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Thread: Are there general rules of thumb for planning and developing?

  1. #1
    Aug 2012

    Are there general rules of thumb for planning and developing?

    I'm merely an interested bystander who was thinking of starting to attend local planning meetings out of curiosity and a desire to get involved. I've read a little bit about planning here and there, but was wondering if there were any rules of thumb that make up the basics of planning? For example, are there any truisms about how many gas stations per number of people in a certain area there should be? How many libraries per 10,000 people, grocery stores per 1,000 people, etc.? Obviously I understand all of this is circumstantial and will vary, but most professions still have "best practices" of a kind that will usually prove beneficial in a lot of cases.

    I'd be curious about any such studies or unofficial truisms that I could look into in my search to promote healthier growth in my local community.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
    Jan 2009
    Remote command post at local bar
    Nope, no rule of thumb. It's more like common sense supported with the best data we can find. Things like, we want a walkable downtown so gas stations and drive thrus shouldn't be here. My rule of thumb, make sure the new use doesn't annoy the neighborhood. You just have to look into what would be a nuisance like traffic, noise, people, dogs... You never know what makes the list.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  3. #3
    Jul 2010
    Eastern Canada
    I would say there are no truisms, especially when it comes to numbers (people per library, etc.). Communities are super complex, so what works in one place likely won't work in another.

    Of course, that's not to say planners don't try to create and apply truisms. You see all sorts of fads or ideas copied from elsewhere end up in community plans. I think there's often a feeling that if we can't boil our profession down to some "constants" then we're not a profession at all.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian RandomPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2005
    Missing up north from the low country
    The best rule of thumb is a pretty vague one -- It Depends!

    That was the line that came up most often in undergrad and graduate school and the valid answer to almost all hypothetical planning questions. Every community, development, and neighborhood is different and thus basic planning will vary from site to site. I say thank you for wanting to be involved. Go sit in on some meetings and ask questions if you don't understand. It's a fun learning process.
    How do I know you are who you think you are?

  5. #5
    Mod Gedunker's avatar
    Aug 2003
    The Wonderland Way
    There can be some generalities of population:service. You need X number of people in X geographic area to support X acres of parks, or mass transit, or what have you. They are just generalized guidelines and vary from every place to every other place based on culture, history, age, et cetera.
    The old women used to say you could tell the next day’s weather, by whether you could hear the highway or the railroad at night. I recall that they were right more often than not.

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