Posts Tagged ‘ mkpeck associates ’

Journey to Excellence: Transit in Tampa

Tampa’s Transit to Change Dramatically

Within the next five years, there will be monumental changes in Tampa, Florida. High speed rail and transit improvements will change the way the city looks and operates. In January, President Obama announced federal funding for high speed rail (HSR) for the Tampa-Orlando corridor. The project is shovel ready, with completion expected by 2015.

What does the arrival of high speed rail mean? Imagine this: You will be able to travel from Disneyworld to downtown Tampa in just 38 minutes…then take a bus rapid transit line out to Clearwater Beach and dip your toes in the warm water in just another 30 minutes. The tourism and economic impacts will be tremendous.

The transit connections that are under construction and in the planning stages will make the Tampa region more livable, attracting new residents and businesses. The first bus rapid transit system is under construction with more to follow. Light rail is in the planning stage. Major improvements will be completed when high speed rail arrives.

Sounds good, you think, but where is the money? In November of 2010, voters will be asked to approve a one cent sales tax increase. Seventy-five percent of the money generated will go toward transit projects, with the remaining 25% dedicated to road improvements. Supporters are optimistic that the increase will pass.

Get ready. The train will be leaving the station.

For more information, click on these links:

March 21st, 2010  in City Planning, Transit 2 Comments »

Journey to Excellence: Excellence in Land Use Planning

A Report on the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Conference

Last week, 450 planners, attorneys and real estate developers gathered in Denver for the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute (RMLUI) conference.  The conference upheld its reputation for presenting thought provoking speakers and cutting edge information. 

A few of my favorites from the conference:

Opening keynote speaker Joel Kotkin discussed the future of American cities.  Kotkin is a Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University.  Kotkin’s presentation was based on his recently published book, The Next 100 Million—America in 2050.  According to Kotkin:

  • The United States has healthier demographics than most of our competitors.  The US birth rate is growing while the world growth rate is slowing.  Our population growth will inherently lead to economic growth over the long term.
  • It will be interesting to watch the growth rate in China, which slowed drastically due to the one child per household policy.  That policy led to an overwhelming preference for male offspring.   China is approaching a time when there will be 23 million more men of marriageable age than women.  What are all those guys going to do?
  • The most recent Pew survey showed that suburbanites are most satisfied with where they live.  Their reasons?  Safety, security, quiet, privacy, resale value, curb appeal and shared values of home ownership.
  • Here’s an interesting tidbit that might surprise parents with kids ages 13-24 years old.  When asked about their sources of happiness, 76% of those 13-24 year olds said their relationship with their family was their main source of happiness.  Remember that on the days when your teenager is driving you crazy!


“You can’t have your renewable desert until you eat your transmission lines vegetables” was a memorable line delivered by Alex Daue in the keynote session, Renewables Scale Up:  Large Solar & Wind Installations and Transmission Corridors.  The panel at this session provided the latest information on renewable energy, presented recent case law and legislation and offered tips on how to manage renewable energy at the local level.  Panelists included John Anderson from Clean Energy Solutions, Alex Daue with the Wilderness Society, Erica Heller of Clarion Associates and yours truly, Mary Kay Peck of MKPeck Associates.  Here’s a tip from John Anderson -wear your boots if you are touring a solar installation – rattlesnakes love the shade provided by solar panels!

Do environmental regulations drive up the cost of housing?  Dr. Arthur “Chris” Nelson’s  fascinating presentation was based on research of two counties in suburban Washington, DC; one in Virginia and one in Maryland conducted for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Here’s the bottom line:  the cost of environmental regulations have remained substantially constant over the last thirty years, despite the increase in regulations.  You can read the entire study, results and recommendations in Environmental Regulations and Housing Costs, a book that Nelson co-authored with his fellow researchers.

Turn the traditional zoning ordinance inside out and upside down to achieve real sustainability, according to Lane Kendig, Strategic Advisor, Kendig Keast Collaborative.   Make cluster developments, planned unit developments and increased density easily approved, permitted uses.  Quit subjecting sustainable development to more scrutiny and extra processing; make it easier to do than the typical single family home.  In fact, Kendig suggests that it is the traditional single family home subdivision that should be subject to more review and should be a conditional use.    Kendig’s comments made me wonder just how many communities are committed strongly enough to sustainability to adopt his philosophy and turn their zoning ordinance upside down.

The little town that could become energy independent—the dream of Fowler, CO.  Located in southeastern Colorado and home to 1,200, Fowler has obvious wind and solar development potential.  A ranching and farming center, it is within easy reach of feedlots…and manure.  What many would see as a negative, Fowler sees as a positive and the fuel for an anaerobic digestive facility that would produce enough energy to power the entire community.  Wayne Snider, Town Administrator, clearly conveyed Fowler’s vision to be “Community Powered.”

