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.