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C H A P T E R 2 The Visioning Process Introduction Planning processes for large-scale projects have grown more involved as community issues increasingly require regional Visioning processes are planning and policy exercises that approaches and as the number of governmental entities, engage community stakeholders in building long-term, con- private actors, and community groups involved in decision sensus frameworks for future decision making. The purpose making has grown. As a result, visioning has emerged as a of visioning is to create a shared base of understanding and strategic approach to planning that seeks to develop consen- generate policy direction for the future of a community. sus among a broad range of stakeholders on a wide range These processes commonly extend beyond conventional of issues. transportation planning horizons and are intended to address The role and application of visioning may be viewed from the confluence of social, economic, educational, environ- several perspectives, especially with regard to the relationship mental, development, and transportation issues. The visioning with existing, concurrent, or future transportation planning process addresses four central questions: processes. Some practitioners view visioning as simply an interesting or innovative means to help facilitate public involve- Where are we now? ment in the development of a particular project or plan. An Where are we going? example is using visualization software or interactive games Where do we want to be? in long-range transportation plan development efforts. How do we get there? Other interpretations are broader, viewing prior visions as important foundations helping to establish the scope and These questions effectively capture the basic principle of direction of future transportation planning processes. An visioning, which is to complete a shared learning process example is a regional visioning effort whose final outcomes to determine collectively a community's future. Visioning direct the initial scope and emphasis areas of a long-range processes are designed to enable participants to reach a series transportation plan. of consensus decisions on a community's current conditions Visioning has been successfully applied in both contexts; and future trends, to agree upon a desired future or futures, however, this project attempts to broaden the definition of and to develop a clear strategy for how to reach that desired visioning beyond imaginative scenario planning and creative future. The following are distinguishing characteristics of this public involvement techniques to also capture the critical approach: preparation and implementation processes that help transform a vision from an alternative into a reality. Proactive, innovative, and interactive public outreach tech- niques and stakeholder engagement; Focus on community context, livability, and values; The Evolution of Visioning Emphasis on technical development of alternative scenarios, The idea of anticipating a desired future and building infra- both collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches; and structure and orienting policies to support that vision also has Expansion of ownership of the process and responsibility a long history in the United States. Long-term, strategic plan- for implementation from elected officials, agencies, orga- ning has been practiced as long as community and transporta- nizations, and residents. tion planning has existed as a discipline. Scenario planning 10

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11 has well-established roots in business and military strategic which set out an ambitious plan for downtown redevelopment processes, whereas intensive public involvement emerged more with the horizon year of 2000. Other pioneering community recently in context-sensitive solutions (CSS) practices. visioning efforts appeared in the early 1990s, such as the The large-scale transformation of communities in the United Oregon Visions Project, which set a long-term vision for States, beginning in the nineteenth century, was closely tied to the community of Bend. Today's popular form of interactive abstract visions for what each city could be and what physical scenario-based visioning was made so by organizations such form it could take. This was motivated by an aesthetic philoso- as Envision Utah and the involvement of urban design con- phy emphasizing grand public works projects and a sense sultants specializing in technical scenario planning. Recently, of unity to the built environment, which reached its height state-sponsored efforts to use visioning as a catalyst for during the City Beautiful movement. The realization of these regional cooperation and developing integrated approaches vision-based plans would involve dramatic changes to the built to transportation and land use, have emerged in Florida and environment well beyond the scale of the way many cities had California. Visioning processes are now occurring in urban traditionally developed. communities as wide ranging as Baltimore, Portland, and Notable early examples of vision-driven planning efforts Chicago, and in rural communities such as Taylor County, include the 1909 Daniel Burnham Plan for Chicago (Grossman Florida, and Routt County, Colorado. Comprehensive regional et al. 2004), the Regional Planning Association of America's visions have emerged in the diverse areas of Central Texas, conceptual plans for the Appalachian Trail (Seltzer 2000), and Southern California, and Upstate New York to address issues the municipal plans developed throughout the United States of regional cooperation, environment, land use, and eco- by John Nolen (Hancock 1994). These efforts were conceived nomic development, among other considerations. Although with the objective of urban reform and thus had the public the application of visioning to transportation processes is benefit in mind, but they did not incorporate public input in relatively recent, it is emerging as a best practice for commu- their conceptual development (Schlereth 1994). nities and agencies. Grand city planning fell out of practice by the middle twen- tieth century, primarily in response to the sudden increase in Visioning and Transportation demand for housing and rapid development of infrastructure to accommodate a growing suburban population. Planning Visioning in transportation planning and decision making has began to emphasize analytical methods and technical expertise, become increasingly common since the adoption of ISTEA. although these were still practiced without public input. In Federal recommendations to practice visioning as a means the later decades of the twentieth century, public involvement of proactive and inclusionary public involvement have been began to reclaim a place in planning discussions, largely owing embraced and enhanced by a variety of organizations and to impacts on communities resulting from large-scale infra- research centers, state departments of transportation, metro- structure projects such as the Interstate Highway System. politan planning organizations, and regional planning councils. The renewal of public involvement in the planning process The result has been the increasing application of visioning to a originated with a focus on advocacy for traditionally under- variety of projects, plans, issues, and communities; however, represented communities, and eventually evolved into a general the broader role of visioning in transportation remains under- articulation of the need for cooperation and consensus build- developed. ing among planners, stakeholders, local officials, and the Vision processes tend to produce high-level, policy-oriented general public. outcomes that prove challenging to integrate with focused, In the twenty-first century, regional visioning emerged to project-specific transportation planning and development address issues such as air pollution, climate change, congestion, efforts. For example, the range of outcomes produced through development patterns, and economic competitiveness that visioning processes may include broad language on a com- necessitate collaborative, regional approaches. Regional visions munity's values and goals; specific objectives and principles to often emerge in areas in which governmental structures are guide decision making; or detailed maps depicting anticipated fragmented, localized, or too inflexible to respond to prob- land use patterns, critical resource areas, or future transpor- lems of the future. Community visions, too, are increasingly tation corridors. eclipsing traditional planning horizons in favor of long-term, These outcomes can be linked throughout the stages of broad views of the future. transportation planning and project development processes, The evolution of planning philosophies and practices has including long-range transportation plans, corridor planning, led to visioning, which combines best practices from strategic project programming, environmental review, or permitting scenario planning with public involvement techniques. These processes. For example, vision statements may help shape the modern efforts began to emerge in the 1980s in the form goals of a long-range transportation plan; maps of desired of community organizations such as Chattanooga Vision, future conservation areas may provide input into the range