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Southern Nevada Strong Wins National Planning Award!

Southern Nevada Strong — a three-year regional planning effort to build a foundation for long-term economic success and community livelihood by integrating transportation, housing and job opportunities — was awarded the American Planning Association’s 2016 Planning Excellence Award for Public Outreach. The effort was led by the City of Henderson and included 13 regional partners.


MIG designed the overall outreach strategy and provided community engagement services using a wide range of innovative outreach tools to attract input from residents in an area with a 24-hour economy. Activities included pop-up workshops, on-site events, open houses and web-based workshops. MIG also assisted with the design and implementation of online surveys and telephone town halls. Other outreach tools included the use of Quick Tap Survey App, iPad surveys, outreach kiosks, electronic polling and an interactive commenting tool, Dynamic Documents. Henderson staff, MIG and local team members worked together to engage more than 6,000 residents in the process. Materials and activities were designed to accommodate participation in both English and Spanish. MIG fully documented the outreach process, provided editorial and design support for the final plan and created an "at-a- glance" Plan brochure for the community.

The project was funded by a $3.5 million Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. All 13 regional partners adopted the plan. The initiative broke down long-entrenched municipal barriers and created a regional vision. The plan has already attracted nearly $1.5 million in grant funding for implementation.

Congratulations to the MIG Team, led by Joan Chaplick with Maria Mayer and Ellie Fiore, for a terrific and comprehensive outreach program! For more information, watch the project video.

Salinas Bilingual Outreach Program Wins Award!

About 75% of City of Salinas residents are Hispanic or Latino. When MIG — working as a subconsultant to Veronica Tam and Associates, Inc. — was hired to design and implement a public outreach program for the City of Salinas 2014-16 Housing & Community Initiatives, we created an innovative and fully bilingual and bicultural program geared to involving citizens who may typically not participate in planning processes. This program will receive the American Planning Association’s Northern California Section Merit Award for Public Outreach at the Awards Gala on June 10th at the San Francisco Marriott Marqui.

Salinas Flip Chart

The Salinas Housing & Community Initiatives public outreach program supported several housing and community development plans, including an update of the City’s Housing Element, the Consolidated Plan, Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing, Alisal Homeownership Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area and the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. To publicize the program, an extensive outreach effort was conducted in Spanish and English. Six workshops were held — two were in entirely in Spanish while the other four were in English with simultaneous Spanish translation. In all instances, all materials were entirely bilingual. Other public outreach methods included:


  • An interactive information booth provided project information and input opportunities at the Ciclovia Open Streets Festival.
  • During a budgeting activity at the workshops, each resident indicated their budget priorities by allocating $200 in “HUD Bucks” into five broad spending categories.
  • Bilingual on-line and “hard copy” surveys reached 360 residents.
  • Individual and small group interviews were held with approximately 30 stakeholders who represented a wide variety of interests and organizations in the city.

Affordable rental housing, housing for the homeless and senior housing were among the top priorities that emerged from the community engagement process.

Salinas Flip Chart

In our diverse state and nation, it is more critical than ever to engage all community members in planning for our future. Congratulations to MIG’s project staff — Principal Laura Stetson, Project Manager Noé Noyola, and outreach team members Paola Bassignana and Sydney Cespedes — for creating and implementing a program that worked for all Salinas’ residents.

Innovative Planning Garners Award!

MIG has been recognized for an award from the Los Angeles Section of the American Planning Association (APA).

The Baldwin Park Health and Sustainability Element has been selected to receive the Award of Excellence for a Comprehensive Plan, Small Jurisdiction at the 2016 APA LA Awards.

The Health and Sustainability Element recognizes and promotes the benefits of land use and transportation planning on community health and establishes policy direction for broader-based programs that will raise public awareness and lead to meaningful change in Baldwin Park. The Element structure emphasizes the interrelationships needed to accomplish City objectives.

Innovative Planning image 

In addition to defining the beneficial public policy reasons for addressing community and environmental health, the Element establishes clear goals and policies and includes a detailed Action Matrix that defines the timing for implementing over 50 health-related actions. The intent is for the City Council and department heads to use the matrix during the annual City budgeting progress.

Innovative planning image

To engage Baldwin Park residents in development of the Health and Sustainability Element, MIG trained a group of volunteers—with the training toolkits prepared in English and Spanish—to reach deep into the community to understand concerns and identify actions that residents could support. In addition, MIG worked with an advisory committee and facilitated two bilingual community workshops to test ideas.

Congratulations to the project team, including:

Laura Stetson, PIC and Project Manager; Esmeralda Garcia, Community Engagement Lead; Genevieve Sharrow, Christina Paul, and Jamillah Jordan, Lead Authors; CJ Davis, Document design and illustrative drawings; Ray Bullard, Website Design and the CAMS group for the graphics!

The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 16, 2016 at the The Colburn School in Downtown LA. As the top Los Angeles Section winner, the project is eligible for submission to the California Chapter APA Awards Program.  Good luck, team!

