Local Technical Assistance Call for Planning Assistance

Community Planning Program and Local Technical Assistance Program

2021 Call for Planning Assistance

The application window for the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance has closed. Following a competitive evaluation process, CMAP selected 24 communities to receive long-term planning assistance. A list of awarded communities and program descriptions can be found here. For more information about CMAP's Local Technical Assistance Program, please visit the LTA web page.

Background

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), in partnership with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), hosted a small call for communities to apply for technical assistance offerings. The RTA is the oversight, funding, and regional planning agency for the transit Service Boards (Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace).

The COVID-19 pandemic strained municipal capacity like never before while declining revenues made it especially difficult to plan for 2021 and beyond. To best support the region’s immediate needs, CMAP and the RTA focused on providing technical assistance to high-need municipalities based on data or factors, such as population, income, and tax base per capita (CMAP Community Cohorts 3 and 4).

CMAP and the RTA have separate technical assistance programs, but applicants simply needed to apply once through an online application form. Through this coordination, the agencies offered planning and implementation assistance to an expanded base of eligible applicants, provide interagency expertise, technical assistance, and capacity. We were also able to align all efforts with ON TO 2050, the comprehensive plan for the region, and Invest in Transit, the regional transit strategic plan.

Eligible Types of Assistance

Eligible types of assistance in 2021 were limited to the following types:
 

  • Active mobility and curb management plans (RTA)

    The RTA will assist municipalities in planning for balancing the needs of increased deliveries, personal mobility, gathering space, bicycle and pedestrian areas, parking, and more along roadways in a particular community, all while preserving and protecting the use of transit.
     
  • Capital Improvement Programming (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to evaluate existing capital planning processes and provide recommendations to facilitate the development of a transparent, strategic, impactful, and successful Capital Improvement Program (CIP). It is anticipated that up to 10 projects will be awarded.
     
  • Consortium on Public Space Innovations (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to address the shared challenges in their communities through peer relationships, information sharing, and collaboration on solutions. To do this, a dedicated CMAP staff member will facilitate discussions and supply subject matter and administrative support around the creative use of public space in response to COVID-19. It is anticipated that up to five projects will be awarded.
     
  • Developer discussion panels (CMAP and RTA)

    Both CMAP and RTA will facilitate developer panels that will meet with communities to outline needs, goals, and incentives early in the redevelopment of a particular parcel. The expert panels will offer potential strategies and provide a realistic outlook for the future. It is anticipated that up to four projects will be awarded.
     
  • Developing special funding districts (RTA)

    The RTA will help municipalities with planning for an economic development funding district, such as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, Special Service Area (SSA), or Business Improvement District (BID), by assessing the community’s needs, identifying the potential district, and supporting the process to propose and enact such a district.
     
  • Next Program (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to take the “next” steps in implementing existing Local Technical Assistance (LTA) plans by dedicating a CMAP staff member to facilitate prioritization, develop an action plan, and assist the community with execution. It is anticipated that up to three projects will be awarded.
     
  • Resource, Opportunity, Impact (ROI) (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to prepare for grant opportunities by establishing consensus on priority transportation projects, identifying next steps for implementation, and providing resources for municipalities to seek out and manage grant funding. It is anticipated that up to four projects will be awarded.
     
  • Safety Planning (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to develop design studies and action plans to address vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle safety challenges in their communities. Topics, where applicable, can include the impacts of at-grade rail crossings, intersection flooding, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. It is anticipated that up to 10 projects will be awarded.
     
  • Zoning code updates in transit-served and in transit-oriented development (TOD) areas (RTA)

    The RTA will work with local government staff to create development standards and review processes that make investment in the community more attractive to potential developers, business owners, and residents seeking to improve their property. Zoning updates can be completed for a specific TOD area or transit corridor.

Timeline

Call for Planning Assistance

Date

Action

January 20

Call for Planning Assistance opened

February 3

Call for Planning Assistance closed

February 8

CMAP / RTA sent notification of which agency will evaluate their application

February-March

CMAP / RTA  reviewed applications and contacted applicants with additional questions

March-April

Project selection and approval process

 

2021 Call for Planning Assistance F.A.Q.

1. How is the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance different from CMAP and the RTA’s Annual Call for Projects from previous years?

This year’s Call for Planning Assistance is a targeted call for communities to apply for a limited selection of technical assistance offerings. This effort was initiated in response to the regional impacts of COVID-19. CMAP and the RTA are offering programs that provide support to capacity-constrained communities to help advance local planning initiatives.

2. Who is funding these programs?

Funding for this program comes from a combination of federal, state, local, and foundation funds from CMAP and the RTA.

3. Is a local contribution required?

In most cases, if not all, a local monetary contribution will not be required for projects selected during the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance. Applicants will be notified if a local contribution will be needed before project approval. Please contact CMAP or the RTA with any questions.

