Merkley, colleagues introduce Livable Communities Act

National Bike Summit - Day three-203

Senator Jeff Merkley at his office in
D.C. during the National Bike Summit.
(Photo © J. Maus)

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is one of five Democrats in the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that have introduced a new bill that looks to integrate housing, transportation, and environmental policies.

Dubbed the Livable Communities Act, a statement about the legislation says that it is intended to “Help towns and regions across the country plan and implement development projects that integrate their community’s needs for transportation, housing, land use, and economic development.”

In his first year on Capitol Hill, Merkley (a former Oregon State Senator) is shaping up to be a champion of sustainable transportation in the Senate. Some say he could be an important complementary ally to more well-known boosters on the House side like Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio and Jim Oberstar.

Last month, Merkley joined Metro president David Bragdon and others to testify about Portland’s regional trail system in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Merkley also showed up in support of Metro’s Intertwine effort in Northwest Portland back in July.

About the Livable Communities Act, Merkley issued a statement saying:

“Building communities where Americans have better access to public transportation and affordable housing benefits working families, businesses and our environment… When you develop communities with sustainable principles in mind, even everyday tasks like a trip to the grocery store become more convenient.”

Included in The Livable Communities Act are planning grants that can be used to create and implement land-use plans and a new federal Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities to oversee them.

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Vance Longwell
13 years ago

“Help towns and regions across the country plan and implement development projects that integrate their community’s needs for transportation, housing, land use, and economic development.”

I’m pretty sure this is a misprint. Shouldn’t it read:

“Church of Green religious fanatics work to strip every last personal freedom from American citizens by legislating where you will live, how you will live, what you will eat, and most importantly, what to think.”

Or something like that? Woops, I’m sorry, I forgot to seek permission from some self-righteous leftist prior to commenting. Oh well, there’s always next time, and next time, and next time, and next time…

13 years ago

Lance…aready having a bad morning? Maybe you’ll feel better after a little ride through some of the countryside the city of Hillsboro would like to convert to housing.

Some of you reading may have run across a Hillsboro related land use article in yesterday’s O… (I realize that here on bikeportland, the O is regarded as a terrible news source, but it seems to me the info in this article has a few things some of you might find worth reading.).

County: 33,800 acres for 550,000 people

The title itself says a lot. 33,800 acres? That sounds like a lot of land to me. To get a sense of how much that is…Forest Park…some of you may be aware that park, big as it is, is only 5000 acres.

One of the things I get from the article is the sense that with the urban and suburban development philosophy we continue to largely use today, it seems to still be quite easy to make a convincing argument for covering up essential, probably irreplaceable agricultural and other open lands with housing and other development.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing I read in the article:

“Amabisca and others in the Helvetia area are calling for Hillsboro’s northward expansion to be severely restricted, and for cities in Washington County to grow upwards, not outwards.” Nick Cristensen/Hillsboro Argus

Amabisca, that is….Cherry Amabisca, is an organizer with the group Save Helvetia. Helvetia is of course, as some of you may know is a community situated in countryside north of Hillboro…countryside that people from Portland and the suburbs take great enjoyment from riding in. Hillsboro…surprize!…wants to annex Helvetia.

I haven’t yet looked into the specifics of what it is that the bill Merkley and the four others proposing it might produce in terms of changes to present community design habits. Just the fact though, that, evidenced by this bill proposal, they recognize the importance of keeping attention focused on building better functioning communities by way of having urban and suburban components better designed, is encouraging.

Knute MukterVeien
Knute MukterVeien
13 years ago


Rediscover what freedom can mean:

13 years ago

Vance…my apologies…didn’t mean to spell your name with an ‘L’.

Elly Blue (Columnist)
13 years ago

Everyone, please try to keep your comments on-topic and respectful to each other and this forum.

Vance, your frustration with land use planning policies is clear. It’s fine to express that, but just a to-the-point statement in the context of on-topic commentary would contribute more to the conversation. This is not the forum for partisan mudslinging.


Joe Rowe
Joe Rowe
13 years ago

It’s not what you do, it’s what you don’t do, and what you don’t talk about.

The healthy Americans act (Wyden/Merkely) is gonna run up any costs saved by your livable cities act. We’d never go back to having the fire department serve only those with pre-paid coverage. Why do you think it is livable to help the livability of the heath insurance lobby.

calgary rob
13 years ago

Vance… keep your right/left terminology to yourself… I am sick of neighborhoods being built all over North America where a person needs a car just to leave their own sub-division. Calgary is full of areas that are cut off by interchanges, freeways and there are no multi use paths or sidewalks to speak of (that connect to the larger community). This and the destruction of farmland are what people are concerned about. Some of my favorite out of town routes are no longer rideable due the creation of a concrete jungle (google Calgary Ring Road).

13 years ago

I was going to respond to Vance, but out of respect for Elly’s request have chosen not to. I am happy to see this bill with merkley’s name on it. I still remain sceptical about alot of the things he has fought for though. I feel like good land use planning is the main thing that has made portland such a great place to live. Without better land us planning now we’re going to run out of country REAL quick; especially considdering the rate at which population CONTINUES to grow.