|Back From Seattle
February 7, 2010
If you have been wondering why the E-FORUM has been quiet for the last five days, we have been in Seattle since Wednesday for the 9th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference (Building Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities) sponsored by the Local Government Commission, which I have chaired for the last two years. The attendance was a record breaking 1,700+ with a star studded program that included two Obama Administration cabinet officers. I was flattered as LGC Board chair to officially welcome attendees to the initial plenary session on Thursday evening where the keynote speakers included Shaun Donovan, Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Ray LaHood, Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation. Rounding out the cabinet level Partnership for Sustainable Communities was Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
There three agencies, HUD, DOT and EPA, are coordinating Federal efforts for smart growth, now fully unleashed by the Obama administration. What was particularly exciting for me is that the direction Richmond has been heading with our sustainability initiatives and our new General Plan is perfectly aligned with the Obama administration policies, strategically placing us in the best possible position to compete favorably for Federal funding and other programs that can help Richmond to continue to be a leader. Donovan committed that he is going to put the “UD” back in HUD, and Stanislaus added that he would be putting the “EP” back in EPA.
I won’t try to recap all of the plenary and breakout sessions I attended, along with Vice-Mayor Jeff Ritterman, but I will note that Richmond’s General Plan Health Element team, led by Senior Planner Lina Velasco, was there presenting to a standing room only audience at one of the breakout sessions.
The closing plenary yesterday afternoon by HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims discussing HUD’s commitment to sustainable and equitable housing policies was more revival than speech and left over a thousand people cheering, hooting and hollering before heading for home.
As usual, I was able to bring home a lot of new ideas for Richmond and lots of contacts to help make them happen.