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The APA Texas Planning Awards Program recognizes individuals, organizations and communities for outstanding contributions to planning in Texas. Award winners will be recognized at the APA-Texas Chapter Annual Planning Conference on Friday, Octover 19, 2018 in Galveston, Texas at the Galveston Convention Center. Individual award videos will be posted on this page following the Awards Ceremony. For questions and media requests, please contact APA Texas Awards Commitee Chair Claire Hempel at planningawards@apatexas.org

Congratulations to the 2018 Texas Planning Award Winners!

Comprehensive Planning Awards

City of New Braunfels
Envision New Braunfels
Link

Envision New Braunfels is a comprehensive plan that establishes a vision and framework for the future of New Braunfels, Texas –the 2nd fastest growing city in the nation. The document is an update to the 1999 Comprehensive Plan, which was last updated in 2006. It is a community-driven planning initiative that will guide strategic decision making around core issues such as housing, transportation, urban design, natural resource protection, etc., all to sustain quality of life in the face of tremendous growth over the next 15-plus years.

 
City of Weatherford
Weatherford General Plan
Link
 

Weatherford’s 2002 comprehensive plan was out of date and did not provide for a new outer loop and adjacent development proposals. The new General Plan does both. The 30-square mile city had to plan for an extra-territorial jurisdiction of 180 square miles with areas abutting Fort Worth. Major cities create plans with state-of-the-art planning tools, but a basic plan guiding development is a big step for a city of 30,000. It is unique, innovative & effective, reflecting the community’s rural history, its current suburban development pressures and its future walkable urban potential.

 
Honorable Mention
City of Texarkana
Renew Texarkana Comprehensive Plan
Link
 

The Renew Texarkana Comprehensive Plan approved in March 2018 sets a bold vision for future growth of the twin city located on the Texas and Arkansas border. Originally established as a railroad and industrial center, Texarkana, Texas has grown into a regional agriculture, retail, and wholesale service center. Community leaders recognized the need to create a cohesive vision to guide future growth in a sustainable manner and the resulting plan includes specific actions to create a resilient community.

Project Planning Awards

 
 
City of Brownsville
Buena Vida First Choice Neighborhood Plan
Link
 

The Buena Vida Plan builds on the Brownsville Housing Authority’s long-term commitment to maximize partnerships to increase the supply of affordable housing, help residents become fully self-sufficient, and contribute to the strength of Brownsville neighborhoods. The Plan employs a comprehensive approach to neighborhood planning by seeking to revitalize the distressed Buena Vida public housing complex while investing and leveraging investments in well-functioning services and community improvements. The Final document, along with other products including the project website, neighborhood data book and neighborhood planning handbook were recognized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for their excellence of thought, analysis, writing, graphics and presentation.

 
City of Corpus Christi 
Downtown Area Development Plan 
Link
 

Corpus Christi’s Downtown Area Development Plan has enabled the city to rediscover and reinvest in its historic downtown, waterfront, and adjoining districts at a time of important change. Three key factors set the stage for new opportunity: relocation of a major bridge and highway; growing regional interest in living downtown; and a new culture of collaboration and initiative among a variety of stakeholder organizations. Stakeholders and city leaders hoped these could breathe new life into a downtown that never recovered from a 1980’s economic downturn and was split from surrounding districts by highways. The city formally adopted the plan in 2018, but many initiatives advanced and produced results even before adoption, thanks to emphasis on market- and stakeholder-driven actions. 

 

City of Fort Worth
Como/Sunset Heights  Neighborhood Empowerment Zone Strategic Plan
Link
 

The Como/Sunset Heights Neighborhood Empowerment Zone (NEZ) Strategic Plan proposes a comprehensive, holistic approach to revitalize the historically African American Como neighborhood. The plan's goals and strategies address the physical deterioration that has occurred in the neighborhood over several decades, while also supporting neighborhood capacity-building to ensure that the community can directly contribute to Como's revival. Neighborhood revitalization best practices are presented to convey successful approaches and to inspire community capacity-building with specific, actionable strategies to address community goals.

