Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
E-Mail Forum
New Partners for Smart Growth Sets Attendance Record in Denver
February 5, 2006

Organized by the Local Government Commission and Penn State, the New Partners for Smart Growth annual conference is the premier national forum for planning safe, healthy and livable communities. This year's conference in Denver, which I attended January 26-28, attracted the largest attendance ever.


With Richmond poised to begin the process to adopt a new general plan, this year's conference was particularly helpful with world class presenters addressing every aspect of cutting edge urban design and planning issues. For a complete program, see http://www.outreach.psu.edu/programs/smartgrowth/agenda.html. Here is what Smart Growth America had to say about it:


Denver conference shows growing maturity of the smart growth movement
With 1,250 participants and more than 200 speakers, the 5th New Partners for Smart Growth conference in Denver offered copious evidence that the principles, policies and practices behind thoughtful, well-designed development are gaining acceptance among both the public and private sectors. Now that so many communities have embraced the goals of carefully planned growth, local officials and many of the 100 developers in attendance packed sessions designed to share the knowledge and experience that can help them with implementation. Though “unsexy” to some, sessions on zoning code reform were packed, including a Friday evening (!) salon and the Smart Growth Leadership Institute’s pre-conference forum on overcoming barriers to fulfilling smart-growth plans.  Judging by the private-sector participation and enthusiasm, few doubts remain about the ability of good, urban projects with mixed uses and housing types to succeed in the marketplace. In a growing number of places, the job now is, first, to make these development types legal, and second, to shape them according to the aspirations of the community.


In a community like Richmond, challenges of jobs, health, crime and education may at first appear to be higher priorities than planning and urban design, but it is becoming clear that planning and urban design are, in fact, a large part of the solutions to these problems. Skeptical? Take health, for example. Childhood obesity, asthma and heart disease may make our youngest generation in Richmond the first one that may actually have a shorter lifespan than ours. Don’t buy it? Check out http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/articles.htm.


I would have hoped to see more representatives from Richmond there, particularly some of our redevelopment and planning staff. And another council member or two would have been nice. Many other California cities were represented, and there were two staff members from Contra Costa County.


Incidentally, I was recently chosen by the Local Government Commission Board as vice-chair. The new chair is Ventura County Supervisor Kathy Long, replacing former chair, Mayor Jake Mackenzie of Rohnert Park.