Sunday, August 20, 2006

Notes from Philadelphia - Policy Link Conference - Advancing Regional Equity

Just happened to be consolidating files on my computer and I found this summary of the sessions I attended in Philadelphia last year. This was a trip sponsered by the CRA - about 9 of us went from Lake Worth. I thought it would be a good idea to post these notes here. Of particular interest now are the items concerning inclusionary zoning. This is one of the keystones in the recommendations that we will soon be reviewing as offered by the Affordable Housing Task Force.

Some of these are fairly short hand and may not make much sense, but here goes:

May 23, 2005

Land Use, Power and Policy Session:

Spatial Mismatch – Brooking Institution – Racial divide, work somewhere where you don’t live, long commuting times – examples – many – Milwaukee and D.C.

Don Chen – Smart Growth America

  • Example of sprawl school in South Carolina, in the middle of now where, no connection to housing, transit, etc. Seeds of sprawl.
  • Need to rehab urban schools.
  • Denver – FasTracks – coalition of urban and suburban municipalities in providing transit solutions
  • Something wrong in the Philadelphia area – population increase of 3% and new sewers increase 22%. Spawns sprawl, money going to new suburban locations while urban and other existing infrastructure suffer.
  • Higher Density – in clusters, much more environmentally friendly, better watershed protection, less land consumption.

Myron Orfield

  • Twin City Regional Government Fair Housing Law – still a problem with the disenfranchised
  • Black and Latino suburbanization – 25% of U.S. population in distressed suburbs
  • Housing discrimination
    • Steering – present and increasing
    • Discrimination in sales and rentals, mortgage lending – increasing
    • Values drop in areas, residents, instead of gaining equity receive debt – not building wealth
    • Poor move in, schools lose
  • Formerly integrated areas maintain value better
  • Racial inequalities not being addressed – a big issue
  • Cities and older suburbs need to get together and work jointly to solve the problem

David Rusk

  • Portland Metropolitan Regional Government as compared with Camden, N.J.
  • Portland is substantially more integrated economically and less segregated
    • Has Urban Growth policy – now under attack by property rights movement – must redefine the issue in “smart growth” terms – now in the terms of the “land speculator”
    • Housing policy – new single family developments required to supply 10% to 50% multi-family housing, depending on location
  • Camden N.J.
    • $150,000 tax base per poor family, 3,000,000 tax base per others
  • Detroit
    • Most segregated metro area in the country
    • Black families’ homes 40% less value than white family with same income.
    • 6% of total 5 county metro region tax base
    • We are now going through a period of the greatest transfer of wealth from white heirs ever – blacks are not benefiting – they are receiving a legacy of debt instead – Blacks excluded from transfer

Laurie Weakee

  • Sacred Alliance for Grass Roots Equality – Albuquerque -Pueblo Indians
  • Petroglyph National Monument – fight against incursion of roads into area.
  • “Framing and Messaging”
  • “Power will always adjust”

General discussion –

  • State Courts are where the fight is being fought now and there have been some successes especially with school equality in funding.
  • 1968 Fair Housing Act is not being enforced, but it is still a good law

Transit Oriented Development – Monday p.m.

  • Transit growth outpacing other modes of transportation
  • District that should be considered is greater than just the area around the station, must consider ½ mile area
  • Demographics show continued increasing demand

Mary Bethel – Bethel New Life – Pulaski Transit Village

  • High School Mosaic Appliqué
  • Day Care Center
  • Employment Center
  • Six commercial storefronts
  • Green Building

Bruce Watts – Portland Transit Authority

  • Not a TOD expert
  • Role of transit agency in a TOD alignment
  • Important to “land bank” – construction staging areas an opportunity
  • Zoning framework important
  • Station location

General discussion

  • Mixed income important to TOD concept
  • Challenge is how to make and keep housing affordable
  • Property tax variables??

Tuesday a.m.

Double Bottom Line Session

Robert Milborne – Columbus, Ohio

  • Double bottom line – good economically and good for community
  • Business leadership very important, especially with recent elections
  • Business leadership important for policy change
  • Where is business leadership?
    • More diverse and democratic form of business leadership
    • More going on in non-profit sector
    • Non-profits much more competitive now, looking more like private enterprise
    • Need for business leadership advancing quickly
  • Lessons:
    • Ways to accomplish business leadership – emphasize regional issues – business responsive to these, not as much local
      • Transit – how people get to work
      • School Reform – education reform
      • Arts community needs
      • Downtown redevelopment
    • Getting to leaders is a one-by-one process, need a champion to lead the way – makes job easier
  • Contributions from larger employers in creating community wealth and self sufficiency
  • Business leaders are engaged in community development – part of their job description now, trend is there and getting better at it

