Community Assistance Workshops
As part of the National Planning Conference, the American Institute of Certified Planners sponsors the Community Planning Workshop, a one-day event that engages community leaders, citizens, and guest planners in discussing and proposing specific solutions to urban planning challenges.
Share your knowledge and help achieve a community's vision.
2019 AICP Community Planning Workshop
Lake Merritt Station Area, Oakland, California
The 2019 AICP Community Planning Workshop will focus on key strategies necessary to establish, finance, and sustain a community benefit district in one of the last urban-infill neighborhoods in Downtown Oakland. This redeveloping, transit-oriented development (TOD) is at the nexus between planning and implementation.
In 2018, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), one of the largest public landowners, selected a master developer to build 500 housing units, 600,000 square feet of office space, 20,000 square feet of retail, and public amenities over the existing, below-grade BART train station. Located in the heart of Oakland Chinatown, community stakeholders aim to protect the area's status as a thriving, inclusive cultural district — while building ownership and wealth in the community and minimizing displacement.
The community acknowledges a need to look beyond planning and real estate solutions. A sustainable funding mechanism that goes beyond the one-time development-related impact fees is needed. Implementation of parking, open space, maintenance, and other considerations often get overlooked and underfunded.
Community Assistance Program (CAP) Training Webinar
This CAP Training Webinar is intended for professional planners, community organizers, and citizens interested in community planning. AICP members will gain a more nuanced set of skills related to organizing and participating in community workshops and other public engagement strategies (and earn 1 CM credit). Viewers will also learn effective ways of participating in public forums by developing new ways of eliciting input and important feedback from residents and stakeholders.
In addition to an overview of the direct technical assistance aspects of CAP, the webinar is intended for APA members interested in starting their own pro bono community assistance programs within their own chapters or divisions.
2018: Claiborne Corridor, New Orleans
Housing and equity are major issues in New Orleans as are preserving the traditions that make the city unique.
APA, the New Orleans Planning Commission, and HousingNOLA worked with area stakeholders, civic groups, and others to organize a workshop that focused on specific issues and goals related to preserving community identity and increasing affordable housing.
The 2018 Community Planning Workshop — held in conjunction with the 2018 National Planning Conference — focused on the Claiborne Avenue corridor, which covers the entire width of New Orleans and has citywide and regional importance. Demographic change since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is generating both economic and cultural effects.
The workshop focused on the topics of tiny houses and accessory dwelling units and parking in the context of finding solutions to the affordable housing crisis in the city.
Twenty visiting planners from around the country — along with neighborhood residents, developers, business owners, government officials, and other local stakeholders — all brought a variety of perspectives to the day's conversations.
HousingNOLA has worked to ensure that equity is at the center of discussions with the community and reflected in the language of planning documents. Addressing affordable housing intersects many issues and requires a holistic approach.
2017: Howard Beach, Queens, New York City
Green infrastructure is, by no means the complete solution to the area's complex flooding challenges, but it is an important piece to developing a more resilient strategy overall. Furthermore, green infrastructure is not only an effective technique in capturing water, it is also a vital tool in protecting the health of the water and the important natural habitat of Jamaica Bay. As more cities try to increase the amount of green infrastructure, it's becoming clear that private property owners are key to reaching their goals.
The 2017 Community Planning Workshop took planners to Howard Beach in Queens. The storm surge of Hurricane Sandy caused flood damage to nearly every home in this low-lying neighborhood and cut power to the area for over three weeks. Recovery has been successful in many ways, but that effort continues, as well as taking measures to increase resiliency for future events. The goal of increased resiliency amid the rebuilding efforts will need to include a range of strategies and techniques. The 2017 workshop focused primarily on green infrastructure on private property.
2016: South Central Avenue, Phoenix
The 2016 AICP Community Planning Workshop was held during the 2016 APA National Planning Conference in Phoenix. Conference attendees registered for the event to work alongside South Phoenix community members, local Phoenix planners and other city staff, elected officials, area stakeholders, and fellow planners from around the country. The workshop was organized primarily by City of Phoenix Planning and Development Department staff with support from APA staff to coordinate the event.
The workshop brought together members of the Central City and South Mountain Village Planning Committees, residents, and business owners with more than 20 professional planners from across the country to focus on land use planning for potential future growth along South Central Avenue.
The purpose of the workshop was to identify areas ideal for preservation, retrofit, or growth within 1/4-mile of each future station area by building on recently established place types and discussing potential challenges and assets at each locale to further community revitalization goals within the light rail corridor.
2015:Belltown Neighborhood, Seattle, Washington
The 2015 AICP Community Planning Workshop focused on the Belltown neighborhood in Seattle, Washington. Belltown is a bustling area of Seattle known for its trendy, young professional crowd — and the restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques that come with it. Due to its proximity to downtown, it's one of the most densely populated (and highly popular) areas of the city. The residents of the area enjoy an urban lifestyle, which is embodied in the many lofts, high-rises, and renovated warehouses re-purposed into studios that line the streets.
Belltown holds many great assets and features, but the community hosts a number of challenges.
- It is home to multiple social service agencies that serve the poor and homeless.
- Major transportation corridors traverse the area, creating safety, circulation, and design character challenges.
- The popularity of the nightlife creates conflicts with the residential population.
- The neighborhood features very limited parks and open space.
- There's an interest in creating greater housing diversity (i.e. families with children).
- There's a desire to improve the neighborhood's connection to the waterfront.
The goal of the day-long workshop was to establish coordinated, immediate next steps to spur innovation and investment in the neighborhood. The efforts focused around the concepts of sustainability and placemaking — the deliberate shaping of an environment to facilitate social interaction and improve a community's quality of life.
Workshop participants toured of the Belltown neighborhood in the morning. The afternoon was spent working in groups with community representatives to identify roadblocks to implementing the community's visions for a world class urban village; actions needed to encourage inclusive community building and elevate sustainability; and next steps for implementation. A final report with recommendations will be produced following the workshop.
2014: Broad Street / Garnett MARTA Station Area, Atlanta, Georgia
The 2014 AICP Community Planning Workshop focused on community revitalization of the Broad Street corridor, which connects the MARTA Five Points Station and Garnett Street Station in the historic heart of downtown Atlanta.
The goals of the workshop were to identify specific obstacles to implementing the community's vision and establish a realistic set of "first steps" that will spur community confidence and lead to revitalization.