4. Will applicants need to have the local contribution in hand at the time of the application?

No. CMAP and the RTA expect applicants to have the local contribution available once a project starts. Applicants are not required to have the local contribution available when submitting an application. CMAP and the RTA are flexible with project start dates and can work around local budget cycles. The RTA will invoice for local contribution payments once a project completes.

5. What types of projects have CMAP and the RTA worked on in the past?

Eligible project types for 2021 can be found here. Please visit CMAP’s website and the RTA’s website to learn more about previously funded plans.   

6. Can I apply for more than one type of assistance?

You may apply for more than one type of assistance. Only one type of assistance will be granted per municipality.

7. How many projects will the agencies select this year?

Please review the application materials for more information on the approximate number of applications that will be selected for each type of assistance offered by CMAP. CMAP and the RTA have limited resources for these programs, and not all applications will be selected. Historically, CMAP and the RTA have selected less than 40 percent of the applications received.

8. What projects are NOT eligible?

Project phases, such as land acquisition, engineering, or capital investment, are not intended to be pursued through this program. Large planning studies awarded in previous years, such as transit-oriented development, corridor, and comprehensive plans, are not eligible this year. The 2021 program focuses on small-scale planning and implementation activities. 

9. How will projects be evaluated?

Projects will be evaluated based on criteria derived by CMAP and the RTA. CMAP will evaluate and select projects for the Local Technical Assistance program that are not explicitly transit-focused. The RTA will evaluate and select transit-related projects for the Community Planning program. This year, both agencies are focused on providing technical assistance to high-need municipalities, based on data or factors, such as population, income, and tax base per capita (CMAP Community Cohorts 3 and 4).

10. Who is responsible for managing the project?

A CMAP or RTA staff member or representative will be assigned to each project to assist with project development and management. The local grantee will be responsible for overall project management. Administrative and invoicing responsibilities will vary, depending on the assigned funding agency (CMAP or RTA) and procurement method selected.  

11. Which agency manages which projects?

Once applications are received, CMAP and the RTA will align applications with each agency’s interest. Projects with a direct transit focus are more likely to be managed by the RTA. Projects without transit components likely will go to CMAP. When submitting an application, you do not need to specify whether you think your project is a better fit for CMAP or the RTA. Both agencies will decide during the application review.

12. I submitted an application by the due date on February 3. What are the next steps and how are projects selected?

Staff with CMAP and the RTA will begin reviewing applications immediately after receiving all submissions. While CMAP and the RTA make the final project selections, staff considers feedback from other agencies as appropriate. Staff also may contact applicants to ask questions as necessary. The applications are qualitatively reviewed. You will be notified by staff from the appropriate agency regarding final selections. Subsequent steps for projects admitted into the program will depend on which agency funds the project. A detailed timeline is outlined above.

13. What is the anticipated timeframe for projects to begin?

Project development begins once a project is selected. Our goal is to initiate most of the projects within six months and complete each project within 18 months of initiation.

14. What type of agreement is executed prior to the start of a project?

CMAP and the RTA require an agreement to be signed  and possibly a resolution to be approved before starting projects.

15. What is a Community Cohort and how is it determined?

Community Cohorts are established by grouping communities throughout the CMAP region based on four factors — total population, median household income, tax base per capita, and the percent of the population located in an economically disconnected or disinvested area. CMAP uses the most recent data available to update the list of Community Cohorts each year. The tool and the methodology used for determining cohort designations can be found here. A list of the 2020 Community Cohorts can be found here.

16. Can I request money to cover staff time at my organization?

This program does not offer funds for staff time. Any financial commitment from CMAP or the RTA is dedicated to hiring external contractors/consultants or providing CMAP or RTA staff assistance.

17. Are CTA, Metra, and Pace involved in transit-related projects?

Each transit agency that may be potentially impacted by a study is invited to participate. Additionally, it may be appropriate to involve CMAP in an RTA-led project, and vice versa.

18. How do CMAP and the RTA decide whether to provide selected communities with staff assistance, consultant assistance, or other types of assistance?

During the project review and evaluation process, staff may contact applicants to gain a better understanding of their project. After selection, the agencies confirm with project sponsors whether the project will be accomplished through assigning staff time, providing a grant, conducting a consultant selection process led by CMAP or RTA, or other options. 

19. Will CMAP offer consortiums that focus on other topics in the future? 

Yes. This year, CMAP will provide technical assistance to a cohort of local governments to address shared challenges related to the creative use of public space in response to COVID-19. In the future, CMAP will offer a similar type of assistance focused on other topics.

20. Who do I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact Michael Horsting (horstingm@rtachicago.org) or Lily Neppl (lneppl@cmap.illinois.gov) with any questions.

