With over 5,000 planners in attendance, and 200 sessions ranging from smart growth to gay urban aesthetics, Chicago is the place to be this week as the American Planning Association hosts its annual National Planning conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Day 4: Wednesday (April 17)
By Kevin Keller
The conference entered the home stretch Wednesday and finished in a final
burst of sessions on another picture-perfect Chicago spring day. Looks
of grief were equal parts realization that soon the attendees would no
longer be in the company of thousands of their peers and realization that
real work loomed once again on the horizon. From gaining new acquaintances
and job skills, to impromptu discussions of van-pooling in the hotel bar,
this 2002 national planning conference went off without a hitch, and seemed
to be receiving high marks from all.
Publishing in APA and AICP Publications
A morning session, "Publishing in APA and AICP Publications,"
opened the door for conference-goers to submit articles to planning publications.
Peter Link of Portland State University and Jerry Weitz, Jr.
of Jerry Weitz & Associates, Inc., outlined submission requirements
and tips for placing an article in the Journal of the American Planning
Association and the AICP Planner's Casebook, of which they
are the respective editors. James Hecimovich and Marya Morris,
of the of the APA's home office in Chicago, invited interested planners
to work on preparing new Planning Advisory Services reports and
memos on topics of national professional interest. Sylvia Lewis,
editor of Planning Magazine, revealed the secret tips and tricks
to help get your article into the magazine.
New Strategies for Growth Management
Throughout the conference halls, the hot topic of the day was growth in
all forms: urban, suburban and rural. An afternoon session, "New
Strategies for Growth Management," presented a series of invigorating
approaches to integrate all these levels of growth types into a single
comprehensive plan. Elizabeth Miller, formerly principal planner
with the Palm Beach County Planning Department in Florida, wowed the the
audience with the county's concept of "tiers," a five-level
hierarchy of increasingly intensive land use designations developed for
their rapidly-growing communities in South Florida. Lorraine Duffy
of the Hillsborough County Planning Commission explained the ongoing evolution
of Tampa, FL's urban service area, and the impact of multiple revisions
in response to changing patterns of growth and vision by introducing the
Sarasota 2050 Plan. The panel was moderated by Carol Stricklin
of the Orlando planning department.
The conference closing session brought together five experts from the
extended realm of planning to discuss and debate the future of human settlement
in the 21st century. Participating were AICP president Sam Casella,
Robert Bruegmann of the University of Illinois-Chicago, Saskia
Sasson of the University of Chicago, Chicago-area developer Dirk
Lohan of Lohan Associates, and Edward Buikema, Director of
FEMA Region V. Moderated by Judith Mortin of the University of
Minnesota-Minneapolis, discussion moved quickly from identifying city
emergency management plans in the wake of the events of September 11th
to a more far-reaching discussion of the continuing impact of change in
all forms: technology, time, evolution, the environment, and disaster.
The consensus of the panel was a shared view that the role of the city
in society extends far back into our collective urban history and will
continue to extend into our collective urban future. The majority of panelists
identified the environment as the single most important factor that will
influence settlement in the next century.
Thanks to our Contributors!
PLANetizen wants to thank the contributing editors who generously
volunteered their time to prepare daily articles from the conference:
Kevin Keller, Christopher
Williamson, AICP, Pablo Monzon, and
Anatalio Ubalde. If you enjoyed this independent
daily coverage of the APA national planning conference, and would like
us to consider doing this again in future years, please let
us know. We'll also forward your comments on to the contributors.
A special thanks to Kim McKeggie of APA's public affairs department,
who helped to make sure we were able to cover the conference. -- Chris
Day 3: Tuesday (April 16)
By Chris Steins
Longtime Chicago Tribune urban affairs writer, John McCarron,
published a Sunday editorial
column, "Daley as Visionary," about the process of planning
in Chicago and the national planning conference being held in the city.
McCarron also hosted a fascinating mobile tour of Chicago, along with
Lee Bay, Mayor Daley's deputy chief of staff for planning and Joel
Wert, Director of communications for the City's planning department.
