US Planning - New Changes


Several recent trends in US planning are worth noting. First, the introduction and implementation of state-level planning in the US, despite the fragmented nature of much of this legislation, indicates the successful introduction of a layer of planning that did not previously exist.

A 2002 APA report found that 37 states had already implemented or were pursuing state-wide reforms, and only 13 were not pursuing any reforms.

Second, there has been a shift in the scope of US planning, from purely regulatory intervention to an increased focus on comprehensive planning and the inclusion of economic development as an objective of planning intervention.

State-level planning in the US has been a relatively recent phenomenon. During the 1960s and 1970s states began taking a more active role in land use decision-making (DeGrove, 1984; Popper, 1988), a movement commonly referred to as the ‘quiet revolution’, from an influential book by Bosselman & Callies (1971) (Weitz, 1999).

The impetus for the quiet revolution was the widely held perception that local governments had been either unwilling or unable to deal adequately with the externalities of growth that transcended municipal boundaries (Bollens, 1992). Intervention by state government was deemed necessary and was pushed to the forefront by a coalition of environmentalists, suburban homeowners, planners and state officials.

Consequently, a common objective of state planning at the time was to require local governments to adopt plans and coordinate these plans in a way that produced a uniform framework for dealing with the issues such as rapid population growth, sprawl and transportation (Carruthers, 2002). These early regulatory state programmes were responding primarily to environmental concerns, and tended to employ negative regulations aimed at limiting or deterring growth. Due to the limitations of this approach, a ‘second generation’ of state planning emerged in the mid 1980s.

This second wave was designed to address weaknesses of the first generation, filling in gaps between state regulation and inconsistent local efforts. These later programmes were generally more comprehensive in scope, addressing growth accommodating economic policies and quality of life concerns. During the 1990s, the scope of the state plans was expanded to include limiting urban sprawl (Weitz, 1999) and providing affordable housing (Cullingworth & Caves, 2003), issues that were not addressed in earlier plans. In their study of state growth management and open-space policies, Wilson & Patterson (2002) identified 354 state policies enacted throughout the US since 1990, which often addressed multiple concerns such as natural resource protection, urban redevelopment, historical preservation, infrastructure management and hazard mitigation.

Nevertheless, despite this trend, a 2002 APA study found mixed results, citing that although comprehensive initiatives were ‘likely to yield better results, “piecemeal” reform efforts often are more practical and politically realistic’.

In addition, US consistency requirements tend to be weaker. For example, state plans may mandate vertical consistency between state-defined policy objectives and local plans. In such cases, local governments are subject to penalties, such as a loss of funding or a loss of local control to regional or state agencies, if they fail to meet such obligations (Bollens, 1992, 1993; DeGrove, 1992). In other cases, local planning is voluntary and strategies of enforcement tend to rely on incentive-based approaches (Carruthers, 2002), such as the use of funding or technical assistance.

Another approach tends to rely more on horizontal consistency (called ‘cross-acceptance’ in New Jersey), which demands that local plans be consistent with one another. In Florida, state laws require that public facilities and services needed to support new development be available concurrently with new development.

Saturday, 17th Jun 2017, 07:41:44 PM

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