Newsletter Spring 2019
Highlights • • • • •
Awards Program Updates Alabama City Year Program Student Presentations Faculty Updates
Conference Students will be attending and presenting at the National APA conference in San Francisco, CA.
Education This semester, several MCP students were accepted into the Geography Department’s Graduate Certificate in Geographical Information Systems Science program, which focuses on further developing students’ GIS skills. These students will earn this certificate alongside their Master of Community Planning.
James Djamaba was awarded a certificate of achievement on March 10, 2019 from the Section on Environmental and Natural Resource Administration (SENRA) for the best graduate paper.
David Bess, Rajas Bhalero, and Taylor Esco (l-r) were recipients of this year’s “Arch Winter Award for Excellence in Community Planning.” These awards are given to top students who have consistently demonstrated a high degree of commitment towards their area of study, maintained consistent high academic performance, have demonstrated leadership skills, taken initiative and maintained a high degree of professionalism.
On March 22, the department hosted Dr. Clara IrazábalZurita from the University of Missouri Kansas City as part of the “Politics and Policy Speaker Series.” Her lecture focused on the Precariate’s movement against land grabbing, how it has influenced the housing movement, and restorative justice planning in Brazil.
Dr. Becki Retzlaff was named an Engaged Scholar for 2019-2023 by the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. She will hold the title for a three-year appointment. Dr. Sweta Byahut received the 2019 Community and Civic Engagement Teaching Award given by the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. Taylor Esco received an award for the top graduate student poster from the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.
AUSPA AUSPA is a student organization that provides opportunities to participate in various types of activities such as professional development, guest lectures, field trips, and social events. This semester’s events included: • E-portfolio peer review • Career Fair at Tuskegee University’s Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science • Reginald Franklin, MCP alumni from the City of Dothan’s talk on GIS transportation
FOLLOW US @AU.MCP @AuburnMCP auspa.wordpress.edu
CONTACT US Dr. Jay Mittal (334)-844-8409 firstname.lastname@example.org
Program Updates & Initiatives Accreditation Updates • The AU MCP program will host Planning Accreditation Board site visitors in February 2020. • The working self-study report will be submitted in early fall 2019 to the PAB site visitors. • On November 26, 2018, the MCP program received a formal letter granting us “PAB accreditation candidacy," effective Jan. 2019 to Dec 2020. Faculty Search The MCP program hired a new tenure track assistant professor for Urban Design & GIS starting in fall 2019. Student Travel The department provided financial support to the following students: Harry Graham to attend the Annual Conference of the American Society for Public Administration in Washington, DC; James Djamba and Ling Zhang to attend the MIT CASE Competition, hosted at Harvard Business School; and to Natasha Miles to present at the National APA conference in San Francisco, CA.
ENGAGEMENT WITH Alabama City Year Program COMMUNITIES The hallmark of Auburn University's Master of Community Planning (MCP) program is the opportunity for students to engage with communities throughout Alabama and the Southeast in nearly every class. Every year, the MCP program chooses a community to work with that becomes the central focus for projects in classes such as Urban Economics, Land Use Planning, Urban Design, Sustainable Transportation Planning, Community Development, Historic Preservation Planning, and Studio. Through these projects, students learn to help diverse and complex communities create and implement plans that improve and protect their quality of life, culture, resource base, built environment, natural environment, and economic vitality. During the spring 2019 semester, the MCP program partnered with the cities of Dothan and Opelika.
Synthesis Studio with the City of Dothan
For the spring 2019 semester, students in Dr. Byahut’s Synthesis Studio are developing several planning projects for the City of Dothan, AL. This project continues the MCP program’s ongoing Alabama City Year Partnership with Dothan since 2018. Dothan is a thriving and growing community; according to 2017 Census estimates, it had a population of 68,202 in 2017, up from 65,496 in 2010. The city has embarked on several planning and development initiatives in recent years and is investing in their community. Last year, MCP students worked in Dothan on the Highway 84 E. Corridor Development project, and currently they are working in teams of three on the following five planning projects: (1) Land use capacity analysis citywide with particular focus on housing and mixed uses; (2) Feasibility of using a form based code for historic preservation; (3) Rental housing study and analysis; (4) Rails-toTrail analysis and impact study; and (5) Medical market economic development and land use study.
