National Planning Awards 2007

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 Carol Rhea, AICP. Rhea also serves on APA's Board of Directors.

Outstanding Planning Awards

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

Ontario Growth Secretariat's Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Ontario's far-reaching growth plan for metropolitan Toronto provided a road map for the next 25 years of growth in the region comprised of more than 7.7 million people. But the plan was more than advisory. It became the law, adopted by the Ontario legislature in 2006.

The plan spelled out infill development goals and density targets for designated centers and corridors as well as bringing together 110 municipal jurisdictions in a huge geographic area of 12,400 square miles.

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Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Adopted in November 2006, PlanCheyenne provided an integrated approach that incorporated three distinct planning disciplines into one process: a transportation plan, a community plan, and a parks and recreation plan.

Crucial to the plan's success was the intensive marketing of the planning process that included plan presentations, radio appearances, and a special outreach to citizens of typically underrepresented sections of the community.

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National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice

New Jersey Smart Growth Locator
Trenton, New Jersey

In 1992 the New Jersey State Planning Commission adopted a blueprint for growth that designated certain "smart growth areas." The core principles of that plan combined with new technologies helped shape an innovative planning tool.

The New Jersey Smart Growth Locator is a free online service that allows people to type in a street address and find out whether the property lies in a designated smart growth area and thus eligible for certain benefits. Prospective buyers can now find where their new home might fall and developers can make smarter business decisions.

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National Planning Excellence Award for Best Practice

Protecting Florida's Springs: Land Use Planning Strategies and Best Management Practices
Tallahassee, Florida

Until recently Florida lacked a coordinated, clear public policy to protect its more than 600 freshwater springs and unique limestone topography. But the 2006 publication, Protecting Florida's Springs: Land Use Planning Strategies and Best Management Practices changed that. The publication explains the spring systems and details specific strategies to govern development.

The manual pulls together best practices into one easy-to-digest resource that helps planning departments to educate developers and citizens and better protect the state's natural resources.

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National Planning Excellence Award for Implementation

Chattanooga Bicycle Planning
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Bike ridership in Chattanooga more than doubled in 2003 from 2002. The jump came one year after the completion of the area's Urban Area Bicycle Facilities Plan.

The plan provided a 20-year blueprint for investing $24 million in bicycle lane and route improvement. It identified 377.5 miles of new bicycle facilities to be built and lay the groundwork for putting bike racks on city buses, implementing annual bike counts, and bolstering the bike-to-work program.

By 2007 a $50,000 Chattanooga Bicycle Facilities Master Plan had been produced and adopted by 10 neighboring communities and $300,000 in federal Surface Transportation Program had been obtained to add even more miles of bike lanes and routes.

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National Planning Excellence Award for a Grassroots Initiative

Corridor Housing Initiative
Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Corridor Housing Initiative was the brainchild of Gretchen Nicholls, executive director of the Center for Neighborhoods, a nonprofit organization that supports neighborhood-based planning to create more livable places.

The initiative aimed to assist in the planning and development of higher density affordable housing. To achieve its goal the Center set out to teach local people why density can be a good thing.

The core of the initiative was a SimCity-like exercise in which residents could play the entrepreneur — creating a development plan and seeing what happens if a proposed infill project gets snipped down to a density neighbors prefer.

The first time out, players usually lose millions of dollars before trying to restructure their plan. Designers are nearby, showing them instantly on sketchpads how beautiful density can be.

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Public Outreach Award

Youngstown 2010
Youngstown, Ohio

After three decades of steep economic and population decline, Youngstown planners in 2001 had to convince residents that there was a future to plan for.

Organizers prodded residents to turn out for a large public meeting to review the initial city plan vision using every marketing tool they could think of: billboards, public service announcements, and window stickers.

The appeal's success became apparent at a meeting December 2002 that drew more than 1,400 residents who spent hours questioning planners. In the following months, the city engaged 170 volunteers to create the main elements of the plan. Another 1,300 people met to review and comment on the finished product, which was adopted by the city in 2005.

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National Planning Achievement Award for Hard-Won Victories

Octavia Boulevard — Central Freeway Replacement Project
San Francisco

For decades certain San Francisco neighborhoods were blighted by the Central Freeway, a 1.2-mile, double-deck structure built in 1959 that they couldn't eliminate.

