Friday, February 26, 2010

Live Blog Feed: ESLC Annual Planning Conference

Introductions, MDP Sec. Richard Hall Speech, and Jess Zimbabwe Lecture

Welcome! Please watch this post for updates on the conference throughout the day. We will be starting the conference within the next 10 minutes!

Be sure to reload this blog website periodically to get new posts and additions to this post at the end!

9:11a.m.-We haven't started yet, but everyone is filing into the auditorium. We have approximately 100 people here currently.

9:14a.m.-Rob Etgen is giving introductory comments right now. He notes that this is ESLC's 20th anniversary. "This is going to be a big year for Eastern Shore Land Conservancy," says Rob Etgen. Rob thanks the sponsors of the event that many such as the Maryland Department of Planning, WILMAPCO, Shared Earth, AIA, and many others. Rob is talking about the theme of the conference today "About Town" and how that integrates with the multifaceted approach ESLC has regarding land conservation. ESLC supports downtown development in and around our towns.

9:21a.m.-Jake Day takes the stage now, thanking everyone for coming given the bad weather. Jake is thanking the staff at ESLC and sponsors for their work on this event. Jake explains that Jess Zimbabwe will lead off the conference and how later a panel will talk about "Getting Growth Good." The panel will include a mayor, local planner, and Secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning, Richard Hall, AICP.

9:30a.m.-MDP Secretary Richard Hall, AICP, is speaking now about LEED work and how we need to continue to develop that in Maryland. He mentions an NPR story on LEED scoring systems in California. Hall and MDP are proposing two bills this session in Annapolis: 1) creation of a Sustainable Growth Commission and 2) Sustainable Communities Tax Credit legislation. The tax credit legislation is to expand the program to assist in MD transit-oriented development, BRAC development, etc. Secretary Hall points out at least 8 state planners in attendance who came to the conference today.

9:36a.m.-Hall is commenting on HB 1141 currently and its importance to the state of Maryland and the Eastern Shore. The Secretary is now introducing Jess Zimbabwe. Here is a YouTube video of Jess:

9:45a.m.-Jess is talking about "The Role of Public Officials in Preserving Community Character." Jess mentions an article on planning and politics. The article proposes that politics should be taken out of planning, but Jess says political planning is natural. It's ok. One cannot necessarily separate politics from planning even if one wanted to, but the solution is better politics.

9:48a.m.-Jess mentions Joseph P. Riley, Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina as a kind of public official who gets it. Downtown Charleston was not always the beautiful place we see it as today. Jess explains that Riley found political, community, and financial will to spearhead redevelopment projects in Charleston.

9:50a.m.-Jess is talking about the Mayor's Institute on City Design and her experience working with cities around the country on redevelopment programs as well as transit-oriented development projects.

9:55a.m.-She does workshops for public officials to implement stable development in communities. Jess highlights national trends that apply to the Eastern Shore:

-There is little planning assistance available to most small communities.
-The natural resources and beauty of prime rural areas continue to drive development pressures from retirees, second home buyers, and long-distance commuters.
-Municipal revenue structures make communities overly reliant upon sales taxes and increased residential growth to deliver services.

9:59a.m.-Jess is talking about leadership. She explains adaptive leadership as leadership that is not influencing a community to follow your lead, but influencing a community to face their adaptive challenges.

10:01a.m.-Jess's 5 Expected Behaviors for Public Officials

1) Be choosy about development

Take a long-term approach to development, not a short-term approach. Don't be afraid to say no, but take the lead when you have a great opportunity.

2) Sweat the Small Stuff

Mayor Riley in Charleston, SC, in his travels across the country, took gravel samples from different places when thinking about what his city would use when putting in a water front gravel walk for residents as part of a community redevelopment project.

3) Work across boundaries

Work with towns and regional bodies because what happens next to you--impacts you.

4) Engage the Community

Make it clear that growth is going to occur in the community, but that it can happen in a way where everybody wins. Don't take a no-growth mentality, engage in the community planning effort to do the hard work necessary to make a better future for your town.

5) Insist upon a high quality public realm

10:08a.m.-Jess on the role of organizers in preserving community character. She has two tools here. Organizers are leading without natural authority, so how do they make up the gap? MLK in the civil rights movement specifically chose Selma for demonstration because of its potential for receiving national media attention.

Tool #1 Example: Transit Alliance Citizens' Academy (TACA)

Denver went full-steam ahead on TOD and transit investment and citizens were to some extent blindsided. TACA was formed to address regional-scale concerns about new TOD. Renters, homeowners, and small, local businesses had concerns about how gentrification and construction would impact their life in the area.

Tool #2 Example: Greenbelt Alliance (GA)

This group started much like the ESLC did. In 1987, GA changed focus to affordable housing as a way to prevent sprawl. People were moving out of the San Francisco Bay area for cheaper housing in the suburbs. They worked on infill, compact development programs. They do development endorsements and send people to attend hearings to speak on development proposals. They have Compact Development Endorsemnt Guidelines that include compactness, affordability, pedestrian facilities, transportation choice, green building, environmental considerations, community input, land preservation, sustainable parking, etc.

The GA has endorsed various developments in their area over the years creating a database of community development information useful to citizens.

10:10a.m.-Jess Zimbabwe finishes and asks for questions. Contact Jess at or via phone at 202-624-7038.

Audience asks about how to work with local government officials and multiple jurisdictions. What success strategies ought we use? Jess says in Minneapolis-St. Paul region has a revenue sharing model for new development where municipalities share revenues from new development and work together on project management. She says regional governmental cooperation is very important.

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