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Why do we pay attention to Kunstler anyway? AIB Seabishop

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
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30
He brings up too many valid points to ignore. Yes, his delivery can be a bitter pill for some, but he makes his often valid point very clear. I love the guy.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Kunstler indirectly made my 3 year old daughter cry. I was telling my wife how on his website he wrote that as a college student he suffered from anxiety attacks and was actually fearful of the moon falling on him. My daughter said "no the moon isn't going to fall!" and cried. What a meanie.

I get a kick out of him, although a lot of it is just entertainment.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
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1,369
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29
Kunstsler's anger doesn't do much for me, but I suppose there are people who have to hear the message in those terms.
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
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13,852
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39
Seabishop said:


I get a kick out of him, although a lot of it is just entertainment.
Ditto. He's interesting to a point, but I have a hard time finishing any of his writings, it's so repetitive.
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
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27
Seabishop said:
Kunstler indirectly made my 3 year old daughter cry. I was telling my wife how on his website he wrote that as a college student he suffered from anxiety attacks and was actually fearful of the moon falling on him. My daughter said "no the moon isn't going to fall!" and cried. What a meanie.

I get a kick out of him, although a lot of it is just entertainment.
Do you know what happens to people that make little girls cry? They got to hell, they got to hell and die.

:)

I cannt fathom reading an entire book of his, although I could see buring it for heat.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
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5,270
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30
Habanero said:
I cannt fathom reading an entire book of his, although I could see buring it for heat.
I've read 3 of his books and they turned me into a grumpy eccentric 33 year old estranged husband. I think his books are basically a cure -- for NOT being a grumpy eccentric 33 year old estranged husband. What happens to women who read 3 of his books?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
Well, I was eccentric before Kunstler efver wrote his first screed, so I can't blem him for that one :)
 

donk

Cyburbian
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6,970
Points
30
I've read all of his books, and have found that each new one gets less and less enjoyable to read then the previous one. I think it is because I can see through his story telling for the 1950's romanticism/rnorman rockwell thanksgiving that he desires. Plus the further hestrays from history towards polemic/story telling his lack of understanding of the formal review process and general planning law becomes clear.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Why do people get so mad anyway? Come on having your town ripped on just brings out the positives (and the he needs killing theme).
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
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5,270
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30
It seems like every month there's a new JHK thread. Why do we keep debating his merits and demerits? Why do we keep talking about him? I think if he didn't have any relevance to the planning field, he wouldn't be on our radar screen. Yes, he is not a planner by trade. IMO that gives him greater relevance, because precisely because he's not from the inside. His salary is not directly tied to local government process. In order to find better ways to do things you need to step back with a critical eye. No wonder he makes so many local government fidget, he's screwing with the business as usual paradigm (sp?).
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
Points
25
Re: Now THIS blows away Kunstler

BKM said:
I don't know if this should be on another thread, but this little screed about "New Urbanism" and its pretentions is hilarious.

http://www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/11.06.03/evergreen-0345.html
That's an awesome article.

I've grown disillusioned with new urbanists myself. Mainly when I realized that they weren't concerned with revitalizing urban neighborhoods, just making faux imitations of them surrounded by sprawl. I think this article really spells it out, they're marketing to suburbanites, they're selling the same thing that the sprawl developers are selling, just in a prettier package. Has there ever been a mixed-income new urbanist development?
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,908
Points
57
As I have gained experience, K becomes less of a voice, but I do like to see what he's saying every so often.

As Budgie said, there is validity to his position as an 'amateur'. Jacobs was an 'amateur' and she helped to change the driection of planning, even though her importance my be declining.

K's last book was definitely not that good. At least Jacob's gave positive alternatives to the MO of the products of planning when Death and Life was written.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
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5,270
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30
mendelman said:
At least Jacob's gave positive alternatives to the MO of the products of planning when Death and Life was written.
JHK provides positive alternatives and techniques in "Home From Nowhere" (see Chapter 5), but it was largely a reformating of some of the highlights from Duany, Plater-Zyberk, Speck's "Suburban Nation".

Does anyone recall Jacob's analysis of park use. It is common-sense, which was obvious in the 18th century, but has been lost due to the "parkland for parkland's sake" mentality of today. This topic needs a new thread.
 

