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HOW TO PLAN FOR COMMUNITIES and have space to breathe, feel the trees, enjoy clear creeks, allow other critters to survive too . . . The Annapolis Town Plan by Sir Frances Nicholsen is an extraordinary example of a walking town that creates a vibrant, lively community, a PLACE we want to live in and visit. Now, government tends to centralize planning and we have to fight for a role in decision-making.

Zoning separates where we live from where we shop and work.There is a real need to look back to the way our towns grew to guide us into a future that converts current 'sprawl' to lively Communities that meet our needs. Here are some recent examples of successful efforts made by citizens to plan for their future.

  • Los Angeles: San Fernando Valley: LA has decentralized planning by creating 7 area planning commissions in which "dozens of neighborhood councils review and comment on plans."  There is an underlying current of growth control. Proposition 13 (the anti tax campaign) adopted in '78 shapes planning. Lack of responsiveness at City Hall led to a gradual weeding out of longtime'insiders' who were indifferent to constituents concerns about local government. Desired result: tends toward establishing 'little towns' based on a 'sense of place.' (American Planning Magazine, page 28, Oct 2002)
  • Chicago: "Strategic City: Sustaining Local Values in a Global Economy" 2002. Jeff Brugmann, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), "Mayor Daley is establishing a more 'transparent system' of give and take between neighborhood, the ward alderman and the mayor's office." Alderman Mary Ann Smith, the Mayor's point person to ICLEI, "The people who walk the streets own the streets." Smith's projects aim to "reclaim the neighborhood from the automobile and return it to human beings. Smith has assembled a team including a traffic-calming expert, a planning and development aide, a zoning specialist, and a chief of staff who handles budgetary and finanial complexities, plus a 'cabinet' of neighborhood experts to call on at any time, including land-use attorneys, architects, and landscape designers. Chicago aldermen are the gatekeepers for neighborhood development, but Smith's team practices an extraordinary level of governance. Smith is frustrated by traffic engineers who "understand the negative implications of the status quo, yet still resist proven ways out of this mess. This is shocking to me as a civilian." (American Planning Magazine, Taming the Beast, by Michael Davidson, page 16, Oct 2002)
  • Alexandria, Arlington County, VA: Redevelopment of the waterfront railyard.  The planning process included a design team which conducted a series of charettes with representatives of Alexandria and Arlington County, neighborhood organizations, area residents, and other stakeholders. Hundreds of community meetings were held. The fundamental thing was the process of working with the community to create a plan together, instead of the community having to critique a plan that has already been developed. The master planning team would present for an hour and then sit back and listen to the community. With most of the community behind it, the master plan was passed unanimously by Alexandria city council in 1999 and by Arlington County in 2000. (American Planning Magazine, Railyard Redux, Sam Newberg, page 14, Oct 2002)



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