To meet these goals, the workshop covered:
- Strategies to Address Quality of Life Issues (public safety/homeless)
- Pop-Up Community: Tactical Urbanism
- Investments in the Public Realm: Connectivity and Aesthetics
Planner participants learned about the area's past present and future, including:
- The rich history and legacy of this part of downtown, a thriving business center in post-war Atlanta
- The physical and social quality of life issues facing the area
- The visionary plans of Central Atlanta Progress to redevelop the area into a bustling urban center with improved infrastructure, connected green space, and public–private partnerships
2013: East Garfield Park, Chicago, Illinois
The bus pulled out of the Hyatt as Saturday morning snow began to fall, and over 20 planners set out westward towards East Garfield Park for the AICP Community Planning Workshop.
The bus took the group past Chicago landmarks like the United Center Arena and into the neighborhood of East Garfield Park. The group rode by the Burnham–planned boulevards and Olmsted–designed parks, ending in a neighborhood where many artists have been living for decades.
The former industrial area and workforce housing neighborhood is attractive to artists because of the low cost of living. Many large facilities and government buildings are either vacant or underused. The group then arrived at the Legler Library on Garfield Park to convene with community members.
Julie Burros, from the Department of Cultural Affairs, presented the recent Chicago Cultural Plan to the group, explaining the process and outputs to see how the city is able to create development around culture, and not simple overlaying districts. The plan looks to expand the concept of cultural development to have levels of public and private investment.
Jim Cocks, AICP, of the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development presented the city's plans to protect business and industrial uses in Chicago. His agency is using various incentives and protecting zoning to keep these vital aspects of the city's economy in Chicago.
The final presentation was from Mike Thomas from the Garfield Park Community Council, which is a local community development organization. He spoke to the tactics used and projects implemented to engage the community to address issues in the area and promote inclusive development.
The group of planners and community members then counted off into four breakout groups. The first session was to look how the Cultural Plan can come to East Garfield Park. They identified stakeholders and key champions who should be involved in the process to move towards a cultural plan in the neighborhood. They also were charged to create a vision for the arts district in East Garfield Park.
The groups continued working through lunch, which was delivered by Inspiration Kitchens. The restaurant is linked to the Inspiration Corporation, which provides programs like job training and other poverty alleviation programs in Chicago. Inspiration Kitchens in located in East Garfield Park and has a restaurant skills training program as well.
After lunch, the entire group came together to share the results from the first breakout group. Themes that came up were based on broadening the idea of what art and culture can be. It is important to identify and capitalize on existing artists' networks, but also bringing art to everyone in the community.
Vacant spaces and buildings were also highlighted as a great opportunity for new uses for artists and other community members. The red tape associated with reusing these spaces is complicated and needs streamlining and tends to favor real estate developers to buy the land only. The community needs to galvanize existing institutions and neighborhood associations to reinforce their importance and spur conversations among various stakeholders.
There is a lack of city support for physical and virtual space to gain access to markets for artists; and there were ideas to build market places with a link to educational programming. Evaluating metrics would be helpful to show potential funders that programs and projects are having a positive effect on the neighborhood.
There is a need to support ex-cons in the area, as there is a large influx in East Garfield Park, but no services for them once they arrive. Local residents should be involved with the conception, creation, and maintenance of public art to take ownership; beautifying transportation infrastructure and painting murals were suggested as ideas.
The participants then went back to their groups to think of ways to make the arts community and also make it sustainable. The groups came back with many ideas first of which was that the neighborhood needs to organize the artists in either a formalized group. This organization can also be virtual through a website and social media in order to communicate more efficiently and stimulate more activity. The groups were able to identify the economic benefit of arts, which should be communicated to politicians, which is easy to back politically.
The Federal Livable Communities Program was mentioned as a possible funding source for community development. Planning interns could aide in the conception of building a community organization and other planning activities before a formal organization arises.
The day ended with discussing what to do next. The next steps should address how to reach consensus, with one group proposing a next meeting in May, but with the assistance of a third party facilitator. The artists realize they must bring in those people with certain skills to be able to work towards a productive future. They are reaching out to local planners and others that would like to continue to work with the community moving forward.
The engaging discussion through the day laid out a plan for the future of the neighborhood to embrace the artist community and also develop and move forward.
2012: Trinidad Neighborhood, Washington, D.C.
APA worked with the Trinidad Neighborhood Association to organize a Community Planning Workshop prior to APA's Federal Policy and Briefing Program and Fall Leadership Meetings in Washington, D.C. This was an opportunity for planners from around the country to participate in a pro bono community planning effort.
Planners met and worked directly with residents and stakeholders of the historic Trinidad neighborhood along with representatives from city agencies to engage in idea-generating and problem-solving discussions on: affordable housing, economic development, and connectivity to nearby business corridors, among others.
Held during APA's Fall Leadership Meetings and the Federal Policy and Program Briefing, nearly 60 people participated in the Trinidad Community Planning Workshop at Gallaudet University on September 29, 2012. Over 30 planners from around the country met with Trinidad residents, local business owners, DC government agencies, and other stakeholders to discuss the future of the neighborhood.
Located in the northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., Trinidad is bounded on the south by Florida Avenue, on the west by West Virginia Avenue, on the north by Mount Olivet Road, and on the east by Bladensburg Road. To the west of Trinidad lies Gallaudet University, the first school dedicated to the higher education of the deaf and hard of hearing, and Mount Olivet Cemetery and the National Arboretum lie to the northeast.
The name "Trinidad" is believed to derive from a former land owner who lived on the island nation of Trinidad. As the story goes, the Trinidadian died before he could relocate to his landholding in Washington. Over the years, the area (0.27 sq. miles) changed hands several times — from the Corcoran family to Columbian College (now the George Washington University), then to the Washington Brick Machine Company. The brickworks excavated the land for clay, but eventually decided to sell parcels of land to developers.
In the late 1800s, the first houses were built in the southeastern section of the area and Trinidad was later formally established as a Washington, D.C., neighborhood in 1888. American League Park, home of the Washington Senators major league baseball team, was located in Trinidad from 1901 to 1902 before the team moved to Boundary Field and then to Griffith Stadium in LeDroit Park a couple of miles to the northwest.
Since its beginnings, Trinidad has remained a working class neighborhood. Though once more racially integrated, Trinidad is today a predominantly black and African American community. Suburban sprawl and white flight affected Trinidad like many other urban communities across the country in the mid-20th century. The 1968 riots in Washington following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a significant role in the neighborhood's history.
