July 23, 2014

APA Board Ratifies Policy Guides on Aging in Community and Hazard Mitigation

CHICAGO — Two new policy guides, Aging in Community and Hazard Mitigation, were ratified by the American Planning Association's Board of Directors late last week. The guides state APA's policy principles and provide recommendations for elected officials, policymakers, and planners on addressing the needs of an aging population and ensuring the safety and well-being of a community.

"The new guides address two critical concerns facing our communities and the nation as a whole — an aging population and protecting our communities from harm," said Whit Blanton, FAICP, chair of APA's Legislative and Policy Committee. "Planners play a critical role in addressing these important issues that are shaping the future of the nation's communities. The policy guides lay out a positive agenda for planners, citizens and elected officials to ensure that our communities are safe, healthy and prosperous."

The U.S. population is aging, and with age comes challenges such as mobility, access to services, and living arrangements. According to APA's Aging in Community Policy Guide, by 2030, one in every five people living in the U.S. will be over the age of 65. The new policy guide and APA's recent public opinion poll point to the opportunity to build communities that not only meet the needs of older Americans but also serve interests across generations.

The Aging in Community guide specifically identifies six policies:

  • Involve older adults in the planning process.
  • Ensure a range of affordable and accessible housing options are available within the community.
  • Ensure access to quality transportation options.
  • Create welcoming communities through land-use and zoning tools.
  • Support the economic well-being of older adults.
  • Strengthen the community assets and support available for older adults.  

APA's Hazard Mitigation Policy Guide extends beyond creating hazard mitigation plans to include adaptation efforts to reduce risks, and response and recovery planning efforts to improve a community's resilience following a disaster.  

The Hazard Mitigation guide identifies eight overarching policies as well as addressing specific actions for various natural and human-caused disasters such as earthquakes, flooding, dam failures, hazardous materials incidents, and terrorism and civil disobedience. The eight overarching policies include:

  • Improve interagency cooperation to share ideas and available resources.
  • Integrate hazard mitigation into state and local plans, development codes and land-use ordinances.
  • Establish better resiliency standards to improve a community's ability to recover successfully from a disaster.
  • Properly use incentives to improve resiliency efforts.
  • Engage a variety of stakeholders to obtain varying viewpoints.
  • Educate the public about hazards and disaster preparedness.
  • Advance the use of green infrastructure to assist in mitigating natural hazards.
  • Rebuild communities in a manner that reduces the severity of future hazard events.

Both policy guides were drafted by a team of authors and presented to the APA Legislative and Policy Committee. The guides were then shared with APA members for review and comments. Following the review period, the guides were voted on by the APA Chapter Delegate Assembly during APA's 2014 National Planning Conference this past April. Once approved by the Assembly, the guides were presented to the APA Board of Directors for ratification.

APA now has 25 policy guides that represent the collective thinking of its members on positions of both principle and practice.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with almost 40,000 members worldwide in nearly 100 countries.


Jason Jordan, APA Director of Policy and Communications; 202-349-1006; jjordan@planning.org
Roberta Rewers, APA Public Affairs; 312-786-6395; rrewers@planning.org