Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Regulatory or outcome planners

  1. #1
    DA Monkey's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Redcliffe, Queensland
    Posts
    84

    Regulatory or outcome planners

    Im guessing your probably aware that my state (Queensland) has undertaken a change in its planning legislation in recent years. The blurb supporting the change was to move from a proscriptive planning system to one that was focussed upon performance (outcomes). Essentially that means the dumping of the theory behind zones - only allowed to undertake the prescribed use and level as dictated by the zone (it didnt matter how you undertook development for the the use - ie a residential zone allowed a single dwelling unit, up to two stories, set back six metres and allowing vehicle parking on site of 2.5 cars per dwelling unit.)

    Under the performance based system no use was prohibited as long as you could demonstrate that it achieved the planning outcomes for the area (this is a very simplified description - outcomes are couched in acceptable solutions, performance criteria, development codes etc).

    The new system seems to be generating (in my opinion at least) a polarisation of planning personalities ie those planners focussed upon the detail of codes and performance criteria and those planners focussed upon the impacts and outcomes of develoment.

    The question I have is

    Is there anyone else who thinks that there are two distinct cadres within planning practice.

    This issue has been bugging me more as I have recently moved from consultancy to local government.

    I have heard and attended many lectures on planning types and understand the advocacy role of planners, the development role and the protectionist roles and how those roles interact, are not discrete etc. But it seems to me (at least in Queensland) that there are now distinct types of planner - those who work for the "big picture" or try to achieve a larger vision or outcome and those who focus on regulatory detail and what cannot be done.

    Also to my great surprise, it is not neccessarily the outcome focussed planners who reside in consultancy.

    I suppose its the old "glass half full" analogy.

  2. #2

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    My attempts to convert US communities to a performance-based approach make it clear to me that the distinction you have found in OZ may be universal. I don't know the best terms for the two types: I tend to think of them as visionary v bureacratic, but one could also say that the two types are community-based/oriented v (it is hard to find the right term) developer/development oriented. The vast majority of US planners fall into the bureaucratic/developer-oriented type (including many who do not like developers, but whose role in their communities is essentially dictated by the development community).

    When we came to California for a few months we thought about looking for jobs here, but the first question asked in most CA jobs is what do you know about CEQA. CEQA is an important piece of legislation, but it isn't about planning, its about reacting.

    You are SO right about the negative energy involved in the bureaucratic approach. We need regulations, but the community has to be in tune with the larger purpose in order to really support them. I much prefer the positive energy of visionary planning, but as a consequence am finding it difficult to find a job I really am interested in.

  3. #3
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,624

    Ceqa

    Lee - In the words of Dan Curtin, CEQA "is a bullet in search of a gun."
    I don't do anything right.

  4. #4

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    RJ: That sounds just right. The other thing I observe in CA is that, in spite of the complex state legislative framework, communities (at least the ones we are most closely observing here in the East Bay) are just as likely as those elsewhere to ignore basic due process. It isn't that they are making bad decisions, but they do not hesitate to jerk applicants around in ways that would infuriate a district judge. Land is too valuable, however, to complain if you figure you'll get a permit in the end.

  5. #5

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    I find prescriptive/Euclidean Zoning Based Planning somewhat annoying sometimes, as we (our staff) engage in these lengthy conversations about whether a particular subcategory of a use belongs in one zone or the other. Its better than it used to be, one of our zoning districts allowed retail only if it was "regional-serving retail." You can imagine the debates!

    On the other hand, while performance-based zoning "makes logical sense," it also provides less certainty and can be a bear to implement, from what I've read. Some planners are bureaucratic, perhaps, but I think the bigger reason is the challenge of developing accurate, easily quantifiable standards. Still, let us know how it works out if you are able to see some in practice.

    Lee:
    I really don't think CEQA is intended to be "reactive." CEQA review is not a stand-alone process, it is intended to complement the (mandatory) environmental planning accomplished during the General Plan/Specific Plan process and to identify issues up front. That doesn't mean that CEQA is not used as a tool to stymie development through the courts.

