Gulf Coast Sustainable Communities will undertake a series of capacity-building, research, outreach and planning activities over the three-year term of the Plan for Opportunity to bring the regional vision for sustainability to fruition. Capacity-building activities are intended to help regional planning agencies become more familiar working as partners at a regional level and to introduce stakeholders to different sustainability concepts. Research, outreach and planning activities will be led by Gulf Coast Sustainable Communities with substantial participation from stakeholders, four standing committees and the general public.
Activities are divided into the following subject areas, or Plan Elements:
The fourteen coastal jurisdictions have developed diverse land use strategies to fit their specific needs, ranging from traditional zoning to transect planning and smart codes. Some jurisdictions seek to grow northward, while others are trying to contain the sprawling development patterns typical of the Coast. These different local land use plans are not coordinated at a regional level to ensure that cities are growing together in a way that makes sense. Gulf Coast Sustainable Communities will compare all local plans and identify inconsistencies, redundancies, and areas in which land uses between different jurisdictions can be planned more efficiently through a collaborative process.
Gulf Coast Sustainable Communities will conduct a regional housing inventory to better understand existing housing supply, focusing in particular on flood-proof and hurricane-resistant housing stock that is affordable, accessible, and near to jobs. The initiative will also inventory and prioritize infill land that can be developed to meet future housing needs. The Plan will also investigate ways to reduce the costs of the intense Coastal climate, including high insurance and energy bills. Click here to visit the Housing Subcommittee page.
Household access to work, school, food, health resources and open space is tied directly to the regional transportation network. Coastal communities have developed in a linear fashion along the Mississippi Sound, rather than around a central business district. This makes it difficult to provide cost-effective public transit to serve our communities. Accessibility and affordability of transportation is a major cost for our communities, and the Plan will address regional transit service and transportation improvement needs by conducting a transit network analysis and identifying key growth areas that can be served by existing transit infrastructure.
Coast-wide, many of the lots made vacant by Hurricane Katrina cannot be rebuilt to their former use. Gulf Coast Sustainable Communities will inventory vacant land and infill land in city centers for future commercial and industrial development, taking into consideration the priorities of residents and stakeholders. Other activities will include an assessment of growth markets and workforce housing near job centers – to ensure that the region is poised to grow and diversify when investors are ready to create new business opportunities in our communities. Click here to visit the Economic Development and Workforce Subcommittee page.
The Gulf Coast’s watersheds are one of its greatest assets. However, they are also a significantly degraded natural resource, both from direct and indirect human impact. Jurisdictions cannot address these problems individually without putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage. This regional Plan will assess the influence of sprawling land development on local watersheds and seek regional solutions that do not favor any one jurisdiction over another. Through extensive stakeholder, public and school outreach, the Plan will generate sustainability goals to protect and improve our watersheds. Click here to visit the Water Subcommittee page.
Harrison County is likely to fail the EPA air quality standards in 2011, triggering strict federal emissions reduction and monitoring requirements. In anticipation of this outcome and similar future outcomes for Hancock and Jackson Counties, the Plan seeks to reduce carbon emissions and particulate matter by reducing the number of trips residents make by car, and by making buildings more energy efficient. Activities will include computer-based scenario mapping to model different regional growth scenarios that produce varying levels of emissions. Community meetings will be held to gain feedback on regional preferences for the different growth scenarios.
The Plan includes a broad assessment of food issues, including food access, food production, food security, and food waste within the 100-mile foodshed that serves the coastal region. Through extensive stakeholder engagement, this plan element will address the food system needs of the region. Future activities will include development of food access goals and recommendations. Click here to visit the Food System Subcommittee page.