MURP Faculty Leads Sessions, Walking Tours and Panels at ACSP Conference

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October 27, 2017

Earlier this month, the University of Colorado Denver’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program hosted the annual conference of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP). ACSP, which promotes planning education, research, service and outreach in the United States and internationally, decided upon the conference theme of, “Cities, Regions and Growth: Smart, Inclusive and Equitable?” for 2017. In addition to hosting the welcome reception and other events associated with the four-day conference, the MURP program and its faculty participated in workshops, presentations and panels to contribute to the success of the event.

Dr. Austin Troy, professor and department chair, presented in two sessions during the conference, including The Thirsty Urban Landscape: Analyzing the Relationship Between Yard Trees & Irrigation in A Semi-Arid City and The Microclimatic Effects of Urban Tree Shade in Cold Climate Cities, in addition to leading two mobile tours, Sun Valley/Mariposa Redevelopments: A Healthy & Holistic Approach to Public Housing Redevelopment and The South Platte: Challenges & Opportunities for an Urban River Corridor.

In The Thirsty Urban Landscape: Analyzing the Relationship Between Yard Trees & Irrigation in A Semi-Arid City, Dr. Troy presented research that looks at how water consumption records can be used to better understand patterns of yard irrigation in Denver, and in particular, how the role of trees should be used to account for irrigation demand. Through his work, Dr. Troy has found that while trees use irrigation water, the shade they cast partially offsets their direct water consumption by reducing sun exposure for underlying turf grass, thereby reducing the need to irrigate grass. Similarly, the research also found that young trees proportionally consume far more water than mature trees, likely because their roots have yet to access groundwater and also because homeowners tend to overwater young trees. Finally, Dr. Troy’s research found that there were also large increases in water use associated with newer (post-1950) subdivisions and homeowners’ associations.

Dr. Jeremy Németh, associate professor, presented as an author on two sessions, Resistant to Change: Why Do Some Gentrification-Susceptible Neighborhoods Never Actually Gentrify? and Green Gentrification in Chicago: Development, Displacement, & Community Activism, alongside his research colleague, Dr. Alessandro Rigolon of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Resistant to Change: Why Do Some Gentrification-Susceptible Neighborhoods Never Actually Gentrify?, of which Dr. Németh was the primary author, looks at the increasingly common phenomenon of gentrification, and how despite there being identifiable factors that make a neighborhood susceptible to gentrification, there are still some places that should gentrify that do not. Dr. Németh’s research looked at what those factors are that appeared to employ a resistance to gentrification—including community resistance, affordable housing policies and up-zoning—and categorized them into the three categories of people, place and policy. Overall, the initial findings of this research suggest that multiple factors interact to mitigate gentrification trends, and that by discussing these results through a planning and policymaking lens, there may be room for an increased understanding of what can be done to temper gentrification’s most damaging impacts.

Dr. Carrie Makarewicz, assistant professor, and Dr. Jennifer Steffel Johnson, associate chair and instructor, hosted a housing-focused panel, Millennials, Mountains, & Mobility: The Impacts on Housing in Colorado’s Front Range. The panel featured four individuals working on housing issues in the Denver-metro area, including Laura Brudzynski of the City and County of Denver, Office of Economic Development, Affordable Housing Preservation; Laurel Hayden of United for A New Economy; Deyanira Zavala, program coordinator for Mile High Connects; and Andrea Chiriboga-Flor, transit/housing organizer for 9 to 5 Colorado. The panel discussed the factors that have made Denver the second-fastest growing city in the U.S.—including regional access to jobs, a perceived lifestyle, and availability of the Rocky Mountains—and the pressures this has put on both the rental and housing markets in the metro region. While Colorado must maneuver a uniquely restrictive policy landscape, such as budget and tax restrictions, and constitutional prohibitions against inclusionary zoning for renters and tenant protections, the panel discussed what other options may be available to ensure people across the income spectrum can find housing in the area.

Dr. Makarewicz also led a tour through Denver’s River North district, an artist-influenced neighborhood adjacent to downtown Denver that has seen explosive market values and reinvestment over the last five years. Dr. Makarewicz was accompanied by planners, as well as non-profit and artist advocates, to inform participants about the opportunities and challenges of the area, including design overlays and guidelines; affordable housing and work space for artists; and the loss of non-profit space, industrial uses and jobs due to rising market values; among other topics. Speaker participants included Abe Barge, principal planner for the City of Denver and MURP alum; Brian Trybus, local artist and gallery owner; Tracy Weil, founder of the RiNo Art District; Megan Yonke, program director for Denver Shared Spaces; Rick Peterson, principal of Oz Architects; and Lisa Gedgaudas, of the City and County of Denver, Denver Arts and Venues.

Visit here to learn more about the 2017 conference in Denver, as well as ACSP and its mission and work.