National Planning Awards 2002

Each year, the American Planning Association recognizes the plans, practices, people, and places that further the field of planning and help create communities of lasting value.

The National Planning Awards jury was chaired by Bruce Knight, AICP, planning director, Champaign, Illinois.

Outstanding Planning Awards

Outstanding Planning for a Plan

Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan
Pima County, Arizona

In 1998 the Pima County Board of Supervisors was deciding how to cope with a regional owl nearing extinction on Tucson's northwest side. The county administrator presented a plan to obtain a ‘take permit,' but environmentalists worried that would allow destruction of the owl's habitat. Instead they suggested studying the desert to find where development would most threaten endangered flora and fauna, then restricting growth in these areas.

After months of negotiations the parties reached an agreement: The county would obtain a take permit, but one that would increase the amount of land protected for restoring the owl population. The resulting plan covered the 9,000 square miles of desert and lay out many themes including ranch conservation, riparian conservation, and protection of mountain parks. The core of the plan was still the biological study which will help determine how to best protect the land.

Outstanding Planning for a Tool

A Handbook for Oregon Communities
Salem, Oregon

The idea of creating a Main Street Handbook for Oregon communities developed during a casual conversation in a "main street" café. The talk was about challenges facing the hundreds of communities in which highways double as main streets, and how to help citizens understand and solve the problems created by the dual-purpose thoroughfares.

The resulting 102-page handbook describes the governmental decision-making process, offers "recipes" and "ingredients" for success, and lays out the possibilities for people-friendly designs. In conjunction with the publication, The Oregon Downtown Development Association hosted statewide and local workshops to discuss main streets.

Outstanding Planning for Implementation

Mountain View Plan for Integrated Transit Oriented Development
Mountain View, California

Located 10 miles north of San Jose, Mountain View has a resident population of 76,000 and grows to more than 100,000 during the workday. In response to the growing imbalance between housing and jobs, city officials updated the general plan.

To implement the plan, the city adopted four precise plans and a transit overlay zone. The precise plans establish broad goals and objectives with detailed development standards for a designated area. Through flexible design approaches, such plans can encourage a variety of housing types, higher densities, and compatibility with the surrounding area.

The zoning changes in Mountain View resulted in construction of high-density residential neighborhoods adjacent to three major transit stations and a pedestrian-oriented office area near a fourth.

Outstanding Planning: Special Community Initiative

Youth Neighborhood Association Partnership Program
Las Vegas, Nevada

In 1999, staff members in the city of Las Vegas Neighborhood Services Department, realized that their efforts to involve more residents in improving and planning their communities had overlooked an important demographic: the youth. A brainstorming session yielded an innovative solution.

The Youth Neighborhood Association Partnership Program awards funding to young people to implement community improvement projects of their design. Young people, with some adult supervision, submit proposals under the auspices of a neighborhood group or association to be reviewed by a committee. Groups can receive up to $1,000 each, but must match that allocation with labor, supplies, and materials. The resulting projects have run the gamut from cleaning up graffiti to rehabilitating an elderly widow's home. So far, 19 youth groups — 300 kids altogether — have qualified for a total of $17,700.

Daniel Burnham Award

Envision Utah

Envision Utah, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization, was formed in 1997 to develop a strategy that would protect the environment and guide the growth of the Greater Wasatch Front for the next 50 years. Home to about 80 percent of Utah's population, forecasts predicted a population explosion that would drive the number of residents from 1.7 million in 1995 to 2.7 million in 2020.

Through five years of research, scenario development, and analysis, Envision Utah brought growth planning to widespread public attention. It enlisted the help of thousands of residents in the creation of the Quality Growth Strategy — a regional plan designed to promote water conservation and clean air, improve region-wide transportation systems, and provide housing options for all residents.

Envision Utah has been instrumental in several other projects including the Davis Shorelands Plan to protect the wetlands along the Great Salt Lake and the Nebo Community Vision to help 10 southern communities prepare for extraordinary population growth.

AICP National Planning Landmarks Awards

The landmark designations honor places, programs, laws, and publications that are at least 25 years old and that have had a significant impact on planning in the U.S. The four landmarks and one pioneer for 2002 were chosen by a jury chaired by AICP's national planning historian, Laurence Gerckens, FAICP.

Chicago Lakefront

At several key points in the city's history, Chicagoans took a stand to keep development off the Lake Michigan shoreline. In 1836, civic leaders refused to sell lakefront land to pay for a new shipping canal and in the 1890s, catalog giant A. Montgomery Ward sued the city several times to keep the lakefront free of buildings.

