Louisiana Speaks

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In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the newly formed public-sector Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) and non-profit Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) formed an interdisciplinary consultant team, led by Calthorpe Associates, to develop a long-range plan for the region.

The project, Louisiana Speaks, presents a regional vision and action plan for South Louisiana based on the input of tens of thousands of citizens and stakeholders. It proposes a vision for sustainable recovery that includes restoring coastal wetlands, constructing strategic levees, reinvesting in historic communities, and identifying opportunities for jobs-housing integration.. Beyond recovery, new growth is focused in and around existing communities, linked to investments in protection infrastructure, regional transportation, and economic zones. Recovery and growth is guided by a physical and policy plan that is supported through concrete implementation strategies.

The project represents a model for large-scale comprehensive planning, incorporating an array of urgent and long-standing issues ranging from storm protection and coastal restoration, land use patterns and transportation systems, and economic development and housing challenges. The planning process took place in tandem with the drafting of parish recovery plans and helped planners incorporate smart growth elements into their more immediate recovery programs. With Louisiana Speaks as a foundation, planners actively sought to ensure that projects create complete communities, enhance walkabilty, incorporate green space, and promote reinvestment in existing communities. Louisiana Speaks is, at its core, a blueprint for smart growth in South Louisiana.

The 18-month planning process transformed far-reaching public involvement, innovative technical analysis, and a unique integration of social, spatial, and economic recovery and growth planning into an action-oriented Regional Plan. The plan embraces the region’s history while providing concrete, prioritized steps toward a more prosperous and resilient future. Strategic actions are organized around three primary goals: Recover Sustainably, which tackles the immediate, short-term challenges of the disasters’ aftermath; Grow Smarter, which builds on the foundation of recovery to develop a safer, smarter, more resilient future, and Think Regionally, which addresses the institutional framework necessary to accomplish the short- and long-term actions.

Documents created from the Louisiana Speaks planning process include: