Tag: 2021-07-nn-feature

Leveraging private investment to meet affordable housing needs

Leveraging private investment to meet affordable housing needs

From HUD USER, PD&R Edge, June 11, 2021

Public spending forms the basis of affordable housing production or preservation. When public funds are unavailable or prioritized elsewhere, however, nongovernmental entities can fill this financing gap with private investment funds. During its 2021 Housing Opportunity Conference, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) held a webinar titled “Leveraging Investor-Funded Housing Models to Meet Broader Community Housing Needs.” In this virtual event, ULI global chief operating officer Ed Walter led three speakers in a discussion of how their firms are using private investment dollars in the affordable housing sector. Two of the speakers represented traditional investment entities, in which institutional investors contribute capital and receive a return, whereas the third discussed a neighborhood real estate investment trust, a local trust in which individuals can purchase shares.

Traditional investment funds “two bands” of Affordable Housing preservation

Following his opening remarks, Walter introduced panelist Anne McCulloch, president and chief executive of the Housing Partnership Equity Trust (HPET). HPET was founded in 2012 by the Housing Partnership Network, a collaborative of 100 affordable housing and community development nonprofits, and owns 14 properties in 7 states. As a social purpose real estate investment trust (REIT), HPET uses capital contributed by institutional investors to obtain, improve, and preserve existing multifamily properties that are naturally occurring and affordable in markets that are becoming more expensive. The trust seeks out unsubsidized developments in neighborhoods that have the amenities needed for family success such as Head Start programs, job centers, retailers, and public transit.

Developments meeting these criteria tend to be garden-style apartments built in the 1980s and located in inner-ring suburbs. To lower the long-term operating costs of the site and fulfill their commitment to residents, HPET’s first acts after acquiring a new development often involve addressing deferred maintenance issues that previous owners may have neglected and making sustainability-related “green” upgrades.

Capital from private investors can be leveraged to expand affordable housing by extending the lifespans of properties built with public funds, preserving naturally occurring affordable housing, and targeting neighborhood-specific apartment buildings and helping residents build wealth. Credit: istockphoto.com/Marje

HPET operates much like the enterprise represented by another speaker: Daryl Carter, chairman and chief executive officer of Avanath Capital Management. Founded by Carter in 2007, Avanath Capital Management is one of the nation’s largest owner-operators of affordable apartment communities, with 88 properties in 13 states. Like HPET, Avanath Capital Management uses the capital of institutional investors to purchase and redevelop affordable multifamily housing, although the two entities’ strategies differ in multiple ways. Avanath primarily pursues housing that was built by or remains subject to government affordability programs in markets with job growth and large gaps between affordable rents and market rents; for example, in coastal areas or cities such as Chicago or Austin. Carter estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of Avanath Capital’s stock consists of naturally occurring affordable housing rather than developments built using programs such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program.

Avanath Capital seeks out neighborhoods underserved by institutional capital that lack amenities such as retail, banks, and healthcare institutions; it then attracts these community necessities to the area by purchasing and investing in local affordable housing and providing those developments with supportive services. “We invest in a lot of communities, particularly communities of color, where there aren’t a lot of things around it that make great neighborhoods today,” said Carter.

HPET and Avanath Capital Management operate in two adjacent “bands” of affordable housing, with HPET handling a market segment that only incidentally receives local housing subsidies. “We typically serve households making between 50 and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI),” said McCulloch. “For every 100 of these households, there are 50 units that are affordable to them.”

By contrast, Carter’s Avanath Capital focuses most of its attention on preserving the affordability of developments built using public programs that serve residents earning between 30 and 60 percent of AMI. Both entities use private money to extend the reach of public spending: Avanath does so by either preventing developments from aging out of affordability programs or rehabilitating and upgrading those that remain affordable but have fallen into disrepair. In contrast, HPET obviates the need for direct public housing spending entirely while maintaining a target population’s ability to take advantage of scarce education and transit dollars.

Although their strategies differ, their investor profiles are relatively similar. Carter and McCulloch both report that their pool of investors includes risk-averse entities such as insurance companies, foundations, and endowment funds. HPET also counts philanthropies among its investors, with McCulloch stressing “investors invest with us for impact.” Carter observed that the biggest issue the firm faces is market perception. “People perceive affordable housing as much riskier than it is.”