Trinidad experienced further decline amidst D.C.'s infamous crack epidemic during the 1980s and '90s. Much of the neighborhood's past and decades-long decline have plagued the area with a negative public image. Furthermore, despite a declining crime rate, the area still suffers from widespread perceptions of rampant crime.
Trinidad today contains many quality affordable housing options — an important asset that the community's many low- and moderate-income families would like to protect. Much of the Community Planning Workshop will concentrate on how the community and the city can better protect the character and affordability of the neighborhood, while improving the quality of life for all residents. Connecting the neighborhood to several business corridors on the edges of Trinidad will also be a subject of the workshop.
2012: Boyle Heights, Los Angeles
Street vending is illegal — and common — in Los Angeles.
AICP's Community Planning Workshop on Saturday morning explored issues around street vending in the city with a focus on the Boyle Heights neighborhood in East Los Angeles.
Recent crackdowns from police on this activity have given traction to community groups lobbying for change. The local host committee for the 2012 National Planning Conference teamed up with Leadership in Urban Renewal Now (LURN), a local community organization, to run the Community Planning Workshop. Other partners, such as East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC), and community members came to participate in the day's activities.
Participating planners left the convention center for a bus tour of Boyle Heights, which lies just east of downtown L.A. across the L.A. River. The group entered Boyle Heights and took in the details of the neighborhood, such as the active commercial corridors of Cesar Chavez Boulevard.
The tour guides from LURN pointed out the lack of green space and educational institutions in an area crisscrossed and bound by many freeway interchanges. Participants saw the variety of housing and the land use patterns hat shape this community of 100,000 residents.
The bus tour ended at Mariachi Plaza, a public plaza adjacent to the new Gold Line Metro station. The area has been historically used by mariachis as a meeting place to obtain work, and has become the gateway to Boyle Heights.
ELACC showed its nearly complete Boyle Hotel development, a historic preservation and affordable housing project which plans to open in July 2012. The group walked to Self Help Graphics, a neighborhood institution that provides space for artists, to begin the workshop.
LURN set the stage for the day's activities by providing the background and goals for the workshop. While street vending is illegal in Los Angeles, it is nonetheless an integral part of communities around the city, and especially Boyle Heights. As the area begins to experience gentrification pressures from the recent opening of the Metro station, certain small business owners are looking to "clean the streets," essentially shutting down this viable economic activity.
Boyle Heights is also a community lacking in fresh produce for its residents, and the goals for the day were to look for a solution to these problems.
What kind of policy can be implemented to benefit the community, not clash with established businesses, and provide healthy food options for residents?
"Many urban neighborhoods throughout the United States suffer from a lack of healthy food choices. The Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles is no exception. The largely Latino community has access to few affordable healthy food choices. The City of Los Angeles prohibits street vendors and therefore limits one option for providing affordable healthy and easily accessible food choices for its urban neighborhoods such as Boyle Heights.
The 2012 Community Planning Workshop — Green Carts in Boyle Heights — is designed to address this issue head on, with participation from local community leaders and advocates.
The Green Cart Initiative is an exciting grass roots effort to legalize street vending and find ways to engage vendors in fighting food deserts. Leadership for Urban Renewal Now (LURN) is leading an effort underway to change these conditions and provide opportunities for healthy and affordable food choices within the community. The Workshop is intended to develop practical "on-the-ground" strategies to provide healthy food cart vending options and overcome legislative obstacles while engaging residents in the process."
2011: NoMa, Washington, D.C.
On September 17, 2011, planners from around the country and local community members gathered in one of D.C.'s fastest developing neighborhoods — known as NoMa — to help the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) come up with strategies to preserve public open space and parks in the midst of remarkable growth. More specifically, workshop participants presented NoMa BID with:
- A vision statement that supports the community's needs and wishes for future public spaces.
- Park design guidelines and ideas for a breezeway outside the local Metro rail station.
- A long-term public engagement strategy.
NoMa's name derives from its location "North of Massachusetts Avenue," which has seen a total transformation over the last decade. A once-blighted industrial area has transformed into a bustling transit-oriented, mixed-use community. Since the opening of the public-private partnership project of the New York Avenue Metro station in 2004, the headquarters of the U.S. General Services Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have located within the neighborhood.
The daytime population is roughly 40,000 people, and the full-time resident population continues to explode.
The pace of development, coupled with an industrial past, has left NoMa vulnerable to the loss of all significant open space and parkland. This is where the workshop participants stepped in to help the community recognize and capitalize on its open space and recreational potential.
Workshop participants used the offices of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) in NoMa as headquarters for the day's events. NoMa Transportation and Planning Manager Jamie Brätt and Ambassador Supervisor/Outreach Coordinator J. Otavio Thompson first led participants on a walking tour of the community.
After returning to MWCOG, participants separated into five breakout groups, each consisting of APA members and community stakeholders. These groups met to discuss and produce answers to a set of issues and questions. After each breakout, the five groups reassembled and reported their findings.
During the last part of the day, the entire group assembled to create a prioritized list of recommendations for how the community should engage its growing resident base and other stakeholders in the neighborhood. The workshop ended as APA participants and NoMa participants met separately to discuss the day's activities.
The findings of the workshop will help the NoMa BID plan for a healthy proportion of open and park space as it continues to thrive as a vibrant mixed-use neighborhood.
2011: Cote Ford Site, Mattapan, Boston, Massachusetts
On Saturday, April 9, 2011, planners from around the country traveled to Mattapan, a neighborhood in the southern part of Boston, to focus on the potential redevelopment of a former auto dealership site.
Hosted by a local committee, this group of experts took part in an AICP Community Planning Workshop in conjunction with the 2011 APA National Planning Conference. They focused on the Cote Ford Site, a brownfield that has been abandoned for decades. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has announced the opening of a new station near this site, which is located on the Fairmont Commuter Line.
Cote Ford is a multi-parcel area nearly three acres large with great potential for new development. The property owners have been absent and, recently, the largest parcel has been foreclosed upon. The remaining properties are waiting for foreclosure, and future development will be handled by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Neighborhood Housing Development Agency of the city of Boston.
The workshop day began with a neighborhood bus tour and a short site visit on foot. The investigating group attracted questioning community members, highlighting the importance of this site. Everyone is in agreement that something needs to be done with the area, and this workshop is part of the overall development plan being explored by the city of Boston.
