Planning our communities has been more than challenging in the new normal. While layoffs have slowed, neither the public or private sectors are rehiring employees yet. Home building remains at record lows and most regions haven’t seen much new development since the Great Recession started. Municipalities across the country continue to struggle with lost revenue and painful budget cuts. Communities must plan for an uncertain future with less resources than ever.
Faced with these challenges, planners, public policy makers, community leaders, and citizens have had to work creatively to adapt our communities in these changing times. Since many of the old rules and ways of doing things have been thrown out the window, exciting new changes and trends have emerged in how we plan. New technology has the potential to help government deliver services more effectively, like See-Click-Fix, which lets citizens report potholes, graffiti, and other neighborhood issues. The urban agriculture movement has proven to have staying power, and municipalities are rethinking zoning codes and regulations to allow for local food production through community gardens and even backyard urban chickens. Cities across the country are also in the midst of a transit renaissance, with many new light rail and streetcar routes opening or being expanded. High-speed rail networks are in the works too, supported by groups like America 2050, which seek to better connect our megaregions.
Our communities will experience more change in the near future than they have in a long time, and I am optimistic that we can help them adapt and be better because of it. Now isn’t the time to shy away from planning and the difficult work to make our communities better places to live. We must to continue to rethink how we plan and what we want our towns, cities, regions to be. What is your community doing to adapt and thrive?