Community Planning Workshops
As part of the Community Assistance Program, the American Institute of Certified Planners sponsors a one-day workshop at each annual APA National Planning Conference.
The workshops are designed to address a local planning issue in a community of the conference host city. Projects are selected to ensure that the community benefits from a focused, one-day effort involving community members, local planning staff, and APA volunteers from all over the United States. The effort assists a community that does not have all the resources it needs to engage in the community planning process.
Workshop planners prepare a program that is intended to:
- Serve as a legacy of the National Planning Conference for the host city.
- Highlight the capabilities of the planning profession.
- Visibly demonstrate planning to the public.
- Provide training on public consensus building and hone skills in community participation and problem solving.
2015 Community Planning Workshop
Belltown Neighborhood, Seattle, Washington
April 18, 2015
The 2015 AICP Community Planning Workshop focused on the Belltown neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. Belltown is a bustling area of Seattle known for its trendy, young professional crowd — and the restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques that come with it. Due to its proximity to downtown, it's one of the most densely populated (and highly popular) areas of the city. The residents of the area enjoy an urban lifestyle, which is embodied in the many lofts, high-rises, and renovated warehouses re-purposed into studios that line the streets.
Belltown holds many great assets and features, but the community hosts a number of challenges.
- It is home to multiple social service agencies that serve the poor and homeless.
- Major transportation corridors traverse the area, creating safety, circulation, and design character challenges.
- The popularity of the nightlife creates conflicts with the residential population.
- The neighborhood features very limited parks and open space.
- There's an interest in creating greater housing diversity (i.e. families with children).
- There's a desire to improve the neighborhood's connection to the waterfront.
The goal of the day-long workshop was to establish coordinated, immediate next steps to spur innovation and investment in the neighborhood. The efforts focused around the concepts of sustainability and placemaking — the deliberate shaping of an environment to facilitate social interaction and improve a community's quality of life.
Workshop participants toured of the Belltown neighborhood in the morning. The afternoon was spent working in groups with community representatives to identify roadblocks to implementing the community's visions for a world class urban village; actions needed to encourage inclusive community building and elevate sustainability; and next steps for implementation. A final report with recommendations will be produced following the workshop.