Creating the Inclusive City: The Great Charge of the 21st Century Downtown

This past October MIG Principal Christopher Beynon, AICP, challenged communities to embrace inclusivity as the fundamental basis for creating truly great cities in his Master Talk at the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Annual Conference. Presenting to more than 800 conference attendees at the opening keynote session, Chris challenged participants to create prosperous, educated, diverse, healthy and connected cities – communities that benefit everyone and provide cultural meaning for all. His Master Talk built upon and extended the extensive research and work done by many people at MIG – including those who contributed to the firm’s seminal book The Inclusive City – to foster thriving urban environments that support human development.

An accomplished speaker and keynoter, Chris uses his knowledge of cutting edge trends, quantitative analysis, dynamic imagery and energetic storytelling to help communities discover their own distinct paths toward future success. Chris has led planning, urban design and economic development projects that have resulted in real change for cities throughout North America, including Denver, Boston, Anchorage, Winnipeg, Charlotte, Spokane, Dallas and Calgary.

Check out the Master Talk here:

Note: The Washington, D.C.-based International Downtown Association is a champion for vital, healthy and livable urban centers and strives to inform, influence and inspire downtown leaders and advocates.

Pat McLaughlin Honored by Transportation Research Board

MIG Principal Pat McLaughlin was honored at the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 95th Annual Meeting by being named Emeritus Member of TRB’s Public Transportation Group. Emeritus Membership recognizes outstanding individuals who have made significant leadership contributions to TRB committees over a sustained period of time. Pat was recognized for her lifetime contributions at the Public Transportation Group’s annual luncheon in January 2016.

The Public Transportation Group consists of 14 committees that propose research, share research findings, sponsor special activities and provide a forum for transportation professionals to discuss today's and tomorrow's public transportation-related issues. Pat has participated in this group for over 30 years, serving as past chair, organizing conferences, serving on many TRB committees, and participating in developing policies and publications that have moved public transportation into its current era.

“When you look at Pat’s service and tenure with the Public Transportation Group, it is simply amazing,” said David Wilcox, Public Transportation Group Chair. “She has dedicated decades to the Group serving in many different capacities from researcher to a nine-year term as Group Chair. Today’s Public Transportation Group reflects the hard work, dedication and vision of Pat.”

"I'm so appreciative of receiving this appointment,” said Pat. “Over the years TRB has been a second home for me. It's a great place to work with diverse colleagues and TRB staff to nurture new ideas and support innovative yet practical research." 

At MIG, Pat is a firm Principal and Director of Transportation Planning. She has over 37 years experience in organizational development, community outreach, process improvement and strategic planning and policy planning, with special emphasis on transportation and public sector organizations. Prior to joining MIG, Pat worked in the public sector as Area Director and Deputy Executive Officer for Multimodal Planning at the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) promotes innovation and progress in transportation through research. Their annual conference is the largest world gathering of transportation professionals. More than 12,000 people from more than 70 countries – including policymakers, administrators, practitioners and researchers from government, industry and academia – participated in 2016. 

MIG joins the TRB is congratulating and thanking Pat for her lifetime contributions in the field of public transportation!

Photo: Public Transportation Group Leadership (L to R): David Wilcox, Chair; Pat McLaughlin, Past Chair; Karla Karash, Past Chair; and Steven Silkunas, Past Chair

Advanced Placemaking Class at NCAC-APA

Phil Myrick, director of MIG, Inc.’s New York office, will be presenting at the 2015 National Capital Area Chapter of the American Planning Association's (NCAC-APA) conference on Saturday, June 20th at Catholic University. Mr. Myrick, a nationally-renowned leader in urban design and the study of place, will deliver a session entitled, “Placemaking: Advanced Techniques for Programming and Design.”

Participants will be introduced to a new set of sophisticated programming and design techniques that can be applied to many project types, including mixed use and master planned developments, public spaces, streetscapes, workplace design, and historical and cultural projects.

MIG’s Placemaking practice draws on environmental psychology, social science, urban design and landscape architecture to create rich and active environments that perform for all users. Experience, design, planning and programming all play a role in the exceptional environments MIG creates. Setting performance goals and digging deep to understand community preferences is fundamental to all our work. That insight, combined with an innovative and agile approach to project development, is critical to creating success with multigenerational and diverse populations.

Happening places are a mix of the natural, the created and the energy that comes from being used. Ultimately, success is measured by the ability to encourage healthy social activity, which is basic to all other outcomes.

The National Capital Area Chapter (NCAC) of the American Planning Association 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, MD. This year’s annual One-Day Conference will be held on Saturday, June 20, 2015, at Catholic University’s School of Architecture and Planning. In addition to on-site presentations, there will also be a mobile workshop. http://ncac-apa.org/events/chapter-conference/

Contact Phil Myrick for more information about how MIG can help you create vibrant, healthy places.

UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design Honors Daniel Iacofano

“We are privileged to honor our colleague Daniel Iacofano for his groundbreaking work in engaging communities in the planning and design of vital and equitable environments in which to live, work, and play,” said Louise Mozingo, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning. The College of Environmental Design event was on March 7, 2015.

Daniel is a founding principal of MIG, Inc., creating results-oriented projects and innovative research and development initiatives that enhance community livability, support revitalization, and connect people with places. His projects address a range of issues including regional growth and economic development, public transit and traffic, housing, sustainability and environmental impacts.



