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Arnab Chakraborty, Sabyasachee Mishra, and Yong Wook Kim (2012)

Planning Support Systems and Planning Across Scales: Comparing Scenarios Using Multiple Regional Delineations and Projections

Planning support systems often employ urban models that simulate and evaluate impacts of plans. Their application to plan making is however, challenging when issues transcend local jurisdictions, and model assumptions are contested by the stakeholders. Neglecting the role of such specifications, especially when they are important and uncertain, can diminish the efficacy of plans. In this paper, we use the principles of scenario analysis to illustrate the impacts of two such important considerations – forecasts and regional boundaries – on model outcomes and related decisions. We use Montgomery County, MD as a case and leverage a model developed for a larger region, i.e. the state of MD and vicinity. We develop two sets of scenarios – one where the county (a local government) freely competes with its neighboring jurisdictions for development and another where a higher (i.e. a regional or state) level agency controls the extent of development that the county can receive. The scenarios are constructed using different specifications for regional boundaries and also results in different amount of growth in the County – both rare practices in scenario analysis with models. We then compare the outcomes on a set of indicators and draw implications for planning. We conclude with the argument that planning agencies should compare future scenarios not just with different desirability but different sets of assumptions and regional formulations. 

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Robert Nelson (2010)

Community Associations at Middle Age: A New Bankruptcy Law and Other Proposals

Community associations represent a major American shift toward collective private
ownership of housing, following in the path of the rise of the private business corporation 100 years ago. The laws overseeing the chartering, organizing, governing, and other aspects of business corporation workings have been significantly revised many times. It has been a case of gaining experience with corporate forms of business ownership and then responding to the problems and opportunities as they have been discovered by businessmen, researchers, and other observers. As more and more community associations now reach middle age, it is time in this area of collective property ownership as well for a full retrospective assessment and new state laws and other institutional initiatives in response to the problems and opportunities as they are identified.

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Robert Nelson (2008)

Community Associations: Decentralizing Local Government Privately

The system of local government in the United States in being transformed by the rise of the private community association. Local government in the pubic sector is increasingly limited to large county and municipal governments--also sometimes large special districts--that assume responsibilities of a regional and metropolitan scope. The regulation of land to protect neighborhood environmental quality, and the delivery of small-scale services, is increasingly the responsibility of a private government. Previous studies have described these new patterns of governance, but little literatuer is available to understand the full reasons for such changes. This chapter offers several hypotheses relating to the magnitude of transaction costs under alternative forms of land tenure.

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Reid Ewing, Otto Clemente, Susan Handy, et al. (2005)

Measuring Urban Design Qualities: An Illustrated Field Manual

This manual is the product of nearly a year and a half of research on urban design qualities related to walkability. It builds on a growing body of evidence that links the built environment to active living.

This manual will provide a qualitative introduction to several key urban design qualities from the urban design literature, and then will provide guidance on how to objectively measure each quality for a typical street.

Related Resource

Measuring Urban Design Qualities Scoring Sheet

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Reid Ewing, Otto Clemente, Susan Handy, et al. (2005)

Identifying and Measuring Urban Design Qualities Related to Walkability

In active living research, measures used to characterize the built environment have been mostly gross qualities such as neighborhood density and park access. This project has developed operational definitions and measurement protocols for subtler urban design qualities believed to be related to walkability. METHODS:  Methods included: 1) recruiting an expert panel; 2) shooting video clips of streetscapes; 3) rating urban design qualities of streetscapes by the expert panel; 4) measuring physical features of streetscapes from the video clips; 5) testing inter-rater reliability of physical measurements and urban design quality ratings; 6) statistically analyzing relationships between physical features and urban design quality ratings, 7) selecting of qualities for operationalization, and 8) developing of operational definitions and measurement protocols for urban design qualities based on statistical relationships. RESULTS:  Operational definitions and measurement protocols were developed for five of nine urban design qualities: imageability, visual enclosure, human scale, transparency, and complexity. CONCLUSIONS:   A field survey instrument has been developed, tested in the field, and further refined for use in active living research.

