American Planning Association
Legislative Alert

SENATE COMMITTEE TO VOTE THURSDAY ON
COMMUNITY CHARACTER ACT (S. 975)

Date: April 9, 2002

Call Members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to Vote
'Yes' on S. 975

Take Action by: 5:00 p.m. (ET), Wednesday, April 10, 2002
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On Thursday, April 11, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW)
Committee will meet to mark-up pending legislation. The Community Character
Act (S. 975) is among the bills scheduled for action.

Please contact members of the committee to urge them to vote "yes" on the
Community Character Act. Offices should be contacted by close of business
on tomorrow, Wednesday, April 10. A list of EPW members and corresponding
phone numbers is provided below.

The EPW Committee held hearings on S. 975 in early March. APA testified at
that hearing in support of the legislation as a critically needed incentive
for encouraging better planning.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), joined by a bipartisan array of original
cosponsors, introduced S. 975 last year. The bill would authorize $25
million per year for five years to establish a grant program for federal
assistance to states and communities for reform of outdated state planning
statutes and improved state, regional, and local planning. This legislation
has been endorsed by a wide array of organizations, including realtors,
developers of multifamily housing, environmental groups, historic
preservationists, community design professionals, and smart growth
advocates.

Some critics claim that S. 975 would infringe on local control of land-use,
but absolutely nothing in the bill erodes that authority. The Community
Character Act is a voluntary grant program designed to help states and
localities implement their own unique vision for improved planning that
responds to their specific needs and vision. In fact, the bill seeks to
support broad public participation in the planning process.

S. 975 recognizes that the Federal government can, and should, be a
constructive partner with those communities seeking innovative solutions to
improving local quality of life through better planning and land use.
Planning is among the most effective ways to deal with growth issues facing
states and communities. Passage of S. 975 is one of the most important and
beneficial things Congress could do to help promote local solutions to such
pressing issues as downtown revitalization, traffic congestion, urban sprawl
and open space protection.

S. 975 authorizes the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to establish
a program to provide grants to States and tribal governments on a
competitive basis for the development, revision, or implementation of land
use planning legislation. States and tribal governments are eligible for
grants if their land use planning activities promotes certain elements, such
as environmental protection, public works infrastructure, and sustainable
economic development.

States and tribes that receive these grants may use them to conduct research
and development relating to land use plans, provide funding to local
governments to carry out land use planning activities, hold workshops and
public meetings, and offer training and new technological resources for
improved planning. The bill is designed to promote locally-driven planning
innovation through resources, technical assistance, and capacity building.
The bill creates local government pilot projects related to land use
planning. S. 975 authorizes $25 million each year for 5 years and $1 million
per year for EDA to provide educational and informational programs for the
use of State, local, and tribal land use planning and zoning officials.

This legislation promotes smart growth principles and encourages states to
create or update the framework necessary for good planning without imposing
federal mandates. This program is a small investment that will bring
substantial dividends in improving the livability of our cities, towns and
neighborhoods.

If your Senator is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee,
please contact the Senator's office immediately and urge her/him to vote
"yes" this Thursday on S.975.

More information on CCA, including our recent testimony, talking points, and
a fact sheet, can be found on APA's website at www.planning.org/legislation
<http://www.planning.org/legislation>. You can also contact APA's
Government Affairs Coordinator Jason Jordan for assistance at 202.872.0611.

SENATE ENVIROMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
Senator Phone
Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Chair 202.224.5141
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 202.224.3553
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) 202.224.2651
Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) 202.224.2441
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) 202.224.4451
Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) 202.224.4744
Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) 202.224.3041
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) 202.224.4041
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 202.224.3542
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) 202.224.5244
Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH), Ranking Member 202.224.2841
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) 202.224.5721
Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) 202.224.5852
Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) 202.224.2921
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) 202.224.6142
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) 202.224.4721
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) 202.224.4254
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) 202.224.3353
Sen. John Warner (R-VA) 202.224.2651
U.S. Capitol Switchboard 202.224.3121