At Lincoln House November 2017

New database makes sense of place

A new interactive database created by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and PolicyMap allows users to visualize a broad array of indicators – housing prices, incomes, open space, or zoning and land use regulations, to name a few – revealing surprising new insights on the makeup of states, cities, towns, and neighborhoods throughout the United States.

The Place Database, unveiled at Meeting of the Minds, the annual conference spotlighting urban sustainability and connected technology, taps data from a variety of sources, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Census Bureau, Internal Revenue Service, and National Conservation Easement Database, and assembles them for the first time all in one place.

“We’ve never had more access to data. The challenge is keeping track of all the indicators now available, and organizing them for meaningful analysis – to make sense of place,” said George W. “Mac” McCarthy, president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.  “This tool will help researchers, journalists, and policy-makers gain a clearer understanding of all the critical elements that make up communities.”

The Place Database allows for mapping at the national level, and users can zoom in for more detail, with data as granular as a parcel. It stores several years’ worth of data, allowing analysis of change over time. The highly visual interactivity invites the creation of graphically rich maps that show quantitative information in new ways.

The data sets are grouped by category, allowing for deep dives within a topic. For example, users can map housing by value, type, age, ownership status, affordability, or location affordability.

Environmental data include open space, conservation easements, protected areas,  brownfields, and indicators associated with climate change.

The Place Database invites analysis of average household incomes, government spending levels, and school district finances; various contours of the landscape, from vacant lots to structurally deficient bridges; and for the first time, zoning maps for 105 different cities.

The Place Database is free to use, and the visualizations can be easily shared with a unique link via email or on social media. The tool is one among many databases the Lincoln Institute offers, including the Atlas of Urban Expansion, Fiscally Standardized Cities, the State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance Visualization Tool, and Land and Property Values in the U.S., among others. They are found in the Research and Data section of the Lincoln Institute website.

A video tutorial for users of the database is available on the Lincoln Institute website.

Consortium for Scenario Planning kicks off

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has launched the Consortium for Scenario Planning, an initiative to bring together urban planners, software developers, researchers, and others from the public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors to build capacity for better land use and transportation planning.

Whether the goal is to improve a community’s fiscal health, reduce inequality, or address the impacts of climate change, scenario planning is an effective approach to thinking about the future. Tracing its origins to the military and corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell, scenario planning has been used in urban planning and other policy decision making for decades. Scenario planning, often with the help of rapidly-improving digital tools, helps governments and citizens consider different futures by comparing the outcomes of various policies, and by visualizing data such as demographic and economic indicators, and different land use and transportation patterns.

The consortium, launched November 8 at a kickoff event in Denver, will help both newcomers and those with scenario planning experience learn from each other, use and develop digital tools, and grow their professional networks – groundwork for more widespread adoption of scenario planning across the United States and internationally.

“Every community can use scenario planning to guide major policy decisions with data, analysis, and robust public participation,” said Lincoln Institute President George W. “Mac” McCarthy. “Scenario planning has matured greatly in the past few years, and this consortium will build on that progress by creating a hub for innovation and collaboration.”

The consortium expands on the Lincoln Institute’s extensive work in scenario planning including research, publications, tools, and networks. The work includes the Policy Focus Report Opening Access to Scenario Planning Tools, which recommends several actions to help expand the use of scenario planning tools, including establishing better data standards, providing for public education and technical training, creating a model scenario planning process, and improving interoperability between platforms. A new Working Paper proposes a framework to evaluate the performance of scenario planning practices. And senior fellow Armando Carbonell, chair of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute, brought the topic to a large audience at TEDxBeaconStreet last fall.

The consortium is a successor to the Scenario Planning Applications Network (SPAN) and the Open Planning Tools Group, which brought together mostly highly skilled participants. It will help make scenario planning accessible to those new to the practice while continuing to support experienced professionals.

Participants in the consortium will join different working groups, where they can network with people with comparable interests, and collaborate to advance common priorities.

For more information or to join the consortium, visit

Trust for Public Land chief named Kingsbury Browne Fellow

Will Rogers, who as head of The Trust for Public Land has helped protect millions of acres of land and build the capacity of the land conservation movement across the United States, has been named the new Kingsbury Browne Fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the winner of the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award from the Land Trust Alliance.

