Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 26 to 50 of 58

Thread: Making place or planning chaos [broadband recommended]

  1. #26
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713
    Whew, ol' Bookchin derailed this thread for a few months.

    Sorry to ambush you like this, Lee, after all this time; but revisiting this thread has convinced me that I need to dispute much of what you say; I think youíre just dead wrong about some things, and I canít let it stand.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Ah ablarc, if your analysis were only as good as your images. And while this is your most direct attempt to counter the fact that development is as it is due to market dynamics
    Is that really a fact or only partly true?

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    (which zoning simply mirrors)[/b]Ö
    I vigorously dispute this. Zoningís purposes are as much aesthetic and moralistic as they are eonomic (just read the mission statement in the front of your codebook). In reality zoning succeeds in serving not one of the three purposes, for itís misled by faulty theories. Thatís what makes it a dismal failure: it states its goals and misses them by a mile.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Ö it still fails. Indeed, the evidence you present as an alternative to development regulated by zoning argues powerfully against your own point.
    How so? I canít find the evidence to support your contention; maybe you can supply it.

    What I do find in some of your responses is assertions that are unsupported by evidence, untrue, and that give off the weary and hackneyed aroma of received and unexamined wisdom. Hereís an example:

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    The spaces you idealize grew up over hundreds of years.
    Some did, some didnít; and more to the point:so what? This one's a red herring.

    Iíve heard this old saw so many times, I know itís just an article of faith. As wisdom itís both store-bought and shopworn. It has no relevance to the present discussion despite its comforting familiarity. Weíve all heard it, and itís never been anything but a clichť; itís like saying your carís engine runs better since you put on new tires: plausible to the inattentive, but untrue.

    I didnít talk in my post about the effects of time, because history doesnít interest me as a connoisseur or as an antiquarian; I donít require my walkable environments to be ďauthentic,Ē i.e. old. Iíd be quite content if someone would build me some new ones, and I donít give a ratís a$$ about the style. Thatís why I was so happy with my five days in Seaside without once getting in my car. Iím interested in what we can do here and now. And we can do the same things now as we have ever done. History doesnít bind us unless we rush to declare defeat; we make history if we give ourselves that option (ask George Bush). And we all have unused reservoirs of power.

    If I use images of old places to illustrate well-designed pedestrian environments, thatís because Iím forced to; zoning mavens like you have outlawed such places, so lately we havenít built too many. (Now thereís a concrete example of making history.)

    ďYou canít replicate what grew up over hundreds of years.Ē The part you canít replicate is the actual effects of the hundred years, which are often minimal: wear and tear, ďpatina,Ē construction techniques, minor alterations. These are certainly not the essence of what Iím talking about; thirty years ago we thought Ėwith equal perceptivenessóthat the essence of such places was to harbor crackheads and pimps. What I am talking about is an inspiring, beautiful and ecologically sound walkable environment, and that doesnít need to be replicated, just permitted.. The only reason we can think preposterously that such places are the result of time is that we havenít built such places lately. The ones we have built are often ridiculed on the grounds that theyíre not convincingly old-looking or (equally, and sometimes from the other side of the same mouths) that they look too old. The snake has swallowed its tail.

    The South Slope of Beacon Hill was developed rapidly; it achieved its present form over a mere ten years. Itís not growing up over time that makes the South End or Beacon Hill walkable; itís the physical form. Itís houses that touch, itís close-by or interspersed shops and community facilities, narrow streets, specific responses to local conditions, and absence of parking lots, front yards, sideyards, setbacks, buffers, permeability ratios and landscaping strips. In other words: the opposite of everything conventional zoning holds dear and mandates. And when the dust settles on an assemblage of zoning blunders like Beacon Hill, injuryís added to insult, for you find that fools pay upwards of 5 million to live in such substandard inadequacy. Thatís the kind of foolishness that nobody needs protection from; nor does the environment.

    Truth is, Beacon Hill was as walkable when it was brand new as it is now, as well-liked by its inhabitants, and almost as charming. And though itís been around for almost two hundred years, it hasnít changed much in that time. It, like all of Back Bay, was built up fairly rapidly in small increments by a large number of speculative homebuilders and individuals erecting custom houses Ėexactly like a modern subdivision. Whatís different is that the rules in the older cases yielded row houses and a walkable, humane environment, and in a modern suburban subdivision you getÖthe familiar barf.

