Planning Trends for 2014 – What Trends are Impacting Community Planning and Real Estate?

Sessions at the 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta and other recent research have shed light on important planning trends emerging in our new post-recession economy. The following highlights some key findings: Aging Population The population within the 7-county Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) region is currently about 4.71 million people (December 2013). Between 2010 and 2040, this population is expected to grow by a total of 8 % (4.70 to 4.74 million people). Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) The senior population (65+) in the SEMCOG region is expected to grow by 85 % between 2010 and 2040. The youth population (under 18 years) is expected to decline by 13.8 % during this same period. SEMCOG Low Birth Rate The U.S. fertility rate in 2012 of 63.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years. This is the lowest birth rate since the government started tracking this statistic in 1909 (when the birth rate was 127 per 1,000). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Shifting Housing Preferences Two demographic cohorts are driving the transformation of residential and non-residential development: 1) aging baby boomers – born 1946-1964 – now in their 50s and 60s and pursuing empty-nester lifestyles and 2) young echo-boomers – born 1977 to 1995 – now in their 20s and early 30s, also known as Gen Y or Millennials. They want to live in high-density, urban environments, not suburbs. They are tech-savvy and socially-interconnected – they don’t find suburban office developments attractive places to work. James Hughes, Rutgers University By 2040, 40 % of the demand for new housing will be for attached and multiple-family units...
Food Truck Feeding Frenzy: Making Sense of Mobile Food Vending

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy: Making Sense of Mobile Food Vending

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy: Making Sense of Mobile Food Vending Link: Slides from the APA Conference Presentation by Rod Arroyo Recent economic and cultural trends show an explosion in the popularity of food trucks, or mobile vendors, over the past several years. According to research done by Emergent for the National Restaurant Association, the growth of mobile food trucks will soar in the next five years, generating up to $2.7 billion in revenue nationally by 2017—up from $650 million in 2012 (Emergent Research 2012). All across the country, cities, small towns, and suburbs are seeing food trucks popping up, some in unexpected places like office and industrial parks, where zoning ordinances typically preclude restaurants. Amplifying the push for food trucks are the twin trends of “buying local” and “food-as-entertainment” that are enhanced by programs such as the Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network. While ice cream trucks and job-site lunch wagons haven’t disappeared, they are increasingly being joined by gourmet trucks and trucks specializing in ethnic offerings. All across the United States, people are exploring how mobile food vending might make a difference in their lives and their communities. More resources are starting to become available for potential business owners. Networks for mobile food vendors are growing; the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association was formed in 2010 as one of the first associations dedicated to helping vendors break down barriers to business (www.socalmfva.com). And, in Fall 2013, Roam — a first ever industry conference for mobile food suppliers and owners— took place in Portland, Oregon. What Is Mobile Food Vending? Regulatory codes for many communities recognize...

Better Zoning Using Innovative Formats and Place-based Regulations

Municipalities can improve customer service and enhance placemaking by giving zoning ordinances a tune-up Zoning codes have come under fire over the last 25 years for many reasons ranging from the resulting development patterns they create (mandating sprawl) to the confusing language (legalese) used in these documents.   This can lead to a host of negative impacts for a municipality.  Some impact day-to-day operations and others last for generations to come. The sprawl issue has been partially addressed through the use of form-based codes (FBC) – a method to regulate development to achieve a specific form.  These codes are prescriptive in nature, leading to specific requirements that help build walkable urban places.  For example, instead of specifying a minimum setback requirement for buildings, a build-to line or build-to zone is established that requires the front of the building to be close to the public sidewalk.  FBC will also address building fenestration so that adequately sized and proportioned windows are properly placed to encourage the interaction of the private realm (the building) with the public realm (the sidewalk and street).  If a pedestrian looks through a window and sees merchandise displays, dining or entertainment, there is a reason stop and look and also to keep walking in search of more of the same type of experience.  If there are blank walls or boring office spaces, they will likely turn around. If zoning code language is improved through enhancing standard (Euclidean) zoning districts or form-based code regulations, it still may be confusing if the format of the zoning code is not updated. Zoning codes can be enhanced by better graphics, formatting,...

Project Tango – New Google Device Creates 3D Maps

Google 3D mapping provides urban planning possibilities Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects (ATAP) program called Project Tango now has a new mobile device that tracks 3D motion and maps user environments.  The current prototype is a 5” phone that tracks the full 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the surrounding environment.  The end result is a 3D model of the space around you. According to Google’s web site for this project, here are some of the possibilities: What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store? For planners, a trip to a benchmark development – e.g., successful downtown, new sports stadium, etc. – would result in a 3D model that could be shared with others.  The magic of the place could then be more effectively understood by people that have never been there.  The possibilities for application across multiple platforms are endless. Here is a link to the Google site: http://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/ <...

Overlay Zoning – A Zoning Tool for Implementing Plans and Policies

Use of zoning overlay districts can be innovative ordinance tool for cities Overlay Districts are in many ways like any zoning district – they provide development regulations within a specified boundary. These districts are special zones that lie on top of existing zoning districts to modify the underlying district requirements. An overlay zone may or may not match the boundaries of an underlying zoning district. Overlay zones typically provide a higher level of regulation (more restrictive) than the existing zoning classification, but they can also permit exceptions or be less restrictive.  In cases where conflicting standards are given by an overlay district and the underlying zoning category, those of the overlay district typically control. Overlay districts are used to accomplish a variety of goals.  They are usually prompted by recommendations or policies in a community’s master plan or a special study.  Examples of goals related to overlay regulations include water quality protection, traffic safety / access management, appearance standards, signs, historic preservation, building height, and land use.  For example, an overlay district may permit greater building height or additional land uses if certain conditions are met. Basic Steps to Create a New Overlay District  Establish a policy framework through a planning study or master plan update.  Spatially define the area of the overlay district. What is the basis for the boundaries? Consider whether the same policy framework could be achieved through amendment to a zoning district or a new district. Review and answer these important questions:   How will the new standards guide development in a way that reflects the vision and/or policy?  What will the overlay district regulate and...

Huntington Woods & Lathrup Village Master Plans Underway

People move to and stay in a community for many reasons. Some come to an area for its prime location; some for its beautiful neighborhoods; and some come for its community feel. What attracts people to a community – and what keeps them there? How well does a community provide for the needs of its residents and businesses? What can the community do to continue to manage and guide development and redevelopment based on changes that happen inside as well as outside the community’s borders? The Planning Commissions in the cities of Huntington Woods and Lathrup Village are asking these questions as they update their Community Master Plans to reflect recent demographic and economic trends. Indeed, both communities have desirable locations in Oakland County, and both are known for their beautiful residential neighborhoods. And, both communities are known for being involved and engaged. Public input in the planning process is crucial to building consensus and buy-in from community stakeholders. Links to the online surveys are available for both communities on their project pages: Huntington Woods and LathrupVillage. The Planning Commission, with assistance from its planning consultants, Clearzoning, Inc., asks the communities to provide input via surveys that will contribute to building community consensus and strengthening the community’s sense of...