National Planning Achievement Awards 2014

In addition to the Planning Excellence Awards presented this year, 10 Achievement Award recipients were selected by the awards jury as examples of good planning work. The Achievement recipients were recognized collectively at the Awards Luncheon held during APA's National Planning Conference.

National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice

Berkeley Downtown Area Project

Berkeley, California

Berkeley Plaza was the first application for one of the two residential buildings up to 180 feet. The proposed 17-story, 300-unit building steps it's mass and relates aesthetically to surrounding landmarked historic structureThe Berkeley Downtown Area Project is a multi-faceted project to help promote livability and address social, economic, and environmental challenges. The project includes efforts to create an enhanced city center; zoning standards that include requirements for community benefits, green building, and transportation demand management; design guidelines; and a streets and open space improvement plan in conjunction with a nexus study and collection of fees to implement the plan. The project has successfully translated community aspirations into concrete actions.

National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice

Reclaiming the Right-of-Way: A Toolkit for Creating and Implementing Parklets, UCLA Complete Streets Initiative

Los Angles, California

Reclaiming the Right-of-Way: A Toolkit for Creating and Implementing Parklets: A design example of creating a parklet in a diagonal parking spaceReclaiming the Right-of-Way is a toolkit that provides city staff and community members with practical guidance to support the development of parklets — places that emerge from the low-cost conversion of small and underutilized residual spaces originally devoted to cars into places for the passive or active recreation of people. The toolkit originated to facilitate parklet projects in Los Angeles and covers precedents in Los Angles, municipal cast studies, design guidance, and creative photo simulations. Despite having a Los Angeles focus, the toolkit and its accompanying best practices are being used across the country by cities interested in creating their own parklet programs.

National Planning Achievement Award for Environmental Planning

Arlington County Community Energy Plan

Arlington, Virginia

Arlington County Community Energy Plan (CEP): is designed to reduce the community's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70 percent by 2050. The house pictured is a model of an energy efficient homeThe Community Energy Plan (CEP) is a new element of the Arlington County's Comprehensive Plan. The CEP addresses all major aspects of energy generation, use and distribution in Arlington between now and 2050. The overarching goal is to reduce the community's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70 percent by 2050. The plan focuses on six long-term energy planning goals, including: increasing building energy and operational efficiency; using district energy to increase local energy supply and distribution efficiency; employing renewable energy technologies; refining and expanding transportation infrastructure and operations consistent with the master transportation plan; integrating CEP goals into all county government activities; and advocating and supporting personal action.

National Planning Achievement Award for Environmental Planning

Sustainable DC Plan

Washington, D.C.

Sustainable DC Plan:  Neighborhood groups have begun taking action to help implement Sustainable DC. Here a group formed in a low income neighborhood to combat litter and pollution in the Anacostia RiverSustainable DC Plan includes 143 specific actions, 32 goals, and 31 targets to make the city more sustainable. The plan has expanded resident understanding of sustainability beyond environmental efforts to include job opportunities, healthier families, economic savings, and new transportation options. Sustainable DC has granted district agencies $4.5 million to test new innovations such as solar or green rooftops and anti-idling devices on police cars to reduce emissions. A volunteer corps partners with community organizations monthly to tackle sustainability-related projects. The plan has improved access to healthy food, is in the process of renovating the city's 78 park playground and had led to a new energy code to encourage greater efficiency.

National Planning Achievement Award for Implementation

Downtown Golden Urban Renewal Project

Golden, Colorado

Downtown Golden Urban Renewal Project: Major international, national, and regional events now use downtown Golden as their backdrop, including the Community Candlelight Walk, featuring the Golden Urban Renewal Authority's Holiday LightsThe Downtown Golden Urban Renewal Project was a 25-year effort started by the Golden Urban Renewal Authority (GURA) to address the downtown's dilapidated buildings, high vacancy rates, and crumbling infrastructure. Since 1989, GURA has helped create more than 500 new local employment opportunities; increased the value of area by a projected 246 percent in 2016; increased sales tax revenue by 136 percent; and nearly eliminated downtown vacancy from 20 percent to nearly zero. GURA also assisted with implementation or facilitation of a number of services, including façade preservation and improvement programs; small business websites; construction of housing, office, and retail development, and rehabilitation of the Foothills Art Center and the American Mountaineering Museum.

