Planning with Neighborhoods

Planning with Neighborhoods

Planning with Neighborhoods

Planning with Neighborhoods


Neighborhood planning programs involve citizens in developing plans and self-help projects for their neighborhoods through local organizations. They also assist residents in reviewing projects developed by city agencies. Based on a survey of fifty-one neighborhood planning programs and in-depth case studies of Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston, St. Paul, Wilmington, N. C., and Raleigh, Planning with Neighborhoods offers the first comprehensive description and evaluation of the effectiveness of these programs.
Moving beyond theory, this study reviews the actual accomplishments and limitations of neighborhood planning programs and offers specific recommendations for designing a successful program. Included are a thorough history of neighborhood planning programs and an examination of the social, political, and planning theories that support their existence. Eight propositions on the benefits of a neighborood-based approach to planning are derived from this theory and evaluated on the basis of actual experience with this type of program. Speaking to both academics interested in neighborhood issues and planning practitioners, Planning with Neighborhoods concludes with recommendations for establishing effective neighborhood planning programs and improving existing programs.


Upon reviewing the literature on neighborhood planning in preparation for teaching a course in this area, we discovered that very little had been written on the effectiveness of contemporary neighborhood planning programs. the available works consisted of either "how-to" guides or simple descriptions of programs with little or no evaluation. Their authors typically justified neighborhood planning programs on philosophical or theoretical grounds, not on measurements of performance. Our desire was to go beyond the existing literature to provide students, practitioners, and scholars interested in neighborhood planning with concrete examples of accomplishments and with prescriptions for developing successful programs. Hence, we began conducting case studies of operating programs seeking to uncover both their strengths and weaknesses. We also decided to survey all neighborhood planning programs in the country to obtain a sense of the diversity of program styles and more data on the accomplishments and problems associated with these programs.

The data reported herein were collected over a two-year period between 1979 and 1981. Since that time, some of the programs have been revised in response to internal evaluations or simply shifts in political currents. This does not diminish the relevance of these findings, however, since we are interested in evaluating a general class of programs and developing general recommendations, rather than evaluating specific programs.

In addition to any usefulness this study may have as a description and evaluation of the state of neighborhood planning in the United States, we hope it will aid in the development of neighborhood planning programs in cities where they do not exist and contribute to the improvement of currently operating programs.

Ultimately, we seek to improve the effectiveness of American city planning in achieving an improved quality of life for urban residents. the development and improvement of neigh-

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