group of polygons by drawing a rectangle with the mouse and so large areas of land uses can be simultaneously changed.
Two versions of PLACES exist, a 1-year-old PC version developed by consultants for use in the San Francisco region, and the new Web version that had just been developed by the California Energy Commission. Both are open-code public software. The former was selected, as it was more readily available with a good data set. It was obtained from Parsons-Brinckerhoff, populated with data for Alameda County, California. The students did get to use the online version in the lab. However, the PC version was used for all assignments. The online version suffered from two deficiencies that made it more difficult to work with. First, there was no manual for the online version and second, access to this version was limited. At the time the course was being offered, SACOG was in the process of using the PLACES planning tool in their 2003 visioning and public outreach meetings. As a result, access to this version was tightly controlled. Only SACOG had a working version of PLACES on the Web, as they were the first test case for the Energy Commission development project. We received permission from SACOG to use one of their county setups, for Sutter County (in the Sacramento region). The polygons were parcel boundaries, which made for a complex map, but one with spatial detail. The county includes one small city and lots of rural farmlands and Sierra foothill lands.
Both the PC version and the Web version of PLACES were demonstrated in class and some time was spent discussing how the software works in ArcView. The class discussed the evaluation function in PLACES, which is the main reason MPOs have used it for visioning. (The Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay