Thursday, April 2 – ‘Parking and Downtown Vitality’

MIchael Manville
MIchael Manville

Parking Expert Michael Manville to Speak April 2nd at 7 PM at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth  

Parking has become a complicated and important issue in cities around the country, including Portsmouth, where a new downtown parking structure for 600 vehicles is proposed.

To understand how parking policy affects Portsmouth, PS21 is sponsoring a talk and discussion with one of the country’s leading authorities, Michael Manville, assistant professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University.

His presentation of approximately an hour, followed by Q&A, will be Thursday, April 2 in the new 3S Artspace building on Vaughan Street. Afterward, the conversation will continue informally in Block Six, the restaurant inside 3S Artspace.

RSVP for ‘Parking and Downtown Vitality’

Manville studies the relationship between transportation, land use and public finance, with a particular emphasis on urban parking policy.

The Coruway Film Institute will a series sponsor Seacoast Media Group is a media sponsor.

The event will the first in a series PS21 plans for this spring, looking at what other communities have learned about transportation solutions for now and for the future.

The goal is to bring people in the room together to learn, share and have a conversation with local, national, and regional experts, as well as friends, neighbors, local businesses and community leaders.

Manville is well-suited to begin the series. His research has been published in major planning and transportation journals, and cited in venues such as The Atlantic, The Economist, Slate and The Washington Post. He has provided advice or presented research on transportation policy to local, state, federal and UN officials.

He has a PhD from UCLA and teaches classes on transportation, public finance and microeconomics.

The event is free and all are welcome.


When: Thursday, April 2nd, 6:30 – 9 PM.
6:30 – 7 PM social, followed by presentation and discussion

Where: 3S Artspace, 319 Vaughan St. Portsmouth, NH

PS21 – Portsmouth SmartGrowth 21st Century – is a nonprofit group that aims to present ideas and encourage discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouth. Our goal is to support the creation of a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and walkable community, compatible with the principles of Smart Development, the historic nature of Portsmouth and the context of the 21st century.

Islington Street Corridor Plan Debuts After Citizen Input

After several days of discussions with residents and official, Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative unveiled conceptual plan for the future of the West End/Islington Street Corridor (Feb. 23).

The plan looks far into the future and envisions a different, more cohesive and developed area. TPUDC will go away to polish the plan and then develop zoning guidelines down to the level of individual buildings. The new “character-based” zoning plan needs to be approved by the City Council before it can go into effect.

PS21 Hosts Virtual Walking Tour of Islington Corridor

More than 50 residents braved snow drifts and narrowed streets Tuesday evening (Feb. 10) for PS21’s ‘virtual walking tour’ of the Islington Street-West End neighborhood.

aerial view
Islingon Street Corridor

The photo tour, narrated by Joe Calderola, included aerial and street views, photos of historic homes, plans for the Islington Street Corridor, upcoming development, illustrations of the area’s character, and opportunities for the future.

The discussion afterward continued for an hour with participation from Portsmouth Planning Director Rick Taintor and  City Councilors Esther Kennedy and Stefany Shaheen. Karen Marzloff of PS21 moderated.

The tour presentation provided an overview of the area, which will be the subject of  a 4-day public workshop on ‘character-based’ zoning Friday thru Monday, Feb. 20-23.

The workshop will be at the Frank Jones Center, 400 Route One Bypass, Portsmouth, except the final, Monday, which is at City Hall.

During the ‘charrette,’ or design workshop, the public will be able to drop in at any time from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday. Citizens can view maps and materials, talk with zoning consultants,  and leave comments.

In addition, a number of specific sessions are scheduled:

  • Friday, Feb. 20 – Introduction to the Process, 6 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 21 – Roundtable Discussions
    10:00 a.m. – Business, Landowners and Developers
    12:30 p.m. – Building Scale & Design
    2:00 p.m. – Public Realm & Civic Spaces
    (The public is invited to all roundtables, including “Business, Landowners and Developers.”)
  • Sunday, Feb. 22 – Interim Conclusions Plus Review, 5 p.m.
  • Monday, Feb. 23 – Closing Presentation, 6 p.m., City Hall.

For additional details about the design charrette, visit the City of Portsmouth web page about the character-based zoning.

Jeff Speck suggests ways to a more walkable Portsmouth

Jeff Speck Portsmouth NH
Walking Congress Street with Jeff Speck

Renowned urban planner Jeff Speck gave a provocative, idea-filled (and often funny) presentation and workshop in Portsmouth Jan. 22 and Jan. 23. Around 200 people came to the presentation 60 to the workshop. Speck talked about how cities work   and suggested ways  that Portsmouth can become more liveable and successful  through ‘walkability.’

Watch on YouTube:

Read about Jeff Speck’s ideas in The Sound.

Portsmouth Herald: ‘Councilors intrigued by planner’s vision for the city

Before a full house at Seacoast Repertory Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 22


Did you attend? Fill out our 3-question survey.