    The South End didnít grow up over hundreds of years either, and Bath didnít, and the original Regent Street didnít; they were built all at once by big developers, as more recently were Hampstead Garden Suburb, Normandy (Thornberg) Village, Coral Gables and Forest Hills Gardens, none of which can be replicated under present-day zoning (and all of which were built in kitschy revivalist styles weíre allowed to love by the aesthetics police because that was seventy years ago. Exception: walkable Miami Beach, built in ďmodernĒ Deco style).

    Hereís a surprise: the people who moved in loved these places from Day One, because their minds werenít addled by Modernist moralism: ďitís immoral to not be Ďmodern.íĒ). If you were allowed (I didnít say "required") to build places like any example mentioned above, you can be sure the yuppies would snap them up Ėeven at the astronomical prices youíd have to charge (less, however, than the construction cost of a Manhattan condo by Richard Meier). The market for genuinely nice places will never ebb (at least not during an administration that keeps kicking money upstairs); and the price of housing would ease minutely for all the rest of us, who can't afford the nice places.

    Thatís exactly what happened at Poundbury, one of the recent projects with the vision, foresight, courage and perseverance to build an inspiring, beautiful and ecologically sound walkable environment. You recall what a battle-royal it took to change the zoning to permit that one; now that itís built, itís detractors Ėshepherded by modernist cheerleaders like Norman Foster-- simultaneously accuse it of being too clean and new and too old-fashioned looking. But truth is, itís barely distinguishable (shame on it!) from the rest of Dorchester, built a century or two ago; and that should surprise no one, as the requirements for accommodating the human stride and occupying the pedestrianís attention havenít changed at all over time. What has changed is the introduction of the automobile; and its suave integration is certainly Poundburyís great innovation.

    So we get the conclusion before the observation, the cart before the horse: ďYou canít build like that these days.Ē

    I can tell you why you might believe this deluded nonsense --and even who got you to believe it-- but I find it mystifying that any thinking person would cling to this view, when so much of the ideology that promulgated it has already been discredited. And I know for an indisputable fact that itís untrue, because I personallyhave built like that, and with dazzling profits. And it looks like thereíll be plenty more. So I reply from personal experience: ďHogwash.Ē

    Get with the times. This is what you always hear from people who are mired in the present, therefore behind the times:

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Modern development doesn't happen that way, so it can't possibly look that way.
    Modern development, like development of any era, happens according to the rules you set up. If you set up bad rules, you get bad developments. The only thing keeping you from building an inspiring, beautiful and ecologically sound walkable environment in 2005óif you are inclined toóis the rules that forbid it. If the rules allowed greater freedom, most developers would choose to go on doing exactly what theyíve always done and find familiar Ėbut not all! Iím not proposing to circumscribe one single solitary lilí olídeveloperís god-given right to go on despoiling the environment exactly as he pleases; I just say the developers who would choose a better way should be given a chance to run without leg irons. Iím arguing for more freedom here, not less; leave the crappy zoning in place for those who want to use it, but for goodness sake donít hobble those who want to do better.

    As it is, the intrepid few successfully evade the regulations through PUDs and other mechanisms, and produce the first glimmerings of the next era in placemaking. Itís through their efforts that we have Kentlands and Seaside and Windsor. And though thereís much to criticize (PUDs produce increments of development that are, we agree, too large and mostly too greenfield), and though it will take half a century or more for these places to grow together or otherwise achieve critical mass and significant impact, they clearly represent the future in post-Peak Oil times.

    We need to let the dinosaurs of development lumber placidly into their tarpits, instead of creating and enforcing regulations to guarantee their survival.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    It is going to look mass-produced because it is,
    Are you saying housing is mostly made in factories? I design housing, and I know it's one of the last bastions of hand craftsmanship; surely you must know that.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    and will always be unless well-designed regulations counter the market.
    Are you saying well-designed regulations make housing look not mass-produced?

    Clearly you are saying ďwell-designed regulations counter the market .Ē Isnít that a direct contradiction of ďdevelopment is as it is due to market dynamics (which zoning simply mirrors),Ē only a few sentences back?

