National Planning Awards 2003

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, FAICP.

Outstanding Planning Awards

Outstanding Planning for a Plan

Destination 2030, Metropolitan Transportation Plan for the Central Puget Sound Region

With a population of 3 million people expected to increase by more than 1.5 million in the next 30 years, traffic is a major issue in the central Puget Sound region.

Transportation investment principles in the plan support a regional land-use vision that calls for the creation and revitalization of livable urban communities linked by an efficient transportation system, while preserving open space and limiting sprawl.

In the first 10 years, the emphasis is on streets and county roads. High-capacity transit is also high on the list. But among the most urgent needs are adequate, reliable sources of revenue to support a project that adds up to $105 billion.

Outstanding Planning for a Project

Philadelphia City Planning Commission's Community Heritage Preservation Project
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

As Philadelphia begins an unprecedented effort to tear down thousands of the vacant buildings that fester in its neighborhoods, city planners have found a way to save the past those structures represent. Through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the city's planning commission has developed a protocol to identify, document, and, in some instances, preserve historically significant structures and artifacts.

The project uses a combination of traditional and high-tech tools to increase awareness of cultural heritage, including exhibits that showcase the projects to the community, a school curriculum for 4th and 11th graders and 20 hours of recorded oral histories to be used for audio tours.

Outstanding Planning for Implementation

Southside Development Plan
Greensboro, North Carolina

Greensboro's 1990 Center City Plan identified the Southside area as a unique development opportunity because of its potential as a gateway to the city's central business district and the 1997 Implementation Strategy created the fiscal, logistical, and program mechanisms the city needed to act.

A priority system was established to help schedule the enormously complex project, with 20 city departments working to carry out the plan. One result was the Traditional Neighborhood Ordinance that encouraged infill development.

With funds approved through a bond referendum, the city built a combination of new townhouses, live/work units and single-family homes. The first new residents moved in during the summer of 2001 and home sales in the first three weeks of 2003 set a record.

Outstanding Planning for a Special Community Initiative

The Eau Gallie Improvement Project
Melbourne, Florida

After its merger with the City of Melbourne in 1969, Eau Gallie lost much of its identity. Residential areas were overrun with drugs, prostitution, and other crime.

Fed-up, the city and neighbors developed a three-fold strategy to reclaim their streets. They created an improvement area and a neighborhood crime watch. They worked with residents to develop pride of place through community meetings and vision planning. And at the request of business owners, the city designated the downtown as an urban infill area to make it eligible for federal and state grant money.

The community's turnaround is evident in the improved residences, dipping crime rate, and rising property values.

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

The four landmarks and one pioneer for 2003 were chosen by a jury chaired by Eugenie Ladner Birch, FAICP.

Denver Parks and Parkways
Denver, Colorado

Denver's park and parkway system is based on a 1906 plan by Charles Mulford Robinson and a 1907 map by George E. Kessler. This "windmill plan," based on the city's grid system and taking full advantage of its water resources and mountain backdrop, was implemented over the next two decades. Contributions were made later by the Olmsted Brothers, S.R. DeBoer, and Reinhard Schuetze.

Today, there are more than 4,000 acres of city parks and over 30 miles of developed parkways within the city limits. In 1986, 15 Denver parks and 16 parkways were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  No other system of comparable scope or quality exists in the Rocky Mountain Region.

The American Society of Planning Officials

ASPO was established in 1934 as the first organization with full-time staff to serve the planning community. Located in a Chicago building with some 20 other organizations serving state and local governments, ASPO facilitated daily interaction between planners and city and county leaders.
ASPO ran conferences, produced research publications, and provided an advisory service, activities later continued by APA.

Federal Planning Assistance "701" Program

Section 701 of the Federal Housing Act of 1954, gave planning a presence in communities across the country. The Federal Planning Assistance Program provided more than $1 billion for professional planning work throughout the country until 1981.

Many municipalities created planning commissions and joined together to form regional planning agencies. With matching funds from state and local coffers, the 701 program helped underwrite the essential professional planning work largely neglected since the Great Depression. It also indirectly stimulated the establishment of planning schools and departments, needed to keep up with the demand for professionally trained planners.

Cleveland Policy Plan of 1974
Cleveland, Ohio

In 1974, the city of Cleveland approved an unusual kind of comprehensive plan, an equity plan. The Cleveland Policy Plan emphasized the needs of the city's poor and working class, in the first example of equity planning being broadly applied in an American city.