“His advocacy for effective citizen collaborations has transformed the design and planning professions and public policy. He is an outstanding example of the CED legacy of social responsibility,” Mozingo said.

From the Napa and Silicon Valleys to Downtown Los Angeles, Daniel has worked with communities, business leaders, cities and agencies to create implementable land use plans. In Los Angeles, he worked with the Downtown Business Association to further develop and connect the Staples Center complex to Downtown. In Phoenix, he helped the City recreate its Downtown as an innovative center of cultural activity. Other projects include campus development plans for UC San Francisco’s new Mission Bay Campus and the University of California at Davis; the Napa River Flood Protection Project, which has stimulated economic growth in the City of Napa; an unprecedented health and wellness element for the City of Richmond’s General Plan; and community-based planning for the future of eastern Alachua County in Florida.



Daniel is the author of Public Involvement as an Organizational Development Process (1990), Meeting of the Minds (2001), The Inclusive City: Design Solutions for Buildings, Neighborhoods and Urban Spaces (2007), and What is Your Construction Management EQ (2014).

Daniel’s work has also been honored by the National League of Cities, the International Downtown Association, the American Planning Association and the American Society of Landscape Architects.


New MCE Clean Energy Campaign

MCE Clean Energy customers in Marin, the City of Richmond and unincorporated Napa County are seeing a new digital media campaign to build awareness of the services MCE offers in addition to electricity: energy efficiency plans, rebates and green home loans.

The ads—developed by MIG’s creative agency—began running in January on select websites that customers go to for energy smart information about their homes, appliances and energy usage. We use a complex formula of content, demographics and behavior analysis to determine which websites receive the ads.

The ads are generating twice the standard expected “click through rate” (the percentage of people who click on an ad to learn more), raising awareness of the benefits of being an MCEClean Energy customer.

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How You Can Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Frog

What do red-legged frogs, dusky-footed wood rats, tiger salamanders and pallid bats have in common? No, they’re not in a vat of witch’s brew. They’re all protected species that can complicate land use planning. With the acquisition of TRA Environmental Sciences (TRA), MIG can help clients avoid impacts on those species. TRA expands our expertise in environmental impact analysis, including planning and permitting related to state or federally listed species.

In 2014, the State of California declared the California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) the official state amphibian. It was a welcome announcement to those working to conserve and restore the natural ecosystems that support this threatened species, even though it does not afford more legal protection.

California red-legged frogs—named for the reddish color on their legs and belly—need both aquatic and upland environments. They hide out in burrows or cracks in the soil to keep cool and moist. Unfortunately, their habitat is also human habitat. Land development has significantly reduced their population and their range. It’s also facing other threats such as climate change, pesticide runoff and encroaching non-native species. As a result, development projects that affect this frog can require a lengthy, complicated permit process.

That’s where MIG comes in. With TRA on board, we have the expertise to address biological issues early in the design process, effectively engage the wildlife agencies, streamline the entitlement process, avert late-stage project headaches—and keep those frogs hopping.

But that’s not all TRA does.

TRA is a full-service environmental consulting firm, established in 1972, specializing in environmental impact analysis pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). TRA has in-house expertise in impact assessment and permitting, with specialties in air-quality, greenhouse gas, noise, biology, and conservation planning. TRA also provides construction and mitigation monitoring services.

That’s one step forward for MIG, one giant leap for the red-legged frog!

Visit the website for lots more information about MIG | TRA.

Hard-Hitting Campaign Aims to Change Driver Behavior

San Francisco’s problem of pedestrian safety had reached epidemic proportions. In 2013, 21 pedestrians were killed and over 800 hit by cars. It’s the fourth highest rate in the country (for large urban areas).

Drivers know this—focus groups showed a very high level of awareness. But still, the collisions continue.



The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) asked MIG to help develop a behavior change campaign aimed at drivers. Previous campaigns had sometimes blamed pedestrians for being distracted or weren’t targeted at the right audience with a clear message.

MIG implemented a multifaceted campaign that assumes driver and pedestrian awareness, and concentrates on education. Most of the collisions occur when pedestrians are in crosswalks where they are supposed to have right of way. The headline “It Stops Here” is a play on cars physically stopping at intersections and the need for everyone to take a stand to stop pedestrian deaths.



The ads appeared on bus sides and billboards in the highest pedestrian injury corridors. They were bolstered by a social media campaign with “Fact Blasts” and “Driver’s Ed” content and coordinated with SF Police on the streets enforcing the safety message, as well as street teams of “picketers” who walked in busy crosswalks with hard-hitting injury statistics to grab the attention of drivers waiting at red lights.

One influential blogger called the campaign: “The most thoughtful approach to addressing the causes of pedestrian injuries of any city campaign thus far.”

This was the first in a series of pedestrian safety campaign efforts. SFMTA is encouraged by its initial success and poised for future installments.