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    ÖI do not believe any of the positive examples you present evolved in a capitalist economy.
    If thatís so, itís for poetic reasons, and has no meaning; Iíve rectified that by presenting only examples from capitalist economies in the present post.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Does zoning create visually dead places? No. It may accede to them for political reasons, but developers do that, and reap the profits.
    All those consumers out there, hot to buy into visually dead placesÖAll those bucks to be made by creating themÖ

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Do local zoning regulations and decisions reflect the market? Yes, they do. Does that lead to crappy development? Yes, it does.
    Q.E.D.?

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    But one does not cure a disease by mistaking the symptoms for the cause.
    This could do with some elaboration; as it stands I recognize a truism but I donít know what it means in the present context.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Your frustration is going to continue unabated until you get the message.
    Iím not frustrated; I have plenty of soul-satisfying work to keep me happy Ėbut none of itís within the rules. The stuff that is is just crap I churn out to feed my family (you canít criticize that, since you think thatís what I ought to be doing).

    Lee, I do sense some frustration in you, however. You already know the solution to that: as you say, ďget the message.Ē

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Yes, there are one or two developers who might try something different if the regulations were altered in some specific way. But they are the exception that proves the rule.
    Why not give them a chance? What they do canít be worse than what we have now, which is terminally crappy. And if people donít like it, they wonít buy it, and the developers will reap their just desserts.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Capitalism homogenizes all that it affects. And that is not an unintended side effect. It is structurally inevitable.
    Arenít you confusing capitalism with Marxism? Closet Marxists often do that; they also refer to inevitability. I suspect you of a little closet Marxism here, Lee; itís ok, we all went through that.

    But I have a whole lot more faith in peopleís discernment. Give them a chance in a genuinely free market and most will eventually make the right choice. Itís a slow process under the best conditions; thatís why if you canít help you need to at least Ėin John Wayneís immortal wordsóget the hell out of the way.

    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Condemning community's efforts to counter the market reality, however unsuccessful and sad they often are, not only misses the point, but it lends considerable comfort to the folks who are profiting from the problem.
    Now, enough flip-flopping, Lee: is zoning the ďmirror of the marketĒ or does it ďcounter the market realityĒ?

    Elsewhere in this thread you proclaim that youíre incurably addicted to first principles. Delve into those now, Lee, and find unequivocal answers to such questions, clear of cobwebs and fuzz; and then stick to them unveeringly until rational observation causes you to change your mind (which I hope is right now, since your thinking clearly isnít rooted in spite of your protestations to the contrary.)

    At the very least, your first principles should tell you more than whatís impossible. They should be empowering, not enervating. Lee, it should be obvious from the very fact of this response that I regard you as a friend and have a high opinion of your capacity; thatís why the best advice I can give you is: Wake up; youíre in danger of turning into a tired, played-out bureaucrat.

    Trips to the wilderness arenít enough.
    Last edited by ablarc; 03 Jul 2005 at 6:21 PM.

  2. #27
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    1,584
    I've not commented here yet although I have been reading intently. I am finding that I share many of the same views expressed here thus far. Lately I have been thinking a great deal about a great many things, but I always find my thoughts intersecting, despite the widely varying topics I choose. After dinner I have been known to go on walks with my mother and she listens as I talk, nearly the entire walk, about each and every property we pass, each and every street and lane and park and intersection and how they might look in another world, or another time, or simply if someone had put more thought into whatever we pass.

    I'm enrolled at the University of Waterloo right now. I'm having a bit of trouble in my mind as I find that planning is not oriented enough on design as my tastes would dictate, but contemporary architectural schools (of which Waterloo also contains) seem wrapped up in such bullshit and dick-waving egotism. Light shines through, here and there, but the same sort of rhetorical blinders that planning suffers are present - and on steroids - in today's architecture.

    So where does that leave me, a student? I must admit that as of the last few weeks I harbour more than a small notion of helplessness, and this does enrage me. ablarc, your campaign against zoning is an example - how likely is it that an already existing urban centre would give up zoning? I've buried myself in literature again and that is generally a sign that I am fed up with what reality lies out my door.

    ablarc, if you are in or near Vancouver this summer, or, for that matter, in or near Waterloo area from Sept-April, perhaps we could meet over a brew?

