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American Planning Association
52 minutes | a month ago
How El Paso Reimagined Capital Improvement Planning During COVID-19
The fiscal impacts of COVID-19 are forcing cities to significantly rethink their budgets and spending decisions. But when projected revenue shortfalls put most of the City of El Paso's scheduled capital improvement projects on hold, planners in this Texas border city saw an opportunity to rethink the capital improvement planning (CIP) and budgeting process and reprioritize projects using an equity-focused approach. To understand how they did this, Ann Dillemuth, AICP, senior research and professional practice associate at APA, speaks with Alex Hoffman, AICP, director of the Capital Planning Division of the city's Capital Improvement Department. Alex provides planners with practical advice on how to reenvision their own communities' capital improvements planning processes, and he underscores how identifying priorities and aligning plans can make a city more resilient in the future, if and when another disruptive event like the coronavirus pandemic happens.
57 minutes | 3 months ago
Planners Are Helping Small Businesses Become Resilient Amidst the Pandemic
When the coronavirus pandemic dramatically halted normal economic activity in March, many knew small business owners and their employees would not come away unscathed. But small businesses are critical to our communities, making up 44 percent of all economic activity in the United States. Thankfully, community planners are stepping up in big ways to find relief for these businesses — the lifeblood of their localities. In this episode of the podcast, APA public affairs manager Emily Pasi talks with Angela Cleveland, AICP, director of community and economic development for the City of Amesbury, Massachusetts, and Matthew Coogan, AICP, chief of staff for the City of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Amesbury and Newburyport — the former boasting a thriving restaurant scene, the latter an engine largely fueled by tourism — were each awarded $400,000 in emergency Community Development Block Grant funding via the CARES Act. Angela and Matt outline the serious need they saw in their communities’ small businesses before the funding was delivered, as well as the ways various city departments came together to lift up struggling enterprises and help them innovate. They provide advice for planners who want to help their communities not just stay solvent, but recover stronger.
30 minutes | 5 months ago
How COVID-19 Has Underscored the Digital Divide
COVID-19 has underscored yet another reality that planners already knew: Broadband access — or reliable, high-speed internet access — is a necessity, not a luxury. APA's Sagar Shah talks with Anna Read, an officer for the broadband research initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts, about the basics of the issue. Read clears up some common misconceptions about the digital divide and describes the work that several communities across the country are doing to close the broadband gap. The two also discuss how planners can get involved in local broadband processes and help shape requirements for access.
40 minutes | 5 months ago
Centering Equity and Climate Action in COVID-19 Recovery
As cities around the world address COVID-19 challenges, they're reimagining how they use policy tools to meet the needs of their residents. In Portland, Oregon, the City Council recently adopted a resolution that highlights the connections between equity, climate, and COVID-19 recovery. APA's Jo Peña sits down with Andrea Durbin, the director of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, and Dr. Markisha Smith, director of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights, to discuss the connection between the newly-adopted resolution and planning practice.
53 minutes | 6 months ago
Immigrant Experiences, Economic Development, and "Third Places" in the U.S. — and Australia
As a second-generation Australian and a globetrotter who's studied and worked in New York and Chicago, Samantha Choudhury understands how critical social bonds are to building communities that thrive. She and host Courtney Kashima, AICP, start off their conversation by examining how her parents' immigration to Australia from Bangladesh shaped how she plans for communities. The associate director at Brickfields Consulting and Mainstreet Australia boardmember offers up her observations of planning in the U.S. and Australia, especially the differences between each community's drive to get involved in the planning process. The two planners delve into the realms of placemaking and economic development, discussing how business-improvement districts need focused management to succeed — which, Sam notes, seems especially true now that both countries have been thrown into economic recessions brought about by coronavirus lockdowns. The Melbourne-based planner leaves listeners on a hopeful note, sharing the names of planners and community leaders doing work that inspires her.
