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Thread: Is urban planning dead?

  1. #1

    Is urban planning dead?

    UN Habitat's December 2004 journal was devoted to this very question. Take a look at some of the many articles in the link and I would be curious to hear some feedback from the group- particularly folks who have studies/lived/planned for countries outside of the U.S.

    The general point is that master planning is too rigid, top-down and impossible to implement. Master plans are obselete before the ink is dry. They tout participatory planning as the only hope.

    As someone about to spend not a small amount of money to attend graduate school in this very subject- I look to my future colleagues for some feedback and defense (?) of the field.

    http://www.unhabitat.org/hd/hdv10n4/hdv10n4.pdf

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Planning has and will continue to evolve in response to greater forces (social, economic, and political). The idea of a rational, comprehensive model of the urban planning process has long been dismissed by scholars since the 1960s. The predominant view is that planning is much more incremental in reality- essentially planning cannot operate in a vacuum. The piece you read is ignorant of the intellectual underpinnings of urban planning and the urban development process in general. A lot of pop-scholars like to claim authority on urban planning issues, despite the fact that they have no formal training or education in it. Be careful what you read.

  3. #3
    DA Monkey's avatar
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    Ive often questioned the effectiveness of urban planning, however, its not right to say its dead.

    I think part of the problem with planning is every bloke and his dog puts their hand up to be a "planner" when there is a little bit of opportunity, however, when the "sh*t hits the fan" its only the "urban planner" who gets villified.

    I have to agree with Hilldwellers comments, you must be careful of what you read, there is always another view on the topic.

    Here in Queensland, Australia there has been a great deal of reform in the planning sector and we are still grappling with the dynamic nature of the process and how to set checks and balances whilst still delivering a vision. There has been some good, even great outcomes and there have been some terribly lacklustre decisions. All in all as has been said - planning is evolving and its only by encouraging new planners and ideas that it will continue to be relevant.

  4. #4
    The basic premise behind planning and zoning remains valid. We should be directing growth toward those areas where there is adequate infrastructure or where it can be easily expanded. If nothing else, it helps conserve precious tax dollars. Ultimately local governments love this aspect of p&z because of the potential savings. Further, we are in income stream for the jurisdiction via the fees.

    Further, we should be looking toward our future and identifying those things we want to preserve, be it a way-of-life or nature. The problem that comes up is being locking in a comprehensive or master plan when when the conditions have changed. There needs to be flexibility built into it. Further, we should be engaging the public in planning for the future and having a stake in their community. Our world today no longer looks looks to the future. The business world thrives on constant change and that has leeched into the non business world.

    There is also a disconnect between future planning and current planning. Current planning is a lot more front lines. We deal with the day-to-day issues such as rezonings, subdivisions, permits and violations. We try to factor in the comp or master plan as much as possible, buth there is still a bit of a disconnect.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally posted by Whose Yur Planner
    we should be looking toward our future and identifying those things we want to preserve, be it a way-of-life or nature. The problem that comes up is being locking in a comprehensive or master plan when when the conditions have changed. There needs to be flexibility built into it. Further, we should be engaging the public in planning for the future and having a stake in their community.
    Planning is not dead, but unfortunately it is in many cases reactionary. Most reclaimed inner city neighborhoods were ignored by planners until the artists and bohemians made them cool. Then they swoop in and upscale it, thus displacing the people that cared about it in the first place. I know that most of the time it's more about politics than planning and that may be the real problem. It also seems that newly planned communities are designed poorly by discouraging walking or easy connections between housing and jobs and services. I think that's why Duany has gotten so much press. Whether you agree with him or not he's an activist, he has vision and he's not just rubber stamping the status quo.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Eyes on the Street
    Most reclaimed inner city neighborhoods were ignored by planners until the artists and bohemians made them cool. Then they swoop in and upscale it, thus displacing the people that cared about it in the first place.
    Ignored by planners or ignored by market forces? Planners are quite limited in their ability to produce outcomes in most places.

  7. #7

    Great: just what I'd have liked to talk about

    You just read my thoughts!
    I'm the newest (?) of the new members of cyburbia and, more, I'm Italian (so please have pity of a foreigner girl who's going to make a neverending amount of grammar mistakes!! ), but the first thing I told myself when registering here was: "yes, my first thread will be Which future for urban planning?".
    Evidently you preceded me (d'oh! >_<).