A fascinating special Tuesday evening discussion show on the Chicago PBS
affiliate, WTWW11, featured John McCarron, APA Executive Director
W. Paul Farmer, and Alicia Mazur Berg, chief of Chicago's
Department of Planning and Development, discussing planning in Chicago
and the role of planners in the city's future. The conclusion: Mayor
Richard M. Daley personally sets the planning agenda for the Chicago,
and, as McCarron says, is "directing an extraordinary urban renaissance."
E-Government for Economic Development and Planning
Anatalio Ubalde of GIs Planning (Berkeley, CA) introduced the topic
with an overview of E-Government and the implications for local and state
governments. In a study by the University of Maryland, School of Business,
over 53% of online adults had made a purchase on the Internet in the preceding
12 months, but only 13% of those same adults had visited their local or
state government website for information. Chris Steins of Urban
Insight (Los Angeles, CA) started the discussion with an overview of four
types of E-Government: G2C (Government to Citizen/consumer), G2B (Government
to Business), G2G (Government to Government) and Internal workflow and
automation. He presented two examples of successful technologies used
in E-Government: Web based mapping for workforce development research
by the Los Angeles County Workforce Collaborative (maps.laworkforce.org
and www.laworkforce.org); and
content management systems used by PLANetizen (www.planetizen.com),
as a model of how to manage and deliver daily news. Bruce Race
of RaceStudios (Berkeley, CA), provided an overview of SacSites (www.sacsites.com)
as an example of a highly successful public- and private-sector partners
collaborating to create an innovative economic development website that
allows businesses to search for available development sites. Pablo
Monzon of GIS Planning (Berkeley, CA) provided several tips on building
good web-based mapping applications. "Think about who the user is,"
Monzon said. "Don't build GIS sites for GIS users -- build it for
citizens. Focus on the service or problem you want to solve instead of
focusing on the technology." Monzon then demonstrated two E-Government
sites, a new Traffic Alert System
for the South Bay Cities, and an impressive planning and land use system
for the City of Hayward, California.
Planning Awards Luncheon
The annual awards luncheon was moderated by APA Executive Director W.
Paul Farmer, AICP, who opened the luncheon with a moment of silence
for the events and victims of September 11. "The theme for the day,"
APA President Paul Farmer said, "Is that from many voices come one
vision." Videos introducing each of the award-winning projects preceded
presentation of the APA's prestigious national planning awards for excellence
in plans, individuals, and organizations. The APA has information about
all of the awards
and winners. The 2002 winners represent dedicated, innovative
planning from Honolulu to Brooklyn, from the desert to downtown.
Uniting Density, Design, and Development
Kath Phelan, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT introduced the panel, which
developed as a response to frustration at last year's conference which
seemed to focus heavily on suburban and rural issues. Panelists discussed
planning efforts in Los Angeles, Boston, and West Palm Beach. Clearly,
the topic was a popular one, drawing close to 800 people, with standing
room only. Kevin Keller with the City of Los Angeles Planning Department
led the discussion with a discussion of how to re-urbanize Los Angeles
and responsibly increase density to accommodate the largest projected
urban growth in the nation over the last 20 years, using the city's heavily-urbanized
Wilshire Blvd. as a case study "In Los Angeles we have three things,
the Boulevard., The Transit; and The People. In our case the answer
is to focus on densification and transit infrastructure," Keller
said. Kimberly Jones, with the City of Boston, discussed the current
state of planning in Boston -- a city of neighborhoods. Joe Minicozzi
with the City of West Palm Beach offered a riveting presentation of the
challenges and successes faced by West Palm Beach (FL). The City has revitalized
its downtown with streetscape improvements, a public plaza, a new urban
retail center ("shoppertainment") -- which have created new
market demand for housing in and around downtown. "The environment
is there. If you offer enough design cues, people will learn how to live
in downtown," said Minicozzi.