36 minutes | 7 months ago
Moving Planning Commission Meetings Online During COVID-19 Pandemic: A Big-City Perspective
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging planners around the country to rethink how they work with various shelter-in-place and social distancing guidelines. One particular hurdle is how to continue with planning commission and other board meetings to keep communities moving forward. Emily Mack directs the Department of Metropolitan Development for the City of Indianapolis, Indiana. She chats with APA's Jo Peña about how, within a relatively short period of time, their team developed a standard operating procedure for the online meetings of their Metropolitan Development Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, and other governmental functions. Mack also outlines the many lessons they've learned along the way while maintaining these critical government services.
15 minutes | 7 months ago
The Future of Fast Food After COVID-19, Coding and Planning, and More
The Planning magazine editors get together — virtually — to recap some of the stories from the April 2020 issue. First up are drive-thrus: In the article "Is Fast-Food Through With Drive-Thrus?" author Brian Barth talks about how good urban design and walkability just don't favor the car-centric fast food model anymore. But last month states and cities started closing bars and restaurants, limiting food options to takeout, delivery, and, of course, the drive-thru. All of a sudden, drive-thrus seem more relevant than ever. The editors also discuss how e-commerce affects land use and infrastructure planning, as well as coding and how planners are using it to make sense of the vast amount of data that's out there, but also to solve critical planning challenges.
34 minutes | 7 months ago
How Boston Responded to the COVID-19 Crisis
Boston is currently a hot spot for the new coronavirus. Like many municipalities across the country, it's taking unprecedented action to respond to the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Brian Golden, director of the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), joins APA's Roberta Rewers to discuss many of these tactics, including new responsibilities taken on by the city's planning staff. Last month, the city partnered with the McChrystal Group — consultants who specialize in strategic remote crisis management — to review the city’s preparedness for emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic. Golden explains the motivation behind their decision to seek out external assistance, and he breaks down exactly how the consultants helped the city structure their approach to the public health crisis during the last few weeks. Through this eye-opening discussion, planners and other city officials will learn best practices for strategic crisis management, and they'll get an insider look into one major city's operational pivot while dealing with a crisis of global proportions.
29 minutes | 7 months ago
What Planners and Public Sector Agencies Need to Know About Cybersecurity
With millions across the country now working remotely to curb the spread of COVID-19, cybersecurity and data protection issues are top of mind for just about everyone. Phishing attacks have increased. The term "Zoom bombing" has entered the lexicon. What should planners do to make sure their agency's data and communications are safe? APA's Jo Peña talks with Nupur Gunjan, a public sector analyst at Cisco. Nupur is a trained planner who transitioned to the tech world after working for the City of Austin, Texas. Her experience with local planning and tech uniquely positions her to share advice with communities who are using online engagement tools. The two focus on what planners need to know about data protection and online public engagement right now, but also what they can do to protect their communities in the future.
27 minutes | 8 months ago
How E-Commerce Affects Land Use — And How COVID-19 Affects E-Commerce
This episode features a dynamic conversation between Planning magazine editor-in-chief Meghan Stromberg and Lisa Nisenson, vice president for new mobility and connected communities at WGI. The two discuss what e-commerce trends mean for land use and contactless delivery; they also review the major implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for online retail.
18 minutes | 8 months ago
Moving Planning Commission Meetings Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mid-Sized City Perspective
Hear from Matt Hoffman, immediate Past Chair of the Fayetteville, Arkansas, Planning Commission, about how the city continued — virtually — with its planning commission and other board meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
33 minutes | 8 months ago
Planning as Caring, Managing Large-Scale Solar, Becoming an Effective Manager, and More
In this episode of the podcast series Cover to Cover, the Planning magazine editors review the contents of the March 2020 issue: from an interactive map from the US Department of Transportation that shows the linkages between transportation and the new Federal Opportunity Zones program, to the steps it takes to prepare a community for large-scale solar development, to a special "business of planning" article, with 13 strategies for becoming an effective manager. Before the editors dive in to their discussion, editor-in-chief Meghan Stromberg reflects on the state of the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This lens casts a new, even-more-pressing light on her discussion with Ward Lyles, AICP, and Stacey Swearingen White, about their research into emotions in planning. Swearingen White is a professor at the University of Kansas, as well as the director of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, and Lyles is an associate professor at the university, in the School of Public Affairs and Administration. He also serves as director of the Center for Compassionate and Sustainable Communities at KU. The three explore the trope of "planner as technician" and how bringing emotional intelligence into planning can have a major impact on how planners work — something that matters now more than ever in the wake of our current public health crisis.
