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Thread: Importance of regional planning

  1. #1
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    Importance of regional planning

    What are the importance of Regional Planning verses city and county planning? (in California or New York). Where would you prefer to work and why?

    Thanks for your input! Just wanted to know why one would choose regional over city planning or vice versa.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Regional planning is a rather loose term that can cover all types of planning including transportation planning, watershed management, coastal management, and county planning (if you consider a county a "region"). The importance of regional planning depends on the specific region, in some places planning is done exclusively at the local level while others they are done more at the county level.

    Note there is no official "region" as in regional goverment anywhere in the US unless you consider counties as regions. Regions are only defined as needed and are often comprised of local communities coming together. The only city that tried to promote itself as an official region is New York City and that experiment failed long ago.

    As for which is more important, urban or regional planning, well the only area in which regional planning is fully developed (again unless you mean counties) is transportation planning. The federal government requires all areas with 50,000+ persons to be put under a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) that often deals with transportation planning and perhaps some land use, etc. MPOs are not true governments however and in some areas have little power or leverage over what actual planning takes place other than transportation planning. For all else, local planning is best.

  3. #3
    Regional planning usually constitutes planning around a single resource (e.g. water) or transportation. The planning agency might be a decision making entity unto itself, or more of a facilitator across other political entities. There are very few autocratic regional planning agencies with purvue over a wide range of resources within their jurisdiction. The most legislatively powerful regional planning agency in the U.S. is the Tennessee Valley Authority, although it doesn't take advantage of the very wide master planning-land use authority it has. An example of a real regional government that does exercise its authority is Metro, in the Portland area. Others, such as the California Coastal Commission and Cape Cod Commission, are very powerful, but probably serve more as planning-inhibitors (strict regulators) than forward-thinking planning agencies themselves, and focus on the integrity of the coastal resources.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Regional planning sounds good, but execution is key


    this alliance will focus on the resources of the counties with eyes not blurred by local interests.

    This is the progressive aspect of regionalism in economic development. It does not create another agency to lord over local development efforts. Rather it seeks to support those efforts by joint marketing and research.
    Oddball
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    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
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    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Councils of Government

    Let us not forget COGs as well. And RPAs.

    Dan

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Regional planning in the past has always been about a resource, transportation, or larger "regional" form of government that has some authority over land use or infrastructure. That's all well and good but hasn't really worked.

    The mere idea of regionalism is very un-American if you think of it, for there to be winners in the region other communities or counties have to be "losers" or make concessions. The biggest example I can give to this is Charleston SC which has a pretty well defined 3 - 5 county region defined by the workforce population and media coverage, but for the purposes of a study it really is a 3 county region. You have other towns and cities within the Charleston region such as No. Charleston, Summerville, Mt. Pleasant, and Goose Creek plus many miles of unincorporated but developed county in Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley. But the key to regionalism is this, if Charleston fails we all fail or if Charleston loses we all lose. Regionalism requires that central focal point of commerce, culture, and decision making which Charleston has all three.

    To make regionalism work in an area such as Charleston the understanding that "what is good for the region is good for my community" needs to become a song that all planners and councils sing. There needs to be coordinated planning at the boarders, coordinated economic development, and coordinated transportation development because you cannot have a cohesive voice which towns are trying to undercut each other for the next movie theater, industrial plant, and highway interchange.

    Now only if there were a proven model on how to get this done.

    Shouldn't this thread be moved to a more appropriate sub-forum like Make No Small Plans?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post


    The mere idea of regionalism is very un-American if you think of it, for there to be winners in the region other communities or counties have to be "losers" or make concessions.
    I don't think its inherently un-Merkin at all, and I have thought about it. Your anecdote doesn't show how the actions are un- in any sense of the phrase.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    for there to be winners in the region other communities or counties have to be "losers" or make concessions[/I]
    I always figured that more regional associations would add an additional level of competition aka region vs. region
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    I don't think its inherently un-Merkin at all, and I have thought about it. Your anecdote doesn't show how the actions are un- in any sense of the phrase.
    You don't think it is counter to the American way to allow places to concede to another city or county and to lose or remain "small". Think about the amount of money and effort we have pumped into Detroit or New Orleans, we won't let them settle into a role that they are gravitating toward so why should it be any different for smaller cities within regions?

    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    I always figured that more regional associations would add an additional level of competition aka region vs. region
    But isn't it better to have competition on the regional scale where all services can be offered by the collective region than a city or county trying to attract business or residents and having to supply schools, infrastructure, and public safety at a higher cost per capita than the region can supply it (or in most cases is already supplying it)

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    The mere idea of regionalism is very un-American if you think of it, for there to be winners in the region other communities or counties have to be "losers" or make concessions. The biggest example I can give to this is Charleston SC which has a pretty well defined 3 - 5 county region defined by the workforce population and media coverage, but for the purposes of a study it really is a 3 county region. You have other towns and cities within the Charleston region such as No. Charleston, Summerville, Mt. Pleasant, and Goose Creek plus many miles of unincorporated but developed county in Charleston, Dorchester, and Berkeley. But the key to regionalism is this, if Charleston fails we all fail or if Charleston loses we all lose. Regionalism requires that central focal point of commerce, culture, and decision making which Charleston has all three.
    Shouldn't this thread be moved to a more appropriate sub-forum like Make No Small Plans?
    It's hard to believe that people in the industry actually think this way. There are a lot of issues in planning that transcend municipal boundaries, in reality most, if not all of them do. Transportation, air quality, water quality, energy and resource consumption, open space, housing, population growth, jobs, fiscal issues, sustainability and many more are, in reality, regional issues that we have forced to be local issues because everyone feels as though they have the right to self-determination if it hurts their neighbor or not. In my opinion, the greatest problem facing planning as a profession today is that we refuse to recognize that these issues are actually regional issues that are addressed at the wrong level, locally.

