Monday, October 13, 2008

Important SEWRPC Meeting Tuesday In Waukesha: Public Welcome

A regularly scheduled meeting of SEWRPC's Environmental Justice Task Force takes place Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 PM in the Rotary Building at Frame Park in Waukesha - - agenda and map here.

The EJTF was created last year by SEWRPC - - the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission - - after it got spanked following a contentious public hearing in 2004 in front of federal reviewers over agency failures to achieve genuine outreach to low-income and minority communities.

[Note: Surprised by the scope of the public's dissatisfaction with SEWRPC expressed at the 2004 hearing, federal officials in charge of the 2008 review - - from which SEWRPC can be reauthorized to help spend US transportation funds in the region - - have regrettably set up the quadrennial 2008 session on October 22nd with a quieter format that dampens the public's voice.]

Regardless, interested parties should come to Tuesday's EJTF meeting, for these reasons:

SEWRPC may have something of substance to disclose about its oft-discussed-but-long-delayed housing study.

The agency says it is working on possible study committee appointees, and a work plan draft, but will not release the draft for public review.

There have been indications that the work plan will likely replicate tired SEWRPC models and approaches, if only because outsiders have not been allowed to help craft it.

For the EJFT, and for SEWRPC, this is a missed opportunity, as SEWRPC still doesn't understand that the earlier there is input on the design of a study, the more likely it is that the study will gain and receive credibility and value from start to finish.

But let's remain positive and hold out hope that SEWRPC will get religion on 21st century housing needs and alternatives, along with housing's connections to transportation planning, job development, land-use and the region's long-term economic sustainability.

Yeah, you're right: that's a lot of hope, since SEWRPC's last housing study was published literally in another century - - 1975 - - and it's hard to keep score of the social and financial changes since, or that could be addressed if SEWRPC finally, finally...finally got serious about comprehensive and coordinated planning in the region.

The EJTF agenda also indicates there will be discussion about SEWRPC's existing land use plan and its water supply advisory committee which has recommended diverting Lake Michigan water to Waukesha.

Unfortunately, the water study did not take into account housing or transportation issues, so you see the depth and breadth of the problem.

But...and this is the positive part ...the EJTF encourages public comment at the end of each of its meetings, so if you have an opinion on any of these matters, or think that the EJTF should turn its attention to other SEWRPC-related issues, this is the place with a format where you can come and speak.

4:00-to-6:00 PM, Rotary Building, Frame Park, 1150 Baxter St., Waukesha.

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