New APA and AICP Presidents Elected
Members elected to serve as APA and AICP leadership for the next two years
were announced in Chicago this week. The APA has a full
list of the newly-elected APA President-Elect and Board of Directors
and the AICP President-Elect and Commissioners.
Georgia's Plan Builder
In the morning, Dan Basso of the Georgia Department of Community
Affairs presented the Georgia Plan Builder which is an innovative management
system to web enable the planning process in the state of Georgia (www.georgiaplanning.com).
The system is a decision support tool that allow local governments to
organize, publish and update their comprehensive plans on the web.
Plaza as a Place Maker
Ken M. Hughes of the State of New Mexico Local Government Division
discussed the importance of public gathering places to reinforce community
identity and democracy. He presented the plaza as an instrument to "transform
communities into more livable, usable places for people all ages."
Hughes presented ten ways for a plaza to make sense of place. Suggestions
included: community input; observation of current uses; keeping the plaza
local; providing a rich mix of uses; and interest and designing the plaza
flexible enough for different events. Other presenters included Peter
Musty of the Charrette Center Commission (MN) and Harrison T. Higgins,
AICP, of Florida State University-Tallahassee.
Transforming How Planning Departments Deliver Information
In the late afternoon, there was a session about how planning departments
provide access to information to city staff and citizens. Laura E.
Clarke of Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission discusssed
the importance of providing a central point of service for zoning and
planning information. She emphasized that by providing access to all staff,
customer support will improve significantly. Derek R. Hill of the
Planning & Development Department Administration of the City of Detroit
presented the city's "Welcome Information Center" which is a
service center for providing all the information needed for property purchase,
rehabilitation or development. Robert Paternoster of the City of
Sunnyvale, California presented their one stop permit center which tracks
permits, staff comments, hearing dates, fees, and land/parcel data. He
also presented their new "e-one stop which allows permits to be issued
online, and provides plan check status and information on scheduling and
history. Sunnyvale has also been testing electronic plan review.
Day 2: Monday (April 15)
By Kevin Keller
Today, planners were back at it, crowding into the first round of sessions
at 8:45 a.m. sharp, although a general haze of grogginess indicated some
had not so successfully bounced back from the Opening Reception last night
at Chicago's famous Field Museum of Natural History under the watchful
Jurassic gaze of Sue, the world's most complete T-rex.
Redeveloping Riverfront Brownfields
A morning session, "Redeveloping Riverfront Brownfields" drew
in the crowds to learn how Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ are working
together to tackle the host issues of environmental remediation and waterfront
reclamation. Roshi Pelaseyed of Traid Associates (Drescher, PA)
gave an overview of the region's "Two Cities -- Once Exciting Waterfront"
concept followed by an engaging presentation by Philadelphia City Planning
Commissioner Maxine Griffith, AICP outlining the aggressive strategy
of reclaiming the city's long-neglected post industrial waterfront for
infill housing and open space. Other speakers included Gary Reiber
of URS Corp.
Making Places Special
A disappointing afternoon panel, "Making Places Special" gave
attendees a sneak-preview of a soon-to-be-released book of the same name
presented by author Gene Bunnell, AICP of Vassar College's Urban
Studies Program. Bunnell presented the detailed methodology and approach
he used in documenting eight case study cities and the respective impacts
of local planning efforts over the last two decades. While avoiding any
design discussion which much of the audience expected as part of a place-making
session, Burnell and Michael Stepner, FAIA, FAICP, of Stepner Design
Group (San Diego, CA) instead made a case for the importance of documenting
the internal policies, procedures and histories of local planning over
time, using Duluth, MN and San Diego, CA as models of "special places."
