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Thread: What would be the role of urban planners in a libertarian society?

  1. #26
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Maybe not as theoretical as we might suspect. I'm surprised no one has posted this story yet:
    I love the bit where he says that these structurally and mechanically complex floating cities will be "libertarian" paradises, where, among other things, there will be "looser building codes" than would be permitted in any land-based city or country. Um.

  2. #27
    Heavy sarcasm: building a floating city would need far fewer rules than building on land.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Heavy sarcasm: building a floating city would need far fewer rules than building on land.
    Kevin Costner as Mayor!

  4. #29
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    In a libertarian society the role of an urban planner is to advocate for roundabouts at all intersections as roundabouts are inherently less oppressive than signalized and stop control intersections which require obeying various colors or stop signs. Yielding is the extent of any regulation by government and yielding rather than stopping clearly provides more freedom to the individual. Lack of signals means less money required for installation and maintenance by government, requiring less in taxation. Roundabouts (at least here in the U.S.) also require you to go "right" every time which if you're a right-winged libertarian is poignantly symbolic.

  5. #30
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    In a libertarian society the role of an urban planner is to advocate for roundabouts at all intersections as roundabouts are inherently less oppressive than signalized and stop control intersections
    Do there have to be intersections at all in the truly libertarian city? Libertarians, after all, dislike excess infrastructure, or at least the taxes needed to create that infrastructure. Perhaps they may wish to propose a linear city..a line with one huge, super high-speed road and massive buildings on either side, extending zig-zag style through all the land on the path of least resistance (conservation is, of course, not an issue for libertarians). The rich can avoid the road and bounce from helipad to helipad, of course.

  6. #31
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    t's somewhat disappointing that, after the initial insightful posts, the thread has degenerated into generic slamming of 'Libertarianism'.

    Libertarianism does NOT, repeat NOT mean no courts, no cops, no laws, etc. It does mean that property rights cannot be infringed based solely on the basis that the majority odes not want you to build an apartment complex because 'those' people will move in, or that it forces you to have a curb turn radius (on your property) of exactly X.

    In the 'real' world, if libertarians ran a country I would expect some building codes (no buildings that fall down on top of their neighbour in a typical windstorm) and even zoning regulations to emerge (no rendering plant in an established residential area) but certainly nothing like current zoning micro-management.

    As has been pointed out, presumably there would be 'design' planning for large developments. Because of the many network and transportation advantages of medium-sized continuously connected conurbations, I would guess that some town-sized developments would eventually emerge.

    The most interesting interactions would presumably in areas with mixed and multiple, lot-by-lot tenancy and a public road system, in terms of disputes.

    It is a GIVEN that with a lot fewer laws and regulations, recourse to the courts would be considerably more common in a libertarian society than would be otherwise, though costs would probably lead many to cheaper/faster arbitration proceedings.

    In terms of built space, Iím actually inclined to think that after a prolonged period of libertarianism, were that to ever obtain (which I doubt), it would look a lot more like NU/TND than not.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  7. #32
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    It's somewhat disappointing that, after the initial insightful posts, the thread has degenerated into generic slamming of 'Libertarianism'.

    .


    Roundabouts all have a fountainhead? One shrugs when coming to an intersection? The buildings all look well-designed? By-laws are all in an unreadable book we thought was great in junior high but thought was unworkable by college? How else would we approach something that will never happen, except with humor?

  8. #33
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    t's somewhat disappointing that, after the initial insightful posts.
    Luca, I guess I just feel you're approaching this in the wrong way. Politically speaking, I'm probably the most libertarian poster on this board (in terms of planning.. I'm not a card-carrying Libertarian with a capital "L" by any stretch of the imagination), as far as I can tell.. in that my basic premise is that planners should only tweak around the edges of land-use requirements imposed by a district's bid-rent curve.. and my belief that people should have the right to do what they want with land that they own, within reason. I also have a more literal interpretation of the limits of the constitutionally derived planning police power that forms the legal basis of our profession in the US.

    Libertarianism in planning isn't a "look" or a "feel".. it's an approach, and i would argue the default approach of the profession before the imposition from others (mostly architects) of megalomaniac unitary visions.. such as Thiel with his floating cities (which are anything but libertarian), Soviet or Chinese-style central planning, or the NU Smartcode.. which, as basically totalitarian (all encompassing) world views of how space should be organized, are by definition the opposite of libertarianism.

