Top Ten Planning Issues Of 2002

PLANetizen editors outline the top 10 planning issues from 2002 -- from the best places to live to understanding the impact of 9/11 on our cities.

Top Trends 2002
Abhijeet Chavan
Chris SteinsWe
have the enviable job of reviewing several hundred planning and development news
articles, reports, books, studies, and editorials each month. We have been amazed
and gratified by the feedback and contributions from the planning community --
many of our news articles are contributed by PLANetizen readers from across the
U.S., and increasingly, from across the world. We track the popularity of the
articles that appear on the PLANetizen website by measuring how many times the
article is read. Based on these statistics, our editorial team selected the most
important issues from 2002, along with links to some of the more popular or influential
stories on each topic.

Best Places To Live

As housing costs continued to rise,
Americans searched for the most affordable and livable cities. A report
identified metropolitan areas with overpriced housing. Another offered
a list of "bubble-proof" cities to buy a home. California finally beats out Florida
as the most desirable state.

Understanding Urban Sprawl

What does sprawl look like? How much
does it cost? Which areas are sprawling the most? Urban planners tried
to explain urban sprawl and its consequences.

Smart Growth And New Urbanism

Smart Growth and New Urbanism
continued to gather momentum and win supporters. Cities and towns
explored these concepts and several development projects claimed to be
influenced by them. However there was no dearth of criticism. Some
claimed that New Urbanism is "Anti-American" or simply ineffective in
slowing urban sprawl.

Big Boxes And Retail

After saturating the suburbs with stores,
"big box" retailers started moving into dense city
neighborhoods.  Communities left behind in the wake of retail
closing explore new uses for abandoned big box store sites.  "Main
street retail" became the newest real estate trend.

Cities And The Creative Class

What makes a city successful?
Traditional economic development is losing market share in favor of
creating incentives that attract the “creative class” – the estimated
30% of people who are paid to think for a living. Competing views
suggest that in order to attract a creative class, cities first need a
vibrant bohemian, gay or ethnic communities to create diversity.

Pedestrians And Cities

As communities sprawl on the urban
fringe, many suburban residents can no longer walk to a local
restaurant or grocery store. Is the lack of pedestrian-friendly
communities creating a public health crisis in the U.S.? Orlando,
Florida wins the dubious designation as the most dangerous place to go
for a walk.

Is Urban Planning Non-Essential?

In what is shaping up to be a
disconcerting trend in 2003, several cities and counties faced with
dire budget deficits are recommending that planning departments
and commissions are "non-essential" and could be eliminated. 

SUVs And The Cost Of Driving

Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV)
served as a lightning rod for criticism. A campaign by a
religious group asked Christians to abandon SUVs and drive
fuel-efficient cars instead. A new book called the SUV "the world's
most dangerous vehicle" and discussed its continuing popularity.
 There was growing concern about the cost of transportation as
Americans searched for cheaper housing.

Impact of 9-11 On Our Cities

Architecture and urban planning entered the national debate.
Repercussions of 9-11 are expected to impact building codes,
architecture, and urban design. The event gave rise to the
questioning of current ideas about the future of cities and the
role of architects and urban planners.

The Future Of Ground Zero

Seven new design concepts developed
by leading designers and architects to rebuild at the site of the World
Trade Center made this the nation's most prominent design
project.  The ideas were applauded for being imaginative and bold
but also criticized for being unrealistic and deconstructionist.

Do you see these trends in your community continuing in 2003? Write a comment
below and let us know what you think the top planning issues will be.

Abhijeet Chavan is
managing editor of PLANetizen.

Chris Steins is
editor of PLANetizen.



The negatives of sprawltalk

During the 1990's America accommodated a small generation of young people onto its landscape. Except for a few Genex valhallas (Austin , Portland etc), the emergence of this small generation onto the landscape was relatively insignificant from a plannig perspective.

"Sprawlmania two" was all about boomers moving out and up, and once arrived, complaining about the others that were sure to follow. Unfortunately they did not take advantage of the 1990's to plan for their own aging process and the housing needs assciated with an aging population or, even more significantly of the emergence of the huge, exceptionally diverse, debt ridden Generation Y into the housing, job, and recreatinal markets of the coming decades .

Sprawl talk 2 and Smart Growth advocacy by environmentalists and preservationists have not prepared us for the near term future when the US will encounter growth issues pressures that we have not witnessed since the decades follwing World War Two. Our plans and ordinances are geared toward maintianing the status quo. Most likely we will see the courts become heavily involved with land use decsion making processes just as they did in the early 1970's when the boomers entered the housing market and encountered zoning ordinances designed to keep the poor and minorities out of the suburbs, and which ultimately contributed to a fourfold increase in housing prices for most americans and a total change in family sructure ( the two income family emerged) that was required to pay for it.

Unfortunately at the moment anything new is being called "sprawl" no matter if it is neo-traditional, well designed suburban infill or planned new communities on the exurban fringe. Sprawlmania Two was resurrected by historic preservation and environmental organizations who still do not understand the AICP code of ethics that require real planners to consider the effects of policy decisions on the elderly , the young, and others without easy access to housing markets and jobs. We cannot simply tell aging boomers what they want to hear in order to ensure the status quo in their comfortable back yards.

By the way for those interested in Sprawlmania One, look up Life magazine issues from 1957. there is a full ten page spread on "the evils of suburban sprawl" by William Whyte. The front cover photo features bulldozers preparing a California hillside for new houses. The oldest boomer was in the eighth grade when this feature article was published. Jane jacobs had just ude the term sprawl in the Life and death of Great American Cities. Plannign needs to be put into the context of the 21st century and should not be about a desparate attempt to hang on to the past.

Top 10 Issues

Glancing at your top-10 list I couldn't help but wonder where "water" falls on your list. Living in the West, suffering through year after year of drought, with no relief in sight, I'd say that water would be number one on a majority of westerner's lists. The water issue promises to affect development, economies, politics, health and migration. Those of us here are keenly aware of the significance of water in every facet of our lives and those of our children. As we watch our trees and landscaping die, water with gray water and conserve as much as possible, the lack of comprehensive water policies at the federal, state, regional and local levels will have a profound impact on all of us.

Least affordable...

I find it hard to believe anywhere is less affordable than Santa Barbara CA. There is nothing available below $500,00 in and around the City. And $500,000 buys you something you don't really want. Then again, I find it hard to believe anywhere is more beautiful or has a better climate.

Big Box & Retail

Its nice to see that you included big box and retail as an important theme is 2002 planning agenda. I am currently writing a report on how planners have not understood retail planning in terms of its effect on land-use decision-making. It is time for planners to pay attention to retail trends and incorporate them wisely into retail policy.

Top ten

This is a great compilation of the top 10 sites and news articles. Although I regulalry check the Planetizen web site, I do miss some good articles some times. This was well organized and timely. Thanks to the editors for a job well done!

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