CNU E-Update
July 2010


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CNU Makes Removal of the Claiborne Expressway a Hot Topic in New Orleans
Report Release, Briefings, Outreach Has City Considering How to Undo a Major Infrastructure Mistake

After putting the elevated Claiborne Expressway, which runs through New Orleans' TremÚ and Lower Mid-City neighborhoods just northwest of the French Quarter, on our 2008 "Freeways Without Futures" list of the ten urban highways with the most potential for conversion to surface boulevards, CNU and partners in New Orleans initiated a flurry of actions this summer that boosted the prospects for removing the overpass and stimulating economic revival in the storied corridor.
View of Claiborne Avenue with freeway removed and traffic circle restored at St. Bernard Avenue
The activity centered around the July release of Restoring Claiborne: Alternatives for the Future of Claiborne Avenue. This all-new study of traffic data and circulation patterns concludes that replacement of major segments of the Claiborne I-10 freeway with a restored boulevard would result in a well-functioning transportation system that meets regional needs while promoting the economic and social rebirth of the once-vibrant Claiborne Avenue and its surrounding communities.

Current view of Claiborne Corridor at St. Bernard Avenue(Images by Mac Ball, Waggoner & Ball Architects)
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The study -- commissioned by CNU and the Claiborne Corridor Improvement Coalition -- is the first detailed effort to assess the impact of the freeway removal proposal that receives serious consideration in the city's new draft Master Plan.

Signs of the coalition's success in elevating its message in key New Orleans circles were abundant. The group followed a meeting with Mayor Mitch Landrieu on July 20th with a lunchtime community meeting the next day at the famed Dooky Chase's restaurant in TremÚ, where President Obama has dined multiple times, bookending this activity with briefings of several city council members. The New Orleans Times-Picayune made the release of the report the top story in both its e-mail alert and print edition, which was extensively illustrated with historical photos, current views, and renderings of the restored boulevard. Just a week earlier, the Mayor had told a development group that the freeway removal could potentially be a "game changer" and that it deserved further exploration.

"When John Norquist started actively pushing this idea three years ago, I thought we'd be lucky to get this in the public spotlight in a decade or two," reports CNU board member Jack Davis, a co-chair of the coalition whose career in journalism included a decade as reporter and editor at the Times-Picayune. "But almost overnight we've helped make this one of the top issues in New Orleans -- with surprisingly broad popular support and encouragement from our new mayor and key members of the City Council. This monster just might be down before Mitch Landrieu finishes his second term.' 
CNU 18 Block Logo"Claiborne Avenue was an elegant setting in a neighborhood with important economic and cultural value," says Norquist, recalling the avenue's pre-freeway role as a main street of African-American and Creole business and culture and a promenade where New Orleans legends such as Louis Armstrong might be found strolling. "If the avenue is restored, a great wrong can be righted and new opportunities pursued."

Read the front-page coverage in the New Orleans Times Picayune.

Read the CNU news release.

Read about the effort and find the full report by Smart Mobility and Waggoner and Ball Architects at

This project of CNU's Highways to Boulevards initiative is funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

CNU and Partners Submit Stormwater Regulation Reform Letter to EPA
"Rainwater Initiative" Seeks to Intervene in the Reforming of the NPDES

In June, a group of CNU members helped form a Rainwater Initiative aimed at reforming regulations that encourage sprawl. One goal of this group is to intervene in the ongoing reform of the EPA's stormwater regulations process, known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The group -- whose leaders include Paul Crabtree, Lisa Nisenson, Tom Low, and John Jacob -- is concerned that the EPA "has been issuing and promoting new source- and volume-control regulations that are site-based, not watershed-based, and thus have the unintended consequence of promoting sprawl rather than fixing it."

