“Regional planning has become a necessity in most countries. But nobody seems to know quite what it is, and no nation seems to know how to do it.”
About Sustainable Regions
Sustainable Regions is a research initiative of UC Berkeley highlighting faculty and graduate research on regional planning at the Department of City and Regional Planning. Regional sustainability planning has emerged from the confluence of several different movements: the concern of environmentalists that present-day consumption patterns jeopardize the earth’s future, the support of urban planners for smarter growth patterns that integrate land use and transportation investments, the growing role of business groups concerned with regional competitiveness, the emergence of a movement for regional equity, and the growing preoccupation with climate change adaptation. The current generation of regional sustainability plans builds on a tradition that grew out of the industrial revolution, a civic response to the need to coordinate infrastructure and housing development, and the desire for regional self-sufficiency.
The resurgence of regional planning is exemplified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) -- one of our major research projects. From 2010 to 2011, the SCI grant program awarded 74 grants to regions across the country to support planning efforts, with a focus on economic competitiveness, community revitalization, climate change, environmental damage, and public health. The SCI program supported regions in creating an inclusive process that emphasized social equity and access to opportunity while coordinating strategies across historically ‘siloed’ sectors, such as housing, transportation, water and energy infrastructure, and land use planning. Planning Sustainable Regions aims to understand the impacts HUD’s regional planning grants had on social equity, inter-agency collaboration, and regional planning culture.
Background on the Sustainable Communities Initiative Regional Planning Grants
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Initiative was a grant program formed out of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an interagency collaboration between HUD, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). The program was approved by Congress in 2010 and renewed in 2011 for a total of $250 million in appropriated funding. The Regional Planning Grant Program placed a priority on investing in partnerships that direct long-term regional development and reinvestment, demonstrate a commitment to addressing issues of regional significance, utilize data to set and monitor progress toward performance goals, and engage stakeholders and citizens in meaningful decision-making roles. After only two successful years, Congress cut funding for the grant program, bringing to an abrupt end this federal investment in comprehensive community and regional planning.