Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Do we really need urban planners?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
    Posts
    18

    Do we really need urban planners?

    If your goal is to have an urban settlement that 1. Leads to a socio-economically integrated society, that 2. Uses a minimum of raw materials to create and a minimum of energy to contain while 3. maintaining property values and 4. promoting higher per capita incomes- donít we already know what works? So why do we need planners to continually tell us what to do?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,185
    We don't know everything that works. Things change over time. A lot of what we do now (at least here) is try to mitigate some of the really bad urban renewal and freeway decisions that were made decades ago and ended up hurting areas more than helping them. These were done by folks who thought they knew what they were doing.

    Ultimately its a planners job to advise of possible outcomes. We are not the makers of policy. We are champions for good policy. Politicians will come and go and often are making horrible policy decisions.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Where the Wild Things Are
    Posts
    2,245
    I will add that is naive to think that people will always do what is best even when they know the "right" answers. Human nature has shown us for millenia that often human beings will exploit systems, politics, and other people for their best interests (motivation being money, power, and resources). I see more cheap developers out there putting up crappy, sprawling developments in order to make a buck than I do altruistic ones doing affordable and sustainable projects, don't you? And would the latter developers have been doing this if it weren't for planners to help guide them through education and policy decisions?
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    on my 15 minute break
    Posts
    17,815
    Quote Originally posted by jeafl View post
    If your goal is to have an urban settlement that 1. Leads to a socio-economically integrated society,....
    I don't think there's a consensus on that objective. Seems have competing interests between achieiving certain personal objectives (say, living a lifestyle of lavish comfort that making large profit affords) that can conflict with what may be in a community's best interests (e.g. equitable allocation of resources). I guess in many ways successful planning is a balancing act between these two polar views.

  5. #5
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
    Registered
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hang on Sloopy...land
    Posts
    9,739
    Quote Originally posted by jeafl View post
    If your goal is to have an urban settlement that 1. Leads to a socio-economically integrated society, that 2. Uses a minimum of raw materials to create and a minimum of energy to contain while 3. maintaining property values and 4. promoting higher per capita incomes- don’t we already know what works? So why do we need planners to continually tell us what to do?
    Who is "us"? I think how you define that answers a whole lot about how the question is framed.

    There is no "us" in the real world. Not many people share the same concepts on local government, let alone Utopian policy. If we knew all the answers - as your questions assumes, we wouldn't need a lot of professions. Why have economists, when we already know everything about the way money flows? Why have ecologists, why have business regulation?

    That is far from reality. Now if you are asking a hypothetical, then you would need planners to continually remind the lesser brained of "us" to not mess up the built environment. And to get paid CRAZY amounts of money to do so.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,395

    Nšive dreams and assumptions.

    Quote Originally posted by jeafl View post
    If your goal is to have an urban settlement that 1. Leads to a socio-economically integrated society, that 2. Uses a minimum of raw materials to create and a minimum of energy to contain while 3. maintaining property values and 4. promoting higher per capita incomes- donít we already know what works? So why do we need planners to continually tell us what to do?
    Your false conclusion doesn't follow from your false premises.

    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    I will add that is naive to think that people will always do what is best even when they know the "right" answers. Human nature has shown us for millenia that often human beings will exploit systems, politics, and other people for their best interests (motivation being money, power, and resources). I see more cheap developers out there putting up crappy, sprawling developments in order to make a buck than I do altruistic ones doing affordable and sustainable projects, don't you? And would the latter developers have been doing this if it weren't for planners to help guide them through education and policy decisions?
    Yes exactly. People are only occasionally rational.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Ocean to the east, land to the west
    Posts
    1,057
    The hard part isn't "what" an ideal community should look like (although there is plenty of debate about that) its "how" to get there. The "how" is what most planners really do. I wish grad schools would spend less time on the "what" and more on the "how."

    As long as planning isn't assumed to be part of how communities work, communities will need urban planners with good people skills to work on the issue.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    225
    On a fundamental basis Urban Planning is an art not a science.

    Planners tried to be scientific at one time but we ended up with ‘50’s tract housing, freeways cutting through established residential neighbourhoods and faceless housing complexes that looked the same in every city across the country.

    The problem with ‘scientific’ urban planning is it incorrectly assumes that all locations are the exact same and that all people want the exact same thing. That simply isn’t true. Every community needs to have a plan uniquely tailored to suit its geography, economy, history and political reality. However there is no way to completely study every relevant aspect of every community - to do so would cost more than any benefit such knowledge would provide. Therefore there must be some subjective decisions made based on best guesses and gut feelings. That’s were the art comes in. Urban Planners are trained to understand complex relationships between a multitude of different things and make decisions based on the best available information.


    Also: your four premises are just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds, if not thousands of other elements that Planners may have to consider. One of the skills of an Urban Planners is to know how to rank and rate different elements, particularly when they are not necessarily quantifiable.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Dixie
    Posts
    5,846
    My County is growing at a 45% clip. Because of that, major issues regarding infrastructure and making all the diiferent parts fit together. My staff and I make sure that the developmemt which is happening meets the regs plus meets the overall goals for the County. We also resolve problems while trying prevent future ones. On top of that we try to bring a sense of order to the chaos. We are the go between for the Feds, the State and the locals on issues regarding stormwater, floodplain and dumping. Not all planners do Ivory Tower stuff. Some of us are in the trenches trying to do what's right for all our citizens.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Los Angeles, California
    Posts
    578
    To myself planning should allow for the social characterisitics of a community to emerge within in the framework established by the plan. These characteristics of the community will change as the demographic component changes but at that point I believe the character of the community will have mutured to the point to where it will influence and shape peoples perspective on how the community should be.

    On the other hand it is sort of a crap shoot!
    Looking for Sanity
    In this Crazy Land Of Ours

  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,826
    Quote Originally posted by jeafl View post
    If your goal is to have an urban settlement that 1. Leads to a socio-economically integrated society, that 2. Uses a minimum of raw materials to create and a minimum of energy to contain while 3. maintaining property values and 4. promoting higher per capita incomes- don’t we already know what works? So why do we need planners to continually tell us what to do?
    Depends on who the "we" is that supposedly knows all of this. And I would agree that we (meaning planners) don't actually know. We have a good idea of some of the elements involved, but as has been pointed out, every circumstance is different and things change over time.

    Many hands make a great place. Developers, residents, the City, etc. But without Planners and without the regulations planning creates, we would probably not have very many of the things on your numbered list. The wealthy would zone the poor out of their part of town, developers would continue to use the cheapest materials for construction and pass on ancillary or ongoing costs - like high heating bills due to low quality insulation - to the buyers (because, really, the developer does not gain much from making super efficient homes except that they have to charge more to recoup those costs) and so on. And maintaining property values is the direct result of (among other things) ensuring that incompatible uses do not negatively impact the City's functionality (the cement plant next to the school, for example). Without zoning and without public input on large projects like that, we would definitely see a lot more volatility in terms of property values.

    Planning, and especially planning with public input, is messy business. But that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile.

    My two cents. Now I go eat lunch.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 15
    Last post: 27 Dec 2012, 1:55 PM
  2. Replies: 51
    Last post: 12 Dec 2011, 2:11 AM
  3. GIS and urban planners
    Student Commons
    Replies: 12
    Last post: 29 Jul 2008, 12:27 AM
  4. Replies: 15
    Last post: 28 Dec 2004, 1:51 PM
  5. Urban planners roles
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 15 May 2001, 3:55 PM