    While I write, I would also like to make apology. In past threads I may have gruffly dismissed your arguments, which is completely unsuitable and childish. It is good that you have ideas and write of them.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713
    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    I'm enrolled at the University of Waterloo right now. I'm having a bit of trouble in my mind as I find that planning is not oriented enough on designÖbut contemporary architectural schoolsÖseem wrapped up in such bullshit and dick-waving egotism. Light shines through, here and there, but the same sort of rhetorical blinders that planning suffers are present - and on steroids - in today's architecture.
    You said it, abrowne, and itís all right on the money. Obviously youíre a realist, which means you see with your own eyes instead of believing all the garbage your teachers try to palm off as wisdom or knowledge. This means youíre already way ahead of the pack, and are equipped to have a distinguished career --if you can keep an optimistic outlook.

    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    So where does that leave me, a student?
    You do have to get a degree, or nobody will take you seriously Ėunless youíre as much of a genius as Leon Krier, who has no degree in anything. What you have to do is keep your eyesight clear exactly as though, like Krier, you had no degree. Otherwise youíll end up as brainwashed as most of your classmates, who are almost certainly on their way to becoming zombies. From your comments, itís clear you already have more understanding and insight into the true issues than your classmates will ever have. Later in life, while theyíre shuffling paper, youíll be designing cities.

    So grit your teeth and stick it out; and whatever you do, donít believe anything your teachers tell you that skates anywhere near the realm of opinion or ideology. You already know theyíre ignoramuses; the state of the environment is proof enough of that. What you see didnít get that way in spite of what they believe, but because of it. And donít you believe them when they tell you how powerless they are to change things. Theyíre powerful enough, and they already have changed things; youíre looking at their fruits.

    ďPlanning is not oriented enough on designĒ: bullseye! Ask a reasonably educated and well-informed person to name some planners, and heíll rattle off a list of architects. Michelangelo through Nash and Corbusier to Duany, itís architects who have driven planning where itís gone: to the heights and to the lower depths. Thatís because architects know how to draw and have training in art. You canít have visions unless you can draw; itís in the process of drawing that the visions occur.

    Youíre right about architecture school, too. There, ignorance and ideological orthodoxy are compounded with arrogance; the only usefulness is in the exposure to art and the creative process. Learning to draw is reason enough to attend. But there too: donít believe your teachers (and keep it to yourself). Once you pass your exams and collect the various scraps of paper that purport to make you a professional, you can come out of the closet and show your true colors; youíll be a certified expert at that point.

    There is a kind of bastard offspring of architecture and planning. Itís called urban design. In places where this program exists, youíll be amazed at the relative absence of bullshit; and youíll probably be pleasantly surprised that almost everybody has a good grasp of the issues. This is where youíll find like-minded individuals who are interested in the ideas and skills that youíre looking for; this is what planning should be in a better world. These are artists, not policemen.

    Problem is, the field has no legal standing: states donít issue scraps of paper emblazoned with the words, ďUrban DesignerĒ; and anyway you usually need an architecture degree to enter one of these programs. Once there, youíll find youíre surrounded by sympathetic peers, though.

    Itís a long haul; you might find it easier if you think of yourself as an undercover agentóyou know, the Old Mole.

    Meanwhile: Illegitimi non carborundum

  4. #29
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,150

    Hah!

    NOW, finally realize what your problem is, "Ablarc". You like beautiful buildings/townscapes.

    That's so old fashioned. Aren't you ashamed? What would happen if, thanks to today's mind-boggling productive capacity and technological inventivenss all cities ended up looking as good as Venice or Paris or Kensington? Are you mad? No crappy McMansions and ugly burbs? People might start VALUING their surroundings. Wot, in Gawd's name is WRONG with you?!?!
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  5. #30

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    Good Lord ablarc! I just got back to work.

    But because it relates to something I am working on, I have a practical question about one observation. You say it will take 50+ years for some of these places to achieve "critical mass." I have been thinking much the same, and feeling some despair about that. My question is, what specific things could be done to hasten the process? And I am not just asking about the zoning, although that is fair game, I am also asking about what the private sector could do. The developers I am working with are tentatively saying that they may have made "mistakes," but it is clear that they have no idea what to do instead of the same old pattern. One of the critical properties has a new owner, so now is the time to make suggestions. Our recent reform of some very strange provisions in the town's subdivision regs has given me some influence in the development community for the time being.

