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Thread: Ethical issues in planning (help with school project)

  1. #1
    Mar 2004
    McDonough, Georgia

    Ethical issues in planning (help with school project)

    I am presenting [something] for my planning class on the topic of ethical issues in planning/social issues in planning. I've read the chapter in the book and it has great examples, but like other college professor, I doubt he'd appreciate my ripping an example straight from the text.

    That said, would anyone know of (and know alot about--it's a 10 minute, gag, presentation) an example of ethics in planning or a social issue in planning?

    I'm going to talk about housing and all that goes with it, socially speaking as well as the homeless and gentrification as a result of urban renewal.

    I really need the help because I only have 2 weeks left to work on this (plus study for other classes and work 38 hours a week! whippee)

    Thanks so much for helping!!!!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
    Oct 2003
    In Wasteland of Cedar Trees
    I noticed your post in the Friday Afternoon section. So, I took notice of your thread.

    Here are my thoughts.

    Why don't you think of some examples that are related to your presentation topics? Use examples from your hometown or in the community where your school is at. Often times being familiar with something and being able to provide the background and explaining it well will fill up your time and demonstrate that you've been able to apply your knowledge gain from your research to something from the real world.

    If you're desperate for an idea, here's a similar topic that I used for a class two years ago. I came across an interesting newspaper article which discussed an interesting point of view. Vancouver, BC, is becoming a place where filming is done. Because the Downtown Eastside (a grungy, poor, criminal, etc area, close to the downtown core) served as an excellent backdrop, film companies were coming in and invading neighbourhoods for however length of time necessary to film the scenes. Prostitutes and homeless people complained about the loss of their business because they were forbidden to go to their regular spots and were forced to compete and fight with other prostitutes and homeless people elsewhere. A group of prostitutes and homeless people got together and demanded that the film companies would compensate them. This situation put the city of Vancouver in a sticky situtation, wanting to promote its film industry and to hush the underprivileged people.

    This topic certainly struck up an interest in my class full of students who were usually bored and not listening. In fact, we went over time discussing but it was an excellent and interesting example for me to demonstrate how the issues of gentrificaiton and homeless people are tied together. (NB: the film industry as well as the popularity of tourist areas of Gastown and Chinatown, which "eats" away the Downtown Eastside area traditionally set aside for the underprivilege people, were sparking some gentrification interests in the Downtown Eastside.)

    Now in hindsight, I wonder how the Downtown Eastside is going to change as Vancouver-Whistler is planning to construct the Athletic village there! Will it spark gentrification?? Who knows.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
    Jul 2003
    SW-Coastal WA
    This is the link to the website of a class I took called "Homelessness and Public Policy": http://thecity.sfsu.edu/%7Ebahp/hed_urbsf2000.htm

    I also did an internship in a homeless shelter and still work for them. If there is a specific issue you want more info about, I might be able to help.

  4. #4
    Mar 2004
    McDonough, Georgia
    Thanks soooo much. I really like your ideas and they definitely have my brain churning now.

    Again, thanks!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Quote Originally posted by Hceux
    A group of prostitutes and homeless people got together and demanded that the film companies would compensate them. This situation put the city of Vancouver in a sticky situtation, wanting to promote its film industry and to hush the underprivileged people.
    Wait a second... is prostitution legal there? If not, then what is the issue?

    An easier one would be going though a low-income neighborhood. Buying out all of the land at a cost that the residents can not compete with, clearing it, and selling it to Wal*Mart.

    Yes, it will remove a bad section of down, and yes it will bring in some new jobs, but at what cost to the community and the low-income residents?
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Feb 2003
    I consider 'ethical' issues as the way YOU as a planner act. While the other issues are very important, I consider them 'social' issues.

    Here is an ethical Q:

    What if your director tells you to help an applicant re-zone their land when you know it would not be in the best interest of the community at large?

    What do you do?

    That is an 'ethical' issue.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian pandersen's avatar
    Sep 1998
    "Off Kilter"
    Not sure where you're based, but given your stated interests, do a google and library search on a public housing/urban renewal project in Toronto in the late 1960's - the development in question was and is still called "Regent Park". I think there was even a National Firm Board of Canada film made about the project - might have been called "Whatever happened to the residents of Oak Street" or something similar.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
    Sep 2001
    skating on thin ice
    I'll outline one for you. How do you deal with the following situation.

    An applicant applies to amend the Plan and the Zoning By-law. The use is permitted in both of the proposed zones and designations and both documents say the proposed location is acceptable. Now comes the fun

    1) You personally dislike the applicant and everything they stand for.
    2) On a personal level, and marginally on a professional level agree that the location chosen is not the best, but it does meet the criteria established in teh documents that you are trusted to interpret, and is the one the applicant has chosen.
    3) 12 000 people sign a petition inviting the applicant to your town.
    4) Other professionals, who are in great demand, threaten to leave town if the development is approved at the proposed location.
    5) Council wants development and this applicant in particular to come to town.
    6) The newspaper picks up on item 4 and begins to vilify planners and staff
    7) You get harrassing phone calls and interaction with members of the public everywhere you go.
    8) the applicant is a total pain to deal with because they are aware ot items 3 and 5.

    So what do you do?
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  9. #9
    Go to your library and check out Everyday Ethics for Practicing Planners by Carol Barrett. This book is loaded with case studies and examples. This will give you plenty of ideas and how to frame your discussion as it relates to professional practice.

  10. #10
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    Barrett's book is perfect for what you are researching. She uses lots of real-world examples and writes in such a way that you don't have to be up on the planner jargon to understand what is going on. She has some stuff that talks about affordable housing/affordable rents and homelessness, which sounds like the direction you are going with your research.

    Here's an outline of the book from APA Book Service: link

    If you are going into the planning field, I would suggest buying the book as it will come in handy.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

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