Its goal was stated clearly: "In the context of limited resources, first and priority attention should be given to the task of promoting wider choices for those Cleveland residents who have few if any choices."

For more than 10 years, under three different mayors, the document guided planning strategies that led to improved transit services, the creation of lakefront parkland, and the revitalization of city neighborhoods.

National Planning Pioneer Awards

Gifford Pinchot

Gifford Pinchot, America's first professionally trained forester, initiated the conservation movement in American history, advocating planning to sustain the nation's woodland resources.

In 1986, President Grover Cleveland appointed him to the National Forest Commission. Under President Teddy Roosevelt, Pinchot served as Chief Forester of the U.S. Forest Service, and increased the number of forests from 32 to 149, for a total of 193 million acres of protected land.

Pinchot argued for the federal regulation of private forests and other natural resources and for the use of scientific conservation methods at a time when forest land was being consumed at an alarming rate. He implemented the practice of selective rather than unrestrained harvesting of America's forest, allowing the planned use and renewal of those forest reserves.

Distinguished Leadership Awards

Elected Official

Tom Mullen, County Supervisor
Riverside, California

In his role as county supervisor, Tom Mullen was responsible for a population greater than 12 states and a multibillion dollar budget that rivals many Fortune 500 companies.

In anticipation of rapid growth in Riverside County for the next 20 years, Mullen embarked on an ambitious planning initiative. The Riverside County Integrated Project is a three-pronged plan to simultaneously address transportation, habitat conservation and housing demands.

The plan has been a huge undertaking, with a total cost of $32.5 million. Under Mullen's direction, there has been what some participants call an unprecedented level of collaboration at the local, state, and federal levels.

Citizen Planner

Patrick Fero

Recognizing the need to bring together communities in the south-central portion of York County, Pennsylvania, in an effort to solve short-range problems and facilitate joint activities, Patrick Fero was instrumental in establishing the Southern York County Regional Planning Commission.

"I feel I can't be a good township planner if I'm not involved at the regional and state level," Fero said, and he has been trying for 15 years to bring municipalities together. He makes speeches, writes newspaper articles, and has served as a member, often a leader, of committees on land use, recreation, transportation, and more.

As vice-chairman of the Shrewsbury Township Planning Commission, he has led the effort to update the Township's Zoning Ordinance to implement the Regional Comprehensive Plan.

Student Planner

Margaret Ounsworth
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts

During her undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia, Margaret Ounsworth was introduced to the concept of sustainability through planning, concepts that had practical applications during her summer work as a Park Ranger at Baxter State Park in Northern Maine and during winters spent working for a Community Development Corporation.

As a graduate student of regional planning at the University of Massachusetts, Ounsworth has been a research assistant examining implementation of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act and for the Massachusetts Rural Development Council.

Current Topic Award: Implementing Smart Growth

Fall Creek Place
Indianapolis, Indiana

A victim of urban renewal, this 26-block neighborhood lost nearly 80 percent of its housing stock between 1956 and 1999. Then, in 1997, the city received a $4 million Homeownership Zone grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city embarked on a one-year planning and urban design process. What resulted was a name (Fall Creek Place) and a mission to transform a blighted inner-city neighborhood into a healthy, mixed-income, diverse community.

A local company specializing in urban development created an 89-page guide that made implementation of the plan possible. It outlined a financial strategy that included city subsidies and home-builder buy in. As of January 2003, 60 new homes and 21 rehabilitations had been completed and sold to homebuyers. Half the units are market rate and half are for low- and moderate-income families.

Paul Davidoff Award for Advocacy Planning

Aziz Aslami

After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Aziz Aslami left his career in the Development Services Department at the City of Lake Forest, California, to volunteer his talents to rebuilding his birth country of Afghanistan.

His planning and skills helped the Christian organization, Samaritan's Purse, carry out projects in northern Afghani cities: building and rehabilitation of middle and high schools as well as a hospital and clinic. He participated in the development and construction of the 600 housing units and 110 deep-water wells funded by the United Nations. In addition, Aslami planned and oversaw construction of a center to care for children who have lost one or both parents.

Public Education Award

League of Women Voters' Education Campaign on Urban Sprawl
Buffalo/Niagara, New York

Funded by several foundation grants the League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara led a major effort to reach large numbers of residents with important facts about the negative affect of sprawl on: air and water quality, open space and farmland, traffic congestion, and property taxes.

The League made more than 100 presentations, developed and distributed print material, sponsored public meetings and forums, and helped form a 21-orgnization coalition concerned about sprawl.

