205656 Transforming the Built Environment Through Land Use Policy Innovation: Two Case Studies

Monday, November 9, 2009: 5:15 PM

Deborah A. Howe, PhD, FAICP , Department of Community and Regional Planning, Temple University, Ambler, PA
Jennifer Dill, PhD , Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Mari Radford, MCRP , Temple University, Fort Washington, PA
Rising rates of obesity and associated problems of morbidity have focused attention on the built environment in framing opportunities for mobility and physical activity. The availability of sidewalks and trails along with proximate land uses can encourage walking while low densities and dangerous roads can mandate reliance on the automobile. The built environment is shaped by local land use and development requirements, most notably through zoning codes. In the extent to which there is a desire to transform this environment to support active living, it is necessary to understand why some jurisdictions are willing to adopt innovative policies. This paper discusses case studies of two cities in Georgia and North Carolina selected on the basis of responses to a survey of best practice communities in the US. This is part of a larger study of land use innovation funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research program. Field visits and extensive interviews reveal the significant role played by visionary planning directors, supportive legislators, creative developers, images of desired development and practices that should be avoided, and responsive consumers. Each community considered innovative approaches in response to particular issues such as changing demographics and high levels of traffic congestion. Financing innovative development was particularly challenging. The downturn in the economy is creating significant problems with current development projects, but there is a prevailing sense that the commitment to innovation is long term. Insights from this study will be helpful in enabling other communities to be more innovative.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify factors that explain jurisdictional willingness to adopt innovative land use policies that support the creation of a built environment that enables physical activity. 2. Discuss alternatives for transferring lessons learned in support of land use policy innovations in other US communities.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Community Planning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Principle Investigator on the research project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Active Living Research Program which is the source of the findings reported in the proposed paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.