    But, let me stop with foolishnesses, and start with my opinion about.

    I suggest this reasoning.
    Until the 60's, the urban laws in Italy stated that it exists a classification of town areas, principally based upon age and use: the zones are divided in A, B, C, D, E, F.
    I won't tell you the details, but what I need to let you know is that "A" zones included only parts built before 1860.
    Now, instead, a new law updates this classification, saying that "A" zones can include buildings and districts until the first decades of XX century.
    Then, the question: since "A" zones are usually protected by a great deal of building restrictions and denials, are we allowed to imagine that "A" zones are meant to be expanded with time and so bigger and bigger amounts of the towns will become "untouchable"?
    More: Italy is undergoing a strong demographical implosion. What to do with the towns, then?

    These two serious matters are (of course) still open field of discussion.
    What do you think about?

  8. #8
    Member
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    is urban planning dead?

    In Detroit
    it kills historic continuity for superbowel parking

    the madison-lenox hotel.

  9. #9
          quink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DA Monkey
    Here in Queensland, Australia there has been a great deal of reform in the planning sector and we are still grappling with the dynamic nature of the process and how to set checks and balances whilst still delivering a vision. There has been some good, even great outcomes and there have been some terribly lacklustre decisions. All in all as has been said - planning is evolving and its only by encouraging new planners and ideas that it will continue to be relevant.
    Just some background from another Brisbanite: It's always been *the* city of suburban sprawl. I've gone back through the archives and found it priding in 1956 on the fact that it was, area-wise, the biggest city on the planet, next to Los Angeles. Brisbane's density is lower than that of 7 nations, lying at around EDIT: 708 people/km^2.

    Right now, what the city council and it's surrounding shires and councils, including Redland, Caboolture and Gold Coast on the bay and Ipswich further inland are doing is growth management. They don't reclassify or renovate, the only thing they're doing is widening roads and saying where the sprawl needs to go, effectively filling in the green spots on the map. New schools and Busways/lanes are placed miles away from where they are really needed, and the plan to combat urban congestion is set to cost, since 1999, more than A$4.5 billion. $3.5 billion of which are for new roads and tunnels.

    If you want to find out what happens after unregulated sprawl, look at Brisbane.

    Regarding the talk about the brilliant decisions to come out of the BCC (Brisbane City Council), then the formation and planning of Translink has to be number one, especially with its recent Draft Network Plan. Followed by a very long gap.

    On the other hand, this: They want to accomodate another 1 million people in this area within 20 years, up from 2.5 million now. Most of which will be accomodated "way out there" in Ipswich, "way up there" in Caboolture and "way down there" between Logan and Beenleigh, all of which are an hour from the CBD by public transport or more, if at all reachable.

    I'd really like one of those "great outcomes", and if you mention South Bank, I'll just tell everybody that it's an outdated and renovated Expo '88 showpiece that only creates congestion with people having to go "all the way there" to actually get a museum. It's an hour from where I live.
    Last edited by quink; 21 May 2005 at 5:11 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian gicarto's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Eyes on the Street
    Planning is not dead, but unfortunately it is in many cases reactionary. Most reclaimed inner city neighborhoods were ignored by planners until the artists and bohemians made them cool. Then they swoop in and upscale it, thus displacing the people that cared about it in the first place. I know that most of the time it's more about politics than planning and that may be the real problem. It also seems that newly planned communities are designed poorly by discouraging walking or easy connections between housing and jobs and services. I think that's why Duany has gotten so much press. Whether you agree with him or not he's an activist, he has vision and he's not just rubber stamping the status quo.
    Planning has to be reactionary because people want to live where they feel comfortable. I am not currently a planner but I am looking for position that is more reactionary because I want people in the US to have the right to vote with there feet. Maybe as planners, we need to come up with best practices for reactionary planning.
    Trying to get my grubby hands on as much stimulus money as I can.:D

  11. #11
    (for now) Frozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gicarto
    Planning has to be reactionary because people want to live where they feel comfortable. I am not currently a planner but I am looking for position that is more reactionary because I want people in the US to have the right to vote with there feet. Maybe as planners, we need to come up with best practices for reactionary planning.
    But that wouldn't be "planning" in any true sense of the word. At that point it would just be "management of development pressure".

    Though...it is any interesting concept.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

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