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Thread: What is your planning philosophy?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    What is your planning philosophy?

    I was invited to speak at a business council meeting to discuss my planning philosophy. I have an hour and that includes Q&A, so I'm hoping there will be a lot of that. I don't know that I have any particular planning philosophy other than my job is to aid the County in understanding and implementing its own goals for growth and development... and not do anything illegal.

    So... what kind of planning philosophies do y'all have?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    You probably have a planning philosophy, but don't know it. For instance, do you see yourself as servantile to the community's vision; or, do you see yourself as someone who is in the 'know' and can cultivate a direction that might be against the community's wishes, but is ultimately benefitial? Do you think the environment should be protected over economic/business interests? etc. etc.

    Personally: though I was trained in public policy and urban affairs, I'm much more aligned with the architecture industry which is, admittedly, a bit of a fascist group. That means I tend to view things as they ought to be based on regional sustainability, environmental stewardship, and smart growth practices. I have a hard time listening to community members talk about keeping things status quo when their perspective is so short/one-sided. It's a human failing to do that, of course, but that's why there are professionals who are educated and trained in 'planning'. So I guess what I'm saying is, a tend to think of myself as the 'expert' that helps a community, not a servant to the community's wishes. I've met a lot of trained 'community' planners, that think the complete opposite, and it just leaves me shaking my head. Anyways, that's my basic personal planning philosophy.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I guess I see myself as more of an adviser. I really believe that the community itself needs to have ownership over what they want their community to look like. But sometimes they need help developing the vision, especially over the long-term. As far as development philosophies, I'm a firm believer that there's a middle road that needs to try to be found as much as possible. People need to be able to use their property, but not without oversight.

    My presentation is going to be pretty short, I think... Haha.

    Quote Originally posted by mercdude View post
    You probably have a planning philosophy, but don't know it. For instance, do you see yourself as servantile to the community's vision; or, do you see yourself as someone who is in the 'know' and can cultivate a direction that might be against the community's wishes, but is ultimately benefitial? Do you think the environment should be protected over economic/business interests? etc. etc.

    Personally: though I was trained in public policy and urban affairs, I'm much more aligned with the architecture industry which is, admittedly, a bit of a fascist group. That means I tend to view things as they ought to be based on regional sustainability, environmental stewardship, and smart growth practices. I have a hard time listening to community members talk about keeping things status quo when their perspective is so short/one-sided. It's a human failing to do that, of course, but that's why there are professionals who are educated and trained in 'planning'. So I guess what I'm saying is, a tend to think of myself as the 'expert' that helps a community, not a servant to the community's wishes. I've met a lot of trained 'community' planners, that think the complete opposite, and it just leaves me shaking my head. Anyways, that's my basic personal planning philosophy.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    It's a good question. I've always seen myself in several different roles depending on the project. For most home owners I see myself as the guy who prevents stupid. It's why we have these regulations. If stupid happens it'll cost you money in the long run so do it right the first time. I also see myself as a problem solver. I help people make their projects happen. When it comes to long range planning then I start taking the problem solving to long term problems, but I still fall back on what people want and how people define problems.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    It really depends on your actual job and responsibilities. So many planners aren't really true planners, they're regulators. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just how it is. Personally, I feel that as you advance into your career and if you have aspirations of being a director, your job should be to push the envelop when necessary in order to advance good planning. The key is to try to do it in a way that doesn't piss everybody off with your attitude. I've interviewed for jobs before where it became pretty obvious they were just filling the job in order to have someone. I think a director should try to be as visionary as possible and sometimes that makes people uncomfortable. But I truly believe that's what a planner should be doing.
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
    Seems to think that money grows on trees . . .

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Good question.

    As a member of the Planning Commission of a small town without its first stop light that shared a listing with another city in the telephone book, the first step was to set its own identity.
    Our community was listed as Madison-Ridgeland in the phone book, even though these were two small independent communities with their own mayors.
    We didn’t need to be self-sufficient as a community, because we were a “bed-room community suburb” of an existing large city.