 

Honorable Mention
City of San Antonio
SA Corridors
Link
 

By 2040, Bexar County is projected to add over 1.1 million people and over 500,000 new jobs. Where new housing and jobs are located over the next 25 years will have a major impact on San Antonio’s quality of life. In order for San Antonio to realize the vision expressed through the SA Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan for growth and economic development around a system of rapid transit corridors, the proper policies and programs must be in place. Through the SA Corridors Framework Plan city-wide strategies were recommended with the goal of creating vibrant, transit-supportive communities with multimodal transportation options, sustainable economic growth, and more housing and transportation choices for the people living in and visiting San Antonio.

Current Planning Awards

 

 City of Arlington
 Transportation Advisory   Committee Report
 Link
 

In 2016, Arlington’s Mayor and City Council appointed a Transportation Advisory Committee of residents and stakeholders to develop a recommended framework for transportation in the City. Two of the recommendations in the Committee’s report focused on rideshare and autonomous vehicle solutions, which the City has been quick to implement. Through a public-private partnership with Via Transportation, Inc., the City of Arlington is addressing mobility needs through a unique on-demand rideshare service. The December 2017 launch made Arlington one of the first cities in the nation to develop a public transportation option solely using a rideshare service. In August 2017, the City began operating two low speed autonomous vehicles manufactured by EasyMile, named Milo, on off-street trails in the Entertainment District. This made Arlington the first municipal government in the U.S. to offer autonomous shuttle rides to the public on a continuous basis. 

 
City of San Antonio
Breathe Today. SA Tomorrow Public Awareness Campaign
Link
 

Clean air is essential for life, and assuring that impacts the future of San Antonio. It's among the city's greatest challenges as it grapples with unrelenting growth and the stress it places on natural resources. The “Breathe Today. SA Tomorrow” public awareness campaign builds awareness about air quality by educating the greater community about the need for clean air and how to help San Antonio to continue to be the largest “Clean Air City” in the nation. The long-term goal is for residents of San Antonio to become as literate on air quality as they are about water conservation in order to guard the public and economic health of the city. Through social and print media, public meetings, and industry round-tables, the campaign emphasizes being proactive now rather than waiting for federal regulation and provides simple ways to modify behavior.

 

Honorable Mention 
City of Plano
Zoning Case Response Map
Link
 

In February 2017, the City of Plano received over 1,000 letters and emails in response to a zoning case in the northwest quadrant of the city. Public feedback of that magnitude can be complicated and laborious for staff to process accurately and quickly for review by the public, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the City Council. During the same period, Planning staff noted an increase in public engagement through web-based interfaces, and sought ways to improve and extend access to residents seeking to learn about and participate in public meetings, community decision-making, and the development of city policies. With these challenges in mind, staff developed a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based web application to create a forum for public response to zoning cases.

Student Project Awards

 
University of Texas at Austin
Empowerment by Design: Brownsville West Rail Trail Corridor
Link
 

Empowerment by Design: Brownsville West Rail Trail Corridor was an advanced studio and planning practicum collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and Texas Southmost College, studied the potential transformations of an eight-mile abandoned railroad corridor in the City of Brownsville, Texas as a vision for a new city place. The core purpose of this course was to address social justice in the design of the 21st century American city by working directly with community stakeholders to address an a politically contentious site of future redevelopment. The studio studied potential transformations of this vector as a catalyst for social and economic change, and the significant impact that access to hike and bike infrastructure has in addressing mobility, health, and economic development as an extension into the downtown and the wider city context.