56 minutes | 8 months ago
Rezoning East Harlem, Rethinking One-Size-Fits-All Public Engagement
In this episode of People Behind the Plans, host Courtney Kashima, AICP, catches up with Traci Sanders of WXY Studio in New York. Traci serves as the director of civic impact for the multidisciplinary architecture, design, and planning firm. She and Courtney start off by exploring how Traci discovered the field of urban planning — the seed was planted during high school, when she split her time between the South and North Sides of Chicago and noticed the stark inequities between them. Traci describes how her work trajectory changed after graduating from NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, eventually leading her to a job with New York City Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito and involvement in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. Both Traci and Courtney share their thoughts on how certain urban planning spheres view public versus private backgrounds, and they muse on issues like the public dimension of design and why a community engagement process should be tailored to every client.
24 minutes | 9 months ago
Uncovering Transit's Gender Gap, Preserving Texas Freedom Colonies, and More
In this episode of the APA Podcast, the Planning magazine editors sit down to recap the urban planning trends and ideas from the February 2020 issue. Featured topics this month include public transit's gender gap (and how to close it), the Texas Freedom Colonies Project, user-centered planning, and the rise of nighttime mayors.
53 minutes | 9 months ago
Long-Term Disaster Recovery Planning in Florida
In this episode of the Resilience Roundtable podcast series, host Jim Schwab, FAICP, speaks with Julie Dennis of OVID Solutions about her experiences working as both an independent disaster-recovery consultant and as a previous director of community development for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Julie's vast experience in Florida saw her working in the Florida Keys when Hurricane Irma hit; she says that the department's focus on relationship building in the region helped enormously to lay the groundwork for assisting post-disaster and guiding redevelopment. The conversation shifts into the personal when Julie shares her experiences with Hurricane Michael, which destroyed her parents' and other family members' homes in another part of the state: the Florida Panhandle. Listeners hear not just about the harsh reality of surviving in a post-disaster environment but also about the moving displays of cooperation that Julie witnessed again and again after the event. Julie and Jim discuss the work she's focusing on now, including guiding some communities in the Panhandle in their first-time planning work. Throughout the episode, Julie shares invaluable insights from working in a state that's on the nation's frontlines of disaster-recovery planning.
35 minutes | 10 months ago
CMAP Executive Director Erin Aleman: Making Change Is Relationship Building
This episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast series introduces listeners to CMAP executive director Erin Aleman, the first woman and first planner to head up the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Erin knows about the challenges inherent in working in large jurisdictions, but she’s learned from her work that small actions can have a big impact. She and host Courtney Kashima, AICP, get into the nitty-gritty of urban planning: how CMAP’s local technical assistance (LTA) program came to be and how it focuses not just on transportation but also housing; how the organization's On to 2050 Plan revolves around three core principles: inclusive growth, resilience, and prioritized investment. They zoom out from talking about the technicalities of planning to explore how an influential college experience taught Erin to approach all residents from a place of respect — a lesson she carries with her even today.
