City Planners Urge Support for Better Quality Communities Plan During American City Quality Month

April 16, 2012
The nation's city planners are calling on President Obama, Congress, governors, mayors and corporate chief executive officers and boards to support the preparation, adoption and implementation of a nationwide "Better Quality Communities Plan" to create jobs, stop urban sprawl and lower taxes. The intergovernmental and private sector plan would guide physical development to meet the needs of the 34 million additional citizens projected b the U.S. Census by the year 2020, and 100 million in the years beyond that, who will reside in cities and surrounding regions. This is the equivalent of building 11 new cities the size of Chicago.

The commitment is being sought during the 24th annual, month-long, national American City Quality Month program held every April to focus on improving the quality of cities and regions. The program aims to raise public awareness about the status and future of our nation's cities and regions, and promote better quality city planning, decisions, design, development, management and action.

In announcing this year's program, NLC President Ted Ellis, mayor of Bluffton, Ind., again stressed the continuing need for the federal Community Development Block Grant, as well as transportation and water infrastructure funding to implement the planning and action program. Further, U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Antonio R. Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, noted that the plan and infrastructure investment are critical to creating more jobs for the nation's metro areas.

According to Gerald R. Mylroie, AICP, chair of the American City Planning Directors' Council, no such nationwide plan exists and no private sector company would be without one. The public sector is no different. It is vital, and can immediately create hundreds of thousands jobs, generate billions of dollars in revenue and save billions of dollars to lower taxes."

"No plan comprehensively coordinates intergovernmental and private sector investments and actions affecting physical development to actually achieve better quality and sustainable urban and regional communities," Mylroie said. "Business as usual policies that continue urban sprawl and higher government operating expenses and taxes are unacceptable. We need private sector investment not only in hardware capital, but in human capital to increase consumer confidence and generate consumer investment. And we need public sector investment, but just like the private sector, we need a real cash return of and on our public investment."

According to Mylroie, Office of Management and Budget "place-based analysis," federal department coordination and a proposed Livable Communities Act is a start, but more Presidential support - a White House Conference on Urban and Regional Development, staff at the Domestic Council, and joint Senate and House leadership - is required.

According to Bluffton, Ind., City Planning Director Michael W. Lautzenheiser Jr., chair of the month-long observance, cities across America will be inviting citizens to discuss how quality planning for communities and smarter and sustainable growth will improve cities and regions, as well as protect them.

Urban sprawl, the opposite of better quality or smarter growth, continues to be identified as one of America's biggest concerns by citizens. Cities will also be recognizing the thousands of citizens voluntarily serving on city, town, county and other planning commissions and boards to plan and help achieve better quality communities.

American City Quality Month is sponsored by NLC, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, American City Planning Directors' Council/ American City Quality Foundation, Urban Land Institute, National Building Museum, Partners for Livable Places, City Planning and Management Division of the American Planning Association, American Public Transportation Association, Mayors' Institute on City Design, International City/County Management Association, American Society of Landscape Architects, Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals and others. See www.cityquality.org for more.

Details: For further information, call your city planning director or American City Planning Directors' Council/ American City Quality Foundation office at (207) 712-6333 or send e-mail to acqf@aol.com.