Tag Archives: Community

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

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.

MURP Students and Faculty Head to 2017 APA Colorado Conference

October 12, 2017

This year’s American Planning Association (APA) Colorado conference was held in beautiful Telluride, Colorado, October 4 – 6, 2017. More than twenty MURP students, as well as several faculty members, attended the conference, which held sessions, workshops, mobile tours and receptions that addressed the challenges and opportunities facing the planning profession in Colorado.

APAS Student Representative Meghan Boydston said, “The students that attended, myself included, enjoyed hearing presentations from speakers from all over the world. We also love the opportunity to meet professionals with a variety of types of planning careers, all while appreciating the natural beauty of Telluride.”

The opening plenary featured Elizabeth Garner, who serves as the state demographer for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). At DOLA, the State Demography office produces population and economic estimates and forecasts for use by state agencies and local governments. During her talk, Garner discussed Colorado’s “demographic transition,” including how Colorado is economically and demographically maturing, as well as how the state is hosting an aging population that will continue to bring a demand for new workers.

Similarly, the conference’s other keynote speaker, Alan Mallach of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution, talked with conference participants about today’s pressing affordable housing challenges due to changing demographics, economic conditions and housing costs. In addition to the keynotes, an awards ceremony and reception was held on Thursday evening to kick off Community Planning Month.

At this year’s conference, several CU Denver MURP faculty and adjuncts, including Assistant Professor CTT Ken Schroeppel and lecturer Donald Elliott, led sessions on topics such as table and chart design, form-based codes and housing. The sessions at the conference covered the gamut of planning-related topics, including on authentic community engagement; the common ground between public and private sector planners; rural downtown investment strategies; transportation challenges; recreational programming and public lands, and more.

Mobile tour workshops were also held, including walking tours on Historic Downtown Telluride, Planning for Healthy Forests, New Technologies in Ski Manufacturing, Telluride Cultural Arts District, and Telluride Affordable Housing.

Visit here for more information on this year’s APA Colorado Conference, and to read the full schedule of workshops, events and presentations.

MURP Students Participate in International Park(ing) Day 2017

October 1, 2017

On September 15, students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at CU Denver—headed by the officers of the American Planning Association student chapter (APAS)—participated in the annual Park(ing) Day outside of the College of Architecture and Planning at 14th and Larimer in downtown Denver.

Park(ing) Day, which began in San Francisco in 2005, began as a way to temporarily turn a metered parking space in the city into a temporary public space as a way to showcase what amenities we often give up to accommodate parking in dense urban areas. From its original founding, Park(ing) Day is now an annual, open-source global event where citizens, professionals and activists create their versions of temporary public space in urban places around the world. As such, the event’s mission is to, “call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.”

The theme of this year’s Park(ing) Day contribution by MURP students was “urban jungle,” which was constructed with the help of CU Denver students from the American Institute of Architects student chapter, as well as private engineering, planning and consulting firm Michael Baker International. Throughout the day, several dozen people stopped by the transformed parking spot to ask questions about the event, and drivers passing by at the nearby stoplight engaged with students.

Of this year’s event, APAS President Kari Remmen said, “Park(ing) Day was a success because of the conversation it sparks. As planners, we need to understand the public opinion around the issues we are trying to address. Park(ing) Day gave us the opportunity to hear from people, as well as talk about the impacts of parking in our downtown urban spaces.”

In addition to engaging the public, this year’s contribution by MURP students focused on bringing together students in the first and second year of the urban planning program. Remmen noted that because the master’s program is only a short two years, APAS has an important role to play in ensuring relationships are developed among students, as they are all future planners who will work together in the field.

Park(ing) Day takes place each year on the third Friday of September. Click here for more information on the global event.

MURP Program Hosts ACSP Conference, October 12 – 15, 2017

September 15, 2017

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Conference (ACSP) is coming to Denver.

ACSP is an international membership organization of universities with departments offering planning programs and/or degrees affiliated with planning, in addition to individual faculty and student members. The organization publishes the academic journal, the Journal of Planning Education and Research, as well as hosts annual conferences, workshops and other services for the academic community and general public related to planning.

Its mission—which promotes planning education, research, service and outreach in the United States and internationally—includes recognizing diverse needs and interests in planning; improving and enhancing the accreditation process; and strengthening the role of planning education in universities through publications, conferences and community engagement to extend planning beyond the classroom and into the world of practice.