    More later. I have to go inhibit the local Coca-Cola distributor's creativity.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713
    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    NOW, finally realize what your problem is, "Ablarc". You like beautiful buildings/townscapes.
    Bingo!

    That's a problem we all need.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian PlanBoston's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    40
    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    So where does that leave me, a student? I must admit that as of the last few weeks I harbour more than a small notion of helplessness, and this does enrage me.

    Abrowne, I completely understand the helplessness you are feeling right now. There is no degree program for those of us who envision better environments and want to be part of the process of seeing them to fruition.

    The reality is you need a degree - any degree - for the professional world to take you seriously. I chose planning in order to learn the intricacies of the system and the public process. I had to stimulate my creative side outside of the traditional educational environment.

    Keep imagining better places. Keep reading Kunstler, Katz, and the like. Revisit Jane Jacobs. Look through A Pattern Language and think about what could be possible (you donít have to agree with Alexanderís politics to gain inspiration from his principals). And, as ablarc has stressed, draw. Draw alot, put your ideas on paper so you can effectively communicate them to others.

    Remember you are breaking new ground. Itís not easy to deviate from the status quo. If you stick to your principals you will succeed and have a positive impact on our built world.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713
    Quote Originally posted by PlanBoston
    Remember you are breaking new ground. Itís not easy to deviate from the status quo. If you stick to your principles you will succeed and have a positive impact on our built world.
    Ain't that the truth.

    abrowne:

    http://www.gradschools.com/programs/urban_design.html
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 11 Jul 2005 at 2:52 PM.

  9. #34

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    I'm sorry ablarc, when I read this thread, then go over to the thread celebrating TEH GREAT GENIUS, I realize now that you are TROLLING over there as you extol the earth-shattering beauty of Frankie G's concoctions of advertising logos, billowing foam, cardboard computer cutouts, and pointless egotism.

  10. #35
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    1,584
    I have a tremendous need to resume writing. I've always been fairly opinionated (albeit more towards politics and literature than the urban form), and the local newspapers have taken to printing my letters to the editor out of habit. There is a notion forming in my head that I want to shop around a small, weekly column about urban issues and urban history.

    Off-topic:

    Thank you for the words of encouragement. I'm looking happily to my fall studies as I have NO planning policy or regulatory type courses to speak of. The lineup:

    ENVS 200 - Field Ecology - This should be a blast! Nothing too new in terms of information, but the application of theory should prove interesting. I appreciate the very practical nature of this class... an escape from the puffery of regulations and the Planning Act.
    ENVS 201 - Environmental and Planning Law - Cautiously optimistic about this one.
    ENVS 278 - Advanced Environmental Research Methods - This isn't even interesting math. It will provide useful tools in order for me to manipulate statistical studies to my advantage (:-P), but that doesn't change the fact that its dry, dry, dry.
    PLAN 210 - Planning Design and the Environment - A problem-based exploration of urban and regional design in the physical-natural, built, social-cultural environment. Individual and group projects, studio consultation and critiques explore traditional and contemporary approaches using sketches, constructed and computer models, and verbal analysis. Feck yeah! Builds upon our first year studio course, which was centred more on getting accustomed to drafting, drawing, and expressing ideas in drawings.

    My fifth course is a class in French. Practically, Spanish was full and didn't fit into my timetable well anyways (I trust that Barcelona will wait for me... they'd prefer Catalan anyways). There is always Paris.

    Next term I have these required classes to look forward to, plus two electives:

    PLAN 233 People and Plans
    PLAN 255 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    PLAN 261 Urban and Metropolitan Planning and Development


    I've developed a few fascinations as of late, those being courtyards, courtyard homes, row houses and their streetfront sunken patios, medieval street layouts (or more accurately, building layouts, as the streets are subordinate), and Barcelona (where I dream of renting a flat for a month and exploring).