Bob Harris – Pacific Gas and Electric

  • Utilities heavily invested in community health already, that’s where their infrastructure is – urgent sense here
  • Infrastructure costly to build
  • Use facilities that are already established – discourages sprawl
  • Double bottom line for them is that utilities need customers
  • In order to do well, must have a positive image with customers
  • Goodwill is created by giving back to community – good corporate citizen
  • Utilities understand the interplay between social equity, businesses and government
  • Incentive comes to the utility in the form of the need to provide service to everyone
  • In California, there is a constitutional reason – empowers municipalities to provide their own utility service I not satisfied with service – there is competition for service

General discussion

  • Three “E’s”
    • Economy
    • Environment
    • Social Equity – transit times to employment
  • Investors are looking at corporate responsibility
    • Especially minority business inclusion, workforce development and diversity
  • Inclusion means investing in low wealth communities
  • Unfortunately, many community “inner sanctums” (i.e., the ruling elite) are attempting to manage diversity without becoming diverse – must gauge how serious these people are to the goal.
  • By nurturing leadership, they think that creates competition for themselves, not their perceived interests
  • More and more, customers are driving these changes in corporate responsibility
  • Proportional representation on Boards of Directors is not as important (important to some, however) as creating more impact by community involvement
  • Inner-City neighborhoods represent a large market and companies are beginning to understand
  • We can never under estimate our influence on what goes on in the world
  • Corporations understand the bottom line
  • There are two definitions of equity
    • Justice and impartiality
    • Value of property or interests over those claims against it
  • Does one have to err on the side of social equity, no – equity is equity – represents an investment in community
  • (family of funds that invest in neighborhoods, communities – not charity – an investment)
  • Investment is a partnership with shared rewards and shared risks – each “side” must put something up of value
    • The question is open whether one should expect a return – it depends on the nature of the issue you are attempting to address
  • Race in America is something that needs to be addressed and not swept under the rug
  • How do we share the first (corporate) bottom line?
    • Whose responsibility is that? Look in the mirror first – what can you do to help the situation?
    • What help do you need? Who can you call on?
      • Enlightened business leaders are a needed component – need a champion to take initiative
      • Hard to find, difficult to replace
  • Community foundations have leadership potential
  • Framework of “Social Investment Policy” – ordinance?
  • “Place matters, race matters.”
  • Institute for Race and Poverty (

GIS (Geographic Information Systems) as a Tool

Dataplace website

The Providence, R.I. Plan

  • Independent of government, but gathers information from all government sources
  • Focus is parcel based information – on over 42,000 parcels of property within the City of Providence
  • Tells who lives there (all of their qualities) in pictures and maps
  • Big Brother warning
  • Integrity of data important – powerful and influential tool
  • Relevant at low level of geography – at the parcel level
  • Three keys
    • Safety
    • Jobs
    • Education
      • If you don’t have all three, you have nothing, cannot build a community without these
  • Work closely with Police Department, monitoring day-to-day capacity
    • Where the hotspots are and how to address them
    • Enables efficient scheduling of officers and patrols
    • Data security and integrity important at all levels – user and provider
  • Possible to add community collected data, on website, for other studies and statistical efforts
  • Difference between asset and deficit data.
    • Asset – community strengths
    • Deficit – community weaknesses
      • There is a slant towards asset data
  • Center for American Progress (Google)

Inclusionary Zoning Session

  • Definition – Percentage of affordable housing in a given project, required through land development regulations
  • 1st successful attempt – Montgomery County, Maryland

Josh Williams – Washington, D.C. Union Leader

  • Residential boom within the District of Columbia
    • Would generally think this would be a positive as it provides more tax revenues and helps maintain and increase salaries of public workers
  • However, housing costs are increasing so quickly that middle and low income persons are priced out of the market
  • Relocation almost always results in increased commute times
  • Many times, if they do leave, they lose their jobs – residency requirement for municipal employees
  • Housing costs are increasing 4 times faster than income, 3 times more for rental units

Julie Miles – New York City

  • Affordable housing crisis
    • Those that rent are paying more than 50% of their income
  • Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to rezone large swaths of former industrial properties along the east river to high density residential (complete with views of Manhattan) prompted their campaign
    • No provision for worker/lower income households
  • Policy change after election resulted in “inclusionary” provision within rezoning ordinance
  • Enabled a collation of all affected persons and groups to make change happen
  • Recent success in that two large scale rezonings gained a 25% and 33% inclusion factor
  • Now, working towards a City-wide policy
    • Voluntary program through density bonus provisions
    • Units are permanently affordable
  • Lessons learned:
    • Trouble with parochial nature of New York politics
    • Faith community a key asset
    • “Protests” – generated much media attention, but did not have to be relied upon too much