Even when the Freeway was shut down in 1996 for seismic improvement, residents of neighborhoods that relied on the Central Freeway succeeded in getting a measure on the 1997 ballot calling for it to be restored. They won, but the next year opponents came back with their own initiative — offering residents something new.

The new plan included a boulevard concept drawn up by Jacobs Macdonald: Cityworks, a firm owned by Allan Jacobs, San Francisco's well-regarded former planning director, and his partner Elizabeth Macdonald. The city's electorate reversed itself, voting for the boulevard.

The two initiatives faced off on 1999 ballot where boulevard supporters triumphed. Today, the boulevard's central lanes allow commuters to access streets leading to and from the city's western neighborhoods, while the outer edge of the boulevard has a single lane in each direction for local traffic.

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Innovation in Neighborhood Planning Award in Honor of Jane Jacobs

This award, created in 2007, pays tribute to Jacobs by recognizing a neighborhood plan, program, or design that best demonstrates innovative planning principles that create sustainable neighborhoods with lasting value.

Revitalization of Hannibal Square
Winter Park, Florida

In 1881 Hannibal Square was the area founded to house Winter Park's African American workers. The community quickly became a stronghold of culture and community pride for its residents, but by the 1980s, the infrastructure of this once-thriving neighborhood had deteriorated.

However, city planners and residents saw potential.

At the center of the Hannibal Square revitalization is the Community Redevelopment Agency Plan, adopted in 1994. The plan provided the vision for Hannibal Square and was used to protect the community's unique character.

The city, in partnership with its redevelopment agency, initiated a number of community improvements designed to rebuild infrastructure, increase affordable housing, and encourage new mixed use development. In a tribute to the area's history the city planned for a Heritage Center, which would focus on the contributions of Winter Park's African American residents.

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National Planning Landmark Award

The Sanibel Plan
Sanibel Island, Florida

In 2006 the Sanibel Island community marked the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking Sanibel Plan that identified nine major ecological zones to help planners designate appropriate land uses, intensity, and performance standards.

The plan has since allowed Sanibel to grow without exceeding the island's natural carrying capacity. It also led to one of Florida's pioneer growth management regulations, which ensured the island's infrastructure would not be overburdened when residents needed to evacuate in the case of emergency.

The plan was a response by the newly incorporated city of Sanibel in 1976 to fears that certain zoning regulations could harm the island. The city council declared a moratorium on all development until a comprehensive land-use plan could be developed. Simultaneously, environmentalists began a study of the island's natural systems. The "Sanibel Report" explained how a comprehensive land-use plan could be formulated based on the island's carrying capacity and natural systems.

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National Planning Leadership Award for a Planning Advocate

Mayor Kay Barnes
Kansas City, Missouri

Support for downtown Kansas City was at a record low when Mayor Kay Barnes took office in 1999. Nonetheless she stood by her vision for a city with strong neighborhoods, a revitalized downtown, and a healthy economy.

Through strategic partnerships and public consensus, the city started to rebound.
A housing build-up was first presented by a group of business leaders in their Downtown Corridor Development Strategy. Barnes ran with the idea as well as creating and executing her own plan for turning a desolate area of downtown into an entertainment district.

Accomplishments include the $275 million Sprint Center Downtown Arena, an $850 million "Power & Light" entertainment district and almost 20,000 new or rebuilt housing units, including below-market and rental housing for at-risk populations.

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National Planning Leadership Award for a Student Planner

Graduate student

Kevin Chastine
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Typically students wait until the second year of the graduate program to take studio courses, but Kevin Chastine had participated in two studios by his second year, including an AICP project to rebuild a Mississippi Gulf Coast community.

Chastine and other organizers were concerned about turnout at town hall meetings since few residents had returned since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in August 2005, but 350 people showed up to discuss planning for unincorporated areas.

Chastine also served as president of the City and Regional Planning Student Association at his university and has received two university planning program awards.

