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A Typical Planning Process
Step 4. What Other Factors Should We Consider?
We need a clear understanding of the factors that exert pressure on historic and cultural resources. We need to know what is being lost, where they are being lost, why they are being lost, who is making the decisions that result in loss, and what would make a difference in their actions.1
These are important issues to consider during the information analyses in Steps 3 and 4. It is important to examine how current and forecasted social, economic, political, legal, and environmental trends might affect resources and preservation throughout the planning area.
The results of such studies provide information about the kinds of threats facing historic and cultural resources, the opportunities or limitations for preservation, and the nature of public and official sentiment toward preservation. Understanding these issues helps us define plan goals and objectives.
Factors outside of the preservation world that affect historic and cultural resources include:
- Social and demographic factors
- Population size, growth, decline, mobility in various parts of the planning area
- Age, gender structures
- Income levels
- Public concerns, values, opinions, perceptions and misperceptions, attitudes, beliefs, level of interest and commitment to preservation
- Economic trends
- Economic bases of the planning area, state of the economy
- Economic growth or decline in various parts of the planning area
- What sectors of the economy are affected and how/why (such as real estate, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, industry, mining, timbering, oil and gas extraction, etc.)
- Rates of employment/unemployment, job growth/decline
- Land development, growth, and decline; where, what kind
- Vacancy rates for housing, office, retail, etc.
- Condition of the government budget(s) affecting the planning area
- Other goals covering the planning area
- Affordable housing
- Economic development
- Environmental conservation
- Urban revitalization
- Growth management
- Climate change
- Emergency management
- Political trends
- Power structure in the planning area
- Elected officials' opinions about and commitment to preservation
- Preservation system in the planning area; government programs, non-profit organizations, affinity groups
- Public opinion about preservation
- Climate for land-use regulation
- Rural vs. urban mix among elected officials (and other contrasts)
- Activism of special-interest groups, such as property rights groups, environmentalists, etc.
- Legal trends
- Enabling legislation for land-use control, preservation, environmental conservation
- Existing laws and legal framework for preservation; strengths, weaknesses, conflicts, etc.
- Tax legislation
- Judicial atmosphere and legal opinions on land-use control, preservation, environmental conservation
- Other factors
- Environmental features (e.g, scenic features)
- Tourism, recreation activities
Studies that contain useful information on these factors include reports on population growth, development trends, housing starts, growth/decline in various population segments (children, the elderly, the disabled, immigration, etc.), patterns of tourism, etc.
Federal, state, and local government agencies, such as the Census Bureau, Departments of Housing, Transportation, Tourism, Health, etc., conduct these studies and publish reports of their findings. These reports can be useful in the planning process when they are evaluated against historic and cultural resources and preservation conditions and needs.
The following questions may be helpful in beginning this evaluation:
- What factors affect (either positively or negatively) historic and cultural resources and our ability to preserve them?
- Which of these are the most harmful, the most beneficial?
- Which are likely to help or hinder preservation efforts?
- How could these factors change in the future?
- What are the cumulative effects of these factors over time?
- What are the current and potential opportunities for resource preservation?
- What are the current and potential threats to the resources, and what are the causes of those threats?
- What goals and policies in other plans affect resources and how?
- What is the legal situation for resource preservation?
- What laws promote preservation, and what laws act against preservation?
Additional guidance on Assessing Other Factors can be found in Sources of Additional Information — just click on the menu link to the left.
Go to Step 5»
1 Eric Gilbertson, former Vermont State Historic Preservation Officer, quoted in "From Where I Sit: The Protection Issue" by Gretchen Klimoski, 1989, ms. on file, National Park Service, Washington, D.C.