Tag Archives: planning

Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government

From

In Private Neighborhoods and the Transformation of Local Government, Robert H. Nelson effectively frames the discussion of what minimal government might look like in terms of personal choices based on local knowledge. He looks at the issue from the ground up rather than the top down.

Nelson argues that while all levels of American government have been expanding since World War II, people have responded with a spontaneous and massive movement toward local governance. This has taken two main forms.

The first is what he calls the “privatization of municipal zoning,” in which city zoning boards grant changes or exemptions to developers in exchange for cash payments or infrastructure improvements. “Zoning has steadily evolved in practice toward a collective private property right. Many municipalities now make zoning a saleable item by imposing large fees for approving zoning changes,” Nelson writes.

In one sense, of course, this is simply developers openly buying back property rights that government had previously taken from the free market, and “privatization” may be the wrong word for it. For Nelson, however, it is superior to rigid land-use controls that would prevent investors from using property in the most productive way. Following Ronald Coase, Nelson evidently believes it is more important that a tradable property right exists than who owns it initially.

The second spontaneous force toward local governance has been the expansion of private neighborhood associations and the like. According to the author, “By 2004, 18 percent—about 52 million Americans—lived in housing within a homeowner’s association, a condominium, or a cooperative, and very often these private communities were of neighborhood size.”

Nelson views both as positive developments on the whole. They are, he argues, a manifestation of a growing disenchantment with the “scientific management” of the Progressive Era. He thinks the devolution of governance below the municipal level to the neighborhood should be supported through statutory and state constitutional changes.

Although about one-third of all new housing since 1970 has been built within some form of neighborhood association, the majority of older neighborhoods fall outside this trend. Establishing neighborhood associations in these areas is difficult because the requirement for a homeowner to join is typically written into the deed, and this would be extremely costly to do for every home in an older neighborhood.

Nelson proposes a six-step solution that involves (1) a petition by property owners in a neighborhood to form an association, (2) state review of the proposal, (3) negotiations between the city and the neighborhood, (4) a neighborhood vote on the proposal, (5) a required supermajority, perhaps 70 percent, for passage, and (6) a transfer from the municipality of legal responsibility for regulating land use in the neighborhood to the unit owners of the association.

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Trevor Manuel – Minister of Planning: South Africa

From Daily Maverick – an interview with Trevor Manuel Minister of Planning – South Africa – on what the planning commission means and what it intends for working on South Africa’s extremely unequal demographics and poverty.

ryland fisher Trevor Manuel interview.jpg

Interviewing politicians can be difficult, because they hardly ever give a straight answer, and Minister for Planning in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, is a consummate politician. But in a wide-ranging interview, he spoke as openly as possible, among others, about how he has won over sceptics over the years, first as minister of finance and now as planning minister, about his displeasure at ministers whose utterances go against the Constitution, his anger at the policemen who killed a Mozambican man in Daveyton last week, his resignation in support of Thabo Mbeki and how his current job is very different from his previous one as minister of finance. He remained hesitant to speak about his future, however. By RYLAND FISHER.

We interviewed Manuel in his office at Parliament on Friday morning, a few hours after he had hosted a report-back meeting in the Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchells Plain where he spoke about the need to rekindle the activism that was prevalent in the 1980s.

Below is an edited extract of the interview:

RF: When you were appointed minister in charge of planning in President Zuma’s Cabinet, there were obviously some sceptics who did not quite understand what it is that you had to do. Now that the National Development Plan has taken centre stage in our political life and, indeed, our economy, do you feel vindicated?

TM: I don’t actually set out with that objective. I think that too frequently we start out not being given the benefit of the doubt. What it entails is just working hard to get things right and if, in the process, you disprove the sceptics, that’s okay, but you start out to get things right.

In the last few years of Madiba, in spite of the fact that many people told him he was crazy to appoint me minister of finance, I did not set out to prove the sceptics wrong, but I hoped that through my efforts I would be able to win the trust of Madiba and the organisation that gave me the opportunity to do so. What is important is that one is able to take decisions and learn in the process.

I understand very clearly that if the only thing you want to do in a position of leadership is to please people, the quality of your leadership is going to be severely compromised. If you try and do things that go against the grain of your belief system, then you will be unhappy and feel compromised.