    While I have never worked for a regional planning agency nor would I consider myself a regional planner, I have always been an advocate that planning should start at the regional level and then be implemented at the local level based upon regional plans. Call me un-american, but until we get over this need to believe that there has to be winners and losers in these issues, our industry is going to look like it never really addresses the real issues in the manner they should be addressed.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by smccutchan1 View post
    ... planning should start at the regional level and then be implemented at the local level based upon regional plans.

    Call me un-american, but until we get over this need to believe that there has to be winners and losers in these issues, our industry is going to look like it never really addresses the real issues in the manner they should be addressed.
    I will agree that implementation HAS to happen at the local level, that's the way our country's local governments are set up, however there are few regional plans worth the paper they are written on, especially if you have localities that don't buy in or don't like the outcome.

    Your second quote misses the point, you are being absolutely "American" to assume that each locality needs to be in control and each locality can be a winner. If a town wants to remain small and compact they should be to even if they are just outside the city limits of the regional center? What does that do for mass transit or transportation models, it pushes residents further out. Similarly, why should a town 40 miles outside the regional center be setting up regional shopping opportunities, participate in inland port warehousing, and supplying dense affordable housing for workers who work 30-40 miles away, how does that make sense? That is where regional planning needs to step in and sort it out.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    The best argument I've heard in support of regional planning is that you're trying to do things to help sell the region as a whole as opposed to the individual municipalities within. Basically regional planning should be used to establish a coherent identity for the area so the it can set itself apart from other areas in the country and world for the purpose of attracting more growth. It's much easier to market an entire metro area than a single municipality. Something on the periphery of an area can still be considered an asset to the region as a whole through spillover.

    I'll admit local politics make any viable implementation extremely difficult but I definitely see merit for some economic development being done on a regional level.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Where I work in the KC metro, there have been ongoing plans (like, for the past 10 years) and debate over the implementation of regional rail lines. There's a general consensus amongst local governments that adding rail would be a great tool for economic growth and the project would be incredibly cost effective because there is a huge surplus of currently underutilized freight lines. However, KC metro spans several counties and two different states; the amount of in-fighting that takes place makes it impossible for this plan to even get started and as a result KC risks getting passed up by St. Louis and OKC, Indianapolis, Omaha, etc. In a situation like this, giving the MPO more political strength would be a much needed asset.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    The difficulty that exists in first, understanding what regional planning can offer and second, agreeing to be a part of a larger process where everyone can benefit from the use of shared resources, shared costs and shared revenues is that we (in the USA) are brought up on the concepts like "we are the captain of our destiny" and "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps". A large part of the problems that the nation is having economically at this time are because we are taught from almost day one that we alone are ultimately responsible for our result and that cooperating as a group is for lack of a better term "European". We find cooperation and mutual benefit to be dangerous concepts that will ultimately result in the loss of a perceived, but not realistic, autonomy.

    As long as we continue to base planning on the competitive nature of this city versus that city, or our way versus their way, we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. We will continue to have a jobs and housing imbalance with fringe communities offering cheap, single family detached housing minutes to hours from workplaces and requiring workers to spend eight hours on the job and three to four hours in the car. We will continue to have cities wage fiscal war on neighboring cities by offering unrealistic discounts that they can't afford on taxes and services to land a Costco or Walmart. We will have cities holding on to outdated forms of single use zoning that segregate not only housing but also people of color and the poor by only allowing housing that is ultimately white and wealthy. One of the scariest parts of regional planning is that it includes everybody regardless of race or socio-economic status.

    Participating in regional planning is the first step to realistically saying that artificial municipal boundaries that often just go down the middle of a street are not the boundaries that planning should be based upon. Forget the discussion of what is "American". What we should be talking about is what is realistic for the places we live, work and play.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    You don't think it is counter to the American way to allow places to concede to another city or county and to lose or remain "small". Think about the amount of money and effort we have pumped into Detroit or New Orleans, we won't let them settle into a role that they are gravitating toward so why should it be any different for smaller cities within regions?
    I think it is exactly the American way to have monopoly power and have stark winners and losers, and move money upwards and to pump money into bad ideas and losing propositions (Army Corps anyone?). But I've lived outside the country and have seen it from the outside in, so YMMV.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ9139 View post
    Where I work in the KC metro, there have been ongoing plans (like, for the past 10 years) and debate over the implementation of regional rail lines. There's a general consensus amongst local governments that adding rail would be a great tool for economic growth and the project would be incredibly cost effective because there is a huge surplus of currently underutilized freight lines. However, KC metro spans several counties and two different states; the amount of in-fighting that takes place makes it impossible for this plan to even get started and as a result KC risks getting passed up by St. Louis and OKC, Indianapolis, Omaha, etc. In a situation like this, giving the MPO more political strength would be a much needed asset.
    Try dealing with two countries! We have a bridge crossing project that is being held up by a billionaire who bought the current bridge from Warren Buffet 30 years ago. Two different processes for funding, environmental documentation, identifying locations and needs, and a billionaire slumlord intent on doing everything he can to destroy the process. He claims a new bridge is not needed but a federal judge stopped him from twinning his own bridge because he was ignoring local, state, and army corps permit denials. Regions have a lot of grew areas to them. For example the Detroit Regional boundaries also includes part of the Toledo, Flint, and most of the Port Huron urbanized areas and fully includes the Ann Arbor and Brighton urbanized areas.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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