The Congress for the New Urbanism, an organization for which I am a proud member, has informed its members that the latest CLEAN TEA legislation is to add language supporting federal funds for walkable  street networks to their bill, the overall goal of which is to direct funds from future carbon  cap and trade for transportation and planning investments that reduce carbon emissions. To make sure the sponsors stay committed to network connectivity, CNU now urgently needs members and friends from the sponsors’ states and districts to write letters of encouragement and support.

The sponsors and the areas they represent are:

Sen. Carper, state of Delaware
Sen. Martinez, state of Florida
Rep. Blumenauer, Portland-Gresham area
Rep. La Tourette, Cleveland-Painesville area

A template letter, with text, is below.

For electronic communication, Sen. Martinez prefers that constituents use a web form found on his Congressional home page. Letter text must be pasted into a box. It can also be effective to print a letter on your letterhead (or from your home address) and fax it to Senator Martinez.

Sen. Martinez’s web form: http://martinez.senate.gov/
Sen. Martinez’s DC fax: (202) 228-5171

Dear Senator Martinez:
As a member of the planning and development community from Florida, I am writing to thank you for your leadership in moving our country toward transportation systems and development practices  that reduce carbon emissions while making communities more valuable, livable and sustainable. In particular, I appreciate your recent decision to add language to the CLEAN TEA legislation that encourages and funds improved street network connectivity. As a member of a leading inter-disciplinary organization promoting sustainable urban planning and development, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU - www.cnu.org), I have learned of your instrumental role in developing the CLEAN TEA bill. It represents a groundbreaking effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through improved public transportation, more connected local street networks and planning for transit-oriented neighborhoods where destinations are nearby and walking, bicycling and riding transit are all attractive options.  Along with others in CNU, I heartily support the CLEAN TEA effort. As word spreads, CLEAN TEA is attracting considerable positive attention in the planning and sustainable development communities.  One of its main provisions — the reviews by state departments of transportation and cities of more than 200,000 people of their transportation plans to determine how future investments can reduce carbon emissions — is a breakthrough. And a strong bill was strengthened further by the recent addition of language that recognizes the essential role that enhanced street connectivity plays in supporting both transit and walkable, livable low-carbon development. CNU’s partnership with the United States Green Building Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council to create the first certification system for neighborhood-scale green development (LEED-ND) confirmed that transit-supporting green neighborhoods must have highly interconnected street grids that make walking and mixed-use activity convenient, rather than a  dendritic pattern of cul-de-sacs and collectors that make driving the only option. We heartily thank you for including support for connected transportation networks in the CLEAN TEA bill. As practicing urbanists, we’ve been leading a revival of this kind of time-tested neighborhood-based development, whether it’s revitalizing inner city brownfields, turning dead malls into walkable mixed-use centers, revitalizing small towns or creating walkable new towns. Although it often requires the changing of existing zoning codes and automobile-only road and highway designs, development in these walkable mixed-use neighborhoods strengthens community ties and creates enduring value, generally selling at a premium compared to comparable driving-only subdivisions. By helping people reduce the amount of driving they are forced to do, these neighborhoods help households dramatically reduce both their personal transportation costs and their household carbon emissions. Where this mixed-use development is served by good transit service and accessible to regional job centers, the carbon reduction impacts are even more dramatic.

See cnu.org/climate and cnu.org/locationefficiency for more discussion of these impacts.

As you and your fellow sponsors of CLEAN TEA have made crystal clear, we cannot achieve either the sustainable economic growth or the carbon reduction goals we so badly need without addressing the emissions impacts of transportation investments and the shape of our built environment. CLEAN TEA starts to reverse highway-centric federal transportation policies that  actually made the problem worse. We in the planning and development community applaud you for making transportation reform a priority and look forward to working with you to help advance this legislation.Please do not hesitate to call on me or CNU to advocate for language that ensures that federal funds can be used to improve sustainable transportation networks. Thank you for your consideration of my views on this issue.

Sincerely yours,

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