THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT GORE CALLS FOR HEALTHIER, MORE LIVABLE COMMUNITIES Announces New Targeted Incentives to Encourage Smarter Growth
Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore called today for stronger efforts nation-wide to build livable American communities as a foundation for continued economic competitiveness and strength in the 21st Century.
In a major speech at the Brookings Institution, the Vice President highlighted successful efforts across the country to achieve smart, sustainable growth in cities, suburbs, and rural areas, and he announced new federal initiatives to encourage similar efforts nationwide. He also announced that, this fall, he and members of the President's Cabinet will hold a series of "listening sessions" around the country to hear how communities are grappling with sprawl and how the federal government can help.
"In the future, livable communities will be the basis for our competitiveness and economic strength," the Vice President said. "Our efforts to make communities more livable today must emphasize the right kind of growth -- sustainable growth. Promoting a better quality of life for our families need never come at the expense of economic growth. Indeed, in the 21st Century, it can and must be an engine for economic growth."
The Vice President said the Administration will work "to put more control, more information, more decision-making power into the hands of families, communities, and regions -- to give them all the freedom and flexibility they need to reclaim their own unique place in the world."
In addition, the Vice President announced the following new Federal and private efforts to provide the tools necessary to make communities more livable and to target new incentives to encourage smarter growth:
$17.2 Million to Help Preserve Farmland in 19 States: The Vice President announced new federal, state, and local partnerships to help preserve our most vulnerable farmland. The Agriculture Department (USDA) will provide $17.2 million to 19 states that, when coupled with their own funds, will go to purchase development rights and keep productive farmland in use. The $17.2 million from USDA's Farmland Protection Program will be leveraged with state and local funds so that about $105 million will be available to protect 53,000 acres of valuable farmland on 217 farms in 19 states. Location-Efficient Mortgages: The Vice President announced that Fannie Mae, working with three federal agencies and several nonprofit groups, is launching a $100 million pilot program to allow communities to benefit from "location efficient mortgages." First implemented in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle, this program will recognize the economic reality that our mortgage system has long ignored -- that families living near mass transit save as much as hundreds of dollars a month and, thus, should qualify for larger mortgages. These new location-efficient mortgages, which come with a 30-year transit pass, will give families more choices by enabling them to live in more desirable neighborhoods, with higher property values. New Tools For Community Planning: The Vice President announced that the federal government will expand its support for communities with tools, information, and new computer software to enable them to make easy-to-understand maps that show the different aspects of their region -- from farmlands to parks to buildings -- and even provide predictions for future growth. This tool, called Geographic Information System Technology, will make it dramatically easier for communities to come together to envision and adopt land growth that suites them. A Community-Federal Information Partnership: The Vice President announced that the President's 2000 budget would significantly expand grants for communities to gain access to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure clearinghouse -- a public-private resource that the Vice President conceived as part of his reinventing government initiative in 1993 -- and its implementing body, the Federal Data Geographic Data Committee, chaired by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit. Demonstration Projects in Six Communities: The Vice President announced the launch of six demonstration projects in communities across the country to provide technical support for locally-drive efforts to address issues such as land-use and crime prevention. The following communities received demonstration status: Dane County, WI; Gallatin County, Montana; Tillamook County, Oregon; Tijuana River Watershed, California; the Upper Susquehanna/ Lackawanna River area; and the City of Baltimore. New Regional Efforts to Combat Crime: The Vice President announced, in conjunction with the Justice Department, an effort to apply regional mapping software to fighting crime. The program will include new software -- called Regional Crime Analysis Geographic Information Systems -- that will be delivered to regional police next year as a pilot program, beginning in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region. The pilot program will allow communities in the region to easily share crime data and engage in a cooperative regional crime reduction plan.