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National Planning Leadership Award for a Student Planner

Undergraduate student

Michael Marcus
Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, California

At age 15 Michael Marcus was a full-voting, at-large Parks and Recreation Commissioner in his hometown of Benicia, California, and served as a student coordinator for a group of concerned citizens working to preserve the town's historic arsenal district.

That jump-start in planning and community involvement served Marcus well once he was in college. In his second year in the city and regional planning program, he was part of a student team that won an Outstanding Planning Leadership Award from the APA California Chapter for its work on the Templeton downtown plan.

Marcus also used his planning skills to focus in on sustainability issues. He spearheaded the creation of the Empower Poly Sustainability Corporation, a network of campus clubs and organizations working on environmental issue, which helped to develop on-campus alternative energy strategies and encourage the construction of LEED-certified buildings.

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HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award

Architect Carlos Martin and social science analyst Regina Gray, both of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, were the judges for the HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award, given in collaboration with APA.

American Street Empowerment Zone

Since being authorized as one of six federal urban empowerment zones in 1995, the American Street Empowerment Zone Neighborhood has brought in more than 100 new businesses to the area.

Helping to attract these businesses has been a community-based lending institution, which secured more than $21 million in investments.

Central to the planning process was the 1995 formation of a Community Trust Board, whose 10 members lived and worked in the neighborhood. The Board decided which empowerment zone projects would be funded and based future plans on the success of completed projects.

Perhaps most significant for residents' quality of life was the Vacant Lot Stabilization Program. Trash-strewn lots were cleared to make way for 210 affordable housing units and 13 acres of maintained green space.

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Legislators of the Year

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.)

Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Sen. Reed has tirelessly advocated for better access to affordable housing. He has led the effort to preserve the low-income tax credit, a tool that has helped fund construction of affordable housing for more than three million Americans, and is a staunch supporter of creating a nationwide affordable housing trust.

Sen. Reed also is one of seven cosponsors of legislation that provides cities and towns the tools they need to find permanent housing for the homeless through the bipartisan Services for Ending Long-Term Homelessness Act.

On the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Reed helped secure federal funding for various mass transit and community development projects.

Rep. Jarrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)

As a representative of New York's diverse Eighth Congressional district Rep. Nadler worked to improve housing conditions, secure mass transit projects, and advance comprehensive redevelopment initiatives.

A member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Rep. Nadler was a key figure in opposing H.R. 4128, the hastily drafted Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005. He argued that the bill, aimed at limiting local government's ability to take property for economic development purposes, was flawed.

He also has been a vocal advocate for preserving existing affordable housing and solving transit problems. The congressman has worked to relieve congestion in New York by expanding bus and ferry routes and improving subway accessibility.

AICP Student Project Awards

In recognition of outstanding papers or class projects by a student or group of students from accredited planning programs.

Application of the Planning Process

Two Squares, One Place
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Faculty advisors: Karl Seidman, Susan Silberberg

Students: Abigail Emison, Jonathan Leit, Dina Mackin, Masatomo Miyazawa, Alison Novak, Gena Peditto, Ommeed Sathe
Hyde/Jackson Square Boston district lacked cohesion. "Two Squares, One Place" was the plan to unite the two squares into "one place."

Completed by a team of graduate planning students, the project aims to unite the district's physical and cultural elements, develop it as a destination, and position the neighborhood organization to lead its revitalization.

Informed by the team's three-month survey of the district's business owners, community leaders, and residents, the plan envisions a local economy as diverse as the area's ethnic makeup, complementing the district's "mom and pop" stores with a variety of new businesses, from open-air markets and pushcarts to major, mixed use redevelopments.

Proof of the plan's success was the adoption by a community development corporation of its recommendations for its redevelopment site.

Contemporary Issue

Going Public! Strategies for Meeting Public Restroom Need in Portland's Central City
Portland (Oregon) State University, Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning

Faculty Advisors: Sy Adler, Deborah Howe, Connie Ozawa, Summer Sharpe, FAICIP

Students: Josh Ahmann, Kevin Bond, Warren Greaser, Sarah Selden

Portland State University graduate students ventured into an area most city planning departments have never explored with such detail. "Going Public" reports on Portland's Central City public restrooms including analysis of management, funding and policy alternatives.