Recent Awards Highlight Innovation, Sustainability

The City of Lynwood, California, won both an American Planning Association (Los Angeles) and a Southern California Association of Governments Sustainability Award for its Residential Design Guidelines developed by MIG. Both groups noted the innovative efforts to promote a safer and greener residential community. The guidelines offer comprehensive but compact design criteria for residents, developers and contractors remodeling or building new single family and multi-family structures.

No More Sittin’ on the Docks of the Bay— Water Trails Are Now More Accessible

You want to launch an outrigger canoe off the beach with six paddlers, some of whom are in wheelchairs? Yes, you can.

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail encompasses most of the 1,000 miles of Bay shoreline. Of course, it’s not a real trail—it’s water so you can go anywhere you want to. It’s the getting in and out that’s the issue for people with disabilities. Now anyone in the Bay Area can find out which beaches are good for launching and are accessible for people with disabilities.

Beach matting allows people in wheelchairs to get to small boats launched off the beach.

The Water Trail Program is a voluntary network of launching and landing sites (called “trailheads”) whose owners and managers joined to inspire people in human-powered boats and beachable sail craft to enjoy the Bay. Members include federal, state and local agencies as well as private property owners. The Program is funded by the California Coastal Conservancy and the Association of Bay Area Governments.

MIG was brought in to develop an accessibility plan to help open up the water trail to people with disabilities by both improving accessibility and standardizing site information.

A group of vision-impaired kayakers get instruction from Environmental Travel Companions before launching.

The plan includes analysis for ten different types of non-motorized crafts, from dragon boats to stand up paddling, and five different types of launch facilities: beaches, entry paths, boat ramps, and low- and high-freeboard docks. It provides information about how to make sites more accessible and what types of launches are appropriate for that site.

Not every site can be accessible to every person, depending on the type of disability and the body strength of the person. But now they will have the information they need to make choices about what type of boat to launch where.

You’ll find the full plan on the Coastal Conservancy site.

Back to NRPA by Popular Demand!

MIG-Portland’s own Ryan Mottau and Cindy Mendoza will be making encore presentations when the National Recreation and Park Association Congress convenes in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 14-16. After the MIG presentations at the 2013 Congress, NRPA Program Committee members noted that the sessions developed by these MIG staffers were among the most interactive sessions ever presented at the Congress and were highly rated by attendees. Don’t miss their upcoming presentations about reinvigorating the older park system and establishing destination parks and facilities! For complete information about these sessions, click here.

The NRPA Congress is the premier annual event of the park and recreation community. The three-day conference brings together more than 7,000 park and recreation professionals, citizen advocates and industry suppliers for networking opportunities. For more information about this event, click here.

re:Streets Wins IDA Merit Award!

MIG was recognized by the International Downtown Association (IDA) with a Downtown Merit Award for re:Streets at their 60th Anniversary Conference and Tradeshow in Ottawa, Canada on September 4th. A three-year collaborative research effort funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, re:Streets has resulted in a fundamental rethinking of America’s streets. Re:Streets explores the future of streets and what America's roadways would be like if they were designed for living, instead of just driving.

Honored for its contributions to enhancing the urban design, physical function and economic viability of downtown public spaces, re:Streets is “the definition of replicable and very sustainable,” noted the IDA jury.

The Washington, D.C.-based International Downtown Association is a champion for vital and livable urban centers and strives to inform, influence and inspire downtown leaders and advocates. With 500 members and thousands of friends, IDA is a guiding force in creating healthy and dynamic centers that anchor the well-being of towns, cities and regions.

For more information about re:Streets, check out the IDA award project summary or view a selection of implemented projects in the documents below. Or visit the re:Streets website at www.restreets.org.

Congratulations to IDA Board Member and MIG Principal, Chris Beynon, and MIG Principals Daniel Iacofano, Susan Goltsman, and Mukul Malhotra!

Lynwood Residential Design Guidelines Win Again!

The City of Lynwood, California and MIG were recognized by the Los Angles Section of the American Planning Association at the Awards Gala on June 12th with an Award of Merit for their contributions to innovative and exceptional planning for neighborhoods.

The award was presented for the development of the Lynwood Residential Design Guidelines – a project that also received the 2014 Southern California Association of Governments Sustainability Award just last month! The guidelines describe how to create quality-based design in new construction and remodeling projects, achieve Safety by Design, and incorporate Green Building techniques.

Congratulations to MIG Project Manager CJ Davis! CJ, a community planner and designer in MIG’s Riverside office, is noted for incorporating smart growth principles and sustainability concepts in his projects throughout California.

Here Comes the Sun, With Permits

The Mojave’s burrowing owls and kit foxes are co-existing with solar fields, thanks in part to MIG|Hogle-Ireland. It’s the happy result of a series of projects that began in 2008.

Back then, Prologis—one of the world’s largest industrial landowners—was approached by Southern California Edison to put solar installations on their vast expanses of warehouse roofs. SCE would lease the roofs and install solar to feed the grid. Prologis thought this was a great idea. The only problem was getting the permits from San Bernardino County because it had never been done before. Prologis knew MIG|Hogle-Ireland could help because of all the previous permit processing we had done for them.