    We needed a town plan as a focal point to identify our center and to set our goals for outreach (future expansion).
    We needed to protect our residential areas by containing where commercial/industrial areas were allowed to exist and expand.

    We saw how other communities had undesirable parts, largely because of homes being too close to aging and deteriorating undesirable trashy business areas and garish signage. The two land uses seemed incompatible. We needed to separate the two while providing for future growth of both types. This was done by new zoning restrictions by creation of a new zoning map with the formation of a new Planning Commission and the assistance of planning professionals in the Central Planning and Development District of our state. We also expanded our city limits to protect our fringe area and to anticipate future growth.

    One of the things most important to our residents was safety from crime. Most of our residents had moved here to escape the increasing crime in the adjacent city. It was pointed out to our mayor by local police and criminologists that 80% of crime originates in apartment areas where home ownership is nob-existent. Since we had no apartments and crime the crime rate was low, our mayor insisted that we try to emphasize home ownership and minimize apartment/rental space. We still have no apartment complexes. Multifamily exists as a Zoning District, but we have no are on the Zoning Map designated as multi-family or “apartments.” Rental housing (while not treated as a separate zone) is treated as a business and is taxed, regulated, and inspected regularly for health, maintenance, and fire protection to potential occupants and their neighbors.

    My personal thought is to encourage a “college campus” feeling of community design by emphasizing landscaping and space between homes and businesses, severely limiting signage, and requiring underground utilities in residential areas.

    We have adopted very restrictive signage and business lighting codes, and replacing overhead electric utility lines with underground lines.
    In an effort to prevent “adult entertainment” “exposure” problems, the city has adopted sign restrictions that severely reduce the amount of signage allowed, and prohibits using the human body in whole or in part in outdoor advertising, even when used in national trademarks.

    As to the physical appearance of our community, the mayor has encouraged “brick and mortar” traditional design rather than modern “plastic and glass” “modern” construction and design. She has also discouraged “cookie cutter” building designs of franchise businesses found all over the country without sensitivity to local desires. The mayor is the longest continually serving female mayor in the country, which shows that the people like what she is doing.

    Our city now has a high per capita income, great school systems, and has been awarded national recognition for lowest crime rate, best places to live and retire.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by gtpeach View post
    I guess I see myself as more of an adviser. I really believe that the community itself needs to have ownership over what they want their community to look like.
    So room for a dualie truck, no environmental regulations, and a Mickey D's at every street corner + drive-through? Oh I'm sorry... that's just the jaded planner in me coming out.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mercdude View post
    So room for a dualie truck, no environmental regulations, and a Mickey D's at every street corner + drive-through? Oh I'm sorry... that's just the jaded planner in me coming out.
    That's where I struggle- I advise but I will advocate for the community. It irks me when I hear, "it's just <name your city>". I want to get people to have pride in their community and demand better. That means saying no to the cool guy wanting to live in an RV around town in various parking spots, saying no to all the variances while allowing creative projects that are attempting to meet the spirit of the ordinances.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I think I agree with that. I mean, I don't think if you really get people talking about a vision for their community, that's really what they want. They want something that will be attractive and fun and safe. I don't know... maybe I'm just more optimistic in some ways. But I'm also practical. There are certain things that suck, but still need to be allowed. There's a place for pre-fab shell buildings. The issue is how to allow for those types of uses in a way that still retains the quality of the area where you are.

    Quote Originally posted by Habanero View post
    That's where I struggle- I advise but I will advocate for the community. It irks me when I hear, "it's just <name your city>". I want to get people to have pride in their community and demand better. That means saying no to the cool guy wanting to live in an RV around town in various parking spots, saying no to all the variances while allowing creative projects that are attempting to meet the spirit of the ordinances.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    To gtpeach:

    How did your speech go, and what did you say (in summary)?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    To gtpeach:

    How did your speech go, and what did you say (in summary)?
    Oh! It's not until next month. It just spurred my thoughts about it. Chances are, I won't prepare anything ahead of time and will just talk off the cuff. I'll try to remember to come back here and summarize, though.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian The Terminator's avatar
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    My personal:

    Do your best to make it look nice while lifting all boats

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