Top Trends 2002 We 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.