The County was concerned about the structural integrity of adding weight on the roof and the aesthetics of wiring and conduit running down existing walls. Working with SCE, Prologis and the County, MIG|Hogle-Ireland helped negotiate solutions and get the permits. All told, about 100 megawatts of sun power are generated on 50 roofs across the state, with permits from multiple municipalities. Then Kaiser-Permanente, having heard about this success, came calling for help with permits for solar on roofs and canopies installed above parking lots on 10 large sites.

Their contractor was Swinerton Builders, which also wanted to install large solar fields in the Mojave on agricultural land that was no longer fertile. They would sell the power to SCE and to PG&E. The permitting process for Kaiser had gone so smoothly, they too realized MIG|Hogle-Ireland would be a perfect partner.

We act as a neutral third party, negotiating the environmental planning (accommodating the burrowing season for owls), aesthetics and mitigations such as helping the city or county preserve other habitat. We’ve now helped with about 15 sites and more are planned.

California is shifting to renewable energy sources and MIG|Hogle-Ireland is smoothing the way.

City of Centennial And MIG Win Denver Regional COG Award!

The City of Centennial, Colorado, and MIG were honored recipients of the Local Government Award at the Denver Regional Council of Government’s 2014 Awards Celebration on April 23rd. The City of Centennial’s I-25 Corridor Sub-area Plan, developed by MIG, was recognized for its efforts to move the region’s Metro Vision forward through excellence, innovation, collaboration and leadership, and for its role in enhancing community livability.

The I-25 Corridor Sub-area Plan provides a vision for future growth and redevelopment along a 580-acre portion of land, bisected by Interstate 25. The plan was developed with substantial involvement of property owners, businesses and residents. The MIG Team worked closely with the City to determine long-term marketplace trends and demographic shifts. MIG’s 3-D computer simulations help community members evaluate and visualize corridor changes.

The final plan:

  • Increases connectivity by providing trails and complete streets
  • Provides attractive entry corridors
  • Leverages the light rail station by adding more intense land uses in the vicinity and increasing connections to the station
  • Attracts businesses, employees and visitors
  • Preserves existing mountain views
  • Buffers adjacent neighborhoods from commercial development

The I-25 Corridor Plan exemplifies how the region is achieving its ambitious vision for tomorrow through local action and commitment today. The MIG Team included Principal Jeff Winston and Project Manager Millissa Berry from MIG’s Boulder office. Jeff has over 20 years experience preparing successful urban design plans throughout the US -- from concept through construction. Millssa has worked on a wide range of planning projects -– from large comprehensive plans to affordable housing and detailed landscape regulations -– emphasizing community involvement and engagement.

Lynwood Residential Design Guidelines Wins 2014 SCAG Award!

The City of Lynwood, California and MIG were recognized for their efforts to promote safer and greener residential communities by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). The City was presented with a 2014 Sustainability Award in the Green Region category on May 1st at the President’s Award Banquet. The Awards Banquet is part of the organization’s annual Regional Conference and General Assembly held this year in Indian Wells.



The Lynwood Residential Design Guidelines is a comprehensive but compact fifty-page document that provides residents, developers and contractors with extensive guidance to achieve quality-based design in their new construction and remodeling/rehabilitation projects. The Guidelines provide basic guiding principles as well as specific design criteria for single family and multi-family structures. The project’s role in promoting Safety by Design principles and Green Building techniques was especially noted by SCAG.

CJ Davis, a community planner and designer in MIG’s Riverside Office, served as Project Manager for the Design Guidelines project. Since joining the firm in 2002, CJ has worked with communities across California to incorporate smart growth principles and sustainability concepts in projects ranging from policy documents to conceptual designs.

One-Third of Your City is Missing — re:Streets Can Help You Find It

What does a city gain from a car driving through on a nice wide street? Nothing. How about if the occupants of that car were instead walking or bicycling, stopping to shop or get a bite to eat? It’s a rhetorical question. But it’s time to change the questions we’re asking about city streets.

In a recent presentation to the Urban Affairs Association Conference in San Antonio, MIG’s Mukul Malhotra showed how many of our streets were designed to accommodate….

…things much larger than humans. Streets, on average, occupy about one-third of a city. That’s a lot of space. And it could be better used in ways that bring revenue to cities, boost the local economy and strengthen community connections.

That’s where re:Streets comes in. It’s a radical rethinking of America’s streets to make them more multi-functional, responsive to user needs and human behavior, and adaptable to different needs at different times.

Take San Antonio, for example. The city wanted to expand its conference center, but it bumps up against the freeway so they couldn’t. But wait. Look at all that wasted space between the loops.

By rerouting the on and off ramps, the City opened up a huge area for development. Yes, they took down a freeway. And now there’s plenty of space for the $325,000,000 convention center expansion.

That was a major project. But creating spaces needn’t be expensive. In San Francisco, one unfriendly and unsafe intersection became a safer intersection and a neighborhood gathering spot with just $18,000 worth of paint, bollards and chairs.

This is before.

And these are after.

What about increasing commerce? How about liner retail? For example, this bland side of a building in Denver.

Can be livened up with retail that activates the street and generates income.