The intended outcome of this workshop is the beginning of a visioning process for the future of the site. It marks only the beginning of a robust community engagement plan to hear the voices of local residents.
After seeing the site, workshop planners joined a group of community stakeholders at the Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public Library. The new, architecturally inspiring library itself is an investment made by the city, solidifying the commitment the government has to enhancing the community. Representatives from BRA presented background information about the area.
Community members present expressed their concerns about how the development would progress. After this opening, planners and community members went into four breakout groups for discussion.
Each group facilitated discussion in a unique way, but the community shared its values, concerns, and ideas about the neighborhood and specifically the potential for the site.
After discussion, the groups reported their ideas, including lack of greenery in the neighborhood, high home ownership rates, and the hope that uses on the site will be family-oriented and promote educational programs. A common theme throughout the groups was that the site has a great potential to be a gateway to Mattapan because of the location and makeup of the parcels. People are looking to create a new image for the neighborhood, while conserving the existing community feel. All agreed that the sooner something happens the better.
The groups then returned to create an "Elevator Vision Statement," referring to pitching a quick, yet profound idea to someone while riding an elevator. The goal was to summarize and articulate the most essential points from the morning session. The groups used a straw polling technique, where each member was able to place a dot near the ideas which were most important to them. This way, those which have the most dots at the end were used to formulate the vision.
After the presentation of each Elevator Vision Statement, everything was brought together by a member of the BRA. Everyone was amazed at the similarities of the statements, highlighting the potential for a strong community consensus in the future. One components of the statement was the idea that the site can be a gateway to Mattapan, as it is time to make a statement. The community would like there to be a mix of uses, with businesses focused on the community. Finally, there was a call to create high quality buildings that will complement the area, retaining the "country feel" the neighborhood enjoys today.
The tone of the community was very positive towards the end of the day, as they were invested in this planning process and want to be involved in the future. They asked for better communication from the city about future workshops and community engagement. In the past, there had been issues of trust from the community towards the city, and this workshop has restored some of that trust. The transformative nature of the day was palpable with the change of opinion from the community. Now, the BRA and the city of Boston have a framework to continue working for the future development of the site. There will be many more community outreach programs in which the residents to participate.
After the community left, the planners discussed the workshop and how it created a neutral space. Instead of the community facing off against the BRA, planners from around the country were able to listen and work together on a task, unbiased.
2010: Donaldsonville, Louisiana
On Saturday, April 10, 2010, a group of planners took a bus ride to Donaldsonville, Louisiana, to meet with and lend their expertise to an excited group of the city's residents and leaders to help develop a vision for the small, but rapidly growing city's future. More than 60 residents and leaders greeted the eager group of planners upon arrival.
The Community Planning Workshop consisted of three breakout sessions on three of the community's identified needs, which include: infrastructure, housing, and community perception/image. Each group produced a wealth of insights and local knowledge that allowed the team of planners to engage directly with residents and constructively enter into an ongoing discussion of the city's future direction.
Donaldsonville, about one hour outside of New Orleans, is located in Ascension Parish, one of the fastest growing parishes (counties) in the State of Louisiana. The parish's convenient location between Baton Rouge and New Orleans along with its available land, significant industrial development, and strong public schools are all contributing factors to its growth. In addition, the parish's population experienced a spike of approximately 10,000 new residents after hurricane Katrina as many decided to resettle in the growing area. Much of the growth is taking place incorporated communities located on the border of East Baton Rouge Parish and within and around the parish's largest city Gonzalez. There are three incorporated municipalities with Ascension Parish: Gonzalez, Sorrento, and the parish seat Donaldsonville.
The parish is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan, whereby input is now being solicited from residents in the municipalities and the unincorporated territories. The Ascension Parish Comprehensive Plan establishes eight key principles:
- sustainable growth patterns
- focus growth in centers and areas served by utilities, leave the rest rural
- create jobs/housing balance through economic development
- provide a balanced transportation system
- provide housing for the needs of the entire community
- opportunities for an active community
- respect physical (natural environmental) settings
- retain historic assets
There is a commitment on the part of city and parish leadership to ensure that planning activities are aligned.
Breakout sessions with the residents and planners focused on three themes the residents and organizers deemed critical determinants of the city's immediate and long-term future: infrastructure, housing, and community perception/image. During the reporting out period, each group's facilitators outlined the most salient points of each discussion.
While the city's issues are clearly interrelated, housing was considered one of the most pressing issues, which was underscored by the Donaldsonville mayor who addressed the entire group in the afternoon. The housing breakout group highlighted a need for more affordable housing, new programs to increase home ownership, and repurposing existing structures to support new housing initiatives. Because Donaldsonville does not currently have a community development corporation (CDC) to assist in this process, ideas emerged from the group to reach out to other CDCs in the area to partner with.
The community perception/image breakout group identified the need to brand and promote the city's rich cultural and arts institutions and programs that already exist. Delivering increased amounts of resources to these institutions and programs will be vital for the successful economic development of the city.
Donaldsonville also possesses a remarkable number of historical resources, which was identified as a core strength to build upon. The long and unique history of Donaldsonville provides an American story that desperately needs to be shared with a wider audience. The group also shared that residents and other stakeholders need to get involved and stay involved in city politics to ensure that these ideas are continually voiced and heard. Funding is frequently a problem and brainstorming for new ideas will be a vital part of this continued involvement.
The infrastructure group helped pinpoint some of the economic development issues and key opportunity sites located in the city. Transportation services that provide increased access to impacted residents beyond just the elderly population were reported as a key concern.
Additionally, supplying the infrastructure needs of the Historic District should be a main focus. The Historic District encompasses an area of about 50 blocks. Many of the 640 buildings located within the District date mainly from 1865–1933 and include residences, commercial and public buildings, five churches, and three cemeteries of the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish faiths. In fact, it is the second largest historic district in the State of Louisiana. The district is unusually large and retains a sizable complement of working-class areas, complete with housing (shotguns, cottages, and bungalows), as well as early neighborhood stores. Notably, the activities of the River Road African American Museum have enhanced the programming of the district to include the significance of the African American communities along the Mississippi River.
The day was filled with a sense of collaboration and the welcoming spirit of the residents helped make the workshop a success. As an example of the city's involvement, a homemade lunch was prepared for the participants by a local councilman.
APA wishes to thank the local host committee, which has worked and will continue to work with a steering committee of local leaders selected by the mayor, city staff, and parish leadership for developing this Community Planning Workshop.