Bangorian

Member
Messages
198
Points
7
I find the guy amusing, especially his architectural blunders of the month.

He is a bit on the angry side, and tends to insult things people love, but I think he DOES really spell out a lot of planning issues to the non-planner brain.... gets good ideas out to the public in a way they can understand, free of most planning jargon and with a good narrative style that people can follow.

I do think it would be better if he used some tact, though, because I think nowadays he's estranging more people from "good planning" by making them defensive of their little 1950's shack. He'd be a good spokesperson if he'd just lose some of his anger. And pretentiousness.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
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5,270
Points
30
MaineMan said:
I find the guy amusing, especially his architectural blunders of the month.

He is a bit on the angry side, and tends to insult things people love, but I think he DOES really spell out a lot of planning issues to the non-planner brain.... gets good ideas out to the public in a way they can understand, free of most planning jargon and with a good narrative style that people can follow.

I do think it would be better if he used some tact, though, because I think nowadays he's estranging more people from "good planning" by making them defensive of their little 1950's shack. He'd be a good spokesperson if he'd just lose some of his anger. And pretentiousness.
Agreed !!!!!
 

Nero

Member
Messages
246
Points
10
I like him............ sometimes the truth hurts ... and people don't like that.... though love folks!
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
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4,473
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25
Budgie said:
JHK provides positive alternatives and techniques in "Home From Nowhere" (see Chapter 5), but it was largely a reformating of some of the highlights from Duany, Plater-Zyberk, Speck's "Suburban Nation".

Does anyone recall Jacob's analysis of park use. It is common-sense, which was obvious in the 18th century, but has been lost due to the "parkland for parkland's sake" mentality of today. This topic needs a new thread.
Hey what about the Geography of Nowhere. That was a pretty good book.
I remember Jacobs said that if a park is only used by a certian population during the day and not used most of the time, it becomes a wasteland. I'll have to pull out her book to better explain her notions.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
Points
30
Rumpy Tuna said:
I remember Jacobs said that if a park is only used by a certian population during the day and not used most of the time, it becomes a wasteland. I'll have to pull out her book to better explain her notions.
If my memory serves me correctly she also said that social deviance within a park is a function of park size, park design and the mix and density of adjacent land uses (thus the constant use of a park and the eyes on the street). I find that most communities parks dedication and parkland LOS standards far exceed the actual demand for parkland, especially when you consider the low density of land uses and infrequency of park visits by your average person, and the amount of private open space in yards. Open space for environmental considerations is one thing, but parkland for parklands sake without a clear understanding of a communities true use of parks wastes land, harbors delinquency (which is ok if I'm the one being delinquent) and costs public funds to maintain and patrol. IMO most communities should donate underutilized parkland to promote infill, affordable housing, and a greater mix of uses to use the remaining public spaces.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Yes but...

Budgie certainly makes some rational points. My only caveat would be that parks-particularly wilder, less manicured ones-can provide some islands of respite for a limited range of wildlife-and I'm not sure that is always bad.

Plus, to play Devil's Advocate, humanity loves its antisocial behavior. Better the heroin addicts shooting up in the bushes of a park (or copulating) than in the alley or my yard. We have to have some place for the more "feral" activities to occur.

Plus, the American myth of rustic cities is so powerfully ingrained that I doubt we'll ever get rid of it. Heck, I would make a similar point that very few people "need" a back yard. In riding my bike along Vacaville's bike paths, I would guess that 1/2-2/3 of the backyards I observe are complete wastelands. So, lets get rid of the single family home for many/most people!

Back on topic: I liked Kunstler's The City in Mind. Quick, superficial, and all that, but still an interesting read. (His chapter on Mexico City doesn't show a lot of cultural knowledge, though. It borders on racism-which I guess is to be expected from somebody who thinks that the only possible cultural archetype is the New England village of circa 1940).
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
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30
Re: Yes but...

