Montgomery Planning Staff Will Present Seven Sessions at National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Virtual Conference

September 3, 2020

September sessions will examine equity in planning, Vision Zero efforts, light rail connectivity, planning in a post-COVID world and schools and urban growth  

Wheaton, MD – Seven session proposals from the Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), have been selected by the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association (NCAC-APA) for presentation at their virtual annual conference. The event, which be held online due to COVID-19, runs from September 21 through 25, 2020.

“I consider it a real honor that our peers in the region want to learn from the cutting-edge work that we do, and I’m so proud of the staff for their relentless commitment to planning great communities for Montgomery County,” said Planning Director Gwen Wright.

Montgomery Planning staff will lead and participate in seven sessions as follows:

Schools and Urban Growth in the Capital Region – Division Chief of Countywide Planning and Policy Jason Sartori will join a panel discussion answering questions such as how can planners balance the need to house growing populations, while ensuring adequate capacity in local schools and what makes school boundaries and integration important to the field of planning more broadly. Other panelists will include consultants from WXY Studio and Dan Reed, a local blogger. This session is especially timely as the update to the Subdivision Staging Policy is currently in progress.

Planning on Purpose – Deputy Director Tanya Stern and Special Assistant to the Planning Director Molline Jackson will participate in a two-part discussion about the evolution of planning in marginalized communities. Part 1 of the session will discuss the impact that Black people and people of color have on the planning profession, community engagement and advocacy. The second part of the discussion will be on inclusive community engagement. They and other panelists will discuss movements (e.g. Black Lives Matter) that use grassroots leadership to mobilize the masses and the influence of power and privilege on community engagement and advocacy. Other panelists include Senior Planner Brittney Drakeford from the Prince George’s County Planning Department and Veronica O. Davis, a partner and principal planning Manager at Nspiregreen LLC. Learn more about Montgomery Planning’s commitment to equity in planning.

Wheaton Crossroads Case Study: A Closer Look at the Arts & Entertainment District – In this 90-minute, pre-recorded interview, Special Assistant to the Planning Director Molline Jackson interviews a diverse group of women stakeholders about the legacy of the multi-cultural central business district in Wheaton, MD, the impact of receiving an influx of new development and the strategic vision for the Arts & Entertainment District moving into the future. Montgomery Parks and Planning will call downtown Wheaton the new home of their departments starting September 3. Learn more about the new Wheaton Headquarters building.

Vision Zero at the Planning Department – Planner Coordinator Jesse Cohn will lead a discussion on the important role Planning Departments play in Vision Zero efforts to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries. This session will cover how Montgomery Planning supports Montgomery County’s Vision Zero efforts through master planning, development and capital projects review, data analysis and community engagement.

Planning in a Post-COVID World – The COVID-19 pandemic response has drastically changed the way that we live, work, play, and travel, and some of the short-term impacts of the pandemic may extend into the years to come. Planner Coordinators Jesse Cohn and Eli Glazier will join their DC government planning colleagues Nick Kushner and Dulce Naime to share their take on the changes that could occur as the result of the pandemic and offer strategies they’ve used for adapting their planning practice for the future. Read more in their post on The Third Place blog.

But Can You Walk There From Here?: An Analysis of Pedestrian Connectivity to the Purple Line – Planner Coordinator Eli Glazier and Senior Planning Associates Juan Castro and Lauren Pepe will share how pedestrian comfort can be quantified using characteristics of the built environment, how GIS network analysis can be used to identify disparities in comfortable pedestrian access to destinations (in this case, to transit stations) and how changes to increase comfortable pedestrian connectivity can be prioritized based on their connectivity benefits to best guide future capital projects. Montgomery Planning is currently conducting a countywide Pedestrian Master Plan – learn more.

Evolving Healthy and Equitable Public Spaces: As the region reopens amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and protests for racial justice continue, we need to rapidly recalibrate our approach to the use, management and design of outdoor public spaces. Ongoing planning, engagement and design work throughout the region are revealing new ways in which public spaces can adapt to meet evolving needs. In this session, Atul Sharma, Master Planner/Supervisor for Mid-County Planning, joins private and public practitioners to share perspectives on local lessons learned as we progress through the pandemic and how to improve the DC region’s public spaces for health, public safety and inclusion. Other panelists include Max Pastore, senior associate and urban designer and urban planner at RHI, a landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm; Sukirti Ghosh, LEED green associate and senior associate/urban designer at RHI and Dana Wedeles, AICP, special assistant to the City of Alexandria, VA’s city manager.

NCAC-APA represents public and private sector planners, planning academics and students, elected officials, and citizen planners in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Maryland. The chapter and its members, through their knowledge and experience in planning, help to shape communities and environments that are responsive to the needs and problems of society. For more information about the sessions at NCAC-APA’s 2020 conference, consult the organization’s website.