That’s what re:Streets is about. And the website reStreets.org offers more than 800 best practices and case studies, covering nine different functions of a street. Yes, of course mobility, wayfinding, commerce. But what about as places for social gathering, play and recreation, identity, events and programs, green infrastructure and even urban agriculture?

re:Streets provides answers to the questions you might not have thought of yet. Check it out at reStreets.org.

Playing by the Rules…or Not!

How did you play outside as a child? Climbing trees, building forts, digging for buried treasure, skimming stones, catching frogs, splashing in a creek, jumping bikes off a ramp, going sledding? Our favorite outdoor activities tend to have several things in common. They often were unsupervised or in “wild” places, they typically were creative or adaptive and they often were unstructured or unprogrammed.

But there’s little open space near urban areas these days and—citing safety concerns, habitat and resource conservation and protection from liability—many parks have established a litany of “don’ts” that restrict the way people play. Don’t dig, don’t collect leaves, don’t use airborne projectiles, don’t climb trees, don’t go in the water, don’t catch bugs, and absolutely don’t excavate or erect anything!

In the Winter edition of the Oregon Recreation and Parks Association (ORPA) magazine, MIG’s Cindy Mendoza explores how rules and regulations have a negative impact on play.

And also, how a group of park and recreation professionals has formed the Oregon Natural Play Initiative to support and promote natural play. Now some park agencies are offering ideas to counter the restrictions and encourage outdoor play. Among some of these positive approaches are designating portions of play areas where traditional rules are suspended, allowing for more risk-taking, exploration and interaction with the natural environment.

A few approaches that Oregon agencies are using to encourage outdoor recreation:

  • Pay attention to signage (do’s, not just don’ts)
  • Create designated natural play areas where traditional rules are suspended
  • Use pilot programs and partnerships to test or initiate new play opportunities
  • Teach children and adults outdoor skills.
  • Allow children and community groups to re-develop portions of parks

Read the full article about how Oregon agencies continue to raise the bar in encouraging outdoor recreation.

To learn more about the Natural Play Initiative and its tools and resources, go to http://oregonplay.wordpress.com/

Turkey Creek Stands Strong, With Eyes on the Future

Turkey Creek, a historic neighborhood in Gulfport, Mississippi, was established by freed slaves after the Civil War. They were given the worst quality land—marshland that was subject to flooding year after year. Now, they’re surrounded by development, their land is valuable and there’s a great deal of pressure to push out the original inhabitants to make way for expensive development. “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek,” a stunning documentary by Leah Mahan, ” follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moved home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors were bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. During the next decade, Derrick and his neighbors stood up to powerful corporate interests and politicians to maintain their community. They faced ordeals “of biblical proportions,” including the devastating Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster. Still, they maintained their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice.

MIG is proud to have worked with the Turkey Creek community to develop the 2006 Turkey Creek and North Gulfport Neighborhoods Community Plan, in response to Hurricane Katrina. The plan delineated key strategies and action steps needed to preserve and enhance the cultural, historic, and natural resources of the community over the long-term, while immediately strengthening the neighborhood's livability and safety.

Watch for familiar MIG faces in "Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for TurkeyCreek", premiering on PBS World channel on April 29.

Watch the trailer here: http://vimeo.com/75982923

Is It Time for Cars to Take a Back Seat?

re:Streets is a multi-disciplinary collaboration led by MIG, focused on the planning, design and construction of streets as a method for improving the livability of our built environment. It pushes beyond the current standards to explore the future of streets and what America's roadways would be like if they were designed for living, not just driving.

Whether dirt, paved, brick, cobble, stone, concrete or asphalt, the street as a public right-of-way has helped people get around for hundreds of years. As our transportation evolved, however, cars and trucks increasingly took over the street and overwhelmed pedestrians and bicyclists.

re:Streets is a fundamental rethinking of America's streets, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, sponsored by the non-profit PLAE, Inc. and led by MIG. It answers the question: What would streets look like if they accommodated people of all ages and abilities, promoted healthy urban living, social interaction and business, and supported regenerating the environment? re:Streets provides clear design ideas for cities to revitalize American streets, so they serve a wide range of community needs: transportation, commerce, education, recreation and gathering.

A new, interactive web portal is focused on practical, implementable solutions—with best practices, design ideas and case examples. It's organized by the functions of a street: mobility, wayfinding, commerce, social gathering, events and programming, play and recreation, urban agriculture, green infrastructure and image and identity.

re:Streets has developed a comprehensive design manual for creating streets that promote the expanded functions of the street and turn new design ideas into a series of best practices that can be applied to any community.

www.restreets.org

Bay Area's Wine Country is Getting Serious About Clean Energy

The dramatic turbulence of California's energy market 12 years ago led to fears of rolling blackouts–and also started a lasting trend towards energy independence and greener energy.

Through the system of Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), cities and counties can aggregate the buying power of individual customers within a defined jurisdiction and create their own utility service. CCAs are run by the community. There are no shareholders to demand dividends and proceeds are reinvested in local green energy projects.

This spring, MIG joined forces with Sonoma County officials to launch Sonoma Clean Power, a brand new electric company that will serve up high quality green energy choices. For the past few months, MIG's full service creative agency has helped SCP develop its brand, website, educational communication pieces and an advertising campaign to introduce the company to the community.