On July 15, in an effort initiated by this group, CNU and a set of partners (the Local Government Commission, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Coastal Conservation League, City of Madison, Wisconsin, and the National Town Builders Association) submitted a letter to the EPA. Referencing EPA's participation in the historic Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities with HUD and US DOT, the signers wrote:

As the federal agencies take a holistic look at how they work together to support sustainable development, we would like to discuss a similarly holistic approach for the EPA Office of Water's efforts as it revises the current National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). As US DOT, HUD and EPA strive to break down silos, we urge you to continue this effort with stormwater regulations and make them complement broader environmental objectives.

The letter addresses the shortcomings with the current and proposed rainwater/stormwater management approach:

  • Current regulations focus on individual site mitigation not larger-scale prevention.
  • Current regulations hinder shared practices.
  • Current regulations are silent on a site's context and location within the watershed and weak on larger watershed scale.
  • Current regulations assume costs are equal for different development environments.
  • Current regulations depend on development to cure waterways.  

The letter also offers suggestions for advancing an effort that makes regulatory reform more meaningful:

  • Make redevelopment the priority.
  • Establish separate regulatory tracks for new development and redevelopment within NPDES.
  • Place watershed and sub-watershed analysis at the forefront.
  • Update best management practices with solutions appropriate
    to their urban context.
Interested in reading the full letter for yourself? Find it here.

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Deadline Less Than a Month Away for CNU 19 Call for Input
It's not too late to make your voice heard!

CNU 18 Block LogoThe CNU 19 Call for Input is underway! Through our exciting new IdeaScale platform, CNU members are making their voices heard on the direction and content of CNU 19 in Madison, WI. Our interactive forum allows members and allies to share their ideas for next year's Congress.

The new interactive forum allows users to submit ideas for people they would like to see, sessions they would like to attend, and goals they would like the Congress to achieve. With this new platform, CNU seeks to create a transparent and open forum where users share, refine, and receive feedback on ideas.

Some of the current top ideas titles include:

  • [14 votes] Milwaukee Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative
    "I think it would be great to hear about this intervention that focuses on building demand in middle market neighborhoods in Milwaukee. The need to attract and retain households in existing, workable neighborhoods is a critical strategy in an overall policy framework aimed at smart growth. The Healthy Neighborhoods initiative lays out exactly what this kind of strategy looks like on the ground."

  • [ 8 votes ] Private Frontage Secrets
    "We did this session in Denver, and it got a great response... it's a detailed look at the design of everything from the front wall of a building to the back of the sidewalk: porches, fences, and frontage gardens in T-3 and T-4 or storefronts, galleries and arcades in T-5. Proper design of private frontages is a huge determinant of walkability, because it either creates pedestrian propulsion or pedestrian impedance."
  •  [ 8 votes ] Will Allen
    "Founder of expanding urban farming empire in Milwaukee called "Growing Power" that connects diverse city residents with locally grown produce."

  • [ 6 votes ] Nourishable Places
    "The Original Green proposed several years ago that a sustainable place must be a 'nourishable place' because if you can't eat there, you can't live there. When this was first proposed, the idea seemed strange because we can currently ship food anywhere. But now, the value of agrarian urbanism is becoming more apparent. This session looks at some of the latest ideas surrounding the creation of nourishable places."

  • [ 6 votes ] Bike Sharing
    "A new way to get from point A to point B. Grab a bike from one bike station, ride to your destination, and turn it in at any other bike station. This would bridge the gap between walking and driving distance, and it would make neighborhoods more livable and vibrant."

Don't wait until the August 20, 2010, deadline to submit your ideas! The sooner you get your idea online, the more chances you will have to receive feedback from your colleagues in the form of comments and votes!

Check out the CNU 19 interactive all for Input at!

CNU Joins With NeighborWorks America on National Affordable Housing Symposium
Participate in Philadelphia on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Congress for New Urbanism is collaborating with NeighborWorks America on a national symposium that addresses how to promote deep affordability consistent with our vision for sustainable communities. The symposium, A New Era in Affordable Housing: Investing for Impact in Sustainable Communities, will be held in Philadelphia on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. Register now.

