National Planning Awards 2005

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 co-chaired by Bruce Knight, FAICP and Carol Rhea, AICP.

Outstanding Planning Awards

Outstanding Planning Award for a Plan

The Queen City Hub: A Regional Action Plan for Downtown Buffalo
Buffalo, New York

The Queen City Hub has everything planners strive for when producing a plan. It protects and builds on the city's treasures while having the political, public and financial support needed for implementation. The goal of the new plan is to accentuate the city's assets and to link ongoing improvements in the urban environment to investments in job growth.

Published in 2003 by the Office of Strategic Planning, the plan will direct at least a billion dollars to downtown Buffalo, New York, during this decade. To secure support of important stakeholders, a collaborative approach was used at all stages of the planning process.

Outstanding Planning Award for a Program

Accessory Dwelling Unit Program
Santa Cruz, California

To increase affordable housing while protecting existing neighborhood character, planners in Santa Cruz, California, are encouraging property owners to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to their existing homes, garages, or backyards.

The city adopted a comprehensive, wide-ranging program that removed many restrictions on ADUs, improved safety and design of the units and, at no cost to the city, added to the stock of affordable rental housing. Thirty-five rental units were built the first year.

To encourage participation, the city developed several energy-efficient prototype designs and published a design manual. Technical assistance grants and construction financing also were made available.

Outstanding Planning Award for Implementation

South Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Today South Broad Street is nothing less than a mile-long "Avenue of the Arts," lined with theaters, museums, concert halls, and universities. The $1 billion-plus transformation of the once distressed boulevard was guided by a bold plan that successfully joins new development and uses with the street's mid-20th Century grandeur.

In 2001 the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Broad and Spruce opened the doors to its 2,500-seat Verizon Hall and 650-seat Perelman. The opening of the Kimmel enabled the renovation of the 2,900-seat Academy of Music to go forward. According to the planning commission, $123 million in public expenditures has leveraged $1.1 billion in private investment so far along South Broad Street.

Outstanding Planning Award for a Special Community Initiative

Atchison Riverfront Park
Atchison, Kansas

Inspired by the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition when it passed through Kansas in 1804, Atchison community leaders and residents used the anniversary to create a waterfront park at the site in their present-day town where the famous expedition made a landing. In 2000, with the 200-year mark approaching, civic leaders began their own journey to plan, fund, and build a commemorative park in time for the July 4, 2004 anniversary.

Although time was short, residents were committed. A public-private partnership was created to secure the $4.5 million needed to construct the three-quarters-mile-long park and improvements including a pavilion, river access facilities, veteran's plaza and children's playground. Work on the park rekindled residents' sense of community pride and motivated them to develop a citywide master parks plan.

Outstanding Planning Award for Public Education

Green Valley Institute
Quinebaug- Shetucket Heritage Corridor

In 2000 the Green Valley Institute began helping the 35 small towns along the Quinebaug- Shetucket Heritage Corridor in Connecticut and Massachusetts protect their rural character.

The Institute has two main goals: to improve the knowledge base from which land-use decisions are made, and to build local capacity to protect and manage natural resources as the region grows. Through workshops, seminars, projects, educational materials, information and technical assistance, the Institute is changing the ways residents and elected officials think about and respond to growth and change.

The program's success is notable. Workshops to help property owners protect land through conservation easements have led to nearly 3,000 acres of forests and farmland being set aside. And nine towns have created new conservation commissions.

Daniel Burnham Award

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
Los Angeles, California

With piecemeal development threatening to spread across the last remaining mountain and other open space in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, California legislators established the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy in 1979.

The conservancy is not just a bureaucratic bucket into which money may be dumped. It is also a regional planning agency, charged with developing a blueprint to guide its activities. The conservancy sets priorities for land acquisition and site development that emphasize protection of wildlife corridors and ecologically sensitive properties that are threatened by development, and recreational opportunities for urban residents. The acquisition strategy encourages cities and counties to use clustering, infill, and other smart-growth mechanisms to minimize the urban footprint.

The Conservancy has protected 55,000 acres of scenic vistas, ocean beachfronts, recreational trails, urban parks, and wildlife habitat.

AICP National Planning Landmarks Awards

The jury was chaired by Eugenie Birch, FAICP.

Billerica Garden Suburb
Billerica, Massachusetts

Facing an influx of workers once the Boston & Maine Railroad's new repair shops were opened near Lowell, Massachusetts, civic leaders solved their need for more housing nearly a century ago by creating a unique community.

Incorporated June 30, 1914, Billerica became the country's first garden suburb designed specifically for workers. Modeled after the English garden city designs of Ebenezer Howard, Billerica combined a limited dividend corporation with co-partnership. Workers would own their homes by purchasing shares.

