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City planning vital for quality communities.

The National League of Cities, together with other organizations, is proud to announce April is American City Quality Month.

Quality city planning is needed to address continuing public concerns about property tax increases, urban sprawl, loss of open space, lack of affordable housing, increasing traffic and other community issues.

"City planning is vitally important. It goes to our identity, our esteem, and our self-confidence," said NLC President Anthony A. Williams, mayor of Washington, D.C. "It also goes to our vision. Planning has shaped the response to every issue and challenge facing D.C. today. From fixing our schools to improving public safety, to providing jobs and affordable housing."

The need and importance of quality city planning and action to address large and small city issues will be discussed across the country during the annual, national program.

"Hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars can be saved annually with quality city planning and development," said Gerald Mylroie, AICE chairman of the American City Planning Directors' Council that co-sponsors the month-long event.

Quality planning and development creates center city and neighborhood pedestrian areas with commercial and residential uses, increases public transportation use, and clusters housing surrounded by protected recreation and open space. It balances environmental, social and economic issues.

"It is critical we continue to focus national attention on the need to plan for smart growth and achieve quality communities for our citizens," said NLC Immediate President Charles Lyons, selectman, Arlington, Mass.

This year's theme links prior years' themes, Planning for Quality Communities and Planning for Smart Growth. Also, it helps continue to focus on increasing awareness about the recommendations in NLC's 2001 Futures Report, "Building Quality Communities."

These include:

1. Clarify the local context and causes of problems in communities.

2. Apply your community's vision and values when making decisions about land use.

3. Use your tools, including city planning and targets, in purposeful and strategic ways to influence land use patterns.

"It is time to think in new ways about the decisions we make regarding land use and infrastructure investments and about how those decisions reflect our community values and our vision for the future. It is time to figure out once and for all how we can build quality communities by choice and not by chance," said former NLC President Karen Anderson, mayor of Minnetonka, Minn.

During the month-long Observance cities across America will be discussing how quality planning for communities and smart growth will improve cities as well as protect them.

Cities also plan to conduct public meetings; adopt proclamations: and hold media events, exhibits and "teach-ins" at local schools.

Local city planners and officials are talking about changing demographics, local economic and social issues, land use for development and conservation, smart growth concepts, setting new goals, preparing plans, and adopting programs and budgets to implement the plans. All these activities are aimed at achieving quality communities.

NLC, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, American City Planning Directors' Council, and American City Quality Foundation have designated April as American City Quality Month. Other sponsors include Urban Land Institute, National Building Museum, City Innovation, and Partners for Livable Communities.

"What is needed is new vision for our cities to restore their economic vitality, safety, and beauty; to make them better places to live, work and play," said Mylroie. "New vision is required to preserve and improve our investment. New approaches to land use, housing, transportation, education, safety, environmental protection, finance, planning, design, development and management. New approaches to public/private sector partnerships, entrepreneurship, management and investment. Professional city planning directors have specialized education and experience to resolve these issues. What is needed is public support to adopt the plans and implementation programs and ordinances."

Participants/Activities/Events

City planning directors, in conjunction with other public and private sector civic leaders will be conducting a variety of events to raise public awareness.

These include:

* City officials are encouraged to hold public meetings to discuss city planning and development issues; sponsoring exhibits on new plans and programs for community revitalization; and discussing urban issues and opportunities with local school students.

* Corporations are urged to sponsor public national advertisements describing what they are doing to help improve the quality of America's cities.

* Local city planning and other civic organizations are urged to hold meetings and initiate projects to improve cities.

* Schools are encouraged to develop educational programs on cities and how they can be improved (e.g., build models, write essays, and draw pictures).

* Universities offering degrees in city planning and other agencies are urged to initiate teaching programs and activities to raise public awareness.

* Local and national media are encouraged to report and/or publish articles on the status and future of cities and how they can be improved.

Details: For more information, see www. hometown.aol.com/ACQF or contact American City Planning Directors' Council at ACQF@aol.com.
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Title Annotation:National League of Cities designates April as American City Quality Month
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 4, 2005
Words:810
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