Two weeks ago, I participated in an Envision Central Texas workshop, which was part of an ongoing process (conducted by Fregonese Calthorpe Associates) to plan for growth in metro Austin and surrounding areas (1.25 million more people in the next 20 to 40 years, according to projections). It was my first exposure to regional planning (I hope to be an MLA/MRP student in two or three years), and I really found it fascinating.
I thought it was especially interesting that when participants presented their scenarios (basically, where to put all the new people), many of them avoided taking a higher density "smart growth" approach because they thought it was unrealistic. Affordable housing is certainly a concern in Austin, but it surprised me that so many people who had shown up to "envision" the region's future weren't willing to consider an alternative to more and more strip malls and low-density subdivisions.
We were told that the five-county region will lose half of its remaining agricultural land (and 20% of its woodlands) within 20 to 40 years if present growth trends continue. I hope we can do better than that.
I'd be very interested in reading the perspectives of anyone else who has participated in Envision Central Texas, Envision Utah, or any similar process. Thank you!