    UWaterloo's school of architecture recently moved to a building about 30km away, where previously they had been in the same building as us planners. The interaction was apparently less than civil at times, but I mourn the loss of differing view. I had hoped to flow a bit between both the planners and the architects but this seems very difficult now. Not only did they physically move, but they left the Faculty of Environmental Studies and joined the Faculty of Engineering. A strange shift. But it certainly does reflect modern Architecture that seems to place more importance on materials and shiny industrial puffery rather than people and space.

    ablarc: I plan on continuing my education with a graduate degree - that list is very helpful. Thank you.

  11. #36
    The proposition that market forces create the landscape is an easy cop-out for cities having absolved themselves of their role as the creators of neighborhood and place. The city itself is an agent in the market. It is in constant competition with other cities for citizens and industries. It must accomplish this by creating the most compelling places available to man, places that answer human desires. The cities are selling a product, just like an architect sells a building design or Toyota sells a car. Certainly the architect and Toyota do not rely on speculators and 'market' forces telling them how their buildings should look or their cars should be made. They themselves hold the expertise, they themselves have a relationship with the customer. They know best how to plan the direction of their enterprise. The city planners should be entirely in control of the city's transformation into a better place for its residents, and should harness the forces of the market to accomplish that. The expertise of the city obviously begins and ends at the physical form of the city. It has no need to define what the interior of buildings should be like, or what kind of commercial activity should take place within them. That is up to the individual choices of the people who own the buildings, because they ultimately have the right expertise and right incentives to make it suit human needs.

    No other economic agent, be they home buyer, subdivision developer, real estate superstar, etc, know what makes a good city better than the expert city planners in competition with thousands of other city planners in the world. They have the full right and the responsibility to define the city's future. Zoning is not building a city, it is only putting limitations on the use of land. If developers are better informed about the needs of their customers than the city, then they should be placed in charge of their own cities and the limitations put on them by zoning from incompetent cities should be removed so that their full creative entrepreneurial power can be utilized. The developers should then become the city planners.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713
    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    The proposition that market forces create the landscape is an easy cop-out for cities having absolved themselves of their role as the creators of neighborhood and place. The city itself is an agent in the market. It is in constant competition with other cities for citizens and industries. It must accomplish this by creating the most compelling places available to man, places that answer human desires.
    Good point, jaws.

    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    The cities are selling a product, just like an architect sells a building design or Toyota sells a car. Certainly the architect and Toyota do not rely on speculators and 'market' forces telling them how their buildings should look or their cars should be made. They themselves hold the expertise, they themselves have a relationship with the customer. They know best how to plan the direction of their enterprise.
    Your selection of Toyotaís particularly apt in this regard. Toyotaís about to overtake General Motors as the Number One auto company in the US market. Industry analysts agree this is because Toyota is product-driven and regularly introduces exciting new cars that create their own market. GM by contrast is constantly taking the measure of the market. They produce unimaginative, second-rate products that fewer people want each year; their market shareís down to 20% from 51% five decades ago. Next year fewer still will want a GM car, and their market share will reliably drop to 19%, leaving Toyota as king of the hill.

    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    If developers are better informed about the needs of their customers than the city, then they should be placed in charge of their own cities and the limitations put on them by zoning from incompetent cities should be removed so that their full creative entrepreneurial power can be utilized. The developers should then become the city planners.
    Iím not ready to give developers free rein yet; they have too many bad habits to kick. But so do planners.

    If thereís to be change, the established need to re-program themselves, and the new faces need a more useful education.

  13. #38

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    The proposition that market forces create the landscape is an easy cop-out for cities having absolved themselves of their role as the creators of neighborhood and place. The city itself is an agent in the market. It is in constant competition with other cities for citizens and industries. It must accomplish this by creating the most compelling places available to man, places that answer human desires. The cities are selling a product, just like an architect sells a building design or Toyota sells a car. Certainly the architect and Toyota do not rely on speculators and 'market' forces telling them how their buildings should look or their cars should be made. They themselves hold the expertise, they themselves have a relationship with the customer. They know best how to plan the direction of their enterprise. The city planners should be entirely in control of the city's transformation into a better place for its residents, and should harness the forces of the market to accomplish that. The expertise of the city obviously begins and ends at the physical form of the city. It has no need to define what the interior of buildings should be like, or what kind of commercial activity should take place within them. That is up to the individual choices of the people who own the buildings, because they ultimately have the right expertise and right incentives to make it suit human needs.