Primary funding for this event was provided by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the City of Portsmouth, with additional support from Esther’s Marina, Piscataqua Savings Bank,  and

Seacoast Local featured the event as a partner in their “Making the Connection” speaker series. Seacoast Media Group was media sponsor.  Many local businesses and individuals also contributed.

How Do We Keep Portsmouth Walkable?

Walkable City by Jeff SpeckMeet Jeff Speck, one of the
nation’s foremost urban planners and experts on walkable cities.

Find out why keeping Portsmouth walkable is so important — for economic success, livability and sustainability — and how we can make the Port City more walkable as it grows.


Presentation followed by Q&A
Seacoast Repertory Theatre
15 Bow Street, Portsmouth

After the presentation and Q&A, around 8:30 p.m., Speck will sign copies of his best-selling design book, Walkable City . Reserve a copy  when you RSVP.

  • 6 p.m. – Doors open at Seacoast Repertory Theatre, 15 Bow St., Portsmouth. The bar in the lobby will be open for purchasing drinks and snacks.
  • 7 p.m. – Jeff Speck presentation: ‘Towards a More Walkable Portsmouth’
  • 8 p.m. – Question and answer session
  • 8:30 – Book signing: Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

FRIDAY, JANUARY 23rd • 11 AM – 1 PM

Portsmouth City Hall
1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth

This in-depth workshop on walkability targets land-use board members, developers, design professionals, city staff & interested members of the public. 

Primary funding for this event is being provided by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the City of Portsmouth, with additional support from Esther’s Marina, Piscataqua Savings Bank,  and

Seacoast Local will feature the event as a partner in their “Making the Connection” speaker series. Seacoast Media Group is media sponsor. Individual contributors include Judy and Jerry Zelin, and Karin and Stephen Barndollar.

  • 10 a.m. – Coffee and get-acquainted hour
  • 11 a.m. – Workshop: ‘How – A Walkability Workshop’
  • 1 p.m. – Close

Both events are free and open to the public. Please RSVP.


Jeff SpeckJeff Speck has dedicated his career to determining what makes cities thrive.

He served as director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 through 2007 where he oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and created the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, a federal program that helps states fight suburban sprawl. He previously spent 10 years as director of town planning at Duany Plater-Zyberk and Co., a leading practitioner of the New Urbanism, where he led or managed more than 40 projects, and he co-wrote the influential and best-selling books Suburban Nation and The Smart Growth Manual.

Speck recently relocated his design company, Speck & Associates, from Washington, D.C., to the Boston area.


Click for PDF

Portsmouth SmartGrowth 21st Century1PS21 (PORTSMOUTH SMART GROWTH FOR THE 21ST CENTURY) is a nonprofit group that aims to present ideas and encourage discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouth. Our goal is to support the creation of a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and
walkable community, compatible with the principles of Smart Development, the historic nature of Portsmouth and the context of the 21st century.

North End Walk Draws 50; Charrette Begins

North End Walk
Around 50 people turned out in chill weather for a citizen-led walking tour of the North End hosted by PS21  (Portsmouth Smart 21st Century) on Saturday. Above, PS21’s Karen Marzloff addresses the crowd.

Participants discussed current and potential development in the neighborhood, and the character of the North End in anticipation of the City of Portsmouth’s Nov. 10-13 charrette on ‘character-based’ zoning.

The charrette begins with a public presentation and hands-on workshop at 6 p.m. Monday in the former Portsmouth Herald building on Maplewood Avenue.  Above, Karen Marzloff of PS21 addresses participants. For more information on the charrette, see

North End charrette schedule announced

A four-day visioning and design charrette (workshop) on  ‘character-based’ zoning for the North End will begin with a public presentation and hands-on workshop at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10 in the former Portsmouth Herald building on Maplewood Avenue.

The charrette will include organized discussions, but the public  can drop in to view maps, comment and contribute ideas during an open studio from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day at 111 Maplewood Ave.

The opening session, beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, will include a presentation and hands-on exercise for participants.

The second day, Tuesday, Nov. 11, will feature three roundtable discussions: business, landowners and developers (10 a.m.); building scale and design issues (1 p.m.); and public streets, infrastructure and civic spaces.

The third day, Wednesday, Nov. 12, will include a public pin-up and review session (6 p.m.) where the consultants present ideas and alternatives and receive feedback.

The final day of the charrette, Thursday. Nov. 13, will include a work-in-progress presentation (6 p.m.) at City Hall. This session will describe the preliminary vision for the area, explain the elements of the plan, and present other findings and work products developed during the charrette. The public also will have another opportunity to provide feedback.

Following the charrette, Town Planning will prepare a draft of amendments to Portsmouth’s Character-Based Zoning Ordinance. The draft ordinance be reviewed by the Planning Board and will need the approval of the City Council.

For more information, see the city web page


North End walk set for Nov. 8

In anticipation of the City of Portsmouth’s sessions on  ‘character-based’ zoning for the North End, PS21 will host a citizen-led walking tour of the neighborhood beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.

