This past year has been nothing short of challenging for planning, housing, and economic development professionals. The pandemic has continued to create numerous consequences that impact short and long-term policies and place stress on administrators, elected officials, developers, and business leaders. Labor and supply chain issues, combined with a continuing counter-urbanization trend have created shortages of all housing types, particularly multi-family housing. This has devastated housing affordability in many neighborhoods. Simultaneously, many cities and counties are learning the lesson of having dated zoning codes, which hinder allowing the type of growth and modern expectations their citizens expect and need. Competition for employees continues to hinder small business recovery, as there appears to be no quick fix for the labor shortage.
It’s not all bad news, though. This year has seen some remarkable (and repeatable) success stories in planning and community development. At the center of these stories is the use of GIS. Location impacts nearly every facet of planning, housing, and economic development at the local, regional, and state level. Let’s take a look at five of the best of these stories from 2021. Click on the link each detailed story.
- Tacoma used GIS to streamline their housing policies, particularly towards affordability. They took a modern approach to civic inclusion by engaging their residents to better understand the housing needs in each neighborhood, and then applied spatial analytics to help put forth their updated housing policy.
- Bozeman leveraged GIS to create a dynamic dashboard that has focused on the economic recovery efforts of the city and broken them down by county (Bozeman’s city limits are in three counties). This dashboard has changed over the last 20 months to show a change in priorities from initially monitoring cases and unemployment to tracking federal stimulus to vaccination status and tourism impact.
- Seattle implemented a modern accessory dwelling unit (ADU) strategy by using GIS to help combat the acute housing shortage in Washington’s largest city. The city’s Office of Planning and Community Development deployed an ArcGIS Hub site called ADUniverse, that provides a one-stop shop for residents to use GIS to find if their property can have an ADU and then view and purchase pre-approved design.
- The Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, FL embraced a new use of GIS to successfully brand their destination as the premier place to live, work, and own a business in southwest Florida. Since implementation, the EDC has successfully completed 27 projects, representing 1,276 new jobs and $86+ million in new investment.
- The City of Tucson used GIS to provide transparency to all of its citizens through the Poverty and Urban Stress Report. From data collected in 2020 (again, using GIS for civic inclusion), the city composed an ArcGIS StoryMap that laid out resident concerns of poverty and urban stress, broken down by neighborhood. This ensured elected officials and the public were all on the same page, so that they could come up with sustainable, justifiable solutions.
With unprecedented levels of federal funding being funneled into cities and counties, planners will have increased opportunities in 2022 to help meet the needs of all of their residents. For more information, please find our resources at www.esri.com/planning.