The Real Estate Investment Trust: Neighborhood sized

The final entity the speakers discussed is Nico, a public benefit corporation formed to create real estate investment trusts (REITs) for individual neighborhoods. [Nico has a great 50-second video here. —Ed.]  Nico, a startup that became public in March 2020, has established one neighborhood REIT in Echo Park, Los Angeles, owning three rent-controlled apartment buildings with a combined 80 residential and 4 commercial units. After purchasing the buildings, Nico made efficiency and longevity-enhancing improvements by installing energy-efficient appliances and graywater systems. According to co-founder and chief operating officer Max Levine, Nico’s leadership plans to expand the neighborhood REIT model to new markets over the next 12 to 18 months.

Nico was founded on the principle that local residents would benefit from not only the preservation and improvement of affordable housing but also from the opportunity to become investors in the REIT themselves. “What we’re trying to do is give thousands of renters within a community a way to invest in their neighborhood that is accessible, fair, and responsible,” said Levine.

He likened contributing to a neighborhood REIT to the financial benefit experienced by homeowners, who build equity while making mortgage payments. To ensure a low barrier to entry so that more people could participate and begin receiving passive income in the form of dividends, Nico set a minimum one-time investment amount of $100. As part of the trust’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nico Echo Park offered Community Wealth Grants of up to $1,000 in shares to each household and business renting in the trust’s three properties. Although Nico especially encourages Echo Park’s own residents to invest, it imposes no restrictions on prospective investors.

Private investment stretches public dollars

Although the featured firms take different forms, all of them offer a means by which capital from private investors can be leveraged to expand affordable housing. The way in which each entity accomplishes this goal differs:

  • Avanath steps in primarily to extend the lifespans of properties built with public funds.
  • HPET preserves naturally occurring affordable housing.
  • Nico targets neighborhood-specific apartment buildings and helps residents build wealth.

Each firm presents a model for investor-funded affordable housing.

Republished with permission. Return to Northern News here.

Cars want the streets back; cities could do better without them

Cars want the streets back; cities could do better without them

By Sandy Smith, Next City, June 16, 2021

With people flocking to restaurants, bars, and museums now that pandemic restrictions have been removed, some business owners and institutions are moving to reclaim the streets and parking spaces that had been given over to things like dining tables, public squares, and recreation. The bring-back-the-cars crowd argues that without driving access, businesses and visitor destinations will suffer. But the other side may have the upper hand in this fight if people are willing to listen. This week’s roundup features an overview of the issue and some data that suggest cities would be better off leaving those pandemic-driven car-free spaces car-free permanently.

19th Street streatery in Washington, D.C. (Photo: angela n./CC BY 2.0)

The cars called; they want their streets back. But are those streets really theirs?

[In Slate, June 10, 2011, Henry Grabar] puts the question bluntly in the headline: “Who gets the streets now?”

The suddenness of the switch from car dominance to people dominance once the lockdowns took effect was astonishing. Maybe less astonishing was the way businesses and people took over the spaces the cars vacated. But what may not be astonishing is the way many now want to return to the status quo ante. The pandemic, it seems, hasn’t changed the way we think.

In San Francisco, for instance, the museums in Golden Gate Park are pushing the city to reopen the park drive, which was closed when the lockdowns took effect. The museums argue that if their patrons can’t drive right up to them, attendance will suffer. The reopening has even been cast as an equity issue: the president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Shamann Walton, said the car-free park was “segregationist polic[y]” and “looks like the 1950s South,” and fellow supervisor and Chinatown native Connie Chan also said that letting people drive into the park was a racial-equity issue. Yet city data show that the distribution of visitors to the park by supervisor district has not changed as a result of the closure, bike and pedestrian visits have soared, and 5,000 parking spaces remain accessible.

The essay also noted the speed with which the changes took place: Many of the changes would have taken months to implement at best under normal review processes. And the same changes call into question the way cities regulate the use of space.

But, the essay concludes, if profound transformations in dining could take place in New York by reassigning 8,000 of the city’s parking spaces, how much more of a transformation could occur if we repurposed more?

