Planetizen


Dance Your Plan

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November 24, 2008
Getting people to understand the intricacies of planning can be a challenge. The modern-day emphasis on public participation is an effort to get people involved, but it's frankly not too appealing for most people to attend public hearings about zoning amendments and setback changes. But those zoning amendments and setback changes could be pretty important. Planners need to try harder to connect with the people their work affects to explain its importance. It's time to break from convention. One possible way is dancing.

Granted, this seems like a pretty stupid idea, but think abstractly. Think about the principle here.

To Re-Imagine Cities, Re-Imagine Urban Design

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November 13, 2008
Oil is running out and the climate is changing. How this impacts cities will largely be determined by how the urban design field reacts.

By name, the field of urban design is only about 50 years old. It was born at the 1958 "Conference on Urban Design Criticism" held at the University of Pennsylvania, attended by such legendary urban thinkers as Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch, Lewis Mumford, Ian McHarg and Louis Khan – each before publishing the seminal works that cemented their places in the history of urban planning practice and theory. They gathered together to discuss a new vision for American cities, one in response to the wide-scale urban renewal focus that was destroying communities across the country.

News Summary: Urban Policy and the Obama Presidency

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Date: 
November 5, 2008
The balloons have fallen, and the yard signs have been yanked up. The people have chosen, and in a historic win, Senator Barack Obama will soon be our next president. Now the hopes and promises of the campaign must harden into reality. Editors Tim Halbur and Nate Berg summarize what we can expect from an Obama presidency in regards to urban issues.

Unlike his opponent, the Obama camp has been putting together a cabinet and prepping for the job ahead for some time now. Obama's team is particularly strong in foreign policy advisors, as an extensive article in the New Yorker details. What is less well known is how his team will tackle the issues, such as transportation, energy, infrastructure and housing policies. Over the past month, a number of urban experts have read up on Obama's briefs and statements and have each taken a look into the crystal ball and asked, "What impact will an Obama presidency have on urban policy?"...

Halloween Costumes for Urban Planners

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Date: 
October 29, 2008
It's Halloween and that means it's costume time. But, what's that you say? Too busy updating your comprehensive plan to find a costume? Well, don't fret! I've got some last-minute costume ideas for the busy urban planner that are both fun and planning related.

I know what you must be thinking, what kind of costume could possibly be planning related? There’s tons! And here are just a few:

Big Box

This one is incredibly straightforward. Just find yourself a big cardboard box, cut some arm holes and bam! You’re a 150,000 square-foot mega-retailer ready to crush local business and drain the traditional downtown! And look! There’s a sale on candy corn on aisle 29!

Bike Lane

Stop Development, Stop Traffic?

Publication:
Date: 
October 27, 2008
In an effort to reduce traffic, citizens in Santa Monica, California have proposed a yearly cap on commercial development. Though many in the congested city are behind it, opponents say it's not an effective way to reduce traffic -- and that its passage could set a dangerous example.

Popularity can have its downsides. Santa Monica, California knows this better than many other cities in the United States. The affluent and scenic beachside town has the climate and the amenities to attract tourists, families and businesses alike. But it is also a draw for some of the less desirable elements of city life, like homeless people, scarce parking, and traffic – probably the city's three most notorious issues. But while it can be easy for many residents to avert the eyes away from the homeless and to park in a private garage, the city's choking traffic is unavoidable.

Removing Cars to Create Public Space

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Date: 
October 2, 2008
Cars dominate cities, especially in America. But as many cities in other countries have found, removing cars can turn busy streets into lively public places. Now the U.S. is starting to catch on.

Public space has a loose definition. It can be sidewalks, government buildings, or even streets, which account for nearly a third of the land area in an average city. But in people's minds, "public space" is a park or a forest or a beach – places associated with recreation, the out-of-doors and that "nature" thing we tend to divorce ourselves from. Making a connection between the idea of public space and the mundane reality of potholes and rush hour can be difficult.

Park(ing) Day in L.A., 2008

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September 22, 2008
Some 'parkers' faced police harassment, but on the whole Park(ing) Day 2008 was sunny and positive, as Los Angelenos put their own stamp on the celebration. In this video slideshow, we take a tour of some of L.A.'s parking spot parks.

This video slideshow was co-produced by Planetizen Managing Editor Tim Halbur.

Park(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

The Magnetic Parking of Tomorrow!, or Ghost Ride Your Whip

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Date: 
September 14, 2008
Earlier this month, researchers performed a test run of a bus that basically drives itself. It follows a line of magnets embedded in the pavement, coursing exactly along its route and eventually to the bus stop. The tiny magnets on the bus and in the street guide the bus to the perfect parking position at the stop for picking up passengers. It's a cool idea, and a lot of transit agencies are interested. But there are wider applications.

Take, for example, my neighborhood, where nobody knows how to park.

If a bus can park itself at a bus stop automatically, why couldn't a car automatically park itself on a street? This magnet bus idea seems simple enough to translate. Let's examine:

The Black Cloud: Using Games to Understand Air Quality

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Date: 
September 4, 2008
Human behavior and land use affect air quality, and those effects are very distinct at the local level. A new environmental game fusing public participation, air quality sensors and web technology shows how.

Cities are polluted places, and everyone knows it. Beijing is just coming out of a month-long media barrage on the city's poor air quality. Los Angeles, the original City of Smog, has been hearing it for decades. And though the existence of pollution is well known, it's not so well understood.

Lamest Land Use of the Week

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Date: 
August 8, 2008
Pizza is delicious. Crop circles are cool. But what happens when you put them together? This happens. And it is horrible.

A crop-pizza now covers six acres of Colorado farmland. It's directly under two flight paths leading into Denver International Airport, according to a recent article in the Rocky Mountain News. So when people peer out from their window seats, instead of looking down on the quilted tapestry of American land use patterns they see pizza.