  6. #6

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    The uncertainty argument has always been the first one pulled out against using performance zoning. But having just returned from a place that issues several dozen map amendments each year, I am very confused about how that zoning map actually adds any certainty when it is so easily changed. A well done set of performance standards is seldom amended, and IMHO provides a lot more certainty than the zoning in most communities.

    As for the difficulty of administration, I am convinced that's a paper tiger. It goes back to this difference in types of planners we are discussing rather than to any significant difference between the systems, especially in communities that have rather complex zoning ordinances. The bureaucratic personality just doesn't like the performance approach.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    India
    Posts
    499
    I have often been a part of debates about the legal system generally.
    Correct me if I am wrong.
    The american Constitution is what.. more than two hundred years old?
    And how mnay amendments do you have? Very few!
    The Indian Constitution is about fifty five years old and there are already more than ninety amendments.
    What does that mean.
    Does it mean that the constitution of India is dynamic and sensitive to the changing society or that the early law makers didnt have that vision.
    For me its difficult to take a stand on this one.

    But I can share my personal experience.
    I am fortunate to be involved at a very young age( in planning terms)in visionary planning. But sometimes I am just in a situation where I have to come up with some short term and quick fix planning solution. At times it may not do well in the long term.
    Thats where I try to keep my balance.
    I keep thinking fresh and have those ideas going around and apply them only at the opportune moment.
    I dont let stereotype work dull my instincts of being a visionary( practicalist).
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them".
    -Isaac Asimov

  8. #8

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    The uncertainty argument has always been the first one pulled out against using performance zoning. But having just returned from a place that issues several dozen map amendments each year, I am very confused about how that zoning map actually adds any certainty when it is so easily changed. A well done set of performance standards is seldom amended, and IMHO provides a lot more certainty than the zoning in most communities.
    I'm not that sure I agree. At least in my employer, we have a lot of "as of right" uses that don't require any planning review at all for the use. A realtor can look at a table of permitted uses, direct his client to a building, and everyone is happy. Crudely and in the aggregate, zoning district-based planning is intended to "do the performance review" up front. The problem, of course, is when zoning ordinances try to get too specific and the distinctions become arcane.

    As for the difficulty of administration, I am convinced that's a paper tiger. It goes back to this difference in types of planners we are discussing rather than to any significant difference between the systems, especially in communities that have rather complex zoning ordinances. The bureaucratic personality just doesn't like the performance approach.
    I think you're being a little too judgemental (here-verging on offensive). Performance standards can be just as bureaucratic.

    Besides, performance zoning per se is not going to get rid of the discretionary process for NEW buildings anyway, and much of the uncertainty is not associated with zoning per se but with site plan and design review.

    Don't get me wrong. I actually would prefer more of a performance based system with fewer zoning districts and far fewer specifically outlined uses. I find the current system pretty frustrating. But: Where are the good examples? Have they really worked? Hasn't even Fort Collins, the Poster Child for such systems, found implementation difficult and moved back to more of a district-based system? People have been talking about this for years. It can't JUST be bureaucratic inertia that forestalls full-scale implementation of such a system if it offers that many advantages?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    India
    Posts
    499
    I am very confused about how that zoning map actually adds any certainty when it is so easily changed.
    fewer zoning districts and far fewer specifically outlined uses
    In my country where the zoning regulations were very detailed and Land Use maps clearly defined the type of sue and other related information, still there was a huge violation.
    Now there are efforts to do what BKM calls fewer zoning districts.With new types of developments coming up even the traditionalists have started appreciating( for a start) the performance based and are achieving higher standards( planning outcomes). The results are much better this way.

    those planners focussed upon the impacts and outcomes of develoment.
    I think I would be a part of this group.
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them".
    -Isaac Asimov

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 26
    Last post: 20 Feb 2011, 1:24 AM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last post: 13 Feb 2011, 5:10 PM
  3. Replies: 5
    Last post: 10 Mar 2005, 3:55 PM
  4. Replies: 15
    Last post: 28 Dec 2004, 2:51 PM
  5. Zoning Regulatory takings
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 06 Apr 1997, 2:57 PM