CNU representatives have worked specifically on the session Designing Housing as Infrastructure. In this session,
Emily Talen
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Emily Talen will deliver an opening white paper in which she will review what is needed to shift local policies and practices (including land use, design, etc) meaningfully so that deep affordability is integrated in walkable mixed-use community development. Five successful mixed-use, mixed-income developments that include deep affordability will then be highlighted -- so that lessons can be learned from their success. Jennifer Hurley from the CNU Board will then moderate a follow-up discussion among public officials from five locations featured in the white paper. The discussion will provide insights on how CNU could make a difference in helping cities include affordability.

The symposium will bring together leaders from the fields of impact investment, sustainable community design, and affordable housing to explore how to expand resources for affordable housing in sustainable communities. The goal is to both build bridges between these fields and create the opportunity for new insights on how to make housing more attractive to triple bottom line investors.   

Over 250 national and local leaders will attend, including government officials, nonprofit and for-profit developers, and investors. In addition to CNU, other NeighborWorks partners include Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies and the Global Impact Investors Network. The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank will publish the proceedings this fall. Learn more.

The CNU 18 Webcast Store is Open
If you attended CNU 18, your code is your ticket to view dozens of multimedia recordings

By now, everyone who registered for CNU 18 should have received a message with a code to enable viewing of webcasts of all non-ticketed sessions. And those who registered for ticketed New Urbanism 202 seminars, should have received messages with codes to access those webcasts as well.

If you haven't seen your code, check your inbox (looks for "your complimentary code" in the subject line) or e-mail to have it sent to you again. Please specify whether you're retrieving codes for non-ticketed sessions, 202s or both.

And good news: the memorable address by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has been found and added to the webcast library after being originally mislabeled. We'll soon have links for free viewing of this and a few other sessions available soon, so you can share them with colleagues and your social media networks.

John Norquist To Be Headliner at International Event in Mexico
Will lecture on "Compact City"

On September 9, 2010, CNU President and CEO John Norquist will be one of the headliners at Foro Internacional de Vivienda Sustentable 2010, otherwise known as the International Forum on Sustainability 2010.

Foro International de Vivienda Sustenable 2010 will take place on September 9th and 10th in the World Trade Center in Mexico City. More than 1,200 participants are involved in this forum.

John will join former Bogota mayor Enrique Pe˝alosa and Mexican President Felipe Calderon as event headliners. He will lecture on the "compact city" from 10:50 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

For more information, check out the program.

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The latest news from our site

Upcoming Webinars and Courses from our Continuing Education Partners
CNU Members Eligible for Discounted Prices

National Charrette Institute

The National Charrette Institute is a nonprofit educational institution that trains professionals and community in best practices for charrettes -- a design-based, accelerated, collaborative project management system that harnesses the talents and energies of all interested parties to create and support a feasible plan. Since NCI is a CNU continuing education partner, CNU members are eligible for a 10 percent discount

Upcoming NCI Charrette System Certificate Trainings are:
August 4-6 - Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Septemer 20-22 - London, UK
October 1-13 - Portland, OR (Sign up before August 15th to receive a discount!)

NCI Webinar Series
NCI is pleased to offer the following webinars for 2010. We are partnering with a range of experts on each topic to bring you fresh perspectives on these current issues. The next webinar is Charrettes for Form-Based Codes in September, 2010. Read more.

Form-Based Codes Institute

The Form-Based Codes Institute was founded in 2004. The goals of the institute are to set standards for the practice of Form-Based Coding, to educate and reach out to various audiences, and to create a forum for discussion about FBC.

Upcoming Form-Based Codes Courses:
October 5 - The ABC's of Form-Based Codes: Special One-Day Introduction - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

For more information, read more.

About the Congress for the New Urbanism
The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading organization promoting regions, cities and towns built around walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods.  Learn more.