2009: Chicago Avenue Lifesciences Corridor, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Striking a balance. That theme surfaced again and again at the 2009 AICP Community Planning workshop. The all-day Saturday workshop, which focused on the "Chicago Avenue Lifesciences Corridor," attracted 25 planners from around the country who partnered with more than 20 community residents to develop a vision for the neighborhood.
APA participants quickly learned that the idea of a Lifesciences Corridor was directed from the state level in an effort to create incentives for development in the area. This concept, neighborhood residents explained, did not always align with the local community's vision for the corridor. The planners and neighborhood residents set to work untangling these sometimes divergent priorities — of government and community members; between established communities and emerging immigrant populations; of institutions seeking to grow; and among those who seek to preserve historic buildings and those who advocate for new construction. The workshop was the beginning of striking a balance, determining priorities, and ensuring community voices are heard as the city begins a planning process focused on this corridor.
The day began with a tour of the study area led by Bill Vanderwall of Vanderwall Associates, who has more that 10 years of experience working in the neighborhood. The buses rolled past retail and housing stock along the corridor and in surrounding neighborhoods. After disembarking the buses, planners and community members walked along the Midtown Greenway and learned about the planning process for the biking and pedestrian trail from Midtown Greenway Coalition's Executive Director Tim Springer. Dave Burelli of Ryan Companies gave a quick tour of the Midtown Exchange Building, a converted Sears warehouse that now houses office, retail, and residential uses. Participants reboarded buses for a tour of neighborhood institutions, then headed back to the Hans Christian Andersen School for a work session.
After a brief introduction from Paul Mogush, principal planner with the City of Minneapolis, and Phil Carlson from Bonestroo, participants divided into five groups to discuss issues and develop priorities around:
- Urban Design/Land Use
- Economic Development
It was a large task.
"While there is no way to address all of the concerns of the neighborhood in six hours," observed Phil Carlson, one of the workshop co-chairs, "you can generate a lot of good ideas that feed into further efforts." Suzanne Rhees, workshop co-chair, added, "It's exciting to see the variety of perspectives represented in the room. A fresh set of eyes opens up many ideas and possibilities."
Kim Radel, an employee at the Abbott Northwestern Hospital, one of the neighborhood's main anchor institutions, agreed: "It's a great opportunity for residents and employers to hear the variety of perspectives that planners who are not so close to the issues can bring."
After each of two working sessions, a spokesperson from the groups reported back their proposals. Often, linkages between the tables were discovered, and knowledge was exchanged. Chaka Mkali, youth/adult organizer for Hope Community, thought that the process of discussion and open sharing of ideas was incredibly valuable: "This type of workshop has the potential for citizens to be engaged in the issues that will influence them directly." He hopes for additional opportunities to bring more voices to the table on the continuing policy and design discussions.
A neighborhood resident for 38 years, Joanne Micensky noted that this was the first event of this kind that she had attended. "This was a great workshop," she said. "I see a lot of connections being made. It was very well focused and organized, and I especially liked the different breakout groups."
In his closing remarks, City Councilman Robert Lilligren noted that he hopes the workshop is just the start of the discussions that will be taking place regarding the future of the neighborhood — his words again eliciting the goal of finding balance and prioritizing inclusiveness in the planning process.
2008: West Las Vegas, Nevada
This charrette-style workshop focused on a portion of the West Las Vegas neighborhood, located immediately northwest of downtown Las Vegas. The history of West Las Vegas is intimately intertwined with the beginning of Las Vegas, dating back to 1904. Since the 1930s, West Las Vegas was commonly referred to as the "Westside" and home to a large African American population. The community has many historic points of interest, including the Moulin Rouge Hotel & Casino and the Old Westside School.
Despite the growth of metropolitan Las Vegas, West Las Vegas has experienced property disinvestment, high rate of absentee landlords, poverty, little to no economic development and an inability to sustain growth within the area.
The Community Planning Workshop provided an opportunity for AICP attendees to brainstorm with community stakeholders to create policies and strategies related to redevelopment and revitalization, while preserving the history of the community. Topics included growth, land use, housing, culture and historic preservation, and community services.
2007: Sharswood, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Planners from around the U.S. gathered in Philadelphia's Sharswood neighborhood on Saturday for an AICP Community Planning Workshop at the 2007 National Planning Conference.
Working groups of planners and neighborhood stakeholders brainstormed on issues of vital interest to the neighborhood — including vacant land, housing, historic preservation, community services, and safety — then incorporated their ideas into drawings and recommendations.
The policy and design recommendations generated from this workshop will be incorporated into a final report that will help the Philadelphia City Planning Commission guide and coordinate future investment and redevelopment in Sharswood.
The day began for participants with a short bus ride to North Philadelphia from Center City Philadelphia to General John F. Reynolds Elementary School for breakfast and welcoming remarks from Sue Schwartz, AICP President, Richard Redding of the Philadelphia Local Host Committee and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and the school's principal, Cheryl Hackett. Later in the day, they heard remarks and thanks from Philadelphia City Council Member Darrel Clark.
Workshop organizers presented a short video about the neighborhood and its history as well as interviews with residents. A low-to-moderate income neighborhood, Sharswood has suffered from population decline and blight for many years. Some Philadelphians may not know the neighborhood under the name of Sharswood. It is located immediately north of Girard College and adjacent to Brewerytown. Ridge Avenue runs along its eastern side and Cecil B. Moore Avenue runs near its northern edge. Temple University is located several blocks to the north and east.
Planners in the workshop got a look at neighborhood conditions during a bus tour. Girard College, a private boarding school serving grades 1-12, acts as a barrier to the community on its southern side, a condition further exacerbated by a tall stone wall around the campus perimeter. Participants saw abandoned and blighted properties as well as vacant land, some of which has resulted from Mayor John F. Street's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). In some cases, recently vacant land has been improved with tree plantings and fencing.
The neighborhood features a number of educational facilities, including Reynolds School, Girard College, and two public high schools. The historic Athletic Recreation Center is located on the western edge of the neighborhood, and just outside the traditional neighborhood boundary is the M.L. King Recreation Center near Cecil B. Moore & Ridge Avenues. The community has a long sports and recreation history thanks in part to the presence of these facilities.