Many other California communities are now also contemplating starting CCAs. From the early stages of corporate identity and logo design, to long-term marketing plans, MIG is ready to surf California's clean energy wave to help communities become greener and energy independent.

Turning Transit into Art: The Long Beach Transit Gallery

When your name is “Long Beach,” it makes sense to be everything beach. Why not incorporate the seaside into the fabric of the city; build on the sense of place the ocean and beaches provide?

MIG landscape architects dreamed of sandcastles and mermaids and brought the shoreline inland. They transformed an uninspired transit mall into the First Street Transit Gallery, featured in this month’s issue of Landscape Architect and Specifier News. Just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, the Gallery is now an art hub that celebrates community and multimodal transit—revitalizing the Long Beach downtown restaurant district. And it went from concept to design to construction in just one year to capture rare federal funding.

The Gallery gives transit users and downtown visitors a comfortable, safe environment, thematically connected with the natural seaside locale. It’s a critical link between many bus routes, the newly constructed pedestrian promenade, the busy Long Beach Convention Center, a new bike station, Long Beach City Hall, and the popular seaside terminus of the Metro Blue line light rail system.

The most visible theme innovation is the bus shelters, with large wave-like tensile fabric canopies suspended from transparent mesh-clad towers. Tile and glass mosaic art in the pavement at the eight shelters depict coastal plants and animals, some well over 20 feet long! Site furnishings are scattered beyond the covered shelters, offering informal seating under date palms and canopy trees. Even the tree-well covers reflect the sea theme.

MIG conducted extensive public outreach with downtown residents and businesses, as part of the adjacent Pine Avenue planning effort. They key result was aesthetic improvements off-site at adjoining parking garages and hotel service entrances, which might otherwise have been overlooked.

As the lead consultant, MIG landscape architects brought to life the client’s goal of a bold and iconic transit hub that provides vitality and vibrancy—with the unique and identifiably eclectic flavor of Long Beach. See the whole story in Landscape Architecture and Specifier News.
http://landscapearchitect.epubxp.com/i/150657/45

Sustainable Park Design - Straight From Compton

It was hardly foreseeable that a chain-linked blighted stretch of land within the Southern California Edison easements along Compton's Greenleaf corridor would one day turn into a much-appreciated community park. Composed of two sites covering 7.5 acres of land, the park was designed with three major themes in mind: health, education, sustainability.

About 28% of Compton‘s population lives below the poverty line, and a severe lack of free fun and/or affordable resources leaves Compton's children vulnerable to both obesity and the streets. In 2009, Mayor Omar Bradley decided to make some changes. Armed with Prop 84 money, his planning team toured the county to look at parks on which to model their Greenleaf Parkway. They were particularly impressed with Liberty Park in Cerritos and decided to hire whoever designed it. Shortly after, MIG's Fullerton office got an enthusiastic phone call from Compton’s City Hall asking them to create the park.

Located adjacent to Walton Middle School and Compton Community College, the sites now feature an interpretive signage program to educate the community about the benefits of native, drought-tolerant plants and the value of growing one's own fruits and vegetables. Other signs provide guidance on how to get fit, eat right and create a daily health routine. Colorful exercise stations and walking trails invite people to lose weight and stay in shape–free of charge. Our landscape design team’s work has ensured that the park will be a true community asset for years to come.

MIG's Planners Activate Dallas' Urban Core

"MIG does not hesitate to bring 'big ideas' or broach 'out of the box' concepts. With a detailed level of area market knowledge, their fresh ideas have already shifted mindsets across the board. Our Public Works and Transportation department now recognizes the benefit of 'complete streets' ideals; developers who for years have been sitting on underutilized land now see potential for activation." —John Crawford, President and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc.

Once abandoned as people, energy and resources fled to suburbia, downtowns are once again real and viable places to live and work. In fact, center cities and urban neighborhoods in nearly every region of the country are seeing rising populations, new development, and enhanced cultural and entertainment opportunities over the past decade. Dallas is no exception, with the central city population having grown from fewer than 5,000 people in 1980 to over 35,000 by 2010. Twenty percent of that growth occurred inside the core city, also referred to as the freeway "loop", an area only a few hundred people called home 15 years ago.

Downtown Dallas 360 (or simply "the 360 plan") was born out of the need to bolster and support area development and investment. It’s a long-term, strategic vision for how to ensure that Downtown Dallas is a vibrant urban center, and provides clear, targeted action items that can be implemented within a relatively short timeframe. Led by MIG, the 360 Plan was a critical partnership among the City of Dallas, Downtown Dallas, Inc. and dozens of area stakeholders, residents, developers and community leaders. It was characterized by "can-do" spirit in a true cooperative manner by public and private resources. Rather than becoming mired in individual short-term gains, everyone helped foster an even greater spirit of opportunity and obligation to ensure a collective success.

Rethinking America's Streets

Re:Streets is a multi-disciplinary collaboration focused on the planning, design and construction of streets as a method for improving our built environment. The project pushes beyond the current standards to explore the future of streets and what America’s roadways would be like if they were designed for living, instead of driving. For more information and to register for the charrette, please visit the project website:
www.restreets.org

MIG's groundbreaking West Village Master Plan for UC Davis is getting built!