 

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Community Planning Program and Local Technical Assistance Program

2021 Call for Planning Assistance

The application window for the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance has closed. Following a competitive evaluation process, CMAP selected 24 communities to receive long-term planning assistance. A list of awarded communities and program descriptions can be found here. For more information about CMAP's Local Technical Assistance Program, please visit the LTA web page.

Background

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), in partnership with the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), hosted a small call for communities to apply for technical assistance offerings. The RTA is the oversight, funding, and regional planning agency for the transit Service Boards (Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace).

The COVID-19 pandemic strained municipal capacity like never before while declining revenues made it especially difficult to plan for 2021 and beyond. To best support the region’s immediate needs, CMAP and the RTA focused on providing technical assistance to high-need municipalities based on data or factors, such as population, income, and tax base per capita (CMAP Community Cohorts 3 and 4).

CMAP and the RTA have separate technical assistance programs, but applicants simply needed to apply once through an online application form. Through this coordination, the agencies offered planning and implementation assistance to an expanded base of eligible applicants, provide interagency expertise, technical assistance, and capacity. We were also able to align all efforts with ON TO 2050, the comprehensive plan for the region, and Invest in Transit, the regional transit strategic plan.

Eligible Types of Assistance

Eligible types of assistance in 2021 were limited to the following types:
 

  • Active mobility and curb management plans (RTA)

    The RTA will assist municipalities in planning for balancing the needs of increased deliveries, personal mobility, gathering space, bicycle and pedestrian areas, parking, and more along roadways in a particular community, all while preserving and protecting the use of transit.
     
  • Capital Improvement Programming (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to evaluate existing capital planning processes and provide recommendations to facilitate the development of a transparent, strategic, impactful, and successful Capital Improvement Program (CIP). It is anticipated that up to 10 projects will be awarded.
     
  • Consortium on Public Space Innovations (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to address the shared challenges in their communities through peer relationships, information sharing, and collaboration on solutions. To do this, a dedicated CMAP staff member will facilitate discussions and supply subject matter and administrative support around the creative use of public space in response to COVID-19. It is anticipated that up to five projects will be awarded.
     
  • Developer discussion panels (CMAP and RTA)

    Both CMAP and RTA will facilitate developer panels that will meet with communities to outline needs, goals, and incentives early in the redevelopment of a particular parcel. The expert panels will offer potential strategies and provide a realistic outlook for the future. It is anticipated that up to four projects will be awarded.
     
  • Developing special funding districts (RTA)

    The RTA will help municipalities with planning for an economic development funding district, such as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, Special Service Area (SSA), or Business Improvement District (BID), by assessing the community’s needs, identifying the potential district, and supporting the process to propose and enact such a district.
     
  • Next Program (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to take the “next” steps in implementing existing Local Technical Assistance (LTA) plans by dedicating a CMAP staff member to facilitate prioritization, develop an action plan, and assist the community with execution. It is anticipated that up to three projects will be awarded.
     
  • Resource, Opportunity, Impact (ROI) (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to prepare for grant opportunities by establishing consensus on priority transportation projects, identifying next steps for implementation, and providing resources for municipalities to seek out and manage grant funding. It is anticipated that up to four projects will be awarded.
     
  • Safety Planning (CMAP)

    CMAP will provide technical assistance to local governments to develop design studies and action plans to address vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle safety challenges in their communities. Topics, where applicable, can include the impacts of at-grade rail crossings, intersection flooding, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. It is anticipated that up to 10 projects will be awarded.
     
  • Zoning code updates in transit-served and in transit-oriented development (TOD) areas (RTA)

    The RTA will work with local government staff to create development standards and review processes that make investment in the community more attractive to potential developers, business owners, and residents seeking to improve their property. Zoning updates can be completed for a specific TOD area or transit corridor.

Timeline

Call for Planning Assistance

Date

Action

January 20

Call for Planning Assistance opened

February 3

Call for Planning Assistance closed

February 8

CMAP / RTA sent notification of which agency will evaluate their application

February-March

CMAP / RTA  reviewed applications and contacted applicants with additional questions

March-April

Project selection and approval process

 

2021 Call for Planning Assistance F.A.Q.

1. How is the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance different from CMAP and the RTA’s Annual Call for Projects from previous years?

This year’s Call for Planning Assistance is a targeted call for communities to apply for a limited selection of technical assistance offerings. This effort was initiated in response to the regional impacts of COVID-19. CMAP and the RTA are offering programs that provide support to capacity-constrained communities to help advance local planning initiatives.

2. Who is funding these programs?

Funding for this program comes from a combination of federal, state, local, and foundation funds from CMAP and the RTA.

3. Is a local contribution required?

In most cases, if not all, a local monetary contribution will not be required for projects selected during the 2021 Call for Planning Assistance. Applicants will be notified if a local contribution will be needed before project approval. Please contact CMAP or the RTA with any questions.

