Neighborhood and Community Development

So I learned a ton at yesterday’s Richland County, SC Neighborhood Planning Conference. though it was short, it was packed with useful information. First, I have to commend Richland County for getting the President of the American Planning Association (APA) , Mitchell Silver, to present not only as the keynote but at a session titled Planning:101. He was nice, well informed and interesting.

Most people have no idea what planners do (including me…partially). Mr Silver’s aim as President of the APA is to make planning the most relevant profession in the 20th Century. Although this is kind of a mystified field that gets confused with engineering and development a lot of the time, I want to show that it’s important to have an effect on the community’s future. And it’s important to be informed about current trends to plan efficiently for that future. Long story short, here are the gems from the conference:

  • Carolina Halfbacks: Northerners who want to move south for the weather, low cost of living or the southern charm or other reasons and the settle in the Carolinas.
  • Before zoning, property owners relied on restrictive convenants to keep certain people out of their neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods still have these covenants in their charters that ban minorities, pets and even children from taking residence.
  • Agenda 21-  a conspiracy that says the government passed a law that gives the government a right to all private property for public purposes. I need to Google this to get the real definition. It’s a hoax but its the basis of what most people believe about Planning/Zoning.
  • Some places grow, some places shrink, and some remain the same. But everyone complains about the places they inhabit.
  • America’s Top Shrinking Cities http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/americas-shrinking-cities_n_1637881.html#slide=1164792
  • Many of the cities mentioned above are in the Northeast and Midwest United States. Mr. Silver highlighted the fact that growth is actually happening in the South now more than ever. Some of it is migration and some immigration. All of these statistics will affect the way we plan. In order to handle an influx of people, southern cities will have to invest in much better mass transit and infrastructure.
  • Crime prevention through environmental design- Timothy Crow
  • Place Making-Charles C. Bohl
  • The Life and Death of Great American Cities- Jane Jacobs
  • front porches are known to deter crime. having eyes on the street promotes both safety and walkability.
  • A cool program that puts windows in the k-12 school restrooms  hand washing area so that the teachers can look in from the hallway, deters bullying
  • Center armrest on park benches are there to deter homeless folk from sleepingarm rest bench
  • The Office Park model is a dying model- Research Triangle Park will be urbanized and planners will encourage mixed use
  • Game changers for our population:
  1. The graying and greening of the workforce. People are getting older and younger.
  2. Rise of the single person household
  3. The idea of the traditional family is changing. 50% of births in the US are to unwed mothers. 50% !!!!
  4. by 2050, the number of single person households will match the number of families (traditional and non)
  • Although Atlanta continues to grow, they are constantly losing jobs. Unchecked building and development led to congestion. The students who were once attracted to the city and attended their schools are beginning to migrate to other places after graduation.

Whew! brain dump. Needless to say, I learned a lot yesterday and cannot wait to continue this journey in the planning, community development world.

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