BKM said:
Plus, to play Devil's Advocate, humanity loves its antisocial behavior. Better the heroin addicts shooting up in the bushes of a park (or copulating) than in the alley or my yard. We have to have some place for the more "feral" activities to occur.
I'm not talking about a individuals ability to shoot up or get busy under a tree with your sweetie (or complete stranger). In fact, Jacobs expressly suggests that park benches are important to fostered around the clock use, because the homeless can rest on them through the night. My comment was intended to focus on violent crime and mob (gang) activity. You need alot of space to run as a pack and stalk prey. This directly relates to JHK's observations about Le Cubusier's (sp?) tower in the park. The park is dangerous after dark, because there is a lack of diverse activities and eyes on the park.

Let's make a distinction between open space for environmental reasons (water, soil, air, wildlife, etc...) and those intended to provide an aesthetic respite from city life. My comments are not a reference to open space for environmental reasons, such as habitat preservation. In fact, if you want to really try to protect habitat, keep people out.
 

BKM

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6,463
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29
QUOTE]. My comment was intended to focus on violent crime and mob (gang) activity. You need alot of space to run as a pack and stalk prey. [/QUOTE]

All interesting points, Budgie. Except that, for example, South Central Los Angeles is very parks-poor, and the gangs have no problems organizing and stalking their prey.

Also, I'm not sure that in a dense city with high land values you will be able to neatly separate recreational and habitat/environmental preservation land uses so easily.

Even so, the basic point that in cities, undefined, poorly designed leftover landscapes can breed crime (towers in the "park") cannot be denied.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
Messages
5,270
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30
BKM said:
QUOTE]. I'm not sure that in a dense city with high land values you will be able to neatly separate recreational and habitat/environmental preservation land uses so easily.
I think it's very easy. Don't install facilities for humans in areas intended for habitat protection and properly size parks to match the active and passive recreation needs of the area. The intent, function and design of green infrastructure is very different from the intent, function and design of neighborhood and community parks. In fusing them together you can impare the effectiveness of their functions. For instance, a riparian buffer may be intended to protect habitat and filter stormwater run off. The minute you put a biking trail through it, you reduce the effectiveness of the green infrastructure to serve it's purpose. The question then becomes to what extent are we willing to compromise effectiveness for duel use.
 

BKM

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6,463
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29
I would agree with you for standard "park" type activities, budgie. But many people, including myself, have very little interest in "parks" per se. I don't play team sports, I don't have children, hate golf, and I'm not even big for picnics. I like hiking in natural settings-exactly the kind of setting that you feel is necessary to be totally "protected" from human intrusion. (Maybe I'm exagerating your position?)

For example, the East Bay Regional Park District near San Francisco-while it has diverse "developed" areas also features "natural" open space. Given the cost of land and limited availability, should the EBRPD be buying big chunks of open space and then placing them completely off-limits? Not only is that expensive in an urban setting, but you are also severely limited in that many funding sources at the state and national level include public access as a key criterion for grants. While mixing habitat preservation and "passive recreational" uses may not give the same bang for the buck as pure recreational or pure habitat preservation lands, they represent a realistic compromise.

Maybe your point is that active recreation (ballfields, golf courses, and the like) and habitat preservation don't mix-I would generally agree with you there. But, to deny the significant minority of us access to more natural settings in an urban environment out of some need to preserve "pristine nature"-we'll have to disagree there.

Edit: That doesn't mean that there are not areas within these open space systems that should be protected from human use-riparian corridors, for example. But, such areas are more effective if integrated into a larger park/open space system that has some public use.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
the idea of the rustic "safe" city is a load of horse****.

I was sitting around the table last weekend with my gf's grandparents and they started talking about town lore and eventually town history (and this place has been built out since the 50's). Her grandfather was saying how his dad used to drive one of the interurbans from Camden 20 miles east to Clementon. They eventually issued him a handgun because he got held up so many times. This was in the '30's, in the stretch of orchards and corn fields between Camden and Clementon, not in the city. Her grandmother was talking about all kinds of crazy stories of gang wars in Philly and her dad's store getting robbed - and not that it was at all unusual.

As far as Kunstler is concerned - he's a slap in the face sometimes and some people need that to get them talking about it, otherwise they just ignore it.

As far as New Urbanism is concerned . . . I can open a restaurant, serve what i call tacos and burritos, and call it "Jim's authentic Mexican." That doesn't mean it is. Like wise I can draw narrow lots, throw up some sticks and particle board close to the sidewalk and slap some vinyl on it. I can plop a park and a few stores down in the middle of it all and call it a village. That doesn't mean it is.

