Philadelphia Gets Some Much Deserved Attention from the APA

Philadelphia has been getting some much deserved attention in the planning world the last few weeks both in terms of planning process and planning places.

The American Planning Association (APA) released their list of Great Places in America 2012 and I wasn’t at all surprised to find Chestnut Hill amongst the list of the top ten neighborhoods. Chestnut Hill is an architecturally-unique neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia. A classic, cobble-stoned Main Street (Germantown Avenue) is lined by unique shops and restaurants. The relatively high-density residential neighborhoods linked to Germantown Avenue are also well-connected to Center City Philadelphia by two train lines and also have the 1,400 acre Wissahickon Valley Park in their backyard.

To read more about all of the “Great Places,” visit the APA at: http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/

Also, earlier this year, it was announced that Philadelphia will win the APA’s National Best Practice Planning Award for the integrated planning and zoning process known as Philadelphia2035. Philadelphia2035 consists of a comprehensive planning process and zoning rewrite. The comprehensive planning process consists of two parts: a city-wide vision focuses on the themes of THRIVE, CONNECT, and RENEW while 18 district plans delve deeper into each neighborhood’s issues such as food and transit access. Philadelphia2035 also integrates innovative community engagement and citizen empowerment elements. In addition to traditional public meetings, Philadelphia has been using Textizen as a way to source information from community members through their smart phones. The Citizens Planning Institute also empowers citizens to be able to make a meaningful impact in their communities whether they are on the neighborhood zoning committee or just interested in planning topics. Most recently, a Phila2035 game has been launched through Community PlanIt. From January 28 – February 18, community members will be able to complete missions and share their vision for the University/Southwest District.

Although not all of these planning tools will work for every community, every community should strive to ensure that all community members and stakeholders have the opportunity to have meaningful input into the planning process. After all, if you’re not planning for the people, who are you planning for?

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