Buffalo removes parking minimums; researchers find city gets along fine without them

One answer to that question comes to us from Buffalo, where the city rewrote its zoning code in 2017 to remove all minimum parking requirements for new developments. The city was the first in the country to make this move, and two researchers at the University at Buffalo have found that getting rid of those requirements produced more walkable development and many fewer parking spaces in the first two years after the city adopted its “Green Code” zoning ordinance.

Writing about their research in The Conversation on June 10, professors of urban and regional planning Daniel Baldwin Hess and Jeffrey Rehler summarized it thus: “We found that the Green Code is changing Buffalo’s urban form in ways that had been difficult, if not impossible, under former zoning rules. As local leaders seek to reenergize the urban core and spark a post-industrial renaissance, public transit is now a priority. Inactive storefronts, underutilized historic structures, and former industrial buildings are being rehabilitated, and vacant parcels are being developed in fragmented neighborhoods.”

Hess and Rehler found that new mixed-use residential/retail developments had 53 percent fewer parking spaces under the Green Code than under the old code, and that some new projects of this type did without parking entirely, opting to use spaces in adjacent properties. And while many builders of exclusively residential properties either built the same number of spaces or even more, the code led to a 47 percent net reduction even there, and at least one project unbundled its parking from its residences, requiring residents to pay for parking spaces.

The new code has led to denser, more pedestrian-oriented development along transit corridors as well.

The researchers note that momentum for removing parking requirements is building: Minneapolis got rid of them in zoning code revisions implemented this year, and at least four other cities are considering the move. They conclude on an optimistic note: “In the future, U.S. cities could look quite different, designed for citizens rather than parked cars.”

Survey finds Bostonians want to keep their converted parking spaces

The Boston Globe reported on June 10 that a survey of Boston-area voters found that many of them would rather keep outdoor dining and bike lanes rather than return them to parking spots.

The survey of 670 voters in Boston and its inner suburbs conducted by MassINC Polling Group found that 79 percent of them support more space for outdoor dining and 75 percent support more bike lanes, even if the changes meant less space for parking and driving.

The survey comes at a time when the state is considering whether and for how long to extend the expedited permit process that made all that outdoor dining in parking spaces possible. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, is leaning towards allowing municipalities to continue to issue expedited permits through Nov. 29, but the Massachusetts Restaurant Association wants them to continue through 2022.

“Pandemic or no pandemic, I think Bostonians have realized they really like [outdoor dining]. It’s something I think everybody wants to make more of a permanent fixture,” Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, told the Globe.

The survey also found that the reallocation of space led to a jump in bicycle ownership and usage, with 17 percent of respondents saying they bicycled more than they did before the pandemic. About half the respondents said they owned a bike, and 69 percent supported adding bike-share stations to improve access.

Respondents, especially younger ones, also supported reducing or even eliminating fares for public transit. 84 percent supported discount fares for low-income riders, while 65 percent supported getting rid of fares completely. More than 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they strongly supported making transit free, while only 17 percent of voters 60 and older said they did.

About 62 percent of the respondents lived in the city, with the remaining 38 percent living in the inner suburbs.

However, even though they supported turning more of the street over to people, 42 percent of respondents said they expected traffic to return to pre-pandemic levels, which would require some hard choices on the part of public officials.

“If we find that traffic really does come back and does create conflicts with these policies that’s the balancing act that these mayors, senators and all these folks who are working on these issues are gonna have to deal with,” said Richard Parr, research director at MassINC. “I think this poll has data points that suggest that is going to be a challenge.”

Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. His work has appeared in Next City, Hidden City Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well. He holds an AB in government from Harvard.

Republished with permission. Return to Northern News here.

Meet a local planner: Ellie Fiore, AICP

Meet a local planner: Ellie Fiore, AICP

By Catarina Kidd, AICP

Ellie Fiore, AICP, is Director of Planning at MIG Berkeley and Vice President for Public Information for APA California. She holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Portland State University and a bachelor of arts in sociology from Cornell University.

What’s been the focus of your recent work?

I do a little bit of everything, including general and specific plans, housing elements, parks and open space master plans, downtown strategies, urban design, and community engagement. For the last four or five years, my work has been evenly divided between the Bay Area and communities in Texas and North Carolina.

Rendering for Greensboro, North Carolina, Strategic Plan, 2030. Looking southeast on Battleground Avenue.