The result was the construction of 70 new homes between 1914 and 1917. The original community, with its cottage-style houses, shallow building setback, curvilinear streets, gardens, playgrounds and other amenities, is still recognizable.

AICP National Planning Pioneer Awards

Sherry Arnstein

AICP exam takers are (or should be) familiar with the question: "What is ‘Arnstein's ladder'?" The answer is found in "A Ladder of Citizen Participation," published in 1969 in the Journal of the American Institute of Planners.

The article by Sherry Arnstein identified eight levels of citizen participation and challenged planners to think differently about their profession. Her thinking about how planners can work with disadvantaged populations contributed to the growth of advocacy planning.

Reprinted 80 times and translated into five languages, "A Ladder" grew out of her work during the 1960s, first with the President's Committee on Juvenile Delinquency under John F. Kennedy and later with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Distinguished Leadership Awards

Professional Planner

Naphtali Knox, AICP

Over the course of his 50-year career, Knox has worked on everything from affordable housing promotion and financing to general plans to the California General Plan Glossary.

His leadership of the Santa Clara County Housing Bond Advisory Committee led to the creation of a mortgage credit certificate program, which during his tenure distributed more than 10,000 tax credit certificates to needy first-time home buyers. The committee also created the county's first housing trust fund.

He produced the 1987-2005 Petaluma General Plan, which contained a landmark growth management strategy. A former planning director for Palo Alto, California, Knox now has his own consulting practice.

Elected Official

Commissioner Ron Stewart

As Boulder County Commissioner, Ron Stewart has made it a point to stand up to pressure when change seems necessarily.

One example is the 20-year campaign he waged to pass a sales tax for purchasing open space. The proposal was defeated twice before being approved in 1993. The county now has 76,000 acres or five times the amount of protected land it had before the tax measure was adopted.

Stewart also worked with all of the cities in the county to sign voluntarily intergovernmental planning agreements. All but one community joined the county-wide agreement establishing 20-year enforceable urban growth boundaries.

Citizen Planner

Judith Corbett

In the spring of 1991, Judith Corbett invited a group of leading architects and designers to her home to brainstorm alternatives to sprawl. From that meeting, the "Ahwahnee Principles" were born. The principles, and subsequent related documents, provide specific recommendations on how to develop or redevelop communities and regions more sustainably, and have since been incorporated into the plan of at least 200 California communities.

During her career Corbett also has planned and designed a resource-efficient neighborhood known as Village Homes; written several book about the experience; founded a unique, groundbreaking organization to help elected officials address local issues; and been named a "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine.

Student Planner

Elizabeth FitzZaland
Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, California

Elizabeth FitzZaland easily stands out as a leader among her peers. Since leaving a lucrative career as a graphic designer and architectural photographer to become a professional planner, she has distinguished herself academically, maintaining a 3.8 grade point average.

Outside of class she facilitated community visioning workshops in San Luis Obispo, California, and led a group of students to enter a statewide competition for low-income projects. In 2004 FitzZaland worked during the summer at Canada's largest independent planning firm, CitySpaces Consulting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Current Topic Award: Safe Growth

The National Capital Urban Design and Security Plan
Washington D.C.

Visitors and others in the nation's capital can once again stroll along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House without encountering a maze of concrete planters, temporary fences, and other barricades hastily erected after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings.

The new White House pedestrian plaza, which opened in 2004, exemplifies a safe growth approach to planning and security design. It is one of several projects in Washington, D.C., to incorporate recommendations from the national Capital Urban Design and Security Plan produced by the National Capital Commission.

The goal of the plan is to protect Washington's landmarks while keeping them attractive and approachable. Improvements to the Washington Monument and its grounds will include a series of oval walkways lined with seating walls that will serve as vehicle barriers on the Mall and a new granite plaza will surround the monument.

National Social Advocacy Award (in honor of Paul Davidoff)

Thomas R. Knoche

From establishing community-based advocacy organizations to helping feed and house the homeless, Thomas Knoche has spent more than 25 years fostering change in North Camden, New Jersey.

Knoche began working and living in the city's poorest neighborhood in 1978. Unemployment, abandoned housing, and crumbling infrastructure surrounded him.

The next year Knoche helped establish the community's first advocacy organization, Concerned Citizens of North Camden. Two years later he started a squatter campaign to encourage local and federal officials to donate repossessed properties to the community.

Through the North Camden Land Trust, he's helped rehabilitate public housing and renovate 96 houses while his efforts with Save Our Waterfront, Inc., formed the basis for writing a comprehensive plan for Camden in 2000.The neighborhood development blueprint was ultimately adopted by the city and attracted $40 million in pledged support from a consortium of banks.