MIG led a multi-disciplinary team to develop the West Village Master Plan for the University of California-Davis campus. This bold mixed-use project is the largest planned Zero Net Energy community in the country. Phase one opened in the Fall Semester of 2011 and serves as a model for new university housing and mixed-use development nationwide. Instead of following typical residential development patterns, MIG’s planning and design includes a range of housing types and densities; innovative mixing of uses at a neighborhood center; cutting-edge energy production and water conservation strategies; special attention to habitat; and open space and urban-agriculture edge boundaries. The West Village is an integrated and sustainable community that is environmentally, socially and economically beneficial. Read more...

Glendale Children's Center Awarded Sustainable Innovation Award - Materials + Resources

The Los Angeles Chapter of the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council launched its Sustainable Innovation Awards last night during the chapter's 7th Annual Green Gala-with over 500 guests in attendance. Projects were awarded across seven categories, recognizing exceptional achievement and innovation in each LEED category for countywide certified projects from the past two years. Read more...

Outdoor Water Conservation CPRS 2012

The California Parks & Recreation Society featured an article on MIG's research into cost-saving design measures to conserve water at a community park in Apple Valley, California. The article highlights low-cost and higher investment water saving solutions for park landscape irrigation.

Hoping to develop downtown’s empty spaces?

In 2005 the city of Dallas and Hunt Consolidated discussed razing Reunion Arena, which was still years away from being reduced to rubble, and engaging in a land swap that would have led to the creation of an “entertainment district” between the Dallas Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency. But despite months’ worth of hype and hoopla, thanks in large part to would-be developer Billy Bob Barnett, nothing ever came of it. Reunion was torn down in November 2009. What remains is a nice green patch of empty. learn more...

Ibach Park is a Winner!

Rain or shine, Ibach Park has a play area kids will be begging to go. Their award-winning playground is also an interactive educational experience that'll teach the little ones the natural history and culture of the area. learn more...

Integrating People and Nature Through Design

In an overlooked area of Tacoma, adjacent to tribal lands and a public housing project, Metro Parks Tacoma (MPT) and Pierce

County co-own a 383-acre property known as Swan Creek Park. The park is an irregular-shaped, sparsely developed greenspace that protects the riparian corridor. It’s also a place with a unique WWII history that is extremely important to nearby residents and groups, including school children, volunteers, recreation enthusiasts, the Puyallup Tribe, and immigrants from around the world who live in the adjacent Salishan Redevelopment Community.

Hal Brown Park at Creekside

Hal Brown Park is a favorite Marin County park. The recently renovated park provides recreation spaces for the community and habitat for sensitive native plant and animals species. Read more...

Implementation of the Charlotte Center City 2020 Vision Plan

One of the six Focus Areas of the 2020 Vision Plan, The Ballpark Neighborhood, scored a major win when the Charlotte City Council voted to contribute $8 million toward the construction of the Knights Baseball Stadium. The minor league stadium will break ground in October 2012 and the first pitch will be thrown out April 2014! learn more...

Division Street Corridor

City leaders are asking for help to redesign the entrances to Spokane. Leaders held a meeting Tuesday night at the WSU Phase 1 Classroom Building along Riverpoint Boulevard to receive feedback. City leaders said they are working to implement the community's vision for the Division Street corridor through Downtown and the University District. They are calling the project the "Division Street Gateway.” watch video

Regenerative Landscape

The Regenerative Landscape approach involves managing the landscape as a living ecosystem and focuses on restoring the ecological health of that ecosystem, beginning with the soil. Through careful choice of plants, habitat is increased and plant health is maximized. A regenerative landscape is a sustainable system that builds and maintains a high quality landscape without using synthetic inputs, such as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

Conventional landscaping methods, combined with construction activities, have had many adverse impacts on soils. These impacts result in soils that are devoid of microbial life, depriving plants of the nutrient cycling and disease prevention that takes place in a healthy landscape ecosystem. The absence of microbial activity also decreases soil structure, causing water runoff and leaching of nutrients. Conventional landscaping techniques require excessive consumption of fossil fuels and energy; pollute water, air and soils; and create overburdened landfills.

MIG implements strategies that nurture the soil, allowing the biology in the soil to function properly, which in turn sequesters carbon and reduces carbon emissions, minimizes landfill waste and water use, increases biodiversity and habitat, and maximizes the overall health of the landscape. MIG utilizes a creative approach that looks at each project individually, assessing site conditions and project goals, and subsequently crafts solutions that maximize health and ecology while minimizing maintenance and other costs.

Learning Landscapes: Recreational and Educational Farm Parks in Oregon

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Magazine, Spring 2010 issue, featured an article written by MIG's very own Cindy Mendoza and Jon Pheanis. The article addresses the positive influence farm parks have on the public and their need to be developed in compliance with state land-use requirements.

AZA Toledo Zoo

Nature's Neighborhood is a place for children and their families to explore the indoor and outdoor habitats of Ohio. The Toledo Zoo has just won top exhibit honors from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Read more...