The results? Buffalo's new comprehensive plan, due next year, and a new downtown plan recognize regional dependence and contributions. Erie and Niagara counties are preparing a framework for regional growth.

American Vision Award

Because of the uniqueness of the challenge and the high quality of the project, APA created a special category — the American Vision Award — to recognize Imagine New York.

Imagine New York
New York, New York

Imagine New York began as a project of the Municipal Art Society in March 2002 to give voice to the people's visions for rebuilding the World Trade Center site.

Through the region-wide outreach effort, which included facilitated workshops and a dedicated project website, the project collected ideas from over 4,000 people. The ideas were ultimately refined to 49 vision statements that addressed topics from the street grid to affairs of state.

In early 2003, Imagine New York II: The People's Response was launched and workshops were held to hear public comment on the nine plans for the World Trade Center site.

AICP President's Award

In recognition of an outstanding example of planning in an ethical professional manner.

Pro Bono Planning program of the APA Illinois Chapter

In 1998 the APA Illinois Chapter implemented the first Pro Bono chapter program. Under the leadership of Chapter Pro Bono Officer Grace Bazylewski, the program offers qualified communities and neighborhood organizations initial planning services provided by a team of volunteers.

Together planners and community members work to develop a two-tiered action plan, geared to achieve both short- and long-term goals. In 2003, for example, the Illinois group spent a Saturday morning in Joliet, a historic industrial city south of Chicago. Members brain-stormed with residents of an east side neighborhood to set priorities for housing, economic development and recreation.

Distinguished Service Award

For substantial and sustained contributions to the American Planning Association's mission and development.

Chris McGetrick, AICP

Chris McGetrick's ability to get things done has helped make her a leading force in planning. Not long after joining APA, McGetrick went to work to bring the APA Arkansas Chapter to life. She served as treasurer, vice president, and, from 1986 to 1988, as president. McGetrick became active at the national level, serving as president of the Chapter Presidents Council from 1988 to 1990. From 1994 to 1998, she was a member at large of the APA Board of Directors and secretary-treasurer the last two years of her term.

McGetrick has always been in private practice, consulting in fields such as community block grant programs and transportation. For the last 10 years she has focused on public involvement, and worked on projects around the country.

Legislators of the Year

Senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah)

Robert Bennett, Utah's junior senator, has recognized the importance of smart growth planning in helping the state accommodate dramatic population growth while preserving its spectacular natural resources and high quality of life.

One of the original co-sponsors of the Community Character Act and a special advisor for the "Envision Utah" quality growth strategy, he is one of the only two Western Republicans on the bipartisan Senate Smart Growth Task Force.

Among other things, he has been instrumental in securing federal funds for Salt Lake City's light rail system and the region's growth management program.

Congressman Mark Udall (D-Colo.)

Rep. Mark Udall, who represents the Boulder area, has made numerous proposals aimed at building healthy, livable communities. He introduced the Remote Sensing Applications Act, which would give local communities greater access to federal geospatial data, helping them deal with planning concerns.

Udall wrote the Urban Sprawl and Smart Growth Study Act and was an original cosponsor of the Community Character Act. His was a leading voice in the House debate on energy policy in favor of promoting renewable energy sources and energy conservation.

HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award

The judges for deliberations on the HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award given in collaboration with APA were:

Dana Bres, acting director and research engineer in the affordable housing research and technology division
Angela J. Donelson, AICP
Carlos Martin, Ph.D.

Paseo del Oro
San Marcos, California

By 1995, the Mission Road area of San Marcos had become a concentration of non-resident property owners that let their buildings deteriorate. Paseo del Oro was a project to rehabilitate the neighborhood by providing more than 13,000 square feet of retail space and 120 units of multi-family, mixed-income housing.

A consortium of organizations used $13 million in Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits to leverage the city's tax increment funding to initiate the redevelopment of the Mission Road area.

Paseo del Oro, covering about six acres, contains 23,000 square feet of retail space and 120 apartments, 98 designated as affordable. All commercial space was leased before the opening and seven of the original 11 commercial tenants remain, aided by below-market rates for the upgraded spaces.

AICP Student Project Awards

In recognition of outstanding papers or class projects by a student or group of students from accredited planning programs. The AICP Student Project Awards Jury of 2003 was chaired by Linda Cox, FAICP.