National Social Advocacy Award (in honor of Paul Davidoff)

Wentworth Gardens
Chicago, Illinois

Struggling against the odds, a group of women activists at Chicago's Wentworth Gardens have undertaken a 40-year campaign to keep their community on the radar screen of public officials.

The challenges at the 1,200-resident housing complex are manifold: building code violations, millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, and under-funded recreational and education activities.

To call attention to these concerns, leaders of the Wentworth Gardens' Resident Management Corporation and local Advisory Council in the 1960s began a sustained grassroots effort to remedy the most pressing problems. Among their victories were: pressuring the Chicago Housing Authority to commit $1 million for renovating the complex's dilapidated field house, reopening a community field house, and stopping an attempt to demolish the housing complex in order to make way for a new White Sox stadium.

National Women in Planning Award (in honor of Diana Donald)

Margarita P. McCoy, FAICP

Margarita McCoy has influenced the careers of hundreds of planners by teaching, writing, and mentoring as well as making important contributions to planning education in California and throughout the country.

Teaching at the University of Southern California and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, McCoy used her faculty positions to instill in her students passion for planning.

She also raised awareness about the needs of women and their families through the comprehensive planning process. As a consultant, she helped Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and other California communities update their comprehensive plans and focus attention on the needs of single-parent households and children.

International Leadership Award

Shan Jixiang, Director General, State Administration of Cultural Heritage, People's Republic of China

Since beginning his career nearly 20 years ago, Shan has walked and surveyed nearly every historic street in Beijing, China's rapidly modernizing capital city. He has been instrumental in maintaining the city's unique cultural characteristics through several plans, including "Beijing's Historic Streets Zone Preservation Plan," "The Forbidden City Preservation Plan," and the "The Old Summer Palace Preservation Plan."

As Director General of the State of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, People's Republic of China, Shan Jixiang represents the Chinese government and the country's planning and cultural preservation professions. Promoted as the head of the SACH in 2002, Shan helped secure passage of China's landmark National Historic Cultural Heritage Protection Law. He also has overseen preservation planning for all of China's National and World Heritage sites.

AICP President's Award

To honor a proactive individual, group or planning program that has demonstrated a significant contribution to advancing the planning profession.

Joseph Flynn, Jr., AICP
Charles Wunder, AICP

Outstanding representatives of professional planners, Joseph Flynn, Jr. and Charles Wonder consistently placed principle and ethical planning practice ahead of job security.

Legislators of the Year Award

Each year APA recognizes a member of the U.S. Senate and of the U.S. House of Representatives for their leadership on important, planning-related issues.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)

When she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and again in 2002, Sen. Susan Collins brought to Washington a brand of centrist politics that quickly made her a key deal broker.

As chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in 2004, Collins found herself at the center of a contentious debate: the overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service. She was instrumental in ensuring that legislation contained important planning provisions that gave communities a stronger say and require the Postal Service to do a better job of complying with local plans.

As co-chair of the Senate Northeast-Midwest Coalition, Sen. Collins has played a key role on other important planning-related issues ranging from brownfields to energy policy.

Representative Mike Turner (R-Ohio)

Rep. Mike Turner is a strong leader and proponent of urban revitalization, brownfields redevelopment and historic preservation.

In Congress Turner sponsored the Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2004, an urban redevelopment program that provides tax incentives for cities, developers, and others to restore brownfield sites to productive uses. Turner also co-founded a new Congressional Caucus on Historic Preservation and helped write the Community Restoration and Revitalization Act of 2004.

Since his election in 2003 Turner secured funding for two key projects within his district: a $1 million transformation of a 30-acre brownfield site for office, retail, and technical facilities and $2.5 million for testing and remediation of a former manufacturing site.

HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award

Lily Lee, Carlos Martin, Ph.D., and William Vasquez were the jury members for the HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award, given in collaboration with APA.

City of San Jose Housing Department
San Jose, California

With its population reaching nearly one million by 2000, San Jose, California, found the demand for housing among low-, very low- and extremely low-income households exceeded supplies by some 17,000 units.

Newly elected Mayor Ron Gonzales responded by committing to help the city's housing department eliminate more than a third of the housing shortfall in five years. To accomplish their goal, housing officials used San Jose's 2020 General Plan to develop comprehensive strategy including neighborhood revitalization, in-fill development, rehabilitation, and inclusionary measures. The city also amassed more than $1 billion for implementation.

In 2004 the city and partners celebrated their success, having built 6,080 new homes including 544 units for extremely low-income households.

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 2005 was chaired by Frank Wein, FAICP.

Applied Research

Conservation and Landscape Planning Heritage Trail, featuring Historic Places in Massachusetts

Ann Chapman, University of Massachusetts

This master's thesis proposes a Massachusetts Conservation and Landscape Planning Heritage Trail. The inspiration for this trail comes from the life and work of visionary planner, Benton MacKaye, father of the Appalachian Trail.