    A libertarian city - a city that organically evolves from such a relatively non-interventionist approach to land-use planning - is a diverse space, with a fine grain of development (befitting the broad variety of developers who would be supported under such a system), highly mixed uses (since uses would not be quite as fixed in statute as they are in some types of planning practice), not a whole lot of imposed use restrictions save those strictly required to secure health and safety, and density/morphology and dictated by highest and best use (the bid-rent curve). In short, it would look like many East and Southeast Asian cities (excluding China and South Korea, of course), with elements of (central) Houston and parts of St Louis. Taipei, Kaohsiung, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur all come to mind. Perhaps parts of Tokyo and Osaka too. None of those cities had a guiding diagram or masterplan for much of their development.
    Last edited by Cismontane; 19 Aug 2011 at 3:02 PM.

  9. #34
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    I would think that strictly 'libertarian' (small 'l') urban places would look a lot like our cities all did up until about a century ago (before the 'Euclid v Ambler' decision). The major planning was for infrastructure facilities, making sure that the public streets all line up and connect, that there are provisions for needed future upgrades and new corridors, etc, while the private sector was mostly allowed to do what was in its overall best interest with as little other interference as possible. Thus, IMHO, our urban places would be much more dense, compact, spontaneous and flavorful than they are now - *NO* government-enforced 'Beigevilles'.

    Mike

  10. #35
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    I would think that strictly 'libertarian' (small 'l') urban places would look a lot like our cities all did up until about a century ago (before the 'Euclid v Ambler' decision). The major planning was for infrastructure facilities, making sure that the public streets all line up and connect, that there are provisions for needed future upgrades and new corridors, etc, while the private sector was mostly allowed to do what was in its overall best interest with as little other interference as possible. Thus, IMHO, our urban places would be much more dense, compact, spontaneous and flavorful than they are now - *NO* government-enforced 'Beigevilles'.

    Mike
    Maybe also like a larger scale Medieval town? I don't know much about the history of Medeival town design beyond the Spanish Laws of the Indies that grew out of that experience and informed town site design in the New World beginning in the 17th century. Maybe others had design elements (like location of the church, market, etc.) brought down from on high by the Lordship of particular regions, but my impression is that many of these places developed organically - places that thrived were strategically well placed for different kinds of trade or production (along rivers, at major route intersections) and perhaps in relation to the feudal lords' residences (where goods had to be taken on a regular basis)?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  11. #36
    This all depends on what you think a libertarian society would be like. Two extremes:

    1. A place where government whithers away and where people form independent Utopias where land use decisions result from unfettered free markets along with a small amount of nuisance law to prevent one persons activities from impinging on the enjoyment of the neighbors. They'd be few poor people because of strong economic growth and little perverse incentives not to work. Private charity would take care of the rest.

    2. A hell on earth with gated communities to keep the vast numbers of poor people out of the few rich enclaves. Pollution is terrible, violence common with only your own guns to protect yourself from others attacking you.

  12. #37
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    This all depends on what you think a libertarian society would be like. Two extremes
    I believe that it may be possible to have libertarian planning without libertarian politics. My comments were limited to planning. Arguably, if you greatly relaxed functional zoning and land-use segregation, you might promote more affordable, market-driven development that'll provide more housing and services in better configuration than would otherwise be possible.

  13. #38
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    The role of planners in any libertarian society in what is now the US would be the physical planning of impregnable, self-sufficient fortresses for local warlords.

  14. #39

  15. #40
    A serious question:

    How would a libertarian society address the failures of the prezoning era? Before zoning, nuisance law was the main way that noxious land uses were controlled. But these failed for a number of reasons. One is that tenants had no right to bring suits, only land owners. Another problem is that lawsuits are expensive and only the well off can afford them (why would a polluter care about the possibility of poor neighbors suing him? If they are too poor to sue, then why bother to negotiate or agree to mediation? ) In that era, courts were reluctant to stop pollution even when they agreed it was a problem. They often let pollution continue because of sympathy for the business owner or because they found the argument: it has to go someplace, why not here? convincing. Covenants didnt work either. What happens at the edge of a covenanted area. or how do you initiate covenants into an existing area with dozens or thousands of property owners, each of whom would have to agree to a new covenant?

    I find some of the examples of overzealous zoning scary, such as the thread a year or so ago trying to differentiate between tea and coffee places. But given that we know laissez faire land use policies dont work, why go back to the? Or a better question, whaqt could we do now that would address their problems?

