What Happened on Tuesday at #NPC19?
The 2019 National Planning Conference wrapped up today in San Francisco. Scroll through the feed to check out the highlights and catch up on what you may have missed. Check out Saturday, Sunday, and Monday happenings, too.
Closing Keynote: Brett Culp
Posted April 16, 4:10 p.m. PT
A fitting close to NPC19, keynote speaker Brett Culp spoke about remembering your mission and finding strength to be an everyday leader. Culp told attendees that “Real leadership is inviting people on a mission to do something extraordinary together.”
Session: Where to Place Affordable Housing?
Posted April 16, 3:00 p.m. PT
By Karen Kazmierczak
APA Senior Marketing Manager
Panelists Derek Hull and Andrew Baker, AICP, kicked off the Tuesday session with three questions for attendees:
- What is affordable housing?
- What does affordable housing look like in your community?
- Is the placement of affordable housing fair and equitable across a region?
Using examples from Atlanta and DeKalb County, Georgia, and Los Angeles, Hull and Baker demonstrated the inequality in the siting of affordable housing projects. One major structural driver of this is the fact that the Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program, which accounts for 90 percent of affordable rental housing built in the U.S., awards points for siting projects in low income census tracks. Additionally, NIMBYism and zoning and other barriers erected in wealthy communities leave affordable projects with nowhere else to go.
Concentration of affordable housing can have unintended consequences. Concentrated poverty makes private sector development financially infeasible, meaning the grocery stores, sit-down restaurants, and other amenities that help communities stabilize and thrive aren’t built in struggling neighborhoods. Instead, dollar stores, liquor stores, fast food restaurants, and gas stations spring up.
The lower cost of land in low-income neighborhoods make them an appealing location for affordable housing development, but planners should evaluate the location of affordable housing using a broader context and perspective.
Session: Toward Health Equity: Inclusive, Healthy Places
Posted April 16, 2:15 p.m. PT
By Sagar Shah, PhD, AICP
APA Planning and Community Health Center Manager
In one of the last sessions of NPC19, speakers with backgrounds in public health, urban design, and planning explained how inclusiveness should be achieved and they outlined the challenges communities face to achieve inclusiveness.
The session started with Jennifer Gardner from the Gehl Institute explaining the “Inclusive Healthy Places” framework, based on four guiding principles: context, process, outcomes, and impact. The goal is to create a common language that can be connected to projects and policy process. The tool can also be used as different scales and in different contexts. The guide has four guiding principles, 16 drivers or influencing factors, 50 measurable indicators, and 158 metrics.
Gardner's presentation was followed by a discussion between panelists Hanna Hamdi, director of Health Impact Investment Strategies and Partnerships at New Jersey Community Capital, and Risa Wilkerson, executive director of Healthy Places by Design. They explored questions such as “What is inclusion?” and “How does community define health?”
Overall the session encouraged listening to people's experiences and stories in order to achieve true inclusiveness.
Session: Public Finance and Fiscal Sustainability
Posted April 16, 11:45 p.m. PT
By David Morley, AICP
APA Research Program and QA Manager
Cities and counties finance infrastructure and facilities through a patchwork of tax- or fee-backed bonds, value capture mechanisms, and public-private partnerships (PPPs). Fiscal sustainability depends on identifying and tapping the right sources (at the right time) to balance the budget.
On Tuesday morning, municipal finance experts from the University of Chicago (UC) and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy provided a primer on core local public finance tools.
Michael Belskey from UC offered a peak under the hood of bond and tax increment financing. Next, George McCarthy from Lincoln warned against “magical thinking” in pursuing PPPs and summarized land value capture options, such as impact fees, special assessments, development rights charges, and inclusionary housing.
Attendees then had a chance to apply the primer in a small group exercise to develop a strategy to finance Chicago’s Millennium Park (completed in 2004), which was famously approved without a detailed funding plan.
Session: The Wildland-Urban Interface
Posted April 16, 11:15 a.m. PT
By Ann Dillemuth, AICP
APA Senior Research Associate
Although massive forest fires in California and western states regularly grab headlines, every state in the U.S. has a wildland-urban interface (WUI), and one-third of all homes in the United States are in the WUI.
In this Tuesday session, USDA Forest Service research scientist Miranda Mockrin pointed out that the majority of wildfires are started by people, so more development in wildland areas brings more fires, and the rapid growth of the WUI is contributing to the higher numbers of wildfires resulting in property loss and human casualties.
Molly Mowery, AICP, emphasized that the WUI is a dynamic, diverse, and expansive concept encompassing any area where conditions plus wildland fuels (forest, wildlands, landscaping) and built fuels (homes, structures, infrastructure) enable fire to ignite and spread throughout an area.
Mowery emphasized the importance of linking a community’s comprehensive plan, hazard mitigation plan, and community wildfire protection plan when planning for the WUI and wildfire, all of which set the foundation for effective regulations.
Steve King, community development director for Wenatchee, Washington, shared how his community is proactively planning to reduce wildfire risk. Through personal experience he’s learned you can’t fight fire and win, but rather you have to learn how to live with fire, and that has shaped his approach to planning for the WUI.
Wenatchee was affected by the 2015 Sleepy Hollow Fires. When the fires first appeared at the top of the hill, it took 10 minutes for them to reach and start burning homes, and embers from those fires on the city’s edge travelled two miles and started fires in warehouses in the downtown industrial district.
The new PAS Report, Planning the Wildland-Urban Interface, available free to all courtesy of USDA Forest Service funding, provides planners with a primer on the WUI and the basics of fire science, wildfire hazard and risk assessment information, and a holistic framework for planning and regulating the WUI to help create safer and more resilient communities.
Session: Recovery After Great Disasters
Posted April 16, 10:05 a.m. PT
By Meghan Stromberg
APA Editor in Chief
“Recovery is a process, not an outcome.”
Disaster recovery experts came together on the last day of NPC19 to discuss their work and the lessons they have learned from recovery processes in the U.S., New Zealand, India, China, Indonesia, and Japan.
Coauthors of the book After Great Disasters: An In-depth Analysis of How Six Countries Managed Community Recovery — Robert Olshansky from the University of Illinois and consultant Laurie Johnson, together with two longtime collaborators, Balakrishnan Balachandran, also from U of I, and Kanako Iuchi from Tohoku University — joined to explain the particular challenges and solutions following disasters like the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand; the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant failure) in Tohoku, Japan (also 2011); and the 2001 earthquake in Bhuj, India.
Session panel and presentation. Photo by Meghan Stromberg.
The researchers examined these processes using a four-part framework of “money, information, collaboration, time.”
They also discussed the fundamental lessons of the complex process of recovery:
- It’s not about going back to the past
- It takes many actors to rebuild a city: A decentralized process of self-organizing systems
- It has no well-defined end
- Because recovery is a process, the most important quality of a community is its ability to adapt to changing circumstances
Johnson concluded by offering several recommendations: enhance existing systems and structures; increase local capacity and empower local governments to implement recovery actions; emphasize data management, communications, transparency, and accountability; reconstruct quickly, but don’t be hasty; plan and act simultaneously; budget for the costs of communication and planning (and revise over time); and avoid permanent relocation of residents and communities except in rare instances, and only with full participation of residents.
Olshansky also reminded the audience that “a foresighted community thinks about disaster before the next disaster.”
The book can be downloaded free from the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy.
Top image: NPC19 attendee adding his comments to the "I can move my community forward by:" wall. APA photo by The Photo Group.