Thursday, October 4, 2018

Two URP students won prizes for their poster submissions at the recent American Planning Association Upper Midwest Conference held in Rochester, MN.

Bogdan Kapatsila, a Fulbright student from Ukraine, submitted his poster titled, "Cedar Rapids: Impact of 2008 Flood on Housing Prices." He provided an analysis of the flood effects, focusing on the socioeconomic background of residents on impacted areas and its influence on the housing prices. The main sources of data for this research were the 2000 US Census, American Community Survey (ACS) 2005-2009, and ACS 2008-2013 with ACS 2012-2016 which he juxtaposed as timeframes before and after 2008 floods.

Using this approach, Bogdan observed a significantly larger share of minorities, elderly citizens, lower-income households and renters in affected neighborhoods as compared to the city average. In his conclusions, he suggests that local officials be aware of the existing issues and plausible challenges, and apply inclusionary zoning logic to the redevelopment strategy, allowing not more than 10-20% of neighborhood units to be developed with below-market rent prices. At the same time, the City of Cedar Rapids must ensure that upgraded areas will represent the interests and tastes of both original dwellers and newcomers through the participatory practices of planning and project implementation.  

First-year student Harrison Freund created a poster reflecting his research with URP Assistant Professor Dr. Scott Spak which analyzes the impacts (economic and environmental) and real world policies concerning green roofing using UrbanSim's simulation engine. His poster, "Green Roof Policy Simulation in San Francisco," reflected part of this project. The simulation and analysis they have conducted reveal the costs and benefits of a developer installing a green roof under policy pressures such as mandates and incentives.

For the research, Harrison gathered economic data about green roofs and policy information (Chicago, Toronto, and San Francisco) from trade and governmental resources and integrated it into a model to determine the optimal size of green roofing (in terms of percentage or roof area) to install. The project has currently answered questions regarding private benefits and costs associated with installing a green roof. The findings show that mandates increase the total amount of green roofing, although there is some associated economic inefficiency. Incentives as currently enacted are too small to make a noticeable difference.

Future work aims to answer the questions of public benefits, such as reductions to the Urban Heat Island Effect, storm-water management, and habitat connectivity. It is hoped that insights from this research will allow policy makers to pursue actions that maximize ecosystem services and minimize economic burden.

Congratulations to both Bogdan and Harrison on having their research recognized by the American Planning Association.