  16. #41
    Cyburbian
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    Had a discussion with an extreme libertarian a few months back. Pointed out that in a totally libertarian state, you would rapidly develop countries with all the law and tax and infrastructure they claim to hate.

    A lot of the things that they feel can be done by business are in fact regionally based. Police forces can't be interrogating burglars to find out what plan they pay for, etc. So you would see a lot of these things bundled into packages by real estate developers. My apartment building is an example of this; we get a lot of services, but they are one size fits all from specific carriers.

    You won't get to custom micromanage your plans; I can't even custom micromanage my cell phone package, let alone police and roads.

    Of course paying for these things tends to have efficiencies of scale, so the drive would be for developers to merge into huge sprawling conglomerates. Don't like their package of services and deed restrictions? Move.

    Laws are supposed to be, rather, lots of lawsuits. Ha! Those are a pain in the neck. but in any case, they will usually tend to be based on precedent anyways. That precedent will build rapidly and security people who are called in to mediate issues will use the precedent books to make decisions by. So suddenly, you have a book of law.

    So now, we have countries with fairly restrictive codes of laws, taxes (bills for payment of packages), and central government (however the developers make decisions) that is likely done in a pretty bureaucratic and heavy-handed manner. Isn't that the things that the Libertarians are trying to move away from?

  17. #42
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    A serious question:

    How would a libertarian society address the failures of the prezoning era?... In that era, courts were reluctant to stop pollution even when they agreed it was a problem. They often let pollution continue because of sympathy for the business owner or because they found the argument: it has to go someplace, why not here? convincing. Covenants didnt work either. What happens at the edge of a covenanted area. or how do you initiate covenants into an existing area with dozens or thousands of property owners, each of whom would have to agree to a new covenant?
    The pollution issue raises some interesting questions. NOAA, for example, was established because prior to that, a person could only file suit if they could show that their land was negatively impacted by pollution. But the water in streams, lakes, rivers and the ocean as well as the air didn't officially "belong" to anyone and so it was difficult if not impossible to sue for negative impacts on these resources. NOAA operates on the decision that these elements constitute a "commons" owned collectively by the American people and so now the government can sue enterprises for polluting them.

    Would this kind of legal classification fly in a Libertarian society? Would there be other strategies to address this kind of pollution?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  18. #43
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JusticeZero View post
    Had a discussion with an extreme libertarian a few months back. Pointed out that in a totally libertarian state, you would rapidly develop countries with all the law and tax and infrastructure they claim to hate.

    A lot of the things that they feel can be done by business are in fact regionally based. Police forces can't be interrogating burglars to find out what plan they pay for, etc. So you would see a lot of these things bundled into packages by real estate developers. My apartment building is an example of this; we get a lot of services, but they are one size fits all from specific carriers.

    You won't get to custom micromanage your plans; I can't even custom micromanage my cell phone package, let alone police and roads.

    Of course paying for these things tends to have efficiencies of scale, so the drive would be for developers to merge into huge sprawling conglomerates. Don't like their package of services and deed restrictions? Move.

    Laws are supposed to be, rather, lots of lawsuits. Ha! Those are a pain in the neck. but in any case, they will usually tend to be based on precedent anyways. That precedent will build rapidly and security people who are called in to mediate issues will use the precedent books to make decisions by. So suddenly, you have a book of law.

    So now, we have countries with fairly restrictive codes of laws, taxes (bills for payment of packages), and central government (however the developers make decisions) that is likely done in a pretty bureaucratic and heavy-handed manner. Isn't that the things that the Libertarians are trying to move away from?
    I think your assumptions about the results of Libertarianism are wrong because they are based on theory. I think Somalia is probably much closer to the real world results of the Libertarian government model -- or lack thereof.

  19. #44
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I think your assumptions about the results of Libertarianism are wrong because they are based on theory. I think Somalia is probably much closer to the real world results of the Libertarian government model -- or lack thereof.
    Really, I was also basing it on something closer to the ideal proposed by libertarians.. not just a lack of government, but a bunch of well-to-do educated white guys orchestrating a lack of government. Which, I agree, would not happen in nature, but i'm happy to run with the model they have in mind rather than the real world.