Residential land uses of varying density and age are concentrated in the interior portions of the neighborhood. Many neighborhood homes are older, two-or three brick rowhouses, with two major exceptions. Blumburg Public Housing, owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, primarily consists of three high-rise apartment buildings directly across from Reynolds School. Within the past 10 years, Sharswood has seen the redevelopment of some public housing, and several newer redeveloped two-story rowhouses of varying architectural quality are there as well. Project H.O.M.E., a nonprofit social services and development organization, redeveloped some of these properties. Two representatives of the organization joined the tour to discuss these sites.
Commercial land uses, including convenience stores and take-out restaurants, are concentrated in two areas on the edges of Sharswood proper, along Ridge Avenue near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, and along Girard Avenue west of Girard College. Trolley service featuring fully refurbished, historic trolley cars has recently resumed along Girard Avenue.
Working Session One
Participating planners returned to the Reynolds School after the bus tour to meet up with local residents and stakeholders and to get down to work sharing their planning expertise. Facilitator Dr. J. Otis Smith divided the entire workshop group into six smaller working groups for the first of two working sessions. Each working group of planners and local stakeholders was charged with brainstorming existing conditions on one assigned topic and suggesting preliminary ideas for further discussion.
- The Redevelopment of Vacant Land Group explored how to create a stronger identity for Sharswood and how to increase homeownership. On the latter issue they hoped to allow small rental apartments in neighborhood townhouses, thereby making homeownership more affordable.
- The Housing Group discussed existing housing conditions and how existing processes could be improved, such as code enforcement and property condemnation. They stressed better housing quality, and recommended Affordable Housing Trust funds were recommended as one planning tool for the neighborhood.
- The Commercial Revitalization Group suggested that existing nodes of commerce in the neighborhood along Girard and Ridge Avenues should be strengthened. They also emphasized how commercial and residential uses should work together in the neighborhood.
- The Culture and Historic Preservation Group suggested the creation of a walking tour to highlight the sports heritage of the neighborhood, particularly baseball. The establishment of a Sports Hall of Fame and the creation of a music entertainment district were additional ideas from the group. One specific need that emerged from this group was a historic preservation survey since uncertainty exists about which neighborhood properties might be worthy of preservation.
- The Social Issues & Community Services Group stressed the need for better quality facilities in the neighborhood. Existing facilities could be improved, or a new community center could be built that included an indoor pool. They suggested that programs such as adult education and workforce development should be strengthened as well.
- The Crime and Safety Group identified existing crime hot spots and in the neighborhood and what types of crimes were most common in those locations. They stressed that greater homeownership would help prevent crime. At the end of the first round of presentations, two police officers from the Philadelphia Police Department arrived at the workshop and spoke to the larger group on crime issues.
Workshop participants enjoyed a lunch catered by Back Home Café, a business sponsored by Project H.O.M.E. that employs local residents. Students from Reynolds School entertained participants with a thank-you concert featuring xylophones and drums.
Working Session Two
In the second working session of the day, the design element, the same six groups were asked to incorporate their preliminary plans and discussion topics into drawings and final recommendations:
- The Culture and Historic Preservation Group presented a detailed conceptual map of cultural resources in the community. They considered gateways into the community and suggested the creation of an alumni walk around wall forming the perimeter of Girard College.
- The Redevelopment of Vacant Land Group presented three drawings of site-specific redevelopment opportunities. These scenarios were: a linear park created by vacant land and increasing setbacks, a grocery store on three blocks of land that are the most vacant parcels adjacent to Ridge Avenue, and a park between Reynolds School and Vaux High School.
- The Social Issues and Community Services Group recommended the improvement of educational facilities and the establishment of a new community center located between the two schools.
- The Commercial Revitalization Group presented a design plan that strengthened the current commercial nodes and included office space in the neighborhood. They recommended a new shuttle service to better connect the residential and commercial districts in the area.
- The Crime and Safety Group recommended streetscape improvements and the creation of a business improvement district (BID) to help pay for such improvements. They also suggested reaching out to homeowners to make sure they keep up their properties. They also want to see improved communication with the policy so residents know what deterrent programs already exist.
- The Housing Group presented a plan that identified the best housing stock in the community and recommended homeownership programs targeted toward those areas with the greatest vacancy. They suggested the development of new mixed-use/mixed income developments, particularly on or near Ridge Avenue.
2006: Union Stockyard District, San Antonio, Texas
The AICP Community Planning Workshop began early Saturday April 22, 2006, with a neighborhood and site tour that included both planners and community stakeholders. Members of the Nogalitos-Zarzamora Coalition, as well as San Antonio City Council Member Patti Radle, narrated the tour. Members of the coalition gave the tour group background on the history of the coalition and the Nogalitos/S. Zarzamora Community Plan adopted by the City of San Antonio.
During the bus tour of the Nogalitos neighborhood and the project site, known as the former Swift Meat Packing House and located adjacent to the Union Stockyards, the workshop group noted several community features. Among these were a library, an elementary school, and a linear park. Neighborhood land-uses are primarily single-story single-family residential buildings on side streets and older commercial establishments such as strip centers and auto repair shops located along Nogalitos St.
Although the neighborhood has existing resources, the redevelopment challenges faced by the neighborhood and especially the project site became evident during the tour. Although the site is now vacant land with only a gentle slope upward from San Marcos St., it has environmental contamination on 1.5 acres of the 9.72-acre site.
The property also has confusing accessibility, despite — or perhaps because of — the presence of Interstate 35 and San Pedro Creek directly to the east.
The workshop group traveled to the City of San Antonio Development and Business Services Building to begin its work day following the tour. The day began with breakfast tacos and inspirational introductions from Sue Schwartz, FAICP, president of the American Institute of Certified Planners, Patti Radle, and Henry Alverez, director of the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA), which now owns the Swift property.
Workshop participants got down to work quickly and effectively thanks in part to the facilitation efforts of Bob Ashcroft. He assigned each of the small groups at the workshop to "collaboratively discuss and reach consensus on how the site should be developed." Suggested items for small groups to discuss included: identification of development constraints and opportunities, site land uses, and site features. Each small group was asked to create two products to communicate its consensus to the rest of the workshop group: a conceptual site plan graphic and a written list of site recommendations.
Each small group, or team, reported its results to the rest of the workshop group following a working lunch. Elements of the Team 1 recommendations included residential and commercial mixed-use development along the front (east) side of the site. Perhaps its most notable recommendation was its open space, or green spine, lengthwise down the center of the site. Team 2 recommended placing retail/office and an Economic Development Center on the front (east) side of the site with housing toward the rear (west) away from Interstate 35. Team 3 positioned a new road along the slanted north side of the property that included a multi-use development corridor.