A lot of developers are well intentioned when it comes to this and have grand ideas of new towns (and yes california needs new greenfield housing - infill won't solve everything) but the banks won't finance it or mayors get unseated because they support it. It's going on with the old Cherry Hill Racetrack right now. http://www.smartgrowth.org/news/article.asp?art=3213&State=31&res=800
this two paragraph article sums it up the best.

As far as new urbanists and infill are concerned -
you can go to DPZ's own web site and see the works in progress (or completed) in Jersey City, Tampa, St. Louis, Miami, and new orleans. You can also check out the TOD's in Charlotte and downtown redevelopment plans in places like Baton Rouge, Sarasota, Ft. Myers, or W. Palm Beach.

In the meantime take a look at their work in Asbury Park.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
BKM, I'm assuming you live in sprawl? I don't have kids or play in team sports ether, but I use parks quite a bit. It's nice to be able to just go to a park and get some fresh air sometimes, read a book, ride my bike, and watch people walk by. Also, I live near the lake, and like to go out there and watch sailboats in the summer. I think urban park usage is significantly different from suburban park usage, which is primarily by organised sports.

Chicago is surrounded by large nature preserves and a few state parks, most are accessable by train. They are were you go if you want do do hiking, etc. Their semi-remoteness is good, because going to them is an all-day activity at least, so they're mostly uncrouded, but they're also accessable enough that anyone can go out there and spend some time in the "great out-doors".
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
off-topic paen to my neighborhood :)

I sorta live in sprawl, jordanb. Solano County is by definition "sprawl." :)

However, I lucked into a rental townhouse eight years ago that the divorcing landlord was incredibly eager to dump. So, my house is a three story townhouse in a cluster of 9 similar units on a street 2 blocks from downtown Vacaville. My house was built in 1980, but the cottage across the alley was built in 1890, and my neighborhood is a fantastic mixture of grand mansions, small cottages, 1960s ranchers, and older apartment buildings. The street trees are incredible, I am three blocks from coffee shops, restaurants, a city park with summer concerts and a creekwalk, the post office, my health club (when I drag my fat ass into the place). I can be in pretty much open country in 15 minutes on my bicycle (Solano County corrals residential development into its cities for the most part).

I really really like my neighborhood. Its the best little island in the county-I could never live in a standard subdivision or "garden luxury apartment complex" pod.

If I won the lottery, I would move to San francisco or Berkeley in a minute. Since that ain't gonna happen (especially since I don't want to be a renter again), I'm fine where i'm at.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
Points
25
Well, I mean, park usage patterns are very different in sprawl than in urban neighborhoods. People have thier back yards and parks are hard to get to in sprawl, so they're only used for organised sports, etc. In an urban neighborhood, people use parks as a "back yard," a place to go and relax, so they're not just about athletics.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
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6,463
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29
I see your point, now.

I would add that many suburbanites in Solano County commute long distances-there's not that much energy, perhaps, for a walk down to the park.

Vacaville actually has a pretty good network of neighborhood parks-its usually not that far to a public park or trail. However, with yards and the rise of television as the main focus of entertainment-there's not much need or desire to relax in public (when you can relax privately).

I don't really have much of a backyard myself. :)
 

SlaveToTheGrind

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1,445
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27
I think Kunstler has some valid points. After I went through his website my opinion is that he is for the most part, an ass. He thinks his word is the only correct word and everybody else is wrong and that only he can fix the problem. He was probably abused as a child and does not get any action so he has to revert to killing kittens. Look at the guy...makes you wonder.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
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5,270
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30
SlaveToTheGrind said:
He thinks his word is the only correct word and everybody else is wrong and that only he can fix the problem.
Oh, I thought you were talking about BUSH there for a minute.
 

Budgie

Cyburbian
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5,270
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30
jordanb said:
People have thier back yards and parks are hard to get to in sprawl, so they're only used for organised sports, etc. In an urban neighborhood, people use parks as a "back yard," a place to go and relax, so they're not just about athletics.
Jordanb, well put. That's what I was trying to get at with my private open space comment.
 
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