    No other economic agent, be they home buyer, subdivision developer, real estate superstar, etc, know what makes a good city better than the expert city planners in competition with thousands of other city planners in the world. They have the full right and the responsibility to define the city's future. Zoning is not building a city, it is only putting limitations on the use of land. If developers are better informed about the needs of their customers than the city, then they should be placed in charge of their own cities and the limitations put on them by zoning from incompetent cities should be removed so that their full creative entrepreneurial power can be utilized. The developers should then become the city planners.
    All very good points. I would argue, though, that cities HAVE largely absolved themselves of this role in the United States, except in the case of a very crude, largely ineffectual set of tools (zoning). Partly because many of the ideas used by planners have proven to be ineffectual or even harmful. Partly because many American cities are interested only in the continuous chase for jobs, any jobs, at any costs.

    City planners have also proven unable to deal with the major forces makeing city form so...inhuman today. Namely, the consolidation of economic power in fewer and fewer hands (resulting in larger and larger building footprints) and, more seriously, the dominance of the private automobile. Parking garages are only one solution, but they are amazingly expensive. Even putting the parking lot behind the building is uncomfortable for users (I know I feel a strong sense of irritation when I have to park in a multilevel garage or behind the building. We are spoiled residents of the National Parking Lot).

    Challenging issues, all.

  14. #39
    This is one of the best threads I have ever seen. It is a great outline for a book. I have not had time to read everything here but here is my 2 cents (as an architect)

    Zoning has its purpose. Certainly everyone wants to be protected from a steel mill moving in across the street. But zoning has grown way beyond that to a thing which tries to control our lives.

    Planners are trained more like engineers. They plug in numbers and the answer comes out the other side. People and society do not operate on numbers and formulas. Society is more complex and has many answers. Architects (good architects) realize this and understand that any number of solutions can be valid if they take human nature into account. People trained as engineers do not understand the idea of multiple correct answers and will design for a single correct solution to every possibility. Our zoning rules are a result of this.

    No complex dynamic human environment can be designed and constructed in one fell swoop. We love old cities because the complexity that they hold is the result of thousands of people and generations interacting over long periods of time. Today we try to achieve that result with one planner one architect and one developer. There is no way so few minds can compete with generations of minds in creating space.

  15. #40
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,584
    Quote Originally posted by steel
    Planners are trained more like engineers. They plug in numbers and the answer comes out the other side.
    I don't know what planners you're talking about.....since from my experience planners and engineers conflict on far more issues than any design professions.

    Good planners (IMO) have a background in design, and use that to complement their other skills (analysis, administration, negotiation, mediation, etc....).
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  16. #41
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713
    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    I don't know what planners you're talking about.....since from my experience planners and engineers conflict on far more issues than any design professions.
    What he means is planners share with engineers:

    1. Faith in numbers.

    2. Belief there's one best solution for each condition. Even if that's true, it non-negotiably optimizes the parts at the expense of the whole.

  17. #42
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 1996
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    7,584
    Quote Originally posted by ablarc
    What he means is planners share with engineers:

    1. Faith in numbers.

    2. Belief there's one best solution for each condition. Even if that's true, it non-negotiably optimizes the parts at the expense of the whole.
    FWIW I don't put blind faith in numbers, nor do I believe in one solution for each condition. My experience is that planners provide alternatives to the decision makers, not "solutions." I would not be doing my job as a planner if I tried to advocate a one size fits all approach. And most planners I know are the same way.

    OK....off my soapbox and out of this discussion....which I hadn't intended to get involved in anyway....I'm not interested in trying to fit any profession into narrow descriptions.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  18. #43
    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    FWIW I don't put blind faith in numbers, nor do I believe in one solution for each condition. My experience is that planners provide alternatives to the decision makers, not "solutions." I would not be doing my job as a planner if I tried to advocate a one size fits all approach. And most planners I know are the same way.

    OK....off my soapbox and out of this discussion....which I hadn't intended to get involved in anyway....I'm not interested in trying to fit any profession into narrow descriptions.

    Of course my observation were meant in a general way but from my experience with zoning and planning as an archietct designing projects there is very little if any oportunity to interact with the process on a building by building use by use basis. If the numbers dictate x parking spaces and x set back and x materials then that is what it has to be because it was already determined.