Doug Shoemaker – Bay Area Region (CA)

  • Central city genesis, now seeing progress in outlying areas
    • Work behind the scenes, providing support for a group of affordable housing providers and builders
    • Regional Advocacy coalitions in 9 counties
  • 60% of the bay area’s growth spread over 40 jurisdictions
  • Inclusionary zoning is most effective in large projects. Having 20% affordable units in a two unit complex doesn’t mean much
  • They estimate that throughout the region a range of 6 to 12,000 units over the next five years

Nicholas Brunick

  • Four Catch phrases for Inclusionary zoning
    • “There ought to be a law” an “Yes, in your backyard”
    • “Place Matters” and “All politics is local”
    • “Implementation is the name of the game”
      • Once the ordinance has passed, the game has just begun
    • “Need for on-going constituency” – gains made can be overturned or lost

General Discussion

  • Inclusionary zoning generally benefits the upper end of those in need of affordable housing – it generally does not serve the medium, low and very low income communities
  • There is a need for flexibility in affordable standards – to reflect changes in income and housing types over time

Wednesday a.m.

The Wal-Mart Affect

Frontline (ABC) Video on Wal-Mart organization


  • Wal-Mart is the model for other retailers – a “way of thinking”
    • Prices low, labor costs low
    • No unions – now perceived as a threat
  • Fear of the demise of local retail – it’s happening
  • City of Los Angeles and other communities now require economic impact stucy
  • Wal-Mart aniticipates community subsidies – TIF, tax exemptions, etc.
  • Other communities have crafted “Community Benefit Agreements”

Greg LeRoy (Good Jobs First)

  • Wal-Mart has extensive saturated traditional retail markets
  • Now going after Urban markets – “poverty markets”
    • Last place left to expand
  • The entire nation is over-built – grossly over-built – in retail space
  • 12% of regional malls are in “gray field” status – plenty of “ghost boxes” – big box retail that is empty due to corporate obsolescence
  • Minority areas are under-retailed
  • Wal-Mart is locked into a rural footprint – gigantic parking field
  • Wal-Mart is going to be there – so, how do we shape and change the brand?
  • Proliferation of stores – created by vas government subsidies, direct and in-direct
    • $1,000,000,000 worth of subsidies nationwide
    • Hidden safety net costs – for poverty level ($9/hour) wages
    • Average store has 200 employees
      • They depend on $420,000 in various forms of federal social assistance
  • Wal-Mart’s goal is 300 new stores a year
  • Much of the local government subsidy comes from the “collective civic self-image” – sense of worthlessness
    • Sets communities up for giving away the store
    • The Prize is a Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart’s prize is access ot the market
  • Communities must drive a hard bargain!

Leslie Moody – Union Representative – Denver Area

  • Her example: 60 acre urban in-fill site, urban renewal zone
    • Brownfield, rezoned for transit oriented development
    • Original agreement banned big-box retailers
  • Area – Alemeda Square – a depressed area
    • Community pushing hard for retail
    • Turned out they were talking to Wal-Mart, even inlight of agreement
    • Loan of $25 million over 25 years to be paid back to City
      • Most Wal-Marts don’t last 15 years
    • Blighted area in 192, owner still asking $70/foot, existing Asian business community threatened to be pushed out
    • Access to grocery important
  • Asked the City – What are they doing to make the best deal?
  • Learned about the “Power of the Paper” – Freedom of Information Act request
    • Proved that it was a bad deal for Denver
  • Site Fights
    • How cities put together development deals
    • New Mayor – Changed tune
    • By July 2004, the deal died
      • Major convincing issues – quality of life, cities looking like suburbs
    • Must frame community benefits/impacts

Rev. Joseph Kyles – Westside Chicago

  • Reputation for now business as usual in area
  • Retailers traditionally move-in and move-out, taking from community
  • Alderman (strong force in Chicago) wanted to bring Wal-Mart in
    • Didn’t have potential loss of small business, there weren’t any
  • Locked out of construction jobs through union
    • Already a polarized community
  • People came out of the woodwork when Wal-mart showed up
    • A good thing
  • 300 new jobs? – attitude of “who cares” – more important as a framework for how to deal with other developers
  • “Community Promise” - part of deal with Wal-Mart
    • Capacity building for the future
      • Small contractors, leveraging monies from Wal-mart with other sectors
      • Hired minority female general contractor for demo, etc. – had a clear understanding of community
    • Knew about history of using subsidies, didn’t require all the money for anew community center, just that it had to be a major supporter of it
  • Store not built – deal not done yet

General Discussion

  • National Trust for Historic Preservation

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"