As pioneers in this area, the seven members of the "Relief Works" team established their own criteria for restroom need in Portland's Central City.

Representatives from over 20 stakeholder groups were interviewed and case studies were done to compare what other cities have done to address public restroom needs and to assess Portland's public restroom facilities for safety, ADA accessibility, building and maintenance.

The report was so compelling that the city of Portland has incorporated the plan into its strategy for addressing the needs of the homeless.

Applied Research

Changing of the Guard: A New Vision for Fort Monmouth
University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Department of City & Regional Planning

Faculty Advisors: James N. Kise, AICP; Eugenie L. Birch, FAICP, Chair; Tom Daniels, Acting Chair, 2005-2006

Student Team: Peilin Chen, Yiun Lin Chong, Nicole M. Clare, Thomas Hastings, Geoffrey W. Long

Fort Monmouth in Monmouth County, New Jersey was one of the military bases slated for closure under the Base Realignment and Closure process announced in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Changing of the Guard: A New Vision for Fort Monmouth" provides a plan for the Fort's redevelopment that revolutionizes the status quo.

It calls for the creation of three distinct town centers in an area where the local strip mall is considered "downtown." It increases density while at the same time protecting the fragile coastal environment and surrounding wetlands. It creates a place that is fundamentally different than its surroundings.

In making recommendations, students looked at the region's social and economic factors; the needs of the host communities; and existing natural resources and critical environments.

APA Journalism Awards

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

Judges for this year's competition were John Andersen, Jr., Great Lakes director of the Nature Conservancy; Dennis Marino, planning director of Evanston, Illinois; Donna Leff, professor of journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University; Todd Meyer, vice president of the HOK Planning Group; and John McClelland, associate professor of journalism at Roosevelt University. All five judges are based in Chicago.

Large Newspapers (circulation above 100,000)

Hartford Courant
Hartford, Connecticut

Connecticut may be the wealthiest state in the nation, but according to the Hartford Courant, sprawl is a major threat to its residents. The paper decided to fight the problem in its editorial pages — keeping the issue before the public during the state's 2006 gubernatorial election.
Its winning entry about urban sprawl was a series of editorials completed in 2006 under the guidance of editor Tom Condon.

Judges noted the paper's "unusual and innovative approach" in devoting an entire Sunday editorial section to one topic: the roots and results of sprawl and some possible solutions.

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

Tallahassee Democrat
Tallahassee, Florida

In the three-part series "Saving Our Springs," writers Jennifer Portman and Bruce Ritchie delved into the causes of pollution compromising the once-pristine Wakulla Springs near Tallahassee.

The newspaper traced the problem to several sources: home septic tanks, farm waste and irrigation with treated wastewater.

The article offered several solutions and helped prompt Wakulla County to adopt stricter septic tank regulations and the City of Tallahassee to earmark $160 million to improve its wastewater treatment.

Small Newspapers (circulation under 50,000)

High County New
Paonia, Colorado

High Country News delved below the surface to uncover the motives — and money — behind last year's eminent domain ballot measures.

"Taking Liberties," a variety of stories by Ray Ring, the paper's Northern Rockies editor focused on a "stealth campaign" financed by libertarians whose aim was to change planning policy through state ballot measures. According to the paper, voters were largely unaware of the financing behind the measures or the consequences of accepting them.

Journal of American Planning Association Award

In recognition of the best contribution during the year to the scholarly journal of APA.
David Sawicki, FAICP, the editor of JAPA, headed the committee that selected the article. Committee members included all of the journal's associate editors except George Galster, the ultimate winner.

"Targeting Investments for Neighborhood Revitalization" V. 72, No. 4 (Autumn), 2006
Authors: George Galster, Wayne State University; Peter Tatian, Urban Institute; and John Accordino, Virginia Commonwealth University

A major housing issue facing city governments is whether to target resources to a selected area instead of disbursing them citywide. When limited resources are spread too thin the effects can be nearly invisible and have no positive effect on others' investments.

This article discusses the first evaluation of Richmond Virginia's targeted approach to housing and neighborhood improvement.

The complexity of the issue and the data challenges were enormous, and the authors' findings "should affect the direction of housing policy for years to come," the judges said.