It has really been fun and rewarding to have those counterpoints in other regions. I once heard someone in Texas refer to a 2,000-square-foot townhome as a micro-unit, which was a great example of a very different regional perspective!

What do you enjoy most in your professional practice?

Getting to know new places. For the last few years, the focus has been on equity and how the planning field has contributed to that. In Charlotte, where I worked on the comprehensive and Center City plans, the mantra has been, “Over-invest in underinvested neighborhoods.” The community has been deliberating about allocating resources to those directly harmed by any past actions.

How has the equity conversation been received?

So far, so good. Some of the discussion is intuitive, but when people gain understanding of historical facts about redlining and urban renewal, a lightbulb goes off and tangible projects come out of it. Funding and decisions are yet to follow, but it is a meaningful start to the discussion of linking resources to people who did not previously have equal access to opportunity.

What’s the view outside of California?

People who work in our field generally share the same values, regardless of location. But it is well known there is less regulation, CEQA, process, etc., outside of California. Things do happen more quickly in places like Texas. The focus is more about implementation — get the right people at the table, fund it, and get it built. Cities in Texas and North Carolina are more affordable and are rapidly diversifying because they are easier places for people to get established than are many California communities.

Are we really more progressive in California if things aren’t moving forward?

The processes here come from a place of protecting the people who are here. The way regulations are applied now does not comport with how they were originally intended. I think we are all grappling with the best way to balance progress and fairness.

What influences your professional practice?

While I love big ideas and planning theories, I am also very practical in my professional approach. My mentors provide examples of how we can service clients and communities. This may entail not just responding to an RFP “to the letter,” but being creative about meeting the objectives and engaging the community to give clients their money’s worth and reach more people. As a mentor and a team leader, I value being accessible to help colleagues get what they need to advance their careers.

On what are you working for APA California?

I’m in the middle of a three-year term as Vice President for Public Information. The overarching goals are to modernize our tools and use our resources wisely to meet members’ needs. We shifted from four to six Cal Planner magazines to just one or two per year in order to send more timely e-blasts with the latest news. A new website for the Chapter is a priority, so that members can more easily find relevant information reflecting modern-day APA California. I am also working on promoting the virtual state conference to be held in September.

Tell us about your prior roles.

I discovered planning after studying social policy as an undergraduate. At the same time, there were a few land-use battles happening in Ithaca, where I went to school. I started to see a clear connection between land use, policy, and community development. After graduation, I moved to Portland, Oregon, to explore the west coast, and discovered that Portland is a really great place for studying planning. For five years, I was senior planner at Cogan Owens Cogan in Portland. I also served as a student rep and later an elected at-large member on the APA board there. Joining MIG in the Bay Area was a natural and exciting transition.

What do you enjoy doing when not working?

Live music. Exploring the East Bay. Reading.

What are you reading? What books do you recommend?

“When No One Is Watching: A Thriller,” by Alyssa Cole. This fun page-turner, set in a quickly gentrifying area of Brooklyn, explores displacement and community identity.

“Uncanny Valley: A Memoir,” by Anna Wiener. It’s a non-fiction account of working as a young woman in Silicon Valley.

And, as a planning nerd, I am excited to read “The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power,” by Deirdre Mask.

Where do you go for inspiration, to recharge?

I keep the big picture in the back of my mind. Sometimes you work on things that are not implemented for years. Our work may not be tangible in the next calendar year, but it influences places and people.

I find the new administration in Washington really exciting. Housing, infrastructure, and equity are back in the national conversation!

My goal and focus is to make sure we do good work and meet community and client needs.

Portrait of Catarina KiddInterviewer Catarina Kidd, AICP, is senior development manager at FivePoint and a guest writer for Northern News. All interviews are edited.

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Approaching planning AND design through an Equity Lens
The components and crosscutting issues of the Equity Lens Approach by the American Planning Association, as diagrammed by Cindy Ma, AICP

Approaching planning AND design through an Equity Lens

By Cindy Ma, AICP

What a year!

2020 delivered a series of events that surfaced long-standing inequities within our society and communities. The confluence of Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, and increased climate-related events such as wildfires and hurricanes, showed that people in marginalized communities, especially those of color, have been for a long time subject to a life of increased stress, risk, and early death.