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Erik Lichtenberg and Chengri Ding (2005)

Assessing Farmland Protection Policy in China

The government of China has had pronounced concerns about its ability to continue feeding a growing population since the mid-1990s, when Lester Brown (1995) predicted that China would soon need to resort to grain imports on a scale massive enough to cause severe disruptions in world markets. Like Lester Brown, the government of China targeted conversion of farmland to industrial and residential uses, especially in the most productive agricultural regions, as the chief threat to the nation’s continued capacity to produce adequate levels of staple cereals. According to official government statistics, China lost over 14.5 million hectares of arable land between 1979 and 1995. While those losses were partially counterbalanced by the addition of 10.1 million hectares of arable land from reclamation activity, that additional arable land was lower in quality and located in areas with less favorable climatic conditions, suggesting that the loss of agricultural production capacity exceeded the net loss of arable land (Ash and Edmonds 1998). Farmland land losses on such a scale could well be significant for China: Even though it has a territory roughly equal in area to that of the United States, only about a third of that land area can be utilized productively for agriculture.

The government of China responded to these food security concerns by introducing a number of measures aimed at protecting farmland, especially farmland with the greatest production potential. Nevertheless, land planted to the staple cereal crops wheat and rice has continued to fall, as has the amount of “cultivated” land. For example, yields and sown area of wheat and rice, the principal staple food grains, peaked in 1997 and has fallen steadily since (Economic Research Service).

This paper assesses the performance of China’s farmland protection policies in light of its food security goals. We begin with a description of those policies. We then examine the extent to which those policies address actual losses in food production capacity. Next, we consider whether farmland protection is the most efficient—or even a necessary—means of meeting China’s food security goals. Finally, we discuss inefficiencies in farmland conversion, examine previously unrecognized causes of excessive land conversion and unintended consequences of China’s farmland protection policies, and discuss implications for future policy development.

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Glenn Moglen (2005)

GISHydro2000: A Tool for Automated Hydrologic Analysis in Maryland

This paper presents a GIS-based program called GISHydro2000. This tool was developed by the author and is used extensively by state government and private consultants in the development of predictions for flood behavior in the state of Maryland. This paper presents a demonstration of the program’s overall functionality and underlying spatial database. An actual example watershed will be analyzed to illustrate how GISHydro2000 works and the tools it provides.

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Gerrit Knaap and Elisabeth Holler (2003)

Web-Based Planning: A Survey of Local Government Planning Websites

The worldwide web has provided the planning community with numerous opportunities to reach new audiences, analyze data, and publicize events. Planning departments across the country have placed zoning maps, comprehensive plans, and meeting schedules, among other things, on their websites. Plans that were once kept in the planning office, and only available to those who could personally stop in to see them, are now available online at any time. When combined with opportunities to view community access television broadcasts and communicate with the planning department by email, there have been significant improvements in communication with the public over the last ten years. In addition, advances in computer technologies, such as GIS mapping, have allowed planners to conduct more sophisticated analyses and better understand trends in their communities.

This issue of the PAS Memo provides the results of a comprehensive survey of local planning websites in more than 200 communities. It differs from previous studies for two reasons: first, it focuses specifically on local government; second, it identifies whether or not specific website features (such as mapping) are available. The results create a description of how planners are currently using the web. Based on the results of this study, specific examples of the current state-of-the-art show what can be achieved in a planning website.

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Robert Nelson (2002)

Local Government as Private Property

Critics of private community associations often argue that they represent an undesirable combination of “private” and “governmental” powers. They suggest that the significant differences between a suburban municipality and a private community association should be reduced. The private status of a community association, for example, should not be allowed to shelter it from free speech and other constitutional requirements normally applied to local municipalities. Voting rights in private community associations perhaps should be newly extended to renters.

In this paper, I suggest the opposite tack. Instead of requiring private community associations to conform to the legal requirements and social expectations of a municipality, I propose to liberate the municipality to function in the manner of a private business. Local government in America will continue to evolve towards a new form of collective private property – and this will be a good thing.

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