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Andrea Brown, AICP Executive Director Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association 219 South Main Street, Suite 300 Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104.

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Presentation on theme: "Andrea Brown, AICP Executive Director Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association 219 South Main Street, Suite 300 Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104."— Presentation transcript:

1 Andrea Brown, AICP Executive Director Michigan Chapter of the American Planning Association 219 South Main Street, Suite 300 Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104 Phone: 734.913.2000 Fax: 734.913.2061 Web Page: SEMCOG University March 17, 2010 Community Planners and the Safe Routes to School Program

2 History and Background

3 How we got where we are today National Planning Movements

4 City Beautiful Movement Chicago Exposition 1890s – early 1900s Exemplified by social order and beauty

5 The Garden City Movement Ebenezer Howard inspired in 1898 First Suburbs Beginning of auto dominated culture in US

6 Federal Policy Post World War II GI Bill allowed vets to purchase homes in the suburbs Federal transportation policy created interstate highway system to move military and food quickly and safely

7 Emerging Suburbanization Post World War II Federal housing and transportation policy encouraged outward migration As the more affluent moved outward, many central cities experienced decline, including the quality of school systems Population decreases result in abandonment of city schools

8 Emerging Suburbanization (cont) Many families make decisions about housing location based on school quality, exacerbating the flight from cities to suburbs Typical suburban development patterns include large lots, curvilinear streets, cul-de-sacs

9 Schools as the Center of Community Schools historically anchored neighborhoods Civic landmark; represented community investment and pride Everyday part of public life Children walked and biked to their neighborhood school Bussing was limited to rural areas

10 Schools in Michigan Today Michigan experiencing a school construction boom Michigan school districts built at least 500 new schools and closed 278 older schools since 1996 even though the school age population grew by only 4.5% Most new schools built in greenfield settings Majority of children do not walk or bike to school

11 Why the School Construction Boom? Funding formulas favor new schools vs. renovation Building codes are written for new construction yet rigidly applied to existing schools Lack of local regulatory authority in school planning and zoning

12 Construction Boom Desire for large athletic facilities a major factor leading to mega-schools on large sites Competition among school districts for students drives school district investment decisions

13 An Extraordinary Shift 1969: 48% of all children walked or biked to school 2002: 14% of kids walk or bike to school

14 Schools, Planning, and Zoning in Michigan

15 Schools and Zoning in Michigan Since at least the 1940s the State Superintendent of Instruction, through the DOE, responsible for review and approval of building construction plans PA 159 of 1990 amended the Public School Code to exempt schools from site plan review 2003 State Supreme Court decision ruled schools not subject to zoning

16 Lack of local regulatory authority… creates public health, safety, and general welfare problems Poor site locations Poor site ingress and egress Inadequate, or over-adequate, site size Inadequate setbacks and buffers Costly and burdensome infrastructure (water, sewer, roads) Issues with bus storage, outdoor athletic facilities (noise, lighting)

17 Implications of School Siting Decisions Schools located far from students Epidemic of overweight/obese youth Loss of prime agricultural and open space Increased air pollution

18 Implications of School Siting Decisions (cont) Expensive infrastructure improvements to reach new schools (water and sewer lines, streets and road capacity) Decreased quality of life as parents drive children to school

19 Overarching Challenges Governance Structure State Policy

20 There are 1,863 local governmental entities in Michigan 1,242 Townships 258 Villages 275 Cities 83 Counties 500+ school districts

21 State Policies Drive Outward Migration and Sprawl Development Patterns No Statewide Land Use Policy Road expansions continue despite Fix it First State approvals of new sewage treatment facilities continue State Departments act autonomously

22 Schools and Local Government Schools exempt from local zoning Limited – or non existent – local review of school development plans Schools and Government each have their own elected boards School siting determined at school district level, no local government review New school construction funded with bonds, not local millage

23 Planners and the SR2S Program Planners know how to plan! Planning is key element of SR2S Program Planners can help schools with their planning

24 Communications Planners trained with community input techniques Planners build relationships Planners recognize importance of multidisciplinary approach and review Planners can articulate to school team the bigger picture, how things fit Planners know who needs to be at the table to make a school project work (transportation agencies, environmental review, public safety)

25 Leadership Ability to coalesce community leaders and residents behind a local planning effort Experience leading planning efforts Advocates for good design Can transfer school site issues to the wider community issues

26 Physical Design Familiar with community codes and regulations, and can write changes to support SR2S philosophies (walkability, connections, safety) Can tie school improvements to the bigger picture comprehensive plan recommendations (walkability, connections, safety) Can include physical infrastructure improvements in the vicinity of the school to the CIP. Can trouble shoot and solve design challenges

27 By providing expertise and knowledge to schools, community planners can: Facilitate school improvements that are consistent with the communitys planning goals Emphasize the relationship between planners and the SR2S philosophy

28 … community planners can: Help school decision makers better understand consequences of decisions, like traffic congestion, disconnected neighborhoods, commute times, cost of bussing, the importance of sidewalks Bridge the planning disconnect between local government and school districts

29 Planners complete the puzzle!

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