to convey a sense of urgency to planning–livability does not quite carry the resonance that it encompasses. Is there a way to include a challenge for the readers using these materials to make people think of it as exciting?
- Helping people identify the right person to talk to
- Communicate activities in real-time–do not wait for a standard timeframe for providing updates to decisionmakers and the public alike.
- If there is a process for a region where everyone understands the goals and you have the data to back it up, if those goals are regionally identified, do all stakeholders need to be at the table every time?
- What is the role of everyone involved in this effort? Reflect the reasons behind this is a new experiment and tie everyone to livability efforts so that they know how they fit in
- Having an early action agenda–testing out things early on — which are very popular in planning and for people in State DOTs.
FHWA-specific Technical Tools and Training
- Case studies really help.
- PPT that could be downloaded and shared. U.S. Green Building Council has their standard PPT and people use it everywhere. If there were something comparable, it would be helpful.
- Library of video material
- Forum for people to share ideas
- Peer exchanges to help the reluctant learner– they might benefit more from face to face interactions with some of their peers to discuss some of these issues.
- Have a very specific focused groups–does this help you do your job? Testing the resources out with the people who need them.
- Ideo firm (San Francisco) developed a methods manual with 60 cards of different methods in a box — literally a toolbox. Then people have a full menu of possible strategies and methods to achieve certain ends and can pick the ones they think work best.
- Developing an interagency network of people who understand these efforts and using social media tools to foster communication about developments in the area
Closing and Next Steps:
To finish the day, the facilitators and FHWA thanked participants and explained the next steps in the creation of the supporting guidance materials for organizations around the country that are interested in pursuing or advancing livability in transportation efforts in their community.
Evaluation Forms & Changes for Next Meeting:
In general, workshop participants provided reviewed the workshop favorably. The initial session on "Identifying Challenges to Livability" worked well when divided into two separate discussions–challenges and solutions. Participants responded well to keeping the discussions separate rather than using the combined format from the Atlanta workshop. Small group discussions worked well when groups consisted of around eight people, and facilitators should work to ensure that future workshops maintain small groups of this size. Suggested changes to the format included separating the challenges and solutions discussion more firmly providing more closure to the first discussion session on "Identifying Challenges to Livability."
For the Boston workshop, FHWA conducted additional outreach to ensure greater representation from State DOT and housing agency representatives, as well as rural communities. In response to participant requests for receiving a more detailed agenda up-front, an agenda was provided with more information on the discussion topic areas and questions. A more detailed discussion and greater emphasis on the State and State DOT role in regional livability work will be highlighted. The Boston and other subsequent workshops will continue to build off the challenges mentioned in the Atlanta and Kansas City workshops.
||Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
||Indian Nations COG
||Metropolitan Area Planning Agency
||Johnson County, Kansas
||Grand Valley Metro Council
|Lee Ann Kell
||Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
||Town of Normal, IL
||Camp Dresser McKee, Inc.
||City of Lincoln, NE
||City of Oklahoma City, Planning Department
||Kansas City Area Transportation Authority
||Hennepin County, MN
|Ruth Ann Wedel
||Center for Neighborhood Technology
||Patti Banks Associates
||Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
||St. Paul Riverfront Corporation
||HUD —Region 7
||FHWA — Resource Center Planning Team
||FHWA — Illinois Division Office
||FHWA — Nebraska Division Office
||FHWA — Missouri Division Office
||FHWA — Iowa Division Office
||FHWA — Office of Human Environment
||Renaissance Planning Group
Livability Examples Provided by Kansas City Participants
In order to draw on the vast experience and knowledge of the selected participants, participants were asked to send the facilitators relevant information on best practices related to livability within their communities prior to the workshop. This information, along with the information that regional representatives presented during the workshop, are listed below. This information serves as an informal collection of examples that could be used in future guidebook/primer efforts when discussing best practices and developing case studies.
- 3-Lane Roadway Conversions PowerPoint Slideshow (file sent by Robert Byers), Hennepin County, MN
- Complete Streets, Hennepin County, MN
- Active Living, Hennepin County, MN
- Bicycle Planning, Hennepin County, MN
- Transportation Planning, Hennepin County, MN
- Complete Streets Policy and Toolkit, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
- Outreach efforts to local communities to discuss lifelong communities and the role of Complete Streets in these efforts.
- Transportation Research Board 2011 Presentation, #654
- Short video in progress focusing on demonstrating a sense of urgency around livability for local decisionmakers in Central Ohio.
- Oglala Lakota Plan project of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, http://www.oglalalakotaplan.org/whats-this-all-about/
- Uptown Normal, IL Renewal, http://www.normal.org/Uptown/History.asp
- Normal, IL Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (adopted 2010), http://www.normal.org/Files/BikePedPlan.pdf (PDF)
- Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, PowerPoint presentation on "Livability Initiatives in Omaha" (presentation provided by Greg Youell)
- Capitol Region Council of Governments, Sustainable Capitol region webpage: http://www.crcog.org/community_dev/sustainable-dev.html
- Capitol Region Council of Governments, Publications of interest:, first three documents listed on page, http://www.crcog.org/community_dev/SustainableCommunitiesPublications.htm
- Mid-America Regional Council, Kansas City Long-Range Transportation Plan "Transportation Outlook 2040," http://www.marc.org/2040/
- Mid-America Regional Council, Green Impact Zone of Missouri, http://www.greenimpactzone.org/
- Center for Neighborhood Technology, Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, http://htaindex.cnt.org/
- Center for Neighborhood Technology, Abogo ( a tool that lets you discover how transportation impacts the affordability and sustainability of where you live), http://abogo.cnt.org/
- Chicago Department of Transportation, Cermak Road-Blue Island Avenue Sustainable Streetscape, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/streetscapes/svcs/current_projects.html
- Chicago Department of Transportation, Benito Juarez High School Water Features, general information available at http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/streetscapes.html
- Chicago Department of Transportation, "Streetscape Design Guidelines," http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdot/Streetscape_Design_Guidelines.pdf (PDF)
- Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, Sub-Regional Planning Efforts, http://www.gvmc.org/landuse/subregionalplan.shtml
- Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, Form-Based Code, http://www.gvmc.org/landuse/formbasedcode.shtml
- Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, INDEX Planning Software Project, http://www.gvmc.org/landuse/planning_projects.shtml
- Greensburg Greentown, http://www.greensburggreentown.org/
- Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Complete Streets Policy, http://www.morpc.org/transportation/complete_streets/completeStreets.asp