28 minutes | 10 months ago
Resiliency Efforts and Planning Without Zoning in Houston, Gender Mainstreaming Preview, and More | Cover to Cover
Welcome to Cover to Cover, a new series giving planners an insider look into the stories in APA’s Planning magazine. Each month editor Meghan Stromberg and associate editors Mary Hammon and Lindsay Nieman dive deeper into the topics covered in Planning. They introduce listeners to some of the contributors and other voices in its pages, talk about how it all came together, and otherwise give us the story behind the story. This month’s episode focuses on all things planning in Houston: increased resiliency efforts following Hurricane Harvey, a major transit bond measure, a new innovation corridor, and more. Planning writer Bill Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston, weighs in on H-Town’s famous lack of zoning — he argues that the city still uses important planning tools in guiding development. The editors also provide a preview of the upcoming February issue, including articles on gender mainstreaming and the rise of “night mayors.”
61 minutes | a year ago
Resilience Roundtable: Ivis Garcia Zambrana, AICP, PhD
Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. Maria, the more destructive of the two, devastated the island in myriad ways. It wiped out Puerto Rico's electrical grid, leaving 3 million people without power — the biggest outage in U.S. history. It caused $100 billion in damage, and recent estimates from Harvard University, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, put the number of fatalities at 2,975. After the disaster, Professor Ivis Garcia Zambrana, AICP, PhD, went back to the island she grew up on to help create long-term planning partnerships that would lead to a more resilient Puerto Rico. In this episode of Resilience Roundtable, she sits down with host Jim Schwab, FAICP, to provide a context for how vulnerable Puerto Rico was before the storms: its government was more than $70 billion in debt and its failing electrical grid was already causing blackouts. Garcia Zambrana details the aftermath of the storm, but she also tells Schwab about the planning work that happened — and continues to happen — post-Maria. Several plans were culled into one, and a fiscal plan was put together. The two planners discuss the positive developments happening on the ground, such as how the community resilience program strengthens towns by granting funds to local planning organizations, but also where work still needs to be done to get into step with the new economic and disaster recovery plan. Their nuanced discussion paints a portrait of a complex situation: one in which great strides in rebuilding and recovery have been made, but great strides in hazard mitigation still need to happen.
27 minutes | a year ago
Resilience Roundtable: After the Camp Fire, Part 2
In a two-part episode, Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, talks with Butte County, California, planning staff about the aftermath of the 2018 Camp Fire — one of the deadliest and costliest wildfires in the state's history, with 85 casualties and more than 50,000 people evacuated from their homes. Part II of these conversations features Tim Snellings, director of development services for Butte County. Tim details the logistics of the cleanup process, and the two planners discuss how the town of Paradise, which was hardest hit by the disaster, might replan their community. Tim outlines some of the ways county staff might get creative with incentives and programs as they make updates to their general plan. He also underscores the challenges facing communities in the area and how urgent the need is for every jurisdiction facing these realities to update their plan now. [It's] essential that you be prepared for the disaster that's coming, that you don't shortcut on your general plan ... You're thinking that, “Oh, we'll get to it someday.” You need to get to it now. You need to find funding now to update your safety elements and do your hazard mitigation planning now. — Tim Snellings, Director of Development Services, Butte County (California) Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, is professor of city and regional planning at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
41 minutes | a year ago
Resilience Roundtable: After the Camp Fire, Part 1
In a two-part episode, Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, talks with Butte County, California, planning staff about the aftermath of the 2018 Camp Fire — one of the deadliest and costliest wildfires in the state's history, with 85 casualties and more than 50,000 people evacuated from their homes. Part I of these conversations features Dan Breedon, AICP, principal planner for Butte County. Dan describes how people throughout the county had a dire need for temporary housing the very day the fire began on November 8, 2018; he also talks about how the creation of an urgency ordinance became paramount. Dan explains why the specific topography of the area added to their challenges, as well as what the most critical land-use issues are now that the disaster has occurred. Ultimately, listeners learn about how, in the wake of this disaster, local agencies are focusing on improving resilience and adopting better land-use policies, not simply on maintaining a swift response strategy. Bill Siembieda, AICP, PhD, is professor of city and regional planning at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
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