The deal was sealed in 1909, when Daniel Burnham stated unequivocally in his Plan of Chicago that "the lakefront by right belongs to the people." Years later, in 1971, the Chicago 21 plan for the central area recommended that the lakefront be designated a public use zone and the 1973 Lakefront Protection Ordinance created a commission to review all construction proposals for the central lakefront.

In the words of the AICP jury, "the Chicago lakefront established the importance of major public open space in the development of the Chicago region and provides continuing proof of the value of aggressive and persistent vigilance in preserving a shoreline."

Reston, Virginia

Reston began 40 years ago, with Robert E. Simon, Jr.'s purchase of 6,700 acres in northern Virginia, outside Washington, D.C. Simon worked with the New York firm of Whittlesey & Conklin, to develop a plan that would concentrate development in urban villages and high-density zones, and preserve the site's hills and woods.

The plan divided the site into a series of residential areas designed according to neighborhood unit principles. All are linked by underpasses, bridges, and footpaths. To make the clustered housing possible, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 1962 agreed to create a special "residential planned community" zoning category, covering the entire site. The new zoning allows density to vary from 3.8 to 60 persons per acre, distributed among residential, industrial and government, recreation, and open space uses.

Today, Reston is part of the booming Dulles-Tysons Corner high-tech corridor. The 2001 residential population of 60,000 is matched by an almost equal number of workers, many of them concentrated in the Reston Town Center, which provides half a million square feet of retail and office space.

AICP National Planning Pioneer Awards

Planning pioneers have made major contributions to planning practice, education, or theory.

Robert E. Simon, Jr.

Robert E. Simon, Jr. introduced urban living to the American suburban countryside at Lake Anne Village Center, created the nation's first planned unit community zone, and founded a community dedicated to social openness, citizen participation, and the dignity of the individual.

According to Philip Clark, FAICP, a 30-year resident who nominated Reston and Simon for AICP honors, Simon's key goals were "to make it possible for anyone to remain in a neighborhood throughout his life" and "to live and work in the same community."

Simon is most proud of the variety of townhouses that characterize Reston development. "We started with different flavors of townhouses to see if we could seduce people into buying them," he said. "The bankers said they would not work. But they did work."

At age 79, Simon moved back to Reston, where he lives in the 15-story Heron House in Lake Anne Village Center.

Distinguished Leadership

Professional Planner

Alec Bash, AICP

As a civil engineering student at MIT in 1968, Alec Bash decided on a planning career.

"The cities were burning, and I wanted to do something about it," he said.

After earning a master's in city planning from the University of North Carolina, he began working with the San Francisco planning department where he stayed for many years.

In 1985, Bash took on a new responsibility as director of the Mission Bay project. For five years, he oversaw preparation of the general and specific plans, and rezoning for the 300-acre mixed-use neighborhood. The general plan, which would set aside 37.5 percent of the site for affordable housing, won a national APA award, as did the environmental impact statement.

In 1996, once again seeing a need to fill, Bash transferred to the Port of San Francisco, where he worked on special projects, including the Ferry Building restoration and the Waterfront Historic District.

Citizen Planner

Jennings Jones

Soon after Jennings Jones returned to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, after military service in World War II, he saw the need for a planning commission, and when a new city council established a commission, he became its chairman.

When he chaired the commission, there was no up-to-date map of Murfreesboro. Jones drew the first subdivision maps, piloting the plane used to collect visual data from the air. He developed a major road plan, which has over the years been built into the city's major traffic arteries.

Beginning in 1950, Jones served four years as mayor, and during his tenure the Murfreesboro Housing Authority was established, low-cost housing was built, and 55 acres of slum land were turned into valuable real estate.

One of the major beneficiaries of Jones's philanthropy is the Jennings A. Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The state matched his donation to establish the Jennings and Rebecca Jones Chair of Excellence in Urban and Regional Planning. The chair's mission is to produce and disseminate information related to planning needs and issues in the mid-state region.

Elected Official

Mayor Jeremy Harris
Honolulu, Hawaii

Jeremy Harris was elected in 1994, 1996, and 2000 as mayor of the city and county of Honolulu. In that role, he initiated a community based planning process for the city, the 21st Century Visioning Process. Nineteen vision groups have proposed more than 350 projects since the neighborhood process began. Mayor Harris has committed $38 million in capital improvement funds each year to ensure the success of the process.

Prior to becoming mayor, Harris served as the managing director of Honolulu where he oversaw development of a number of affordable and senior citizen housing projects. The planning focus was livability, contextual architecture, and respect for the existing environment, bringing recognition and awards to the projects and to Harris from the American Institute of Architects.