ACSP’s annual conference is being held in Denver and hosted by CU Denver’s master of urban and regional planning (MURP) program from October 12 to 15, 2017. This year’s conference theme, “Cities, Regions and Growth: Smart, Inclusive and Equitable?” seeks to use Denver as an example for many of the questions faced by planners today. Professor and MURP Department Chair Austin Troy and Assistant Professor Andrew Rumbach are serving as the local host committees’ co-chairs.

While growth in the Denver-metropolitan region has brought tremendous economic opportunity for residents, it has also brought significant challenges, including housing supply shortages and increasing housing costs; land consumption and loss of open space; increasing exposure to natural hazards; traffic congestion and delay; inability to scale transit to meet demand; lack of coordination between jurisdictions; inequitable public education; sectoral imbalance in the economy; gentrification; and congestion of amenities.

However, within these challenges, there is also tremendous opportunity for planning to impact how cities, including Denver, redefine, reinvent and revitalize themselves. For instance, in Denver, reinvestment in central areas has increased walkability, mixed use development and good urban design, among other characteristics that are leading to a more vibrant city. With careful management of growth and development—such as reducing gentrification-induced development and loss of public goods—planners can create a more inclusive strategy to leverage opportunities, such as sustainability and equity, spurred from growth.

This year’s conference will include a welcome reception; paper sessions, presentations and roundtables; mobile tours of neighborhoods such as River North, Sun Valley and downtown Denver led by Assistant Professor CTT Ken Schroeppel; a posters and exhibits reception; a student reception; and a book signing, among other events.

Please see the full conference schedule and stay tuned for further updates.

MURP Professor Looks at Sustainability through Citizen-Municipal Partnerships

Dr. Carrie Makarewicz, an assistant professor in the urban and regional planning program, has been working on research to determine how sustainability may be affected by municipality-supported but citizen-driven projects and neighborhood engagement. While a project that is ongoing, Dr. Makarewicz’s initial research findings are available and were presented earlier in 2017 at the Urban Affairs Association conference in Minneapolis.

The Urban Affairs Association conference is an interdisciplinary gathering of social scientists—including urban scholars, researchers and public service professionals—who study urban issues. The topics the conference touches upon includes housing, the environment, politics, transportation and more. The Urban Affairs Association also sponsors the Journal of Urban Affairs, an annual journal dedicated to urban research and policy analysis.

Dr. Makarewicz’s research focuses on the Sustainable Neighborhoods Program (SNN), which originally began in Lakewood, Colorado and has also been adopted by the City and County of Denver. The program engages citizens through their neighborhoods and in their respective municipalities to work toward sustainability goals that are devised by themselves and their neighbors. The model is intended to increase community engagement, as well as action toward increased sustainability by instilling neighborhoods with a framework and general resources to accomplish desired tasks.

As neighborhoods complete sustainability-related projects, they are awarded points and can eventually be certified as a “sustainable neighborhood.” As each municipality also has their own sustainability goals written into mayoral agendas and other city-led initiatives, SNN provides an opportunity to contribute to broader city efforts related to sustainability.

At the Urban Affairs Association conference, audience members at Dr. Makarewicz’s presentation were interested to hear more about this unique partnership between citizens (and their neighborhoods) and municipalities, and whether or not it has actually helped to promote more sustainable behaviors and actions.  Dr. Makarewicz’s initial findings have been multi-faceted, and include the following insights:

  • SNN provides an avenue to engage residents with sustainability on their own terms but with city guidance
  • The program is able to operate with fairly minimal overhead, so it has longevity for the foreseeable future
  • In addition to the benefits for traditional measures of sustainability (e.g. reductions in energy and water use, lowering carbon footprint, reducing waste, etc.), it also has many social and civic benefits
  • The program fosters cross-agency dialogue as well as connections between residents and different city departments, businesses and nonprofits

However, the program faces several obstacles, including:

  • Its staffing structure could be more effective;
  • More supports are needed to build the capacity of neighborhoods with fewer resources; and
  • Greater outreach is desired so that residents who are not yet participating can learn more about it

Dr. Makarewicz’s research is expected to conclude by the end of 2017, where the full findings will be submitted for publication in a urban-related academic journal.

MURP Chair Presents on Green Infrastructure Research

In early March 2017, MURP Chair and Professor Austin Troy, PhD, gave a presentation on “Research on the Benefits of Urban Green Infrastructure,” which looked at his current and past work regarding the benefits of urban trees and other vegetation for heat island mitigation, shading, increases in property values and crime reduction.

