For more than 50 years, APA's National Planning Awards program has honored outstanding efforts in planning and planning leadership.
For a full list of previous Planning Award recipients — including all Achievement Award winners — search by location or by year:
2022 | 2021 |2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012
National Planning Excellence Awards
Advancing Diversity & Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff
Detroit, Michigan — 2022
Joe Louis Greenway Framework Plan
The Joe Louis Greenway (JLG) Framework Plan aims to reconnect neighborhoods and green spaces with a 27.5-mile nonmotorized trail. Shaped by a community-authored planning process, JLG celebrates Detroit's vibrant mix of cultures while prioritizing the community's goals for environmental sustainability, equitable housing and economic development standards, visual identity, and accessible open space amenities.
San francisco, California — 2021
Bayview Community Based Transportation Plan
The Bayview Community Based Transportation Plan represents a new commitment to the long-underserved Bayview-Hunters Point community. Partnering with trusted community organizations and innovative community engagement efforts like a Youth Transportation Summit and a documentary film helped overcome systemic distrust in the government and gave a voice to the needs, challenges, and values of Bayview residents, while educating the younger generation about the planning process.
new york, new york — 2020
Community Parks Initiative — NYC Parks
In an effort to distribute park investments more equitably, NYC Parks created the Community Parks Initiative (CPI) in 2014. This data-driven approach is the first equity-based parks initiative for the city and has guided investment of $318 million to reimagine 67 parks in high-need areas. As of January 2020, NYC Parks has renovated 47 of the 67 designated CPI sites, supported more than 300 community partners, engaged over 50,000 volunteers in nearly 1,920 stewardship projects, and awarded $280,000 for community-led programs through CPI.
National City, California — 2019
Carolina Martinez and the Paradise Creek Planning Partnership
Carolina Martinez, policy director at Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), assisted Old Town neighborhood residents of National City, California in developing a comprehensive plan to clean up the toxic environment and provide needed affordable housing near transit. The cornerstone of the project is the 201-unit LEED-Certified Paradise Creek affordable housing development that opened in 2016.
Houston, Texas — 2017
Near North Side Quality of Life Agreement (QLA)
The 2015 Near Northside Quality of Life Agreement (QLA) is a comprehensive action plan to build a sustainable and healthy community in the Near Northside neighborhood of Houston. The plan was designed to improve housing conditions, enhance education opportunities, spur economic growth, and provide a safe and healthy environment for all residents. With contributions from hundreds of residents, leaders, and supporters, the QLA was presented with vivid photos and text in both English and Spanish. The Near Northside effort illustrates that even neighborhoods without great influence or wealth have the capacity to acquire the voice and power to implement great change.
Spartanburg, South Carolina — 2015
State Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr. and the ReGenesis Project
South Carolina State Representative Harold Mitchell, Jr. has been committed to making the Arkwright and Forest Park neighborhoods within Spartanburg healthy and sustainable communities by advancing environmental justice, collaborative problem solving, and better neighborhood planning. He created the organization ReGenesis to represent neighborhood interests in cleaning up contaminated and abandoned property as well as revitalizing the surrounding community.
Birmingham, Alabama — 2013
YWCA Central Alabama
The YWoodlawn Plan was a collaborative empowerment initiative intended to reduce poverty and hopelessness within an underserved area of Birmingham through reinvesting in the neighborhood; providing innovative housing for families experiencing homelessness; introducing affordable transition housing for families; bringing health, education, and employment-based services to the community's doorstep; and reintroducing homeownership opportunities in a stable, growing community.
New Brunswick, New Jersey — 2012
Leonardo Vazquez has made a mark in urban planning by shifting the focus to alleviate issues that plague Latino communities. For 15 years as a leader, educator, and author, Vazquez has been a staunch advocate for social justice and ethnic diversity in the planning industry.
Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan
Greensboro, North Carolina — 2022
GSO2040 Comprehensive Plan
GSO2040 is Greensboro, North Carolina's roadmap for how to equitably plan for change. Shaped by extensive public input, the plan is designed to be a living document that adapts to the community's changing needs. Set apart by clear metrics and implementation updates from departments across the city, GSO2040 is a model for ongoing accountability and ensuring a plan remains accessible and relevant to the people it serves.
Richmond, Virginia — 2021
Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth
Expansive community engagement, unlike any seen in the city's history, led to the creation of Richmond 300: A Guide for Growth, a city-wide master plan that aims to prioritize equitable and sustainable growth in the city over the next 20 years. With a focus on environmental justice, walkability, and economic growth, the plan outlines six "Big Moves" to guide implementation of the ambitious vision.
memphis, tennessee — 2020
Memphis 3.0 Comprehensive Plan
Like other medium-sized cities across the country, the suburban sprawl and urban disinvestment of the last several decades resulted in a flat population by seemingly boundless physcial expansion. The in-house planning team sought to shift the focus of planning to "build up, not out." Success would depend heavily on community engagement to establish a long-term culture of planning founded on public trust.