Economic Development with Dothan
As part of the studio course, they will analyze a case study, develop a proposal and a work plan, undertake existing conditions analysis, articulate goals and vision for the community, write proposals and policies, outline an implementation strategy, and compile a final report. At the end of the semester, students will present their projects to the City of Dothan officials in the City Hall. To see student projects undertaken in collaboration with Alabama communities please visit: https://auburnmcp.wixsite.com/city-year-program
Urban Design Studio with the City of Opelika Binita Mahato’s Urban Design Studio class worked with the City of Opelika on several projects where students could apply urban design theories for practical solutions. The studio project followed a 6-step process that explored the issues of Downtown Opelika and proposed strategies and plans to address those issues. This class helped students develop design and communication skills such as communicating plans through writing, illustrations, speaking and presenting. Students were divided into five groups for this project, with each focused on an area that was of interest to them such as improving the downtown park. The project allowed students to explore various planning topics of their interest such as green infrastructure, complete streets, historic preservation, and connectivity.
FACULTY UPDATES Dr. Jay Mittal has an accepted book chapter on 'An analysis of planning initiatives and best practices in Ahmedabad' to be published in the book, Planning Megacities in the Global South, Routledge, UK, with S. Byahut. In March 2019, he presented a paper on using land readjustment and density bonuses to create high-density development in fringe areas of Surat city at the World Bank Conference in Washington D.C. He will be attending the European Real Estate Society Conference in Paris, France and the Association of European Schools of Planning with S. Byahut in 2019. Dr. Megan Heim-LaFrombois is currently working on a multi-year grant with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium with Dr. Byahut and Dr. Charlene LeBleu. This research aims to improve the quality of coastal communities’ comprehensive plans and the communities’ quality of life by incorporating key concepts of green infrastructure planning in to their planning process and reducing flooding events. Harry Graham, MCP candidate ’19, presented some preliminary findings at the annual American Society for Public Administration in Washington DC in March. Dr. Heim-LaFrombois will be presenting a paper at the Urban Affairs Association conference in LA in April, entitled “The Uneven Shrinking City: Neighborhood Demographic Change and Creative Class Planning in Birmingham, Alabama.” This mixed methods research examines two broad questions: 1.) What are the specific spatial and demographic patterns related to the process of urban shrinkage in Birmingham from 1960 until 2010; and 2.) How has the city responded via planning interventions? Dr. Heim-LaFrombois and former MCP faculty, Yunmi Park, recently published a paper titled “Planning for Growth in Depopulating Cities: An Analysis of Population Projections and Population Change in Depopulating and Populating US Cities,” in Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning. Dr. Becki Retzlaff’s article titled “Interstate Highways and the Civil Rights Movement: The Case of I-85 in the Oak Park Neighborhood in Montgomery, Alabama” was published in the Journal of Urban Affairs. She also published the 2019 edition of the book titled Ohio Planning and Zoning Law, with Stuart Meck, Kenneth Pearlman, Alan Weinstein, and John Bredin. Dr. Retzlaff is currently working on a grant that takes old Alabama city plans and transforms these files into an online GIS format. Dr. Sweta Byahut co-authored a book chapter entitled “Creating higher density property development opportunities in fringe areas of Surat: A case of Surat outer ring road using land readjustment and density bonuses” in the book, Real Estate in South Asia, published by Routledge, UK, with Dr. Mittal. Her co-authored paper entitled “Emergence of sub-optimal land utilization patterns in Indian cities” is currently under review, which she will also present at the forthcoming AESOP conference this summer. Her current (ongoing) research includes mediating the impact of local flooding through planning, and another manuscript entitled “Urban Transformation for Sustainable Growth and Smart Living: Insights from the Atlanta BeltLine” is in progress. Binita Mahato will be presenting at the Urban Affairs Association’s annual conference held in Los Angeles, California from April 23 to 28. The presentation will focus on a paper entitled, “Understanding Non-western and Class-based Notion of Public Space: The Case of