The effect of regional planning councils on the development of federally assisted housing
Coffey, Morris Birchfield
Mitchell, O. Jack
Master of Architecture
Since 1965 the Federal government has increasingly strengthened its support of the establishment of Regional Planning Councils. The Federal government has enacted legislation designating multijurisdictional/multipurpose agencies to serve as ’’clearinghouses11 with authorization: (1) to devise comprehensive regional plans for coordinating development within a region; (2) to review and comment on selected federally assisted programs. With the issuance of Executive Order, OMB Circular A-95 (7/24/69) and later A-95 (revised - 4/1/71), the number of federal programs requiring regional review and coordination was vastly expanded. Included in the new ’’clearinghouse” responsibilities were all federally assisted/insured housing programs. The intent of this study is to show that Regional Planning Councils, because of their area-wide orientation and scope of concerns, have a significant role to play in the development of low and moderate income housing. This role is analyzed in terms of a council’s ability to (1) insure environmental quality, (2) increase production, and (3) direct the distribution of federally assisted housing within a region. From this analysis, it is found that Regional Planning Councils by exercising their planning and review prerogatives can impose guidelines and standards on the development of housing directly affecting the three areas mentioned above. However, the present lack of legislative authority coupled with limitations in the "clearinghouse" review procedures for housing applications (as described in OMB Circular A-95) limit the ability of Councils to implement plans and policies. Councils have the authority to establish regional housing plans and policies, but the extent to which they will be implemented is dependent upon the voluntary support and cooperation of local member governments and federal agencies. Thus, political acceptance of the need for a regional approach to providing low and moderate income housing is a primary determinant of a council’s effectiveness in dealing with housing problems. When such support is not possible, Regional Planning Councils must rely on the strength of their ’’negative" review authority, and on their ability to provide technical assistance and information as a means of indirectly affecting the builder or developer’s decision making processes. The potential for regional planning agencies to assume a more assertive role in the implementation of housing plans and policies will be dependent on added Federal endorsement. One such proposal presently being considered by Congress designates area-wide planning agencies as distributors of federal funds. With this, Councils would have the necessary authority to implement regional housing plans.