Dr. Troy discussed how in one study, he looked at the relationship between tree canopy and crime index in the greater Baltimore region, and found that a 10% increase in tree cover equates to a 11.8% decrease in crime, with the effect 37% greater for public than private land trees. While the relationship between crime and trees varied spatially—as did the relationship between private trees and crime—the relationship between crime and public trees did not. Similarly, in another study that also used Baltimore as a case study, Dr. Troy looked at the impact of residential yard landscaping practices on block level crime.

Dr. Troy also spent time discussing the idea of causality versus association in research and within green infrastructure studies. For instance, while the association between green infrastructure and crime is well-established, can it be said that vegetation’s association with crime is causal?

Given the few studies currently available on this topic, Dr. Troy conducted another study—looking at San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York City—to examine whether crime actually drops more than it would otherwise after green investments have already been made. The results generated, he says, are mixed but promising, with tests within each study area suggesting likely causality.

Dr. Troy also discussed green infrastructure and urban heat, including how different surfaces’ absorptivity, reflectivity, transmissivity and emissivity can generate more or less heat in an urban environment. Dr. Troy has mapped urban heat in Denver, and examined the role of trees in mitigating its effects.

The presentation concluded with Dr. Troy previewing his current work, where he is looking at planning issues related to trees and water in the Denver area. His research questions center on how climate change, water supply and urban growth are affected by the high need for irrigation in the Colorado climate.

Each year, the urban and regional planning program within the College of Architecture and Planning, alongside CU Denver’s American Planning Association Student Chapter, host numerous lectures with faculty to discuss their current research.

MURP Chair Visits U.S. Forest Service New York Research Station

In late April 2017, College of Architecture and Planning (CAP) professor and master of urban and regional planning department chair Austin Troy traveled to New York as part of a delegation from the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station to visit the New York Urban Field Station.

The New York Urban Field Station is a facility in Fort Totten, Queens that is managed in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and serves as a hub for research, outreach and programs related to urban environmental stewardship.

The delegation that attended this site visit also included personnel from the University of Denver, as well as the U.S. Forest Service in Fort Collins and Golden. While in New York, the group met with various local and federal officials—including New York City’s Chief of Horticulture, Forestry and Natural Resources—and toured numerous parks and natural areas currently under restoration, as well as participated in a tree planting.

Troy’s travel delegation to New York was made possible by a U.S. Forest Service grant to the College of Architecture and Planning that seeks to facilitate the planning and development of a similar urban field station in the Denver area. The planning group that is working on establishing the Denver station includes representatives from the City of Denver’s Parks and Recreation, the U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University, Trust for Public Land, Davey Trees and others. The New York field visit will aid the planning group in establishing priorities and developing partnerships that will be critical for the success of the future field station.

PhotoTroy (left), members of the delegation, and New York field station staff at a tree planting at Marine Park in Brooklyn, New York.

April 2017: MURP Faculty Updates

MURP faculty are busy serving the planning profession, the community and our students through their leadership and participation in publications, boards, research and media stories. 

Notable activities in April 2017 include:

Jeremy Németh, associate professor of urban and regional planning, received a grant through CU Denver’s Office of Research Services to conduct a research project entitled, Green Gentrification in Chicago: Development, displacement and Community Activism. The project will analyze the gentrification impacts of the more than 200 acres of parks built between 1990 and 2017 in Chicago, and will include interviews with advocacy organizations working along two of the city’s new parks. This research project is spurred by the expensive urban greening projects many U.S. cities have undertaken in recent years along former waterways and rail corridors, such as New York City’s High Line. While these projects often transform dilapidated infrastructure into desirable public spaces, they can contribute to quickly rising property values and the eventual displacement of low-income people living nearby. As such, Németh’s research will assess the extent to which these “green gentrification” projects contribute to displacement, and whether community resistance efforts resulting in new housing and land use policies may temper these effects.

Németh was also interviewed and cited in the publication, CityPulse, where Lansing, Michigan is looking to Colorado as a case study related to medical marijuana regulation and zoning restrictions. In 2014, Németh conducted a study of zoning restrictions for marijuana facilities in Denver and found that the restrictions pushed these businesses into lower-income, minority communities and neighborhoods. In the interview, Németh said that these zoning restrictions ultimately deepen the disparity between wealthier areas of the city and lower-income neighborhoods.

Andrew Rumbach, assistant professor of urban and regional planning, received two grants for research on international planning. The first, a $25,000 grant from CU Denver’s Office of Research Services, will allow Dr. Rumbach and two graduate students to travel to northeastern India to study flooding and landslide risk in fast-growing villages. The second, a teaching enhancement grant from the Center for Faculty Development, will help Dr. Rumbach and colleagues from the University of Michigan to evaluate a case-based approach to international planning pedagogy.