 

Texas Target Communities at Texas A&M
South East Texas Hike and Bike Plan
Link
 

The South East Texas Regional Planning Commission is a voluntary association of local governments that serves an area composed of Hardin, Jefferson, and Orange Counties that wanted a roadmap for augmenting the current automobile-oriented transportation system with new and improved bicycle facilities as an alternative option. In Spring 2017, the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission and Texas Target Communities at Texas A&M University partnered to develop a Hike and Bike Plan for the Southeast Texas region. Graduate students of transportation planning class worked with a planning task force and looked into the existing conditions in the three counties. From a robust public outreach process that included a series of public meetings and community advisory groups, the plan identifies the most suitable bicycle-friendly routes in the region.

Journalism Award

 

D Magazine
Dallas and the New Urbanism
Link
 

Planners all across North Texas are talking about D Magazine’s 13th Issue. Titled Dallas and The New Urbanism, the special edition explores all the opportunities that Dallas has at its fingertips to develop into a municipality that is designed for residents. After decades of being battered by transportation decisions that benefit commuters, pedestrians are finally finding open ears, both at City Hall and in the boardrooms of developers.
The Issue includes 9 compelling chapters that follow Peter Simek’s basic rules of how great cities work, which include: designing to human scale, mixing uses and functions, making streets walkable, engaging the spaces in between, encouraging adaptive reuse, zoning for smart density, capitalizing on suburban town centers, planning for multimodal transportation, and drafting smarter codes. The Issue measures Dallas and the region with these rules, identifying where value has been added from good planning – and where the region lags. This Issue has made a significant impact on the profession by sharing planning success stories and their impacts to non-planners.

Planning Official Awards

 
Planning Official Award
Dr. Ronald Reaves
P&Z Commissioner; City of New Braunfels
 

Ron Reaves, City Councilmember for District 3, and Mayor Pro Tem at the time, was appointed Chairman of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee serving the entirety of its duration from 2016 to 2018. As Steering Committee Chairman, Councilmember Reaves rallied a strong group of community and organization leaders around a community-wide visioning effort to plan for the future of New Braunfels. Through his leadership, Councilmember Reaves helped guide the process to ensure it afforded broad input from the community through traditional and innovative outreach methods. Councilmember Reaves assigned Steering Committee members as topical expert liaisons to Plan Element Advisory Groups, and served as liaison to the Facilities, Services and Capital Improvements Plan Element Advisory Group, providing his industry expertise to the citizen conversations around this topic. Councilmember Reaves assisted in coordinating the large project from consultant management to staff collaboration. He ensured robust dialogue and broad citizen participation to create a lasting, impactful Comprehensive Plan to service residents and decision makers of New Braunfels for the next 15-plus years.

 

Elected Official Award
Mercy Murguia
County Commissioner; Potter County 
 

Commissioner Murguia is known in Amarillo – and her lifelong home in Precinct 2 - as a passionate advocate, a conscientious representative, and a steadfast voice of the community. 

As a County Commissioner, Ms. Murguia quickly began utilizing her creativity in identifying ways to better her community.  In 2016, she led the effort to create a partnership between Potter County and the City of Amarillo, focused on disparate neighborhoods.  The initial request was not approved, but she did not stop there.  She continued to advocate, and secured the support of a Council member.  As the discussions progressed, the City Council agreed to contribute $75,000 towards the planning process, matched by an equal contribution from Potter County. 

Murguia’s leadership in unifying the County Commissioners Court and the Amarillo City Council around the goal to improve neighborhoods is entering its third year, and has already enhanced the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Community Improvement Capital Program. Prioritization of goals completed during the year-long planning process has brought together this historic neighborhood, which is in the process of creating a formalized organization.  From beginning to end, Murguia has been a vocal and enthusiastic supporter for neighborhood planning and community engagement.

Community of the Year

 

City of El Paso

El Paso is currently undergoing a dramatic transformation of its Downtown, including the renovation of its historic town square, construction of a new streetcar, and major investments in bicycle infrastructure to achieve the goal to become the least car-dependent city in the southwest.

 

 

Legacy Project Winners

Texas Southern University

 

Texas Chapter Award

Texas Public Health Association

 

Chapter President's Award

Kimberly Miller, AICP