Partnerships underscore the comprehensive approach of good planning and community engagement.
To create neighborhoods that are attractive, affordable, and easy to get around requires a coalition of community members. Among the community leaders who are invested in building strong communities are members of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), a trade association with a powerful presence on Capitol Hill and at the local level.
Realtors have everything to gain by joining with other community leaders to assure homeownership opportunities in communities with efficient transportation, good schools, and open space. Many local Realtor associations have their finger on the pulse of development issues, making them a vital link with city planning staff. The associations collaborate with local government and community partners to support Smart Growth principles. With over one million members and 1,400 local associations they are poised to contribute.
The Smart Growth program at NAR started over 15 years ago from a defensive posture and grew into one of advocacy. Now NAR has four planners on staff and a thorough roster of educational resources for Smart Growth strategies and grants to bring them into reality. The team helps their members at the local level to get involved in land use and transportation planning issues. Allowing them to contribute to a larger community effort and fund a master plan, charrette, or complete streets policy.
The local and state association staff, through the national organization, has access to grants, research and assistance, publications, and polling and surveys in support of Smart Growth.
Last summer a Community and Transportation Preferences poll was conducted. A deep dive into transit, walking and biking made even more robust due to a partnership with Portland State University and through the virtues of collaborating and the use of YouGov they were able to reach the 50 largest metro areas.
The Smart Growth section of NAR's website offers publications, articles, courses, research, grant information, and more.
This month in a career profile we highlight one of the NAR's planners, Hugh Morris. Morris has experience working on transit plans, travel demand forecasting models, and travel surveys. He spent 10 years with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy with a focus on urban trails used for trip making as well as recreation. He has been with the NAR for 10 years helping local associations advance smart growth principles in their communities.
About the Author
Bobbie Albrecht is APA's career services manager.
Top image: Drawing of houses is in the public domain.