  19. #44
    Cyburbian ablarc's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2003
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    713
    Quote Originally posted by steel
    Of course my observation were meant in a general way but from my experience with zoning and planning as an archietct designing projects there is very little if any oportunity to interact with the process on a building by building use by use basis. If the numbers dictate x parking spaces and x set back and x materials then that is what it has to be because it was already determined.
    That's it in a nutshell, and I call that faith in numbers.

    It also de-optimizes the whole. Every single time.

  20. #45
    I'd like to give this thread an anniversary bump to clarify a point of discussion that I think is critically important to understanding the dynamics of urbanism. Since I've had a year to think about it (and have written a lot on the subject) I think I can conclusively and definitely answer the following question:

    Is zoning created by the market?

    No. A market exchange takes place when two private property owners contract with each other on even terms. Both participants must be satisfied with the deal and find it beneficial. That some developers or citizens demand zoning from the elected politicians is not in any way related to a market. It is politics, nothing else. One group of people trying to get an advantage at the expense of everyone else. It is politics that drives the accumulation of regulations and zoning codes without direction.

    Could there be market zoning? Certainly, as long as it was done on private property. People zone their house into a bedroom, a kitchen, a living room. It is perfectly beneficial. They do it on their own private property. They toss out zones that make no sense and make new ones when the needs arise. The reason zoning works here and not for the city is because the private property owner knows what he is trying to achieve, has ultimate authority to impose regulations and will bear all the consequences of that decision. A free market city. because it is privately owned, tells developers what the zoning is. It does not request it from them. It knows what it wants to do, how it wants it to be done and what the consequences of this decision are going to be.

    The only way to get rid of destructive, meaningless zoning is to get politics out of urbanism.

  21. #46
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Someplace between yesterday and tomorrow.
    Posts
    12,284
    I think that this is a truly fascinating dialog with some points that I agree with and others that I donít.

    From what I have noticed, zoning is often a perceived response to existing and potential future trends in an effort to guide development. But is it what the general public wants?

    Newer communities and development continue to be successful even though they are suburban sprawl in nature, while many of the older denser cities that were built out before zoning loose population. The majority of the American Public wants to live in newer spaces with open space and low density, but with the conveniences of urban places.

    I think that with the increase of Form-based Codes being used instead of or in combination with zoning has allowed municipalities to reverse this trend, but there is still a long way to go.

    There is also an increasing number of Young Professionals and empty nesters who are moving back into vibrant interactive neighborhoods within dense older cities. This reverse migration has caused an increase of low income families to move into the first tier suburbs.

    It is all about perception of what the public wants and what is best for them.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  22. #47

    Registered
    May 1997
    Location
    Williston, VT
    Posts
    1,371
    To get the politics out of urbanism, jaws, would be to get the people out of it.

  23. #48
    Off-topic:
    Come back, ablarc. All is forgiven.


    Maybe we do it differently here because we are a city with 150 years of development history that predates zoning. We see it as a matter of "one-size does not fit all", so show us how your approach is better for the site and the vicinity and we'll go to bat for it if it truly is better. That's why my board frequently has in excess of 100 cases annually -- because there are both practical difficulties and hardships that can be (and should be) legally justified.

    This morning I got an email from a planning listserv that had someone state that their board hears 14 cases. Annually. To me that = engineering.

  24. #49
    Quote Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    To get the politics out of urbanism, jaws, would be to get the people out of it.
    All but two, the supplyer and the demander.

  25. #50
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Gale Crater
    Posts
    2,846
    Quote Originally posted by jaws
    All but two, the supplyer and the demander.
    Except when the demander demands property owned by someone else in a desirable location (for example, someone who isn't in the mood to be a supplier because he likes his waterfront home) and decides to supply the property unto himself through coercive and violent means.

+ Reply to thread
Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 1 2 3 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 14
    Last post: 05 Jul 2011, 3:20 PM
  2. Replies: 6
    Last post: 22 Jan 2008, 7:41 AM
  3. Replies: 14
    Last post: 25 May 2007, 1:28 PM
  4. Replies: 17
    Last post: 22 Apr 2006, 1:17 AM
  5. Replies: 11
    Last post: 14 Jan 2005, 3:39 PM