While 2020 tested our resilience and capacity to adapt, it also provided an opportunity for introspection at the individual and community level of how we, through our actions and inhabitation of our habitats, have strongly affected the inequities in the places we live, work, and play.

I’m a planner and urban designer in a multidisciplinary firm, and I resolved, after the events of 2020, to help create a more equitable world in all aspects of my life. That involved examining and including in my work an “Equity Lens” approach.

The Equity Lens approach, as described by APA’s 2019 publication, Planning for Equity Policy Guide, “challenges … practices and actions that disproportionately impact and stymie the progress of certain segments of the population.” This holistic approach acknowledges the historical context of the inequitable policies and frameworks we’ve inherited and offers guidance on where and how we can challenge ourselves to learn from the mistakes of our past and work to correct them to ensure a future more equitable and inclusive for all.

APA’s guide defines equity as “just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. Unlocking the promise of the nation by unleashing the promise in us all.”

The components and crosscutting issues of the Equity Lens Approach by the American Planning Association, as diagrammed by Cindy Ma, AICP

Within the framework of the Equity Lens approach are eight practice focus areas and three crosscutting issues that apply to the eight areas. The eight practice areas are: (1) climate change and resilience; (2) education (the physical location of schools); (3) energy and resource consumption; (4) health equity; (5) heritage preservation; (6) housing; (7) mobility and transportation; and (8) public spaces and places. The policy guide offers key measures to consider in each practice area. With respect to planning, which may take years to implement, the guide suggests ways to bring tangible results in the immediate future.

Under Housing, for example, the guide promotes an increasingly diverse housing stock, removal of regulatory barriers, and a focus on goals promoting affordability and combating displacement. In California, where there is an ongoing housing crisis, state legislation has focused on increasing the housing supply and streamlining the approval processes to ensure implementation. I’ve had the opportunity to work with colleagues, clients, and community stakeholders to get creative in addressing housing affordability, accessibility (universal design), and the longevity and sustainability of structures. Each new development brings different challenges with respect to equity but also offers opportunities to innovate, set new and better precedents, and learn how to do better next time.

More important than the eight practice focus areas are the three crosscutting issues in the Equity Lens approach: (1) Gentrification, (2) Environmental Justice, and (3) Community Engagement and Empowerment.

Gentrification is a process that often results in the displacement of existing residents along with cultural change in an area or community. It is often associated with the actions of development and revitalization. The APA guide emphasizes, “Gentrification is a process, whereas development and revitalization are actions,” and states: “It is important to acknowledge that revitalization executed in the absence of an equity … lens can result in the negative impacts of gentrification, and is a contributing factor to the rising inequality in the nation’s metropolitan areas.”

Environmental Justice is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Community Engagement and Empowerment is “meaningful [public] outreach to all populations so that all people have a voice and access to decision

All the crosscutting issues center on people, and warrant deep exploration and understanding. And when packaged in an equity framework, they convey the complexity and intersectionality that comes with doing equitable work through transdisciplinary efforts fostered in collaboration and support.

My experience

Delving into the Equity Lens approach, I reflected on my past and current work and life experiences in my habitat — the impact of my actions — from the nucleus home, to the local community, regional area, state, national, and global levels with respect to societal and physical environments. Through this process, I was struck how equitable planning and design recognizes and incorporates the human experience through sound data and research. But for much of the 20th century, development decisions focused largely on scientific data at the expense of the human experience.

Applying all eight focus areas and addressing the three crosscutting issues proposed in the Equity Lens approach will involve mindful listening and sometimes tough conversations. But we can do it, and it will be worth doing.

In some places, it has already been done. Hope SF in San Francisco is an example of a new community created with the components of the Equity Lens approach.

Hope SF is a cross-sector initiative currently transforming four of San Francisco’s public housing sites into three neighborhoods with a mix of housing, retail and office, community services, and facilities. Focused as it is on community development and reparations for its original public housing residents, the initiative is unique among new developments.

The creation of these three neighborhoods comes from four goals and eight guiding principles that speak to the three crosscutting issues of the Equity Lens
approach — Gentrification, Environmental Justice, Community Engagement and Empowerment. The four goals are: (1) Build racially and economically inclusive neighborhoods, (2) Recognize the power of residents to lead their communities, (3) Increase economic and educational advancement, and (4) Create healthy communities.