Why should your community develop an energy conservation strategy?  There are two major reasons, according to Chris Duerksen,  Managing Director of Clarion Associates.  First, follow the money.  For the first time in decades, there are federal dollars available for energy and planning strategies.  Second, get out ahead of state and federal regulations.  The USEPA will be regulating greenhouse gas emissions and there is pending federal clean energy and climate change legislation.  More than half the states have either passed legislation or issued executive orders regarding energy conservation.  To learn more about the planner’s role in energy planning, attend the session at the national American Planning Association conference that Duerksen, Sue Schwartz and I will be presenting on Tuesday, April 13 at 9:00 a.m.

So far I have attended 17 out of 19 Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute conferences.  The conferences never fail to exceed my expectations.  Will I be in Denver next spring for the 20th annual conference?  You can count on it!  I’ll be there to learn and to celebrate twenty years of success.

March 16th, 2010  in City Planning No Comments »

Journey to Excellence: Excellence for Managers

Journey to Excellence: Excellence for Managers

As managers, we’ve learned that as part of our job, we should take advantage of those impromptu coaching moments that arise during the course of our day to day activities. When those spontaneous opportunities to help our staff grow professionally pop up, we use that time to reinforce good work or push our staff in the right direction.

Let’s expand that coaching maxim and add that we should watch for learning opportunities. Watch for those learning moments that arise when we least expect them.

Here’s an example of how I have turned my workouts at the gym into a learning experience. My first thirty minutes I spend lifting weights. For the next thirty minutes, I ride the stationery bike. To make my time on the bike go by faster, I take out my cell phone and play a video game.

Now you may be among those who think that cell phone video games are a waste of time or just something to do—very discretely–during a boring meeting. But whether the game designers have done it on purpose or not, I’ve had a lot of management lessons reinforced while playing my game.

Here is what I have learned:

Look at the big picture—the whole screen—before you make your first move. Take time to plan your strategy and then make the moves that are in line with that strategy. At the same time, watch for the low hanging fruit and claim it, but check back regularly to make sure you are following that big picture goal. Be flexible enough to modify your strategy when you need to.

Rewards are much more effective than reprimands. My game doesn’t have an “undo” feature. If I make a poor choice, I just don’t get as many points. If I make a move that isn’t allowed, all I hear is a little blip. On the flip side, my game gives me so many positive strokes when I do something right, it is addictive. Every time I score a point, I get a reward because I hear the sound of points scoring. When I score particularly well, a deep voice encourages me by saying GOOD! A few more points and I hear EXCELLLENT!! And when I make a really good move, INCREDIBLE!!! Those words of praise teach me how to play the game even better.

It takes a team to reach the goal. When I arrange the symbols in a certain order, they turn into stars. When correctly aligned, the stars are worth more points. But there are only a few stars on the screen at one time, so I have to work with the ordinary symbols to score points. As managers, we can’t rely just on our stars to help us reach our goals—we have to make use of all the players. That’s why team building is so important.

Don’t give hints too quickly and when you do give hints, make them subtle. My game tells me when there are no more moves. Sometimes, though, I search the screen and just can’t see the obvious move. At a timed interval, one of the symbols will twinkle at me, which is the hint I need to make my next move. But it is much more gratifying if I beat the clock and find that right move on my own.

Having fun makes work go faster. The thirty minutes I spend on the stationery bike fly by because I am distracted by the fun of playing my game at the same time. Having fun at work has the same impact, especially during these challenging economic times. Celebrating achievements and birthdays, establishing fun annual traditions or having an after hour’s get-togethers brings about that sense of camaraderie and enjoyment that strengthens work groups.

Measurement is important and leads to continuous improvement. How do I know when I am getting better at my game? The answer is simple—it keeps track of my score for me. I’m always trying to beat my best score. I have gotten as far level nine and am working to see just how many levels there are. If your organization participates in a performance management program, you know the value of measurement, meeting service targets and making process improvements.

Every level of the game gets more challenging. It requires more points to move from one level to the next, and that number grows exponentially. As the levels get higher, strategy becomes more important. The same is true in our organizations. As managers, we can’t just “show up” and be effective at our jobs. As we have moved up the organizational ladder, strategic thinking becomes more and more critical to our jobs

Luck helps. And as in real life, the more I practice and the harder I work, the luckier I get.

A closing thought: I can multi-task, riding away on the stationery bike, even pushing myself to go faster and faster. But my game improves the most when I focus on it alone. The management lesson is to spend some quiet time thinking about your game—your job—and how to improve your performance.

February 26th, 2010  in Management, Uncategorized 3 Comments »