As editors of PLANetizen, we review several hundred planning and development news articles, reports, books, studies, and editorials each month. Many of our news articles are contributed by correspondents and readers, and we also track the popularity of each article. This provides us a unique insight into which issues urban planners, developers, and allied professionals consider important. Based on this understanding, we have selected the most important issues from 2003, along with links to some of the more popular or influential stories on each topic.
(Note: Only stories that are still available for free from the source publication were included in this list.)
From the physical presence of its huge stores to its repercussions on local businesses, Wal-Mart is changing America. Critics warned of the consequences of Wal-Mart's low priced foreign-manufactured goods on our economy and society. Cities and citizens developed strategies to respond to the arrival of the world's largest retailer in their communities.
The mall, an iconic structure of the American landscape, may be headed for exctinction. Is the cycle now being repeated with aging Wal-Mart supercenters? What will we do with the skeletons being left behind?
After experts linked obesity with sprawl, New Urbanism and Smart Growth advocates had new ammunition to support their arguments. But the link between public health and sprawl continues to questioned.
Cities around the world closely follow a radical, but ultimately successful experiment to charge drivers of private cars entering central London. After London's experience, congesting charging doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore. Will this work in other cities?
The Bush administration proposed drastic changes to decades-old environmental laws drawing fierce criticism from critics, who charge that the administration is systematically dismantling the last 50 years of environmental progress.
Are we seeing the rise of a different class of cities? Cities begin to explore how smaller areas can challenge urban centers as the "urban heirarchy" flattens out, and the areas between the urban core and suburbs develop personalities of their own.
In 2002, Richard Florida initiated a new way of thinking about the benefits of the creative class to the urban economy. In 2003, with an eye on their economic health cities begin to experiment with the theory and attract different types of talent and businesses.
As the nation headed to war with Iraq, planners discussed how to reduce dependence on oil, and whether U.S. development patterns are a result of cheap gas.
Critics question whether traditional and outdated zoning is in fact constraining new urbanism and smart growth development in favor of sprawl. Is it time for a fresh look at how we zone our cities?
Linking land use and transportation has gained popularity in 2003, not just within the planning community, but also in the media. Cities begin experimenting with TOD projects based on a wide variety of successful TOD projects across the nation that have demonstrated that linking transit and land use is both sustainable and good business.
Can you predict the top issues for 2004? Write a comment below and let us know.
Abhijeet Chavan and Chris Steins are co-editors of PLANetizen.