  20. #45
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JusticeZero View post
    Really, I was also basing it on something closer to the ideal proposed by libertarians.. not just a lack of government, but a bunch of well-to-do educated white guys orchestrating a lack of government. Which, I agree, would not happen in nature, but i'm happy to run with the model they have in mind rather than the real world.
    I kinda thought that's what you were doing.

    I just have a real problem with ideologues of whatever "ism" they espouse, be it left or right. This country would be much better off with less ideology and more pragmatism.

  21. #46
    Cyburbian developmentguru's avatar
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    Well, being a planner in Texas, I can tell you I hear a handful of times a month that someone is a Libertarian and they'd prefer it if we didn't exist

    Oh yeah....and called a Nazi.

  22. #47
    Cyburbian
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    Libertarian planning: see Cantor, Eric (R-Depraved), on disaster assistance

  23. #48
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I am surprised this didn't end up in this thread....

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/...140840896.html

    Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch--free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place.
    Ahh libertarianism at its finest. I would imagine that we planner types would help draft ways to assure that no regulations would be drafted.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  24. #49
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JusticeZero View post
    Had a discussion with an extreme libertarian a few months back. Pointed out that in a totally libertarian state, you would rapidly develop countries with all the law and tax and infrastructure they claim to hate.
    I don't think this would happen, because one thing that most "libertarians" (really corporate-power apologists) seem to forget is that corporations and the concept of limited liability are government constructs, created by the people through their democratically-elected representatives to advance the people's interests.

    In othre words, we allow groups of people to come together in a way that limits their liability to whatever they invest in an enterprise because we have found that the economy grows faster and creates more wealth when people are not impoverished by the failure of said enterprises. In a sense, limited liability socializes the effects of corporate failure today, because those who profited from that corporation can't be sued to collect damages, and those damages are in effect diffused throughout society instead through losses in other areas (i.e. tax deductions for investment losses).

    Look at the history of corporations and you will see that, before limited liability was available to joint stock companies in the mid-1800's, if your company failed you had unlimited liability and could lose all of your belongings and wealth in bankruptcy proceedings. This made it difficult to create large corporations with staying power, because their owners were always vunerable to losing it all. Therefore, the concept of large corporate entities taking the place of government is unrealistic as the legal underpinning for them wouldn't exist in a truly libertarian society.

    So, any truly libertarian world would need to ensure that everyone was responsible for themselves and no-one was shielded from the consequences of their actions by government laws or regulations. Those who became rich through a corporation could also become penniless if that corporation failed. Sounds fair to me.

    This is why we will never live in Libertarian Land. The so-called "libertarians" who fight against government today (Koch, et al.) are really just fighting against anything that limits their power. They will never follow through and end the government interference in the free market that gives them that power in the first place (or their tax breaks, or their bail-outs, etc.).

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally posted by UrbaneSprawler View post
    In a libertarian society the role of an urban planner is to advocate for roundabouts at all intersections as roundabouts are inherently less oppressive than signalized and stop control intersections which require obeying various colors or stop signs. Yielding is the extent of any regulation by government and yielding rather than stopping clearly provides more freedom to the individual. Lack of signals means less money required for installation and maintenance by government, requiring less in taxation. Roundabouts (at least here in the U.S.) also require you to go "right" every time which if you're a right-winged libertarian is poignantly symbolic.
    I am a moderate semi-libertarian.....but I hate roundabouts!! I think they are the worst type of road design and planning ever devised and was really happy that Americans, largely, chose to stay away from them....until recently. Sadly, roundabouts are coming into vogue now. It is strange, but from my experience, even the most "death to the police!"-people obey stoplights, and more often than stop signs. It's like we Americans have now, after so many decades of their existence, just been programmed to pay attention to lights, than to just signs or even just common courtesy (I see too many drivers overtake pedestrians in crosswalks where there are no traffc signals). I've been through many roundabouts-I guess it depends on the amount of traffic, but I always have to take a deep breath before entering and pray I have enough time and room to merge to where I need to go. Anybody remember the original National Lampoons Vacation movie where the Griswolds got stuck for hours in a roundabout in London?

    I can not become an extreme libertarian as I know from experience that laws and regulations are simply supplements for common coutesy and common sense, and, sadly, from my experience, most people lack both. A true Ayn Rand libertarian philosophy would infer that the majority of people have common sense, courtesy, and, when left alone, will normally do the right thing. It is my experience that the exact opposite is true. So please, planners....no more roundabouts!!

    -Chris

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