Austin Troy, professor and urban and regional planning and department chair, was elected to the governing board of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planners as the regional representative from the Central region of the U.S.

MURP Students Participate in The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy

March 30, 2017

While MURP students have much to learn in the classroom about urban and regional planning, Denver itself also offers a vast network of resources, organizations and opportunities for students to engage in real-life planning scenarios.

The Transit Alliance, a local non-profit organization dedicated to empowering citizens to transform Colorado’s mobility future, provides such occasions through its Citizens’ Academy, which is a seven-week workshop that brings together Denver-based transit advocates. The academy serves to educate and motivate community stakeholders by encouraging their involvement to advance transit, active transportation and increased freedom of mobility.

Daniel Jennings, current MURP student, participated in the academy in Spring 2016. “I had just applied to the MURP program and was eager to get involved in the world of urban planning…participating in the academy allowed for me to be introduced to other planning advocates, and got me excited about the program,” Jennings said.

As part of The Transit Alliance, which focuses on policy and advocacy through its work, the Citizens’ Academy is an avenue for community members interested in Colorado’s transportation and mobility options to build leadership capacity, participate in forums of constructive dialogue about transit, and meet others who share similar and different viewpoints about where they see Colorado’s mobility future.

For Jennings, the Citizens’ Academy—which took place one night a week for seven-weeks—introduced him to different topics tied to transit, with the program often featuring speakers working in greater Denver’s transportation arena, including representatives from Denver Regional Council of Governments, Regional Transportation District and Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. The academy also featured field trips to experience mobility options in Denver, including a trip to Denver International Airport to ride the University of Colorado A Line that recently opened to the public.

“Overall, the goal of the program was to connect you with other people that had similar interests related to transit, and to get participants thinking about how they could become transit advocates in their own community,” Jennings said. For instance, each participant created an action plan for their own community, which could range in ambition from simply taking your family for a ride on the light rail to investigating how to promote bus rapid transit in Denver.

Given his specific interest in increasing walkability within communities, Jennings’ project focused on improving walking conditions in Denver’s Lincoln Park-La Alma neighborhood. Through The Transit Alliance and work on his action plan, Jennings was also introduced to other transit and mobility-related organizations in Denver, such as WalkDenver and the Community Active Living Coalition.

“The Transit Alliance was a great introduction for me to the world I was about to enter with the MURP program,” Jennings said. “I was able to talk with and learn first-hand from planners, architects and other community members. Since a big part of graduate school is meeting people who are working in your desired profession, the Citizens’ Academy gave me a head start.”

Since beginning in 2007, The Transit Alliance’s Citizens’ Academy has graduated more than 800 community members interested in improving mobility throughout Colorado.

To learn more about The Transit Alliance, visit:  http://www.transitalliance.org/.

MURP Alumni Meet with Current Students On Capstone Projects

March 5, 2017

On February 23, the CU Denver MURP Alumni Association hosted its first Capstone, Cookies and Coffee, which is an opportunity for current MURP students working on their capstone projects to discuss their specific topic of exploration and progress with MURP alumni working in the urban and regional planning field.

The event was hosted at the College of Architecture and Planning, and was organized by specific urban planning-related topic areas and skill sets so that students could find alumni who best paired up with their interests and own work.

To become part of the CU Denver MURP Alumni Association’s annual schedule of activities, 2017 was the kick-off year for such an event that allows students to network with professionals in the field that also went through urban planning education at the same institution.

At this year’s event, approximately ten MURP students, eight alumni and three faculty attended, with the goal of providing alumni an opportunity to offer students advice on their capstone methods, approaches, data sources, contacts and case studies that may be useful in their research and work. Alumni also agreed to review students’ ongoing progress to provide feedback as requested.

Deemed a success, the CU Denver MURP Alumni Association plans to hold this event each spring as a way to support current students in completing these final projects; better integrate alumni into current happenings of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning; and provide increased occasions for alumni to interact with students for mentorship and networking opportunities.

Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz, the faculty liaison for the CU Denver MURP Alumni Association, and CU Denver MURP Alumni Association President Eric Ross were present to assist in facilitating the event.

Picture featured includes second-year MURP student Bryan Sullivan; Alumni Faculty Liaison and Assistant Professor Carrie Makarewicz; and Kevin Patterson, a dual-degree MURP and Master of Public Affairs Alumni who is the current director of the Colorado Health Exchange and former director within the City and County of Denver.