Rogers has served since 1998 as CEO of The Trust for Public Land, an organization he joined in 1991. He has been a key figure in the growth of land conservation in recent decades, overseeing the protection of 2.5 million acres of land and developing new tools and capacities for conservation professionals and organizations. These include the Conservation Finance Program, which has helped generate $68 billion through state and local ballot measures, a technology-enabled “greenprinting" process to help communities map and prioritize conservation, and the Conservation Almanac, a repository of information on conservation protections in all fifty states.

Prior to becoming CEO of the Trust for Public Land, Rogers served as director of the organization’s California, Hawaii, and Nevada operations. Previously, he managed urban real estate development in Chicago, and worked as a commercial beekeeper in Bogotá, Colombia.

The fellowship and award were announced Saturday at the Land Trust Alliance’s Rally 2017: The National Land Conservation Conference in Denver. They are named after the conservationist who inspired the founding of the Land Trust Alliance in 1982. As part of the fellowship Rogers will engage in research, writing and mentoring under the Lincoln Institute's Department of Planning and Urban Form.

The fellowship is just one piece of the Lincoln Institute’s active engagement in land conservation, which includes the publication of the Policy Focus Report Large Landscape Conservation: A Strategic Framework for Policy and Action and the book Conservation Catalysts, and the establishment of the Network for Landscape Conservation and the International Land Conservation Network, groups of leaders and innovators on the forefront of today's conservation strategies.

The Kingsbury Browne fellowship and award are in their twelfth year. Previous winners were David Hartwell, an environmental leader who has helped mobilize billions of dollars for conservation projects across Minnesota; Steve Small, a legal pioneer who paved the way to make conservation easements tax-deductible in the U.S.; Jean Hocker, a former president of the Land Trust Alliance and longtime board member at the Lincoln Institute; Larry Kueter, a Denver attorney specializing in agricultural and ranchland easements in the West; Peter Stein, managing director of Lyme Timber Co; Audrey C. Rust, president emeritus of the Peninsula Open Space Trust based in Palo Alto, Calif.; Jay Espy, executive director of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation; Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society; Laurie A. Wayburn, co-founder of the Pacific Forest Trust; Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; and Darby Bradley, president of the Vermont Land Trust.

Land Matters

Lincoln Institute in the news
Evaluating tax-increment financing in three Pennsylvania cities … Targeting tax abatements in Philadelphia …Cities continue to court Amazon … The water is rising in Red Hook, Brooklyn … Civic leaders push for revitalization in Albany, New York, one of 24 smaller legacy cities studied in our recent report … Our Center for Community Investment named the first class of Fulcrum Fellows … Jim Schwab reviews After Great Disasters … Lourdes Germán is one of the Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40.

On the ground
In Cleveland, we unveiled The Place Database at Meeting of the Minds (video) and Peter Pollock spoke about Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. at the Society for American City & Regional Planning History conference … Our land conservation team was a major presence at the Land Trust Alliance Rally 2017 in Denver … Andrew Reschovsky spoke about measuring fiscal heath at the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management Fall Research Conference in Chicago … In Buenos Aires, we convened two dozen journalists for a primer on land policy, dug into the intricacies of value capture with public officials, and held our annual Research Seminar on Land Policy and Urban Development … Our tax team spoke about fiscal health and tax incentives at the National Tax Association annual conference in Philadelphia … Lourdes Germán led a workshop on land value capture and affordable housing at the CDFA National Development Finance Summit in Atlanta, and spoke about sustainable municipal finance at the National Development Council Academy in Washington, D.C. … We joined MassINC in Lawrence, Mass. for a celebration of placemaking at the Gateway Cities Innovation Awards.

Land policy update
A call for land value capture in the United Kingdom … Land market reform as an antidote to the housing crisis … Five years after Hurricane Sandy, most long-term resiliency measures are still years away in the Greater New York City region … Citylab and Fast Company  look at the value of urban land … Inclusionary housing fees withstand a Supreme Court challenge … The working homeless of Silicon Valley.


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