Current Topic Award: Planning for Heritage Areas & Sustainable Tourism

The Confluence: A Conservation, Heritage and Recreation Corridor Master Plan
St. Louis, Missouri

For thousands of years, the Mississippi and Missouri rivers have drawn many peoples and cultures to their banks from the Missippian-Woodland Indians to French fur traders. But while St. Louis has become a thriving urban community, the population has become disconnected from the historic rivers. Efforts in the late 1990s to improve the amount of greenspace and access to the river resulted in the Confluence Greenway Partnership.

The partnership of five non-profit agencies developed a master plan to link more than 200 square miles of river front, bluffs, and floodplain. The goal is to provide open areas in which the public can enjoy the historical, cultural, and natural resources of the confluence and at the same time maintain and preserve existing agricultural and industrial areas. The master plan includes construction of a Great Rivers Resource Interpretive and calls for trails linking the different attractions along the river.

Public Education Award

Complete Communities Program
Clackamas County, Oregon

Members of the Board of Commissioners of Clackamas County wanted to know how their constituents saw the future of their communities and sought a broad-based way to connect with citizens. They found one — a two-year program known as "Complete Communities for Clackamas County" aimed to engage the greatest number of county residents in guiding future policy decisions and actions.

Volunteers took the project all over the county conducting door-to-door outreach, a scientific telephone survey, and more than 70 local meetings. Special efforts were made to involve Spanish-speaking residents by translating materials into Spanish and providing childcare and transportation for local meetings. Following two series of smaller local meetings, two large all-day meetings developed and refined recommendations on a range of issues from cultural diversity to governance in unincorporated areas.

In May 2001, the county commission adopted the report and recommendations, which listed specific actions in each of the 11 categories. Since then several hundred volunteers and county staff members have been developing work plans for implementation.

Women in Planning Award (in honor of Diana Donald)

Susan J. Friedland

Since her start in 1997 at the Fifth Avenue Committee, a community development corporation in Brooklyn, Susan Friedland has overseen six innovative projects, creating more than 100 units of affordable housing for women and families.

As a leader in the Committee's housing development, Friedland created two buildings on Warren Street in a gentrifying neighborhood. One of the buildings contains 67 units of supportive housing for low-income single people; the other is an 11-unit cooperative apartment building for moderate-income working families. Friedland also developed a nine-unit transitional residence for homeless pregnant women. In all of these projects, Friedland worked with present and future residents to develop the building concept, gain needed support, and brainstorm about design standards and innovations.

Friedland received a master's of city and regional planning degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1994 and bachelor's degree in urban studies from Brown University.

Legislators of the Year

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

In January 1999, Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, decided that his Senate colleagues needed a bipartisan forum to discuss the smart growth strategies emerging across the country and a means of promoting federal efforts to help communities achieve sustainable growth. He joined with Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, then a Republican, now an Independent, to launch the Senate Smart Growth Task Force.

As co-chairman of the resulting Senate Smart Growth Task Force, Levin has accumulated an unparalleled record of support for federal initiatives that assist and complement state and local planning and smart growth efforts.

Levin cosponsored the Community Character Act, which would establish federal grants for states and communities to develop or update land-use statutes and comprehensive plans. Levin has been a leader on other smart growth bills: brownfields reform, land conservation efforts, the location of post offices and other federal facilities, tax credits for historic home ownership, funding for urban parks, and rural regional planning.

Representative Eva Clayton (D-N.C.)

Representative John Peterson (R-Pa.)

During the often controversial farm bill reauthorization debate last year in the U.S. House of Representatives, two legislators achieved remarkable success for planning in rural communities and regions. Congresswoman Eva Clayton and Congressman John Peterson, were the driving force behind a new program to provide grants and technical assistance for rural regional planning.

The Clayton-Peterson amendment, approved by the House 235–183, provides $45 million per year for 10 years, one of the most significant federal investments ever directed at planning for rural areas. Both Clayton and Peterson believe that federal economic development programs often overlook rural communities and led the effort on behalf of planning assistance, believing it to be a key component of rural development.

HUD Secretary's Opportunity & Empowerment Award

Model Blocks Program
Fort Worth, Texas

Model Blocks, a program of the city of Fort Worth, concentrates public and private resources to revitalize the central city, one neighborhood at a time. Designed as a comprehensive, visible attack on problems of poor and declining neighborhoods, the program invests at least $1.2 million over several years in different small geographic areas. The goals are building strong neighborhoods, a safe community, and a sound economy.