The walk of approximately one mile will give residents an in-person, up-close view of buildings, projects and developable lots.

What: North End Walk
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 (approx. 1 hour, rain or shine)
Where: Meet at 9:45 a.m. on Maplewood Avenue by Cindy Ann Cleaners (203 Maplewood Ave.)

The North End was dramatically altered by urban renewal actions in the 1960s, and it is once again undergoing major changes.  After the walk, residents should be able to more easily visualize the North End neighborhood during the Nov.  10-13 design workshop, or charrette, on the new zoning.

See “City kicks of discussions about character-based zoning.”

PS21 will supply a map of the North End along with short descriptions of properties, conservation areas, and current or proposed projects.

Document quantities, however, will be limited. To be guaranteed of receiving a copy, RSVP to

(The walk, hardy New Englanders, will rain or shine. If it’s really dismal, we’ll post the documents on the website.)


Notes on Oct. 22 Workshop with Plan NH

More than 30 people attended a PS21 event on Oct. 22, a workhop with the statewide nonprofit Plan New Hampshire. Plan NH’s Robin LeBlanc says the workshop aims to “shift” thinking about the future by examining assumptions about life here, conversations that are going on, and questions people have or might ask about the coming decades.

Below are notes on the wide-ranging discussion as recorded by PS21’s Jerry Zelin.

Robin LeBlanc leads Plan NH workshop with PS21A Workshop, “SHIFT,” led by Robin LeBlanc of Plan NH
7-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22
Portsmouth Middle School Auditorium

Notes by Jerry Zelin

Doug Roberts: Announces a North End walk scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Nov. 8, 2014, 10 A.M., starting at on Maplewood AvenueCindy Ann Cleaners, to discuss possibilities for each lot in the North End.

Robin LeBlanc: She has lived in New Hampshire for 30 years, currently Exec. Dir. of Plan New Hampshire.

Audience: Attendees introduce themselves. Most live in Portsmouth. Some live in Eliot, Durham, etc.

Robin: Plan NH develops workshops like this, to trigger shifts in thinking about the future of towns and cities. Not Portsmouth-specific but for any community …

Audience at Plan NH workshop
Why did people move here?

Vibrant downtown
Near ocean
Historic character
Creative community
Socio-economic diversity when moved here

Robin: Those are our values. How would a real estate broker describe Portsmouth?
Continue reading Notes on Oct. 22 Workshop with Plan NH

Oct. 22 – ‘SHIFT: A Different Way to Think About Decision-Making and Planning Our Future’

- A PS21 event featuring PLAN NH
- Portsmouth Middle School Auditorium
– 6:30-9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 22

Community planning and decision-making has become more than just about growth and development. Our economic, social and environmental structures have changed dramatically in the past two decades, and more change is on the way — in demographics, climate, the economy, energy and more.

PS21 is sponsoring a workshop by the statewide nonprofit Plan NH that aims to address change and “shift” ways of thinking about our community, our roles in it, and what considerations will lead to a healthy and vibrant future.

The workshop will be held Wednesday, October 22nd from 7 to 9 p.m. in the new Portsmouth Middle School auditorium. Registration opens at 6:30, the workshop starts promptly at 7.

In this fun and eye-opening workshop led by Robin LeBlanc of Plan NH, participants will learn to think about planning for the future and the decisions we make about where we live, work and play from a different vantage point.

The workshop consists of an hour-long, whole-group discussion followed by small-group discussions and then a wrap-up with the whole group.

Topics include:

  • Assumptions, conversations and questions that affect our community decisions and planning
  • Doing a 180 in how we tackle issues
  • How values influence planning and decision-making
  • The four infrastructures that are the foundation of a community
  • Forces of change that are having an impact.

Pre-registration is not required for the free event, but an RSVP will help with planning. Send email to

About Plan NH: Plan NH’s mission is to encourage good planning and design and development because, we believe, what we build, where we build and how we build has a significant impact on the health and vitality of a community. The workshop leader, Robin LeBlanc, has a background of leadership including program development and project management, marketing and business development and has lived in Portsmouth with her family for 30 years.

About PS21: Portsmouth SmartGrowth 21st Century (PS21) aims to present ideas and encourage discussion and policy development around planning issues in Portsmouth, N.H. Our goal is to support the creation of a vibrant, sustainable, livable, and walkable community compatible with the principles of smart development, the historic nature of Portsmouth, and the context of the 21st century. PS21 is a nonprofit group of residents and business people supporting and presenting informational events as a basis for discussing development in Portsmouth, with the goal of establishing a long-term vision for the city.


Rescheduled to Nov. 8: North End Walking Tour. Get to know the North End in advance of the Portsmouth’s November charrette on “character-based” zoning. PS21 will lead an informal walking tour of the neighborhood. View properties, projects and potential development sites on Vaughn, Deer, Bridge and other streets in the area. Details to be announced.