Best Demonstrates the Contribution of Planning to Contemporary Issues

Planning and Design Recommendations for the West Side Neighborhood of Saratoga Springs, New York
University of Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

Advisor: Cliff Ellis, AICP

Students: Ruchi Agarwal, Hannah Blake, Christopher D. Eastman, Todd Gardner, Nadine H. Hardy, Jim Horton, Christian Leo, Kenneth Kovalchik, Kate Maynard, Robert Leslie, Lori A. Shirley, Aruna Sri Reddy, Dehui Wei, Yilun Tseng, Blaine T. Yatabe, John-David Wood, and Yongzhen Zhang

The final report of this project is a 150-page, highly-illustrated volume providing a great deal of background on the neighborhood and making detailed policy recommendations and design proposals for land use and zoning, gateways and connections, urban design, housing, and the revitalization of Beekman Street as a neighborhood commercial corridor.

The report was prepared by the student team as a capstone project for their Masters (MRP) in Urban and Regional Planning.

Best Project in Applying the Planning Process

Morningside Housing Improvement Area Plan
San Jose State University, San Jose, California

Advisor: Dayana Salazar

Students: Ngozi Ajawara, Craig Araki, Karli Eshwey, Nazih Fino, Juvencio Flores, Corey Hall, Ted Heyd, Tansuri Japtap, Nana Koranteng, Aaron Laurel, Irene Liestiawati, Eugene Maeda, Tina Mandawe, Joy Neas, Marion Payet, Debbie Pedro, Vincent Rivero, David Roemer, Jason Romes, Ana Ruiz, Brad Sedin, Darcy Smith, Keith Stamps, Todd Taylor, Yen Trinh, Phil Trom, Fleur Voute and Zhong Zheng

For their plan for the Market-Aldamen Neighborhood.

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 2003 competition were:

Michael Blue, Director of Community Development,  city of Highland Park, Illinois
Janice Castro, Assistant Professor, Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University
Alden Loury, Senior Editor, Chicago Reporter
Ted Wolff, Principal of Wolff Clements & Associates

Large Newspapers (circulation above 100,000)

The Star-Ledger, Newark, New Jersey
Writer: Steve Chambers
Contributor: Paul Wyckoff
Photographer: Mitsu Yasukawa

In "The View from Schley Mountain: A Case Study in How We Use Our Land," the Star-Ledger examined how development decisions were made in central New Jersey, and how, over time, those decisions followed the law of unintended consequences.

Schley Mountain, a rise in the Watchung Mountains of central New Jersey, remained undeveloped until the 1960s. Then a series of legal and planning decisions ultimately led to what exists today: the state's largest housing development.

Among those decisions was the state Supreme Court's Mount Laurel decisions upholding "fair share" housing for the poor. In an interesting twist, the third of those decisions (in 1986) approved a 1,800-unit development at Schley Mountain — but without low-cost units.

Corporate office complexes and interstate highways contributed to what now seems an inevitable result, according to the articles by Steve Chambers.

Denver Post, Denver, Colorado
Writer: Marsha Austin

Marsha Austin's articles broke new ground. With the help of the newspaper's attorney, she delved into hospital records to report on the high number of critically ill patients being turned away from the city's hospitals. "Code Red" told their story — and that of the paramedics and doctors at the front lines of the city's health care system.

A major surprise was that on some days during 2001, as many as 10 of the 13 emergency rooms in the Denver region were diverting patients simultaneously. After the articles were published, the state began to require emergency rooms to make monthly reports on every diversion and to explain why it happened.

Small Newspapers (circulation under 50,000)

The Mercury, Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Editor: Nancy March
Writer: Margaret Fitzcharles

The Pottstown Mercury's eight-part series, "Route 100: Road to Riches or Ruin,"focused on the insidious problem of suburban sprawl. Both The Mercury and its sister publication, the Daily Local News of West Chester, contributed to the series, which was published just before three of the townships in Chester County held referendums for tax increases to save open space.

All three townships approved the tax increases, according to the newspaper, and open space boards have been set up to target farmland worth preserving.

"This was a masterpiece of local reporting," the judges said. "Mile by mile, block by block, the reporters were out there collecting so many stories about people concerned about development."

Journal of the American Planning Association Awards

In recognition of the best contribution during the year to the scholarly journal of APA. Arthur C. Nelson, FAICP, headed the committee that selected the article.

"Urban Planning and Intergroup Conflict: Confronting a Fractured Public Interest," Winter 2002
Scott A. Bollens

"This article provides a view of the road that may lie ahead for many U.S. planners in urban areas that are becoming more diverse and politically complex," the judges said. "It is also rich in insights given by planning officials who offered courageous truths about their officials' roles."