Walkable Community Bill introduced in Congress

July 17, 2008 at 7:26 am Leave a comment

Congress has finally seen the light in that we really don’t have an energy crisis so much as a lack of public transportation crisis.  Our suburban lifestyle supported by cheap gas and automobiles while convenient is not the most efficient way to live for large numbers of folks.

From the Treehugger website: (http://www.treehugger.com/)

The Transportation and Housing Options for Gas Price Relief Act of 2008 (HR 6495) has been introduced in the House of Representatives. Sponsored by Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the bill is cosponsored by Chris Shays (R-CT), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Hilda Solis (D-CA).

“A wide range of transit and urban planning benefits Funds allocated by this bill would go towards:

1) Expanding public transportation and to help transit agencies deal with high fuel prices.

2) Encourage auto insurance policies that reward low mileage drivers with lower insurance premiums.

3) Providing incentives to employers and employees to take mass transit, carpool, walk or telecommute to work.

4) Helping local governments create walkable, bike-able communities, well-served by public transit by funding local support programs for transportation demand management and for transit agencies to make need investments.

5) Educating people about transportation and housing options.

6) Increasing the availability of “Location Efficient Mortgages” so that owning a home near public transit is more affordable.

7) Helping the Federal Government to lead by example by upgrading websites to that people can access government services without leaving their homes.

Cities like Los Angeles and Long Beach have been trying to do this on their own for some time by encouraging mixed use developments near the new built and in planning public transportation corridors.

Here is an interview with the current LA Mayor on the subject of gridlock and how cities can start to help: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070429/29gridlock.villaraigosa.htm

There is even a mortgage that links public transportation and here is an excerpt for the article explaining how it works: (http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/19990712_lem.htm)

“The loan works on a simple premise, says Julie Gould of Fannie Mae’s Housing Impact Division: “The closer a family lives to a bus stop, train station or subway stop, the less likely they are to use their own vehicles, and that translates into lower fuel bills, less maintenance and fewer repairs. And the community benefits because energy consumption is cut, air quality is improved and total ridership is increased.”

The loan applies a portion of the potential savings to the buyer’s qualifying income, thus increasing his purchasing power. In some cases, Fannie Mae might even allow the borrower to finance the cost of a discounted, one or two-year transit pass as part of the mortgage.”

Here is LA the MTA (our transit agency) has been on record for some time on the importance of transit related developments: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/bottleneck/2007/06/new-mta-chairs-.html

Lastly here is great summary of the benifits of this important issue from the American Public Transportation Association: http://www.apta.com/research/info/online/economic_importance.cfm

As always I thank you for your time and interest. Please take the time to Digg, Stumble Upon or add to the other social network of your choice to help me spread the word about these issues. Please forward any questions or suggestions to: askthefm@gmail.com

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