After a competitive selection process, implementation of the Model Block program starts with one-week effort to concentrate routine and sometimes special city services in the neighborhood. The following efforts include rehabilitation of owner-occupied houses, construction of new houses on vacant lots, homebuyer assistance, and small business loans.

Since 1993 the city has designated 12 Model Blocks districts and, drawing on community block grant and HOPE funds, has made awards totaling $14.4 million. Housing projects have resulted in major improvement or replacement of 152 owner-occupied houses; minor repairs for 60 dwellings occupied mainly by elderly and low-income residents; and 28 new houses. Beyond this are street improvements, eight enlarged and enhanced neighborhood parks, and three community centers.

AICP Student Project Awards

In recognition of outstanding papers or class projects by a student or group of students from accredited planning programs. Jurors for the AICP Student Project Awards were Eugenie Birch, FAICP; Linda Cox, FAICP; Fritz Wagner, FAICP; and Frank Wein, FAICP

Applied Research

A Health Center in West Side Park
Rutgers University, New Jersey

Advisor: Kathe Newman

Students: Mivelia Andika, Leena Basnyet, Abeni Crooms, Robert Diogo, Louis Fineberg, Ariana Funaro, Lukus Herbert, Danny Knee, Jagadish Prakash, Denise Ramirez, Kristin Russell, Sally Samuel, Deborah Spayd

For their work on an urban health center.

Demonstrating the Contribution of Planning to Contemporary Issues

Ardmore Business District Authority Redevelopment Plan
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Advisor: Eugenie Birch, FAICP

Students: Amy Decker, Cara Griffin, Bridget Keegan, Rob Lamb, Chris Mrozinski, Emilia Paiva-Turra

For their redevelopment plan for the Ardmore, Pennsylvania, business district.

APA Journalism Awards

In recognition of outstanding coverage of city and regional planning issues by newspapers in the United States and Canada.

Judges for the 2002 competition were:

Dirk Johnson, Chicago bureau chief of Newsweek
John Paige, planning director of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission
Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago
Janet Smith, assistant professor in the College of Planning and Urban Affairs at the University of Illinois in Chicago

Large Newspapers (circulation above 100,000)

Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago, Illinois
Writers: Kate N. Grossman and Curtis Lawrence

In "CHA's Big Gamble," the Chicago Sun-Times told the story of the Chicago Housing Authority and the people who live there. It also explained what the options will be after the housing authority tears down its old high-rise buildings — and what those options mean to the entire city.

Reporters Kate N. Grossman and Curtis Lawrence spent four months reporting the CHA story, distilling their information into a four-day series of articles and later following up with year-long coverage.

Medium Newspapers (circulation 50,000-100,000)

Green Bay Press-Gazette, Green Bay, Wisconsin

In a seven-day series called "A Vision for Green Bay," the Green Bay Press-Gazette connected the dots between a declining downtown and a sprawling periphery. The series was the paper's contribution to the launch of the city's 20-year plan, mandated by the state of Wisconsin.

The judges noted that the Press-Gazette provided "steady, continual coverage of tough planning issues" including community image, annexation, and congestion.

"Newspapers aren't obliged to facilitate community dialogue, but this newspaper did it," the judges said. "It provided massive coverage on a topic that's important to communicate."

Small Newspapers (circulation below 50,000)

Anderson Independent-Mail, Anderson, South Carolina

"Anderson at the Crossroads," the newspaper's largest project ever at 35 pages, covered the topic of change and how to cope with it. Overall, the stories took 10 months to produce and engaged most of the staff.

What inspired this extensive coverage was the sense that local officials in this growing community were veering from one short-term fix to another. In contrast, the Independent-Mail explored what Anderson might be like in 40 years. That led to discussions of demographics, infrastructure, boundaries, and cultural identity.

"This newspaper took the initiative to create a visioning process for its area," the judges noted. "It put the community in a national context and brought the discussion all the way down to the core of the community."

Journal of the American Planning Association Awards

In recognition of the best contribution during the year to the scholarly journal of APA.Philip Berke headed the committee that selected the article.

 "Symposium: Putting the Future in Planning," Autumn 2001, v. 67, no. 4
Dowell Myers, Martin Wachs, and Sam Cole, with a commentary by Linda Dalton

The planning field has been criticized at times for relying too heavily on present-focused decisions about space. This article seeks to answer the question: How should planners proceed to put the future back in planning?

In attempting to answer the question, each of the four contributing authors provides a different perspective from alternative interpretations of prospective demographic trends to differentiating between forecasting and envisioning.

Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Awards

Jerold S. Kayden and Ellen P. Ryan
The New York City Privately Owned Public Space Project