Walkable Healthy Communities
One of the favorite sessions of the day was "Walkable Healthy Communities"
starring the Michigan Department of Transportation. The session was part
of this a featured conference track on the interrelationships of transportation
and community. David T. Downey, of the Michigan Society of Planning
Officials, Michael D. Eberlein of the Bureau of Transportation
Planning, (Lansing, Mich) and Leslie E. Kettren, AICP, of HNTB
(East Lansing, Mich.) presented the statewide program which teaches one
community at a time about the benefits and nuts and bolts of planning
in support of increasing the use and function of pedestrian and non-motorized
forms of transportation. The concepts of walking audits -- encouraging
residents and professionals alike to learn first hand as pedestrians what
works and what doesn't -- and strategies such as "walk your child
to school day", were well-received by audience members. In a discussion
following the panel, planners expressed disappointment with the recent
traffic circle conversion craze and the impact of traffic circles have
on walkability as pedestrians try to safely cross roundabouts.
Is There a Gay Aesthetic?
The Gays and Lesbians in Planning Division sponsored a compelling panel
asking, "Is there a Gay Aesthetic?" which chronicled the historic
influence of the "queer community" in design, architecture and
urban planning. Panelists also discussed the changing role of gay enclaves
in New York, West Hollywood, Chicago and San Francisco and the growing
conservatism that is emerging in these and other gay and lesbian neighborhoods.
Youth Changing Communities
Youth are getting more involved as planners, which was evident in the
"Youth Changing Communities" session. Young people living in
HOPE VI housing developments from all over the nation gathered for the
first ever "Youth Leadership by Design" conference in Washington
D.C. At the conference trainers facilitated the education of youth through
teamwork building, leadership training and design education so that youth
could go back into their communities to make the new housing developments
more youth-friendly. An urban design exercise including a site visit,
information gathering and model building culminated in the young people
presenting design solutions and strategies they could implement in their
A report of the ethnic make-up of the planning profession was presented
by the New York Metro Chapter of the APA that showed significant under-representation
for Hispanic and African Americans in the profession of planning. This
survey covered the New York area for public, private and non-profit planning
practitioners. Data showed that under-representation has persisted with
little improvement over recent years. Panelists discussed the value added
by planning professionals with diverse backgrounds to the planning process.
With equity being one of the six major goals of the APA, attendees expect
greater institutional support from the APA to increase minority opportunities
in the profession.
Day 1: Sunday (April 14)
Chicago -- With over 5,000 planners in attendance, and 200 sessions ranging
from smart growth to gay urban aesthetics, Chicago is the place to be
this week as the American Planning Association hosts its annual National
Planning conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
The Opening Session
by Chris Steins, PLANetizen Editor
Chicago -- Despite the early hour (8:30 a.m.!) on a beautifully warm
and sunny Sunday morning, several thousand planners packed the ballroom
for the opening session, which got off to a rousing start with a moving
song from the Chicago Children's Choir.
Alicia Mazur Berg, chief of Chicago's
Department of Planning and Development welcomed the attendees and
offered a rundown of Chicago's major planning efforts. Although Chicago
has seen out-migration of 100,000 people per decade since World War II,
the city is now rebounding, with a net gain of 112,000 residents in the
last decade, and successful revitalization of much of downtown Chicago.
Three of the city's most significant planning efforts include a new focus
on a massive riverfront development along Wacker Drive; the Lake Michigan
Plan, which will connect a greenway across the lake's 26-mile perimeter;
and a rewrite of the City's zoning code, which was originally drafted
By the time Edward Blakely, dean of the Robert
J. Milano School of Management and Urban Policy, began his keynote,
there was standing room only. "We stand at a crossroads where those
outside planning are doing more than planners -- lawyers, engineers, and
the financial markets." Blakely discussed the significance of of
September 11 on the planning profession. As a nation, we are forced to
face the enemy within. Planners will have to decide whether to erect more
fortifications or to extend the promise of America more evenly. Blakely
challenged the APA on five points:
- The APA should setup an international commission for planning in cities
around the world to define principles and standards for planning and
- The APA should create a model regional planning code to focus on regional
development, and encourage the adoption of regional planning;
- The APA and AICP should advance social equity planning and enforce
equity planning ideals in all that it does;
- Academics should join the ranks of professional planners to advance
the field, and not view practicing planners as simply regulators; and,
- The APA should begin planning for the next America.