To date, more than 750 new affordable homes have been completed, of which some 500 replaced public housing. Residents of the new homes participated in a Leadership Academy to help them build leadership skills and learn about the development process so they could meaningfully participate onsite at city-synced wellness centers and across the four sites in the three neighborhoods that have opened for residents. Hope SF is expected to be complete in 2035 with a total of 5,300 new homes affordable across all income levels.

Next steps

While 2020 delivered a series of events that surfaced long-standing inequities within our society and communities, I saw the opportunity to reflect and to challenge myself to do better as a citizen and a planner. Reacquainting myself with the Equity Lens approach has shown me a path toward creating better and more equitable design, focused on people and driven by data.

A version of this article previously appeared in EXPAND, the KTGY Magazine.

Cindy Ma, AICP, is Director, Planning, at KTGY, an international architecture, design, and planning firm with seven offices and 400 employees. She has served on APA California – Northern Section’s Board as Planning Diversity Co-Director since 2012. Ma holds an MCRP from CalPoly SLO and a BA in architecture from UC Berkeley. You can reach her at ms.cindy.ma@gmail.com.

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Jaime Lerner, 83, urban planner credited with BRT
Jaime Lerner, father of BRT, 1937-2021

Jaime Lerner, 83, urban planner credited with BRT

Via Agence France-Presse, May 28, 2021

“Prominent Brazilian architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner, mainly credited with developing BRT, the bus rapid transit system operating in major cities throughout the world, died May 27. He was 83.

“Lerner rose to prominence in the 1970s when he was elected mayor of his native Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil, and launched an ambitious plan to overhaul the transportation system.

“Under Lerner, Curitiba rolled out what would become a model for cities worldwide, the Integrated Transport Network. Its vertebrae are its iconic tubular bus stops, with elevated platforms that make it easy for passengers to get on and off and a pre-payment system to maximize efficiency.

“[The system] has been imitated in more than 250 cities including Bogota, Brisbane, Johannesburg, Marrakesh, and Istanbul.”

Marechal Floriano BRT station, Green Line, Curitiba. Photo: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, https://bit.ly/3yRAL8y.

The network was also the source of inspiration for the Emerald Express (EmX), Eugene, Oregon; LA’s Orange Line; and The Strip and Downtown Express in Las Vegas.

“Lerner is also remembered for making Curitiba a model of sustainable planning, creating numerous green spaces and an advanced recycling program.

“He served three terms as mayor (1971-1974, 1979-1983 and 1989-1992), and two as governor of Paraná state (1995-2002), of which Curitiba is the capital. In between, he wrote numerous books on urban planning.”

Lerner was born on December 17, 1937, in Curitiba. His family had emigrated from Lodz, Poland, to Curitiba in the early 1930s. He graduated from the Architecture School of the Federal University of Paraná in 1964. In 1965, he helped create the Institute of Urban Planning and Research of Curitiba. According to Wikipedia, “Lerner, who later became mayor, led a team from the Federal University of Paraná that suggested strict controls on urban sprawl, reduced traffic in the downtown area, preservation of Curitiba’s Historic Sector, and a convenient and affordable public transit system. The plan, known as the Curitiba Master Plan, was adopted in 1968.”

According to JTA, “He was the first Latin American to preside over the International Union of Architects, a Paris-based organization representing 1.5 million professionals in 98 countries. Time magazine named Lerner one of the 25 most influential thinkers in 2010, and in 2017 Planetizen ranked him the second most influential urban planner of all time, behind only Jane Jacobs.”

Lerner wrote this about BRT in La ciudad es una tortuga: “The surface system has the advantage — with the right features, such as dedicated lanes, level and pre-paid boarding, and high frequency — of achieving performance similar to the underground train at a cost that is affordable to virtually every city, and much more quickly. A healthier city happens where the car is not the only comfortable option of transportation.”

For more about Lerner, read “The City Is the Solution: Celebrating Jaime Lerner,” an homage by Darío Hidalgo, a sustainable mobility expert based in Bogotá (~3 min, TheCityFix, June 11, 2021). Hidalgo includes two videos: Curitiba BRT (3:41, November 2010) and “Jaime Lerner, A song of the city,” (15:23 TED Talk, April 2008).

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