2013 APA Legislative Priorities

Building Stronger & More Resilient Communities

The American Planning Association believes that federal policy can be a vital tool for supporting local planning that builds communities of lasting value. In today's challenging fiscal environment, it is more important than ever to invest in the nation's communities and enhance planning and coordination in key federal programs. Federal policy should respect local planning authority and assist communities in building and preparing for the future.

To build stronger and more resilient communities, APA urges Congress to:

Protect lives and property from devastating natural disasters through improved planning for hazard mitigation and support for local hazard-related planning.
Protecting communities from the destruction of natural disasters and ever more extreme weather is a primary duty of good government, and effective planning is an essential tool. Federal policy reform can play a critical role by increasing the focus on mitigation, providing vital data and information for local planning, and creating appropriate incentives that improve local resilience to storms. Mitigation planning should also be integrated into the array of federal programs supporting infrastructure, housing and natural resource investments. Effective federal disaster policy should also ensure that communities affected by disasters receive necessary aid for post-disaster recovery planning, infrastructure improvements, and effective mitigation efforts to reduce risk from future hazards.

Key legislative opportunities:

  • Water Resources Development Act
  • Stafford Act Reform and Mitigation Incentives
  • Extreme Weather Legislation
  • FEMA, NOAA Appropriations

Ensure that communities can adequately plan for future needs by providing high-quality data.
Good planning is based on sound, comprehensive data. The federal government is the sole provider of data that is essential for understanding economic, social, environmental and demographic trends shaping the nation's communities. These resources make government programs more effective and efficient and allow for better decision making by local citizens and businesses. It is vital that federal data agencies and resources are maintained and strengthened and that complex geospatial information is effectively provided to local governments for improved planning.

Key legislative opportunities:

  • Census Bureau and American Community Survey
  • Digital Coast Act
  • NOAA
  • HUD Consolidated Plan Requirements

Increase investment in critical transportation and water infrastructure by creating new financing tools, providing funding for essential programs, protecting vital investment tools and encouraging new approaches that are more effective and efficient.
The nation continues to face a crisis of under-investment in our vital infrastructure. This crisis is also a missed opportunity for spurring economic growth and recovery. Given the nation's fiscal challenges, it is important that new investment make federal programs more effective and strategic. As Congress debates fiscal policy, tax reform should strengthen vital investments in local communities and not increase project finance costs for local initiatives. Spending decisions should support proven programs that build strong communities and local economies. It is important to build on the progress made in MAP-21 by supporting expanded multimodal investments in our transportation network.Congress must also improve funding and investment tools for critical water infrastructure and support the use of innovative green infrastructure tools and techniques.

Key legislative opportunities:

  • Infrastructure and Municipal Bonds
  • Water Resources Development Act
  • MAP-21 Implementation and Reauthorization
  • Tax Reform
  • FY 2014 THUD and Interior-Environment Appropriations
  • Infrastructure Bank, TIFIA and Innovative Finance

Support innovative and efficient planning as an essential component of effective federal community development, infrastructure and energy programs.
Investments of scarce public resources demand good, state-of-the-art planning. Investing in planning saves taxpayers' money and makes government work smarter. Much work has been accomplished to improve integration and effectiveness of federal agencies providing support for local infrastructure. This work should continue. Federal policy should support better planning and include dedicated planning resources in infrastructure investment grants and programs. Efforts to improve the use of performance-based planning and integrate key data into plans should be encouraged and continued. Improved planning can not only make programs more efficient but also support long-term energy and sustainability goals.

Key legislative opportunities:

  • MAP-21 Implementation and Reauthorization
  • Choice Neighborhoods
  • Partnership for Sustainable Communities
  • Farm Bill

Assist communities working to improve distressed neighborhoods.
While the recovery appears to be gaining momentum, there remain neighborhoods and communities experiencing significant economic challenges. Federal policy should support these communities and promote local prosperity and economic growth through proven programs providing strategic, flexible, and effective investment in communities. Federal policy can assist with building local capacity, improve agency coordination, support housing needs, improve safety and public health, and aid challenging economic transitions.

Key legislative opportunities:

  • Strong Cities, Strong Communities
  • Choice Neighborhoods
  • Low Income Housing Tax Credits

APA Legislative & Policy Committee

Cynthia A. Bowen, AICP, Chair
William R. Anderson, FAICP
Mitzi C. Barker, FAICP
Whit Blanton, AICP
Judith H. Breselor, AICP
Benjamin D. Frost, AICP
Jacques A. Gourguechon, AICP
George M. Homewood III, AICP
Sarah S. More, FAICP
Heather Morris
Jennifer M. Raitt
David C. Rouse, AICP
Soren D. Simonsen, AICP
Nancy Ellen Stroud, AICP
Charles R. Wolfe