Further recommendations from this team featured a transportation node in the center of the site surrounded by retail uses, and open space toward the front of the site that featured a small pond. Team 4 also recommended a new street along the north side of the property and added two small internal streets that met at a roundabout. The group proposed commercial uses along the San Marcos St. side and residential uses that transitioned in density from highest along the new road to lowest next to the existing single-family neighborhood.
In the second work session, each team was asked to create a composite conceptual site plan using common concepts from all the groups. Unique or interesting elements from the small groups could be included. Each team was also asked to create a further refined list of site development recommendations based on its assigned issue. Such issues included working with the unique neighborhood culture, making the site a place people want to be, leveraging SAHA ownership of the site, and ensuring site accessibility.
The results from this work session, and from the entire day's workshop, have been incorporated into a report that the San Antonio Housing Authority and the City of San Antonio will use to guide future development decisions for the site.
2005: West Oakland, Oakland, California
The 2005 Community Planning Workshop was held on March 19, 2005 in the neighborhood of West Oakland, California, in conjunction with the 2005 APA National Planning Conference in San Francisco.
The AICP Community Planning Workshop, sponsored by the AICP Community Action Program, involves planners from around the country who created specific design guidelines for the Seventh Street neighborhood in West Oakland. The Seventh Street neighborhood was once a vibrant residential, shopping and entertainment district near the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad. Few traces of the neighborhood's lively history exist today, due to a variety of factors including neglect, the poor placement of transportation infrastructure, and incongruous land uses. Entire neighborhood blocks were demolished for the US Postal Service mail-sorting building and for Cypress Freeway (I-880), which also divided the community into two parts.
Nevertheless, the Seventh Street community possesses many assets with great promise for revitalization. The rerouting of Cypress Freeway away from the neighborhood core has physically reunited the community and offered new development opportunities. The West Oakland BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, located in the heart of the Seventh Street neighborhood, offers exciting possibilities for transit-oriented, mixed-use development. Several organizations have initiated projects in the area, including the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), the Bay Area Blues Society, BART, the Oakland Housing Authority, and the West Oakland Alliance. Additionally, a newly formed Redevelopment Area adds financial tools to plan for implementation.
Previously completed revitalization plans, including the West Oakland Transit Village Action Plan and the Seventh Street Concept and Urban Design Plan have identified either specific redevelopment sites or offered neighborhood streetscape recommendations. For this workshop, participants will be tasked with crafting preferred commercial uses and actual design guidelines, with accompanying illustrations, of preferred building envelopes for multiple vacant lots in the area. They will begin their day touring the Seventh Street neighborhood with community leaders and activists. The workshop team of guest planners and community leaders will focus on six specific issues in breakout groups.
- Housing/Density: The area is currently zoned to allow a density of 450 square feet (of total land area) per unit (apartment level density), with potentially more permitted in the TOD area around BART. However, the adjoining neighborhood is comprised generally of one and two story Victorian-era residential structures, with height of no more than 35 ft and most at the 25-30 ft in height. Many are built on small (2,500 sf) lots that do not allow for driveways and off-street parking. What is the appropriate density for this area and how can massing guidelines steer additional units without impact on the existing neighborhood?
- Preferred Land Uses: The zoning for the area is a combination of TOD (transit-oriented zoning) and C-35 District Shopping Zone", which allows a variety of retail establishments serving both short and long term needs in compact locations" (Muni Code Sect 17.50). Nevertheless, West Oakland lacks basic shopping amenities and has no pharmacy, hardware store, video rental store, and one a single grocery store. What are the best commercial options for Seventh Street, which may be viable for local small business development or development by existing retailers?
- Site Specific Development Standards: The West Oakland Transit Village Action Study identified several key opportunity sites, including a large state-owned vacant parcel across from the Mandela Gateway and The Crucible site, and a key corner vacant lot at Wood and Seventh Sts, across from the US Postal Service mail processing facility. What would the most appropriate massing guidelines and preferred mixed-use configurations for these as yet unplanned sites?
- Parking and Creation of a BID: The enforcement of limitations on the use of street parking by Bay Area commuters taking BART is of key concern throughout the project area, but especially relative to the viability of new retail ventures. Can a BID be formed that will both serve to limit commuter parking, allow customer access to the existing and future businesses along Seventh, and which will contribute revenue for the maintenance of the streetscape and merchant façade improvement programs? How will residential parking be accommodated?
- Architectural Form and Urban Design: Seventh Street is a historical district and recently a portion was overlaid with the S-7 Historic Overlay Zoning District, but without design guidelines for new development on vacant lots, or substantial additions to existing buildings. What will the guidelines be to allow compatible design compatible to the historic buildings, while giving license for new exciting architecture?
- Capacity Building for Implementation: How will the products of today's workshop be implemented by the City of Oakland in a six-month timeframe, subsequent to the city's current effort to update the Zoning Code? What tool will be most effective: earmarking with street as a new "TOD" district in its entirety; creating a zoning overlay to the existing designation; adopting Design Guidelines and mapping the street with a Design Review Zone Overlay District?
The result from the workshop will be tangible, specific guidelines the City of Oakland will use, in addition to its zoning regulations, in judging future redevelopment applications for private and semi-public properties in the Seventh Street community.
AICP and City of Oakland staff recommended the following background information on the West Oakland Neighborhood to better prepare planners hailing from other parts of the country.
2004: Barney Circle and Hill East Charrette, Washington, D.C.
The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) sponsored its fourth annual Community Assistance Program community planning charrette in a National Planning Conference host city.
On Saturday morning, the charrette team traveled to a Washington, D.C., neighborhood east of Capitol Hill on lower Pennsylvania Avenue near the Potomac Avenue Metro Station. They worked in the Watkins Elementary School located in the heart of the neighborhood.
The team was charged with assisting the community in developing goals and recommendations for revitalization. In bringing together more than 35 planners from across the U.S. and Canada, the community was able to draw on a range of skills and experiences to tackle some of the redevelopment challenges that they are currently facing. Central to the community's redevelopment issues are place-making and connectivity, economic development and housing.
The Barney Circle and Hill East neighborhood have assets that will assist their redevelopment efforts, including a Metro station, infill opportunities, increased housing demand, and neighborhood character. Despite these assets, however, the community has not achieved its vision for livability. In an effort to build a healthier, more vibrant community, the residents want retail and other economic development opportunities, a pedestrian-friendly environment that is connected with other destinations, more housing choices, and increased safety.