County of Kaua'i, Hawaii — 2019
Kaua'i County General Plan, Kaua'i Kākou
The new Kaua'i County General Plan, adopted in Spring 2018, represents a transparent and robust effort, involving residents at every phase of the planning process. The plan's 19 streamlined policies address the critical issues that residents face, guide the county's growth, and acknowledge the cultural heritage of the island while also calling for a county-wide system of action, evaluation, and accountability.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — 2018
planokc was the product of five years of extensive research, analysis, discussion, and public engagement to create a comprehensive policy plan for Oklahoma City. Using intensive modeling and data analysis, planners created three future growth scenarios complete with measures of environmental quality, resource consumption, and travel patterns. The success of planokc has created a more progressive-minded population in Oklahoma City, where residents are working together with city planners, elected officials, and special interest groups to plan new ideas for a healthier future.
Plano, Texas — 2017
Plano Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan
The city of Plano has transitioned from a small community in the Dallas-Fort Worth region to a major economic center. The Plano Tomorrow comprehensive plan describes a vision for the city's continuing evolution, guiding future growth, priorities, services, development, and redevelopment. The plan's web-based format has improved access to public documents, eliminated barriers to community involvement, and allowed residents to continue to provide input, unlike conventional plans.
Nashville, Tennessee — 2016
Taking an untraditional approach, Nashville's planning department started with community surveys, assembled issue-specific teams of community leaders, and based the NashvilleNext plan upon the public's vision for the city's and region's future. The result: a general plan for Metro Nashville/Davidson County that is relevant to community needs and addresses future growth.
Northeast Ohio — 2015
Vibrant NEO 2040 – Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium
Vibrant NEO 2040 was a three-year regional planning initiative led by the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) to determine the vision of the future for four metro areas in Northeast Ohio. Vibrant NEO includes policy recommendations, guidelines, best practices, and benchmarks for plans small and large. The effort specifically tackled issues relevant to planners, including shrinking cities, regional sustainability, digital engagement, and advanced Geographic Information System (GIS) modeling and analysis.
Winston–Salem / Forsyth County, North Carolina — 2014
Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan
Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan identifies a list of strategies, policies, and actions to help Winston-Salem/Forsyth County become more sustainable, better designed, and more fiscally responsible. Legacy 2030 Comprehensive Plan connects health and equity to the physical form of the county, focuses on ways to catalyze private investment, and makes the case that higher density and mixed-use urban areas yield a higher return on strategic public investments.
Cincinnati, Ohio — 2014
Plan Cincinnati: A Comprehensive Plan for the Future
Plan Cincinnati focuses on revitalizing Cincinnati's neighborhood centers and corridors while improving citizen's physical health and quality of life. In a shift from traditional comprehensive plans, Plan Cincinnati is organized around five initiatives — compete, connect, live, sustain, and collaborate.
Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties, Indiana — 2013
2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan: A Vision for Northwest Indiana
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's (NIRPC) 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (CRP) represents the first broad planning initiative covering the counties of Lake, Porter, and LaPorte. The CRP focuses on a variety of issues including transportation, land use, human and economic resources, and environmental policy objectives. The objective is to offer residents more transportation choices, and making the cities more sustainable and livable.
New York, New York — 2012
Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan
Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan creates a strategic framework for the city's waterfront, waterways, and water for the next 10 years. The plan is organized around eight goals: expand public access, enliven the waterfront, support the working waterfront, improve water quality, restore the natural waterfront, enhance the Blue Network (the waterways themselves), improve government oversight, and increase climate resilience.
Planning Excellence Award
Kansas City, Missouri— 2022
Kansas City Public Schools Repurposing Initiative
The Repurposing Initiative is Kansas City Public Schools' (KCPS) process for transforming more than 30 closed school sites into valuable neighborhood assets. By combining technical site assessments with the participatory planning process, the planning team gave community members impacted by school closures a meaningful voice in re-shaping their communities. From hundreds of affordable and workforce housing units to a community-designed neighborhood park, the KCPS Repurposing Initiative has breathed new life into these historic community spaces.
Austin, Texas — 2021
Our Parks, Our Future Long Range Plan
Every 10 years, Austin's Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) develops a long-range plan to guide growth of the city's park system, providing a blueprint to guide land acquisition, capital improvements, park design, and development of programs and amentieis. At the forefront of the process was a commitment to sustainability, environmental stewardship, and social equity. The plan accommodates the needs of residents by expanding food access, providing multi-lingual signage to educate park visitors, addressing displacement concerns, and protecting park natural resources.
resilience & Sustainability Award
Maine — 2022
Maine Won't Wait — A Four-Year Action Plan for Climate Action
Maine Won't Wait is a four-year action plan that aims to reduce Maine's carbon emissions and increase resilience to the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Driven by clear goals and metrics combined with scientific analysis, the plan coordinates statewide action that is already seeing results. Maine Won't Wait demonstrates the importance of planning in ensuring programming and policy decisions move the needle toward a more resilient future.
henderson, Nevada — 2021
Together We Can: A Primer for Recovery
A foundation of good planning enabled planners to respond quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic. The community-based recovery plan paves the way for simultaneous implementation designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the impact of the economic crisis. The plan is centered upon the core belief that the 'whole community' - local business leaders, members of the community, partner agencies, non-profits, and faith-based organizations, as well as regional, state, and federal partners - will take ownership of the recovery process to continue to strengthen and revitalize the community now and for many years to come.