National Planning Achievement Award for Economic Planning & Development

Trail Towns: Boosting Appalachian Communities Through Tourism

Maryland and Pennsylvania

Cyclists on the GAP Trail spend an average of $114 on lodgings and $17 a day in the Appalachian trail-side townsThe Trail Town Program® and Certified Trail Friendly program are cooperative efforts by the Maryland Department of Planning, the Allegheny Trail Alliance, and The Progress Fund to revitalize a 150-mile corridor of trailside communities along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). These programs reap the economic benefits of recreational tourism using a two-state approach to regional economic development. The Certified Trail Friendly program builds upon the Trail Town Program® by strengthening links between recreational trail users and local businesses. The successful voluntary business certification program encourages all trail users to patronize participating businesses along the GAP in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

National Planning Achievement Award for Public Outreach

San Francisco Budget Czar Game

San Francisco, California

More than 900 people used the Budget Czar game to submit proposed transportation spending plans for San FranciscoThe San Francisco County Transportation Authority developed the Budget Czar game to get citizen input on the countywide transportation investment priorities through 2040. The multilingual, interactive website enabled citizens to select from a menu of transportation programs, operations, and maintenance funding levels and capital projects within the projected $64.3 billion that would be available during the transportation plan's lifetime. If users surpassed their budget, they were instructed to reduce their spending or find additional revenue. The website solicited input but also helped educate citizens on the complexities of local transportation funding. More than 900 responses were received, a higher level engagement than previous outreach efforts from public meetings and surveys.

National Planning Achievement Award for Public Outreach

Pop Up City: Temporary Interventions for Community Engagement

Cleveland, Ohio

An underutilized parking deck on the site of Cleveland's former Hippodrome Theater is re-envisioned as a performance space and downtown destinationKent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) develops temporary interventions that gauge community support for new projects and policies before making significant political or financial commitments. Pop Up City enables citizens to envision future development alternatives based on actual experiences. The process raises awareness of opportunities and helps build consensus around a development vision. In the past three years, temporary interventions have explored alternatives for public space design and highlighted some of Cleveland's underutilized properties in an entertaining manner. Pop Up City increases public participation and generates better long-term development outcomes. For example, more than 8,000 citizens participated in the Detroit-Superior bridge project that a comprehensive transportation planning process to convert the infrastructure into usable public space.

National Planning Achievement Award for Transportation

SANBAG Improvement to Transit Access for Cyclists and Pedestrians

County of San Bernardino, California

Proposed mid-block crossing with overhead beacon or in-pavement beacons at Euclid Avenue and Pacific Electric Trail will provide direct connection for pedestrians and bicyclists and improve safetyThe San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) examined the ability of non-motorized users to access its regional transit network. The SANBAG Improvement to Transit Access for Cyclists and Pedestrians Report presents proposed facility improvements for specific corridors leading to Metrolink Commuter Rail stations and sbX Bus Rapid Transit stations. Each station has a description of the recommended improvements for cyclists and pedestrians, explaining where each improvement should be made and a cost estimate for implementing the recommended improvements. The year-long project sought to identify existing access barriers, inform stakeholders of industry best practices, and propose planning-level improvements in and around the selected stations. SANBAG and Omnitrans have begun implementing recommendations and continue to work with local jurisdictions to achieve the goals of the project.

National Planning Achievement Award for Urban Design

Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan

Chula Vista, California

The plan focuses on the redevelopment and revitalization of approximately 556 acres of bayfront property, including state tidelands and uplands under the port's jurisdiction as well as uplands under the city's jurisdictionThe Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan builds upon two prior decades of planning and focuses on the redevelopment and revitalization of approximately 556 acres of bayfront property, including state tidelands and uplands under the port's jurisdiction as well as uplands under the city's jurisdiction. The plan designates more than 200 acres of the site as open space, creates a pedestrian circulation plan of approximately 54,000 linear feet of shoreline promenade, trails, and sidewalks, improves public access and recreation opportunities, and establishes new public parks for passive and active uses. The plan will raise significant investment and capital for the area, and seeks to harmonize environmental protection, community interests, and economic development.