The charrette kicked off with an overview of the neighborhood within the planning context. Following the overview, the team was split into break out groups to begin "charretting." The three breakout groups included: place-making, housing, and economic development. After preliminarily discussing the specific issues, each group went on a walking tour of the neighborhood. Each tour was led by residents of the Barney Circle and East Capitol Hill neighborhoods. Upon completion of the tours, the teams returned to "charretting."
During the breakout discussions, individual groups talked about some of the following issues. The economic development group discussed the reality and challenges associated with creating the following types of retail in the neighborhood: "Trader Joe" type of store, a sit-down restaurant, and a coffee shop. While the team working on housing focused on goals related to maintaining housing affordability and updating low-income environments, the place-making team talked about bicycle access on Pennsylvania Avenue and a neighborhood destination at the Metro station.
During the afternoon, the groups came together briefly to discuss overlap and implementation of their various ideas. Following this discussion, the planners and residents rejoined their breakout groups to continue developing goals to help the community achieve their vision for livability.
At the end of the day, two groups compiled their work and made a presentation to community members. Results from the charrette, including a report and drawings, will be given back to the community to use as they begin working on redevelopment and a new plan for the community.
Providing a forum for neighborhood representatives to voice their concerns and make suggestions was recognized as the first step to a successful planning and redevelopment process. Not only were the residents pleased with the event's results, but the planners found charrette rewarding, too. One of the charrette team members, Don Downing, AICP, said that the charrette was a great experience, as it brought together planners from across the country with local residents to work on important, pressing issues.
The conference charrettes were developed to give planners the opportunity to engage in pro bono planning by contributing their time and effort to communities that are facing planning challenges. The charrette is also an opportunity for planners to leave a legacy for the local host city.
At last year's charrette in Denver, planners helped the Denver Children's Hospital evaluate different redevelopment plans for 20-acre site. The first community planning charrette was held in the conference hotel at the 2001 conference in New Orleans.
Acting on the AICP Code of Ethics, which states that planners "...must strive to contribute time and effort to groups lacking in adequate planning resources" and "to contribute time and to voluntary professional activities, AICP is planning to continue sponsoring community planning activities at future APA conferences.
2003: Denver Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado
This the 2003 APA National Planning Conference, the American Institute of Certified Planners sponsored its third annual Community Planning Team (CPT) Charrette. APA and AICP developed the charrette to provide an opportunity for planners to contribute their time and effort offering assistance to communities confronting planning challenges.
On Saturday morning, the CPT traveled to Denver Children's Hospital to assist the hospital administration and the surrounding neighborhood residents evaluate different redevelopment plans for the 20-acre site that will be vacated by Children's Hospital when it relocates to the Colorado Health Sciences Centers on the Fitzsimons Campus in 2007. The site is adjacent to two other health care facilities and surrounded by a dense residential neighborhood of mid-rise apartment buildings, small-scale retail businesses, extensive office space, and historic single-family homes.
Planners participating in the charrette started the day with a bus tour and a walking tour of the Denver Uptown neighborhood. Following the tours, the group of more than 30 planners congregated at Children's Hospital to begin the charrette. After a few brief introductions, UCD urban design graduated students outlined their proposed plans for possible redevelopment of the site. The following outlines the premise for each proposed scenario:
Scenario A: Conservation / Preservation. This scenario explored mandating that buildings in poor condition will be demolished leaving appropriate life cycled facilities to be refurbished for adaptable reuse plus incorporating additive mixed-use development.
Scenario B: Clean Slate. This scenario investigated planning for a phased scrape down and complete new development of the site.
Scenario C: Hybrid: This scenario explored a mix of both scenarios A and B.
Following the overview of scenarios, there were four breakout discussion groups. These groups focused on one of each of the scenarios so that planners, Children's Hospital administration, and community residents could more closely examine the pros and cons to the proposed plans. Some of the issues explored in the breakout sessions included edge treatments and the transitions between the Children's Hospital site and the surrounding residential neighborhoods, opportunities to create more open space and park area, and re-establishment of the street grid system.
During the group report and next steps discussion that followed the individual breakout sessions, most of the participants concurred that fostering a mix of uses and enhancing the existing park space available should be part of a final development plan.
There was some concern and contention amongst the group about how to treat the street areas around the hospital, as well as how the building should be used after it is vacated. Some people favored converting the site into affordable housing units, while other people feared the loss of a large economic base in the neighborhood and wanted to fill this void by using the space to maintain economic stability and employment base within the community.
While the hospital will not finalize its development plans for the next couple of years, the charrette helped develop guiding principles to create a foundation for successful development. Providing a forum for neighborhood representatives and hospital administration to voice their concerns and make suggestions was recognized as the first step to a successful planning and redevelopment process.
Recommendations derived during the charrette will be included as an appendix to the final report of the scenarios produced by the UCD urban design students.
2002: West Humboldt Park Charrette, Chicago, Illinois
Drawing on ideas and experiences from urban and rural cities across 26 states, Canada, and Crete, planners helped community members in Chicago's West Humboldt Park neighborhood shape a future vision for their community. The exchanges took place at the second annual Community Planning Team Charrette, sponsored by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) during APA's 2002 National Planning Conference in April 2002. Designed to help the community's residents gain a better understanding of the elements that make a strong community, the charrette brought together more than 50 enthusiastic planners and 75 community members who spent a day in West Humboldt Park actively working to "make a great community happen."
Following an overview of the charrette process and a bus tour of the neighborhood, planners participated in an open forum discussion with community members. Both groups openly discussed recurring community problems, community needs, and previous efforts to revitalize the area. Together, the group of planners and community residents identified seven specialized areas for further, more detailed breakout discussions, including community safety, economic and business development, and community character. After the breakout sessions, everyone reconvened to discuss specific recommendations and formulate an action plan for the community.
The hard work and effort on behalf of all the participants resulted in a successful day. One planner found that the charrette gave him an opportunity to become "reacquainted with my planning soul," while other planners said the West Humboldt Park experience was lively and spirited, and served as a wonderful educational opportunity for both participants and community members.
Acting on the AICP Code of Ethics, which states that planners "... must strive to contribute time and effort to groups lacking in adequate planning resources" and "to contribute time and to voluntary professional activities," AICP is planning to continue the charrette at future National Conferences.