If you attended the 2014 NOACA Annual Summit you may have noticed the use of a new term:  "location efficiency" (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKXFL7_CZsI).  Essentially it means that housing, jobs, and public transportation should all be located in close proximity to one another, and they use the argument that even though an apartment in the city may be more expensive, you'll save so much on gas it'll be less expensive overall (wait, you don't want to live in an apartment, you want to live in a house?  You don't want to live in the city, you like your suburb or rural community?  Tough luck, your carbon footprint will be too big - they can't let that happen).

This is important because Congress will soon vote on a new Transportation Bill, as they do every couple years, and these bills have given the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (like NOACA) more and more authority to use our Federal Gas Tax dollars for more than just roads and bridges, which was their original purpose when formed over 40 years ago.  Currently MPO's like NOACA have no authority over housing.

Recently the Department of Transportation and President Obama unveiled the GROW AMERICA Act (it's in all caps because, believe it or not, it's actually an acronym for "Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities throughout America"!).... that's right... "rebuilding of infrastructure and communities..."  If you read pages 66-74 of this Act you'll find that it authorizes $9,000,000 to fund what they call the "Connection to Opportunity Pilot Program", for a select group of MPO's to develop an inventory of transportation assets within their region which will describe, among other things, "local challenges to multimodal connectivity, such as zoning or land use issues, availability of affordable housing..." If they have money left over after developing their inventory the MPO's can use what remains to begin implementing projects.  This Act also establishes a grant (our tax dollars) that an MPO like NOACA can use for "transportation planning that is coordinated with interdisciplinary factors including housing development, economic competitiveness [i.e. economic justice], network connectivity [multimodal transportation]...".  Remember, currently MPO's like NOACA have no authority over housing.  Sneaky sneaky Progressives.

The DOT says:  "We have been pleased to see that members of both parties are already working together to solve these challenges, and we look forward to continuing our discussion and to supporting and building on the good work that’s already been done." 

Given Congressman Joyce's position on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee (http://www.news-herald.com/general-news/20150118/joyce-receives-subcommittee-assignments-for-us-house-of-representatives-appropriations-committee), it's important that he knows our concerns about this Act as this affects us all locally through NOACA, our Metropolitan Planning Organization. 

My suggestion would be to call Congressman Joyce's office, ask where he stands on the GROW AMERICA Act and respectfully let him know how you feel about it:  Washington DC office: (202) 225-5731, Painesville office:  (440) 352-3939.


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