Planning Utah: from Zion to Smart Growth

Brigham Young

Brigham Young, accessed 2/18/2014,

The Envision Utah coalition has gained some visibility within the planning discussion in regards to their plan, and its influence in shaping the future of Utah. The coalition is well received in a state that is historical conservative, but it is not the first planning entity that has impacted Utah.  Led by early church leader Brigham Young, the Mormons brought with them plans for developing towns throughout the West. The founding father of the Latter -Day Saints religion (LDS) , Joseph Smith, took a lead role in crafting The Plat of Zion which was a religiously influenced document used as the basis for community planning of Mormon settlements. Early planning efforts led by the church served as a foundation for more than 500 western communities.  Today, recognizing the state’s planning past, the Envision Utah process,  has been able to guide the growth of the state into 21st century. Continue reading


Chicago Commercial Club: Early planning’s philosopher kings.

Burnham's Civic Center Plaza - Wikipedia, 2/2/2014

Burnham’s Civic Center Plaza – Wikipedia, 2/2/2014

An intentionally pretentious, while moderately accurate title. While they may not have been exactly what Plato had in mind, it would appear they were empowered in the way he might have imagined. In many ways, the organization ‘built’ Chicago, steering it and planning for its future – a course that led it to today’s Windy City. Their names adorn neighborhoods, streets, museums, and public infrastructure. These individual’s contributions to the city, perhaps, kept it from stuttering incrementalism or economically stalling at times. Without their power, influence, and money, Chicago would look altogether different, and other places that emulated designs and plans would clearly not look as they do. Organizations such as the club have helped to bring change to stymied growth and development, revitalize city areas, and capture culture.

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Community choices for Idaho: Idaho’s community program

At the annual conference of the Idaho chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-Idaho), Ted Vanegas  presented on the Community Choices for Idaho (CCI) program. A Senior Transportation Planner with the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), Vanegas used this session to share the history of the program and how it advances ITD’s strategic goals of mobility, safety, and economic opportunity. Continue reading

All aboard? The future of high speed rail in the US

What is the future for high speed rail in the United States? This is a highly debated issue for our nation as Europe and Eastern Asia are increasing their rail infrastructure in both speed and distances covered. These debates bring up questions pertaining to: Continue reading

China’s green loops city: A loopy idea?

Its the Loops that make it a city

The City of Hengyang, the second largest city in the Hunan Province, straddles the Xiang River and boasts a thriving community of 7,141,162 citizens covering just over 5,899 square miles of land that still has a significant amount of underdeveloped or pristine land. Hengyang, like most cities in China is faced with the growing need to modernize and expand its economic base, but unlike most cities where this expansion has resulted in serious environmental and economic issues, Hengyang is determined to move forward in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner.

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Greening of our rooftops

When planners are discussing sustainability, the topic of green roofs may pop up… the possibilities and challenges. If your first thought of green roofs are lawns on top of buildings, keep in mind that they can range from sparse installations with a couple inches of dirt and ground cover, to roofs with many feet of soil and mature trees. While some green roofs use plants that do not require irrigation, the basic idea is to load dirt, plants, and water on top of a building. Done well, there are many benefits. Done poorly, they can be expensive mistakes. Continue reading

A desire named streetcar

A Streetcar Named Desire - Wikimedia, 12/16/2013

A Streetcar Named Desire – Wikimedia, 12/16/2013

The Streetcar idea for downtown Boise won’t go away. There is a great desire by some, Mayor Bieter chief among them, to see Boise retrofitted with a clean, classy, historical component that shuttles thousands around downtown and economically stimulates the area. As many know, Boise’s Downtown once had a Streetcar line in its repertoire of amenities. The Streetcar is therefore an organic piece of that history, and should really be approached in that way. If we want the Streetcar, we can’t sell it as if it is going to be the transportation asset we need (it isn’t), but we can offer it as the historical asset we want and couple it with a real, sincere approach to increasing connectivity and making an economic impact – expand VRT.

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