4. Will applicants need to have the local contribution in hand at the time of the application?

No. CMAP and the RTA expect applicants to have the local contribution available once a project starts. Applicants are not required to have the local contribution available when submitting an application. CMAP and the RTA are flexible with project start dates and can work around local budget cycles. The RTA will invoice for local contribution payments once a project completes.

5. What types of projects have CMAP and the RTA worked on in the past?

Eligible project types for 2021 can be found here. Please visit CMAP’s website and the RTA’s website to learn more about previously funded plans.   

6. Can I apply for more than one type of assistance?

You may apply for more than one type of assistance. Only one type of assistance will be granted per municipality.

7. How many projects will the agencies select this year?

Please review the application materials for more information on the approximate number of applications that will be selected for each type of assistance offered by CMAP. CMAP and the RTA have limited resources for these programs, and not all applications will be selected. Historically, CMAP and the RTA have selected less than 40 percent of the applications received.

8. What projects are NOT eligible?

Project phases, such as land acquisition, engineering, or capital investment, are not intended to be pursued through this program. Large planning studies awarded in previous years, such as transit-oriented development, corridor, and comprehensive plans, are not eligible this year. The 2021 program focuses on small-scale planning and implementation activities. 

9. How will projects be evaluated?

Projects will be evaluated based on criteria derived by CMAP and the RTA. CMAP will evaluate and select projects for the Local Technical Assistance program that are not explicitly transit-focused. The RTA will evaluate and select transit-related projects for the Community Planning program. This year, both agencies are focused on providing technical assistance to high-need municipalities, based on data or factors, such as population, income, and tax base per capita (CMAP Community Cohorts 3 and 4).

10. Who is responsible for managing the project?

A CMAP or RTA staff member or representative will be assigned to each project to assist with project development and management. The local grantee will be responsible for overall project management. Administrative and invoicing responsibilities will vary, depending on the assigned funding agency (CMAP or RTA) and procurement method selected.  

11. Which agency manages which projects?

Once applications are received, CMAP and the RTA will align applications with each agency’s interest. Projects with a direct transit focus are more likely to be managed by the RTA. Projects without transit components likely will go to CMAP. When submitting an application, you do not need to specify whether you think your project is a better fit for CMAP or the RTA. Both agencies will decide during the application review.

12. I submitted an application by the due date on February 3. What are the next steps and how are projects selected?

Staff with CMAP and the RTA will begin reviewing applications immediately after receiving all submissions. While CMAP and the RTA make the final project selections, staff considers feedback from other agencies as appropriate. Staff also may contact applicants to ask questions as necessary. The applications are qualitatively reviewed. You will be notified by staff from the appropriate agency regarding final selections. Subsequent steps for projects admitted into the program will depend on which agency funds the project. A detailed timeline is outlined above.

13. What is the anticipated timeframe for projects to begin?

Project development begins once a project is selected. Our goal is to initiate most of the projects within six months and complete each project within 18 months of initiation.

14. What type of agreement is executed prior to the start of a project?

CMAP and the RTA require an agreement to be signed  and possibly a resolution to be approved before starting projects.

15. What is a Community Cohort and how is it determined?

Community Cohorts are established by grouping communities throughout the CMAP region based on four factors — total population, median household income, tax base per capita, and the percent of the population located in an economically disconnected or disinvested area. CMAP uses the most recent data available to update the list of Community Cohorts each year. The tool and the methodology used for determining cohort designations can be found here. A list of the 2020 Community Cohorts can be found here.

16. Can I request money to cover staff time at my organization?

This program does not offer funds for staff time. Any financial commitment from CMAP or the RTA is dedicated to hiring external contractors/consultants or providing CMAP or RTA staff assistance.

17. Are CTA, Metra, and Pace involved in transit-related projects?

Each transit agency that may be potentially impacted by a study is invited to participate. Additionally, it may be appropriate to involve CMAP in an RTA-led project, and vice versa.

18. How do CMAP and the RTA decide whether to provide selected communities with staff assistance, consultant assistance, or other types of assistance?

During the project review and evaluation process, staff may contact applicants to gain a better understanding of their project. After selection, the agencies confirm with project sponsors whether the project will be accomplished through assigning staff time, providing a grant, conducting a consultant selection process led by CMAP or RTA, or other options. 

19. Will CMAP offer consortiums that focus on other topics in the future? 

Yes. This year, CMAP will provide technical assistance to a cohort of local governments to address shared challenges related to the creative use of public space in response to COVID-19. In the future, CMAP will offer a similar type of assistance focused on other topics.

20. Who do I contact if I still have questions?

Please contact Michael Horsting (horstingm@rtachicago.org) or Lily Neppl (lneppl@cmap.illinois.gov) with any questions.

 

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