(Editor's note: Apr. 16 -- the full text of Blakely's address is now
available in PDF.)
APA President Bruce McClendon, FAICP, served as the moderator
and outlined the process by which APA reviewed over 100 planning principles
and narrowed these down to focus on six fundamental guiding principles,
of which one is social planning. McClendon closed the session by noting
that the first planning conference was held 99 years ago today in 1903
in Washington D.C., with 43 planners in attendance, and in which then-President
William Taft delivered the opening address.
Panel Themes: Nexus
Nexus is the operative theme so far at the conference. Perhaps a better
way to express this legal term is "no-nonsense, common sense."
Planners seem serious and focused as they moved through the plush Hyatt
Regency overlooking the Chicago River. Questions to panelists were numerous,
specific, and focused on "how-to" topics.
Impact Fees and Growth Management
Impact fees are increasing at 4.5% per year and they continue to be a
flash-point on the development versus growth management debate. The all
important nexus of impact fees to the infrastructure that they fund remains
solid, but some common-sense variations were presented by Clancy Mullen
of Duncan Associates (Austin, TX). Don't charge fees in already-developed
areas, or at least charge less; use other funds to subsidize fees, but
don't waive them as part of a growth management or smart growth program,
and vary the all-important school fee by unit size. Other speakers included
James C. Nicholas, University of Florida-Gainesville.
Connecting Water, Land, and Growth
The next nexus issue addresses was linking planning to the availability
of water, which is a common-sense assumption for planners. Yet, the assumption
about water and land use have always been:
- Governments will always provide water for whatever is needed and approved;
- Water flows uphill to money (thus enabling assumption #1); and,
- Population increases in proportion to decreasing availability of water
(or at least, this is true in the West).
This paradigm is changing for a variety of reasons. California and Nevada
are experimenting with linking water to planning in a forceful way. But
don't look for a privatization process, "It won't work," says
Patricia Mulroy, general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District.
"Most water decisions are about transferring from one user to another,
not developing new supplies." Other speakers included Lora A.
Lucero, AICP, American Planning Association; A. Dan Tarlock,
Chicago Kent College of Law; Denise Fort, University of New Mexico--Albuquerque;
and Randy Kanouse, East Bay Municipal Utility District (Sacramento,
TDRs from Rural Areas to Downtowns
Transferring rights and nexus came together as panelists discuss a King
County, Seattle program that allows owners of agricultural land in unincporated
areas to sell development right to developers in Seattle's Denny Triangle
neighborhood. A mixed-use, high-rise project is nearly entitled with an
additional 166 TDR housing units. Half of the per-unit TDR fee goes to
preserve open space in rural Kings County; the other half goes to improving
streets an facilities surrounding the high-rise. Speakers included Rocky
E. Piro, AICP, Puget Sound Regional Council, (Seattle, WA); Mark
R. Sollitto, King County TDR Program (Seattle, WA); Elsie Crossman,
City of Seattle; and Keith W. Dearborn.
Day 1: Lots of people, lots of ideas, lots of details and lots of fun.
(by Chris Steins, PLANetizen Editor)
Kudos to the Chicago planning committee for producing the best opening
reception in recent history. After a poorly-planed and widely criticized
opening reception in Chicago in 1993 and a reception last year in New
Orleans that kept attendees waiting in drizzling rain, the host committee
spared no expense in throwing quite a bash this year. The dazzling Field
Natural History Museum just off Lake Michigan was the perfect location.
Despite a crowd of thousands, there were plenty of drinks and refreshments,
no lines, and and planners could socialize in the main hall and balconies,
or wander through the open exhibits.
About the Contributing Writers
Kevin Keller is an associate planner with the City of Los Angeles,
CA specializing in long range planning, urban design and historic preservation.
Kevin also serves as a board member on the Los Angeles Section of the
Dr. Chris Williamson, AICP is a staff senior research associate at
Solimar Research Group in Ventura,
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