New Market Square, Kolkata, India.” She will also serve as the moderator of the special track, Urban Issues in Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Student Presentations Students presented at various conferences and symposiums across Alabama, the region, and the United States. During these events, students showcased their personal research as well as projects from their course work. David Bess & Joe Nisbett took part in the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Hines Student Design Competition this past January alongside Ben Burmester (Civil Engineering), Wilbur Hill (Real Estate Development), and Matt McGough (Real Estate Development). The competition’s site selection was located in Cincinnati, Ohio near “The Banks” development on the North side of the Ohio River. The Request For Proposal (RFP) encouraged teams to plan strategies that would encourage development near the river and create better connections to the downtown. The RFP expressed the city’s desire for planners to utilize sustainable planning methods, pedestrian friendly routes, improved public transportation, and an overall improved public place. Among other ideas, Auburn’s proposal included an innovative solution to mitigate Ohio River flood waters by repurposing the city’s abandoned subway as a stormwater detention system. Harry Graham presented on a panel discussion about environmental federalism at the 2019 Annual Conference of the American Society for Public Administration. He presented preliminary findings from an ongoing research project to analyze the plans of Gulf Coast cities and present green infrastructure best practices to these coastal communities to promote resiliency in planning. This project is funded by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, with faculty principal investigators Dr. Megan HeimLaFrombois, Dr. Sweta Bhayut, and Dr. Charlene LeBleu. Natasha Miles will present at the APA national conference during the ‘Fast, Funny, and Passionate Activity’ called “A Greener Future: Millennial Planning.” Ms. Miles' research ventures have impelled her to explore how cannabis legalization affects tax revenue, new corporations, and current zoning practices. This study presents the challenges facing cannabis zoning, as the future of cannabis is projected to not only have great success monetarily, but is also expected to introduce a wave of bold innovation and intricate city engineering. James Djamba participated in the CASE Competition, an annual real estate development competition, hosted at Harvard Business School in Cambridge, MA. James worked with two students from the Master of Real Estate Development program in the competition to develop a concept for a site location. Teams focused on the financial aspects, construction time, and design elements of the site’s development within a ten day period (February 1 to 10). Ling Zhang also participated in the CASE Competition hosted at Harvard Business School in Cambridge, MA. Her proposal named “Big Boat” focused on the renaissance of the Boston downtown core area. Based on the advantages and problems of this location, the proposal provides a mix of land use and property types, including commercial, office, residential apartments and underground parking. The plan also included a big open plaza to be preserved and redesigned for a more vibrant and interactive public space, to enhance sense of place, and to keep the city memory as a whole. Joshua Copeland, Taylor Esco, & Garrett Wates presented a poster at the Auburn Research: Student Symposium 2019 called “Planning for Natural Disasters: A Geospatial Analysis of the Effects of Hurricane Ivan on Alabama and Florida.” This poster analyzed the effects of Hurricane Ivan on the four Gulf Coast counties of Escambia and Santa Rosa in Florida alongside the Alabama counties of Baldwin and Mobile. Recommendations were based on geospatial analysis of how better policies can be implemented to minimize the impact of natural disasters on coastal areas. Rajas Bhalerao presented a poster at the Auburn Research: Student Symposium 2019 called “ Rejuvenate: Redevelopment inability. Taylor Esco presented a poster at the Auburn Research: Student Symposium 2019 called “Heart of the Wiregrass: Dothan, AL.” This project examined how the current economic situation of Dothan, AL can be improved by leveraging existing resources to promote future economic development by expanding specialized medical care in the Wiregrass area.
Harry Graham at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Public Administration
David Bess & Joe Nisbett with team members, preparing for the ULI Competition
Ling Zhang (left) & James Djamba (right) at the CASE Competition hosted at Harvard Business School
newsletter from the Master of Community Planning program at Auburn University, Spring 2019 edition