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Ten Planning Successes

Working paper #656
John Landis

It has become popular in recent years to highlight the failures of planning. Using the following definition of success—a local and public initiative focusing on the built or natural environment that results in a net private and social benefit, and which can serve as model for similar efforts—this article identifies ten planning initiatives that succeeded. They include, in rough chronological order: the California Coastal Act and the Chesapeake Bay Program; planning consistency laws, the Northeast Corridor (Rail) Improvement Project; New York City’s Times Square and Battery Park City; Portland’s urban growth boundary; the low-income housing tax credit and the historic preservation tax credit; downtown ballparks; and land trusts. This article demonstrates how major public planning efforts can succeed, by avoiding over-reaching, framing favorable and image-able outcomes, adhering to clear goals within an adaptable approach, and investing in institutional and implementation capacity.

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