Is Ann Arbor affordable? Nope. (And that's official.)December 17, 2014
The question has been posed for some time. Area residents have brought it up. Local and regional media have been talking about it. We've asked, multiple times, actually. And now we finally have a quantifiable, research-based answer: No. The middle class cannot afford to live in Ann Arbor.
Affordable housing has been a hot topic lately, so the timing of Washtenaw County's Affordable Housing Needs Assessment, the final report for which is due out by year's end, couldn't be more appropriate. Though many details, including policy recommendations for elected officials, won't be released until the report is available, the broadest, early findings are notable: Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Twp. need to add 3,137 non-student, affordable housing by units over the next 20 years, just to get caught up with demand. It's in the nuances of the study, however, where things start to get into inconvenient truth territory.
Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability Releases the Corridor Design PortfolioDecember 16, 2014
The Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability (MMPGS), a three-year HUD funded grant administered by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission (TCRPC) with local partners, including the MSU Land Policy Institute (LPI), announces the release of the Building More Livable Communities: Corridor Design Portfolio. Designed for online distribution only, the Portfolio has 159 techniques and is about 420 pages long, and focuses predominantly on the built environment and placemaking. It is organized with the same format as another tool developed by the MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction, the Sustainability Audit Tool. The Portfolio was prepared by LPI for MMPGS.
The Portfolio is an especially valuable resource for citizens wishing to become more engaged in community work, or to simply become more informed on these topics. The Portfolio is intended to be used by planners, local elected officials and interested citizens to help communities become more sustainable. It highlights common techniques that communities use today to meet sustainability needs, including energy, local food, built environments, mobility, natural resources, capacity and economic development.
The Portfolio came about as the result of work that MMPGS is doing related to corridors, specifically the Michigan Ave./Grand River Ave. Corridor that extends from the State Capitol in Lansing to Webberville. This Corridor is considered by many in the Tri-County Region (Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties) as the "main street" of the region and in 2013, a two-part design charrette was commissioned to help develop a vision for this Corridor. Many examples from this effort are highlighted in the Portfolio.
There are two other major initiatives that serve as an important backdrop to the Portfolio, providing both valuable examples for inclusion in it and simultaneously creating the need for it: 1) A grant that TCRPC received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Sustainable Communities Program; and 2) a statewide placemaking initiative, called the MIplace Partnership Initiative, of which the MSU Land Policy Institute is an active member.
This Portfolio has the opportunity to serve as a model resource for all future placemaking projects in and outside the Tri-County Region, and draws examples not only from the Michigan Ave./Grand River Ave. Corridor, but also from other HUD Sustainable Communities in Michigan and a variety of new local plans (Lansing, Grand Rapids, Networks Northwest Grand Plan, Detroit and Flint). It also draws heavily from the two charrettes conducted in the Corridor (mentioned above). Occasionally examples from other parts of the country are used when a local example couldn't be found, or the alternative example was especially good.
This publication includes five main chapters (Livability, Governance, Environment, Community and Economy), and features a multitude of links to other websites and online resources. It is meant to be a highly visual, educational tool for citizens, neighborhood leaders, developers and local officials. The Resources provided in each technique, however, are often more technical, and are probably most useful to practitioners.
The Portfolio is available for download online at: Corridor Design Portfolio.
Questions about the Portfolio can be directed to LPI's Holly Madill at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 517.884.7743.
Graphic courtesy of Dover, Kohl and Associates.
LPI Outreach - Placemaking Curriculum Program Receives MSU CNRDA AwardDecember 16, 2014
On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, the developers of the Michigan Placemaking Curriculum were honored with the Innovative Program Award at a special meeting during the MSU Extension annual conference. The award was presented by the MSU Community and Natural Resources Development Association (CNRDA) for an outstanding community economic development and natural resources program conducted by one or more CNRDA members from MSU Extension who have been alert in recognizing new concerns and interests of communities and have involved others in planning and implementing programs that address those new issues. This award recognizes superior evidence of innovative outreach methods to design, implement, deliver and evaluate exemplary Extension programs.
The Placemaking Curriculum program was developed under contract to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) through a grant to the MSU Land Policy Institute. Team members include Mark Wyckoff, MSU Extension Specialist, Senior Associate Director of the MSU Land Policy Institute and Director of the Planning & Zoning Center at MSU; and MSU Extension Educators Glenn Pape, Kurt Schindler, Brad Neumann, Julie Pioch, Dean Solomon and Richard Wooten.
The comprehensive Curriculum program, part of the MIplace Partnership Initiative, was developed for local officials, community organizations, professionals in real estate, economics and planning, as well as interested citizens. It consists of six modules with 36 hours of instruction and hands-on activities for participants. The program covers the important role of placemaking as an economic development strategy in the 21st century and recognizes that a community's best option for retaining and attracting talented workers is to engage in coordinated placemaking. More than 11,000 people have completed one or more parts of this training program.
Future Curriculum-Related Projects
A series of Placemaking Strategy Development Workshops based on Curriculum content will be conducted across the state in 2015. The workshops will cover the fundamentals of placemaking and include a facilitated process to arrive at a prioritized list of Strategic Placemaking projects that can be implemented quickly. The Workshop series is being developed specifically for Michigan communities, state agency staff and partnering organizations.
The Michigan Placemaking Curriculum is also being turned into a Guidebook at the request of MSHDA with an anticipated release in Spring 2015. It will serve as a resource for Michigan communities and will be available for sale to other states.
The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant ProgramDecember 15, 2014
The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant Program is seeking applications for grant funding until February 2, 2015, for projects that develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations. Fundable projects include wetlands creation and restoration; green infrastructure and stormwater management; citizen’s science and volunteer water monitoring; coastal habitat, riparian, urban forest restoration and other water quality protection and restoration projects in local communities. The grant program is offered in conjunction with the Urban Waters Federal Partnership
U.S. Climate Resilience ToolKitDecember 15, 2014
A new U.S. Climate Resilience ToolKit was released as part of the State, Local, Tribal Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience recommendations to help American communities, individuals, and businesses take action and build more resiliently in the face of climate change. Check out this incredible resource!