Regional Planning Is the New City Planning

What you do over there affects me over here.

The ripple effects of a new downtown skyscraper or suburban development are now felt far beyond any one neighborhood or even one city, extending to surrounding counties and metro areas. An ideological shift is underway as we understand the interconnectedness of the communities in which we live. Collectively, we're rethinking our society’s developmental future.

Cue regional planning. It's not a new concept, but it's quickly gaining in popularity as cities learn the importance of working together to build sustainable foundations for growth.

For example, San Diego recently adopted the first Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) as part of its larger Regional Transportation Plan. While the plan accounts for a long-range vision for the logistic development of the area’s transport and travel infrastructure, the SCS component adds a necessary emphasis on the environmental impact of each decision.

Any good relationship, however, requires negotiation. Multiple cities may comprise a region, and even though their fates are intertwined, it’s only natural that each would want to advocate for privileges and protections for its own citizens. Regional planning is a way to productively engage in that negotiation, addressing issues that transcend city limits and involve shared resources—whether natural, built, or human.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user La Citta Vita.