Contemporary Issue

Food for Growth: A Community Food System Plan for Buffalo's West Side
State University of New York, University at Buffalo

Faculty Advisor: Samina Raja, Ph.D.

Students: Tangerine Almeida, Mark Bostaph, Mikaela Engert, Samuel Gold, Jeanne Leccese, Jordana Maisel, Anjali Malhotra, Joanna  Rogalski, Tatianna Vejar, Keigo Yokoyama, Lesley Zlatev

The Food for Growth project was a semester-long planning process undertaken by 11 students at the University at Buffalo in the fall of 2003. Under the guidance of Dr. Samina Raja, students in this studio prepared a food system plan for a neighborhood on Buffalo's West Side.

Application of the Planning Process

San Miguel 2025: Draft Community Plan
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Faculty Advisor: Zeljka Pavlovich Howard

Students: Michael Conger, William Hellper, Cornelius Kempenaar, Brian Leveille, Eric Muzzy, Mandi Raike, Jason Rogers, Santiago Simon, David Stanfield, Fred Thacker

The two documents created by the students are a product of a six-month long community study designed to emulate the process of preparing a community plan and expose students to state-of-the-art technology, methods, and techniques used in "real-world" planning situations. The project incorporated all aspects of planning including data collection and analysis, community participation and surveying, goal and objective creation, visioning, development of alternative concept plans, and policy creation.

APA Journalism Awards

The APA Journalism Award Competition honors newspapers in the United States and Canada for excellent coverage of city and regional planning topics.

Judges for the 2005 competition were:

Kitty Freidheim, president, Freidheim Consulting (and the former managing deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation)
Tudor Hampton, associate editor and Chicago bureau chief of Engineering News-Record
Larry Lund, principal, Real Estate Planning Group
Maxine Mitchell, president, Applied Real Estate Analysis

Large Newspapers (circulation above 100,000)

Rocky Mountain News, Denver, Colorado
Reporters: Jerd Smith and Todd Hartman
Photographer: Ken Papaleo

In "The Last Drop," the Rocky Mountain News examined the dire effects of water shortages on Colorado's Front Range — and the jockeying over water rights owned by large urban water districts there.

Jerd Smith and Todd Hartman spent months reporting on behind-the-scenes negotiations over arcane water rights — and then, in a five-day series explained the clash between the needs of the region's growing cities and those of mountain towns that rely on water for tourism. Along the way, they also explained the realities of hydrology, engineering, finance, and politics.

The judges pointed to the paper's "clarity of reporting, the critical nature of the issue, and the outstanding graphics."

Medium Newspapers (circulation between 50,000 and 100,000)

Green Bay Press-Gazette, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Reporters: Richard Ryman and Karen Rauen

In compiling "Downtown: Beyond Perception," the Gazette produced a five-part series that resulted from an unusual reporting process. The winning reporters first asked residents about their perceptions and only then tapped official sources for information and possible solutions.

The newspaper played the part of planner — by doing research, conducting surveys, interviewing key people, and holding a town hall meeting. It also played the part of civic nag — ultimately pushing the city council into adopting a new downtown riverfront plan.

"The readers of this newspaper got a tremendous return on their investment," the judges said. "It gave them the tools they need to get involved."

Small Newspapers (circulation under 50,000)

Lebanon Democrat, Lebanon, Tennessee
Reporter: Brian Harville

In a three-day investigative series called "Little Pink Houses," reporter Brian Harville documented the close connection between decentralized systems and suburban sprawl. He focused specifically on Wilson County and two other booming middle Tennessee counties but noted how wider forces (namely federal and state tax funds) helped to foster sewer systems there — sometimes to the benefit of state office holders.

Thomas Brashear, AICP, the Wilson County planning director, wrote to support the Lebanon Democrat's effort. What he found compelling, he said, was the newspaper's discussion of whether communities could keep up with the road and school building programs that inevitably follow the developments fostered by decentralized sewer systems.

Journal of the American Planning Association Award

In recognition of the best contribution during the year to the scholarly journal of APA.
Zong-Ren Peng headed the committee that selected the article.

"The Failures of Economic Development Incentives," V. 70, No.1 (Winter), 2004

Alan Peters, University of Iowa
Peter Fisher, University of Iowa

Here is what the judges had to say: "The authors address an important public policy issue with a definitive study of why monetary incentives don't work to the community's advantage. It is a timely study in the current period of declining local and state government budgets and increasing pressures of attracting jobs through incentives for employers. This paper does an excellent job of explaining why such incentives don't work. It is a must-read for all economic development professionals."