If you want to deal with these issues, you have to ask questions constantly about what your reference points are, about what is your value system. Some people use the term “compass”: so where are you heading and why?

The ability to think past ideological rigidity is also important.

If I take these points and try and use them to answer the question about the National Development Plan, it makes for an interesting read.

The commission [National Planning Commission] itself is an interesting construct. I’ll be bold enough to say that my initial thought was to have the commission structured more along the lines of the Indian Planning Commission which has about half a dozen ministers on it. It is chaired by the prime minister and often the president or the deputy president could chair it and I would do the spade work inside. I lost that battle, and it was not about wanting to be a prime minister. It was about wanting to follow a construct whose relationship to implementation would be understood.

The second thing about the plan and the commission is that its composition actually lives out !ke e: ǀxarra ǁke (Khoisan for “diverse people unite”). It is quite a diverse group of people and that’s a real strength.

When we approached people to participate, on the recommendation of the president, some of them said: “Why are you approaching me? I’m not even an active member of the ANC.” However, everyone accepted. There were some people who felt rejected by the ANC. In putting this together, a lot of these people got a new lease on life and have given the commission a new lease on life. It has been very important for that reason.

The third issue is that, in many ways, when, 13 months into the process, the diagnostic report was released, it was a coming out for the commission. If people thought it was a lapdog, then the release of the diagnostic report – which deals with issues such as the unevenness of the public service, the breakdown of unity, the need to tackle corruption, etc. – spoke volumes about the way so many South Africans feel.

But it also spoke to the fact that the president, in inviting the commission to take a long-term, independent view, was actually not curtailing that. There was no censorship about the views of the commission. He allowed it to happen and has built on the momentum created by the National Planning Commission. It is going to be quite important because it was a commission started on his watch and it has been allowed to generate the unity and momentum. It is something that he wants to see through and that is very positive.

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Sasaki Associates, with RDG and AES, Wins Water Works Parkitecture Competition

From Bustler :  a review of a project reintegrating people, water and nature which is both educational and engaging – funky use of fashionable stand up paddle boards and  representation which is viewed as if we are navigating the brochure and looking out on the scene must have played apart in winning over the judges:

Des Moines Water Works, working in partnership with Iowa State University Department of Landscape Architecture, recently announced that Sasaki Associates, with RDG Planning & Design and Applied Ecological Services (AES), is the winning team of the Water Works Parkitecture Competition.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The Parkitecture competition, aptly named for its emphasis on the fundamental role landscape architecture and design play in re-envisioning Water Works Park, began June 2011.  The international design competition entailed the creation of a conceptual plan for Water Works Park to form dynamic relationships between the river, the watershed, and the community.The competition sought proposals to integrate the ecological and social function of a park and river into a unified landscape; to inspire the community and to generate discussion about watershed issues/best practices; and offer innovative design solutions to address ecological and recreational challenges specific to Water Works Park.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

The design team and Des Moines Water Works will begin a concept validation process which will address specific issues and include public outreach. It is expected that a majority of the funds for implementation of the vision plan will be obtained through private fundraising and will not be borne by water rate payers.

Throughout the design process, the design team interviewed citizens, community leaders, focus groups, and stakeholders, and will continue engaging the public throughout the master plan and implementation process of the park

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates

Sasaki collaborated with Des Moines-based RDG Planning & Design and Minneapolis-based Applied Ecological Services on the competition entry and will continue to do so through implementation. Collectively, the team proffers progressive design strategy, creative vision, acute regional understanding, and technical prowess.

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Designing the Post-Political City and the Insurgent Polis’: A Recorded Presentation by Erik Swyngedouw

From [polis} a  dissertation on alternatives to top-down design with the limited purpose of serving vested financial and political influences for the benefit of its population – this is particularly relevant to our situation here in Cape Town with the current emphasis on Central Improvement Districts, IRT systems which serve more affluent suburbs rather than the urban poor stuck in ghettos on the periphery and Soccer World Cup stadiums that are now white elephants and a financial noose around the cities neck while the profits accrue in the hands of vested international interests – is there a way to resist this is the focus of a recorded presentation by Eric Swyngedouw on “Designing the Post-Political City and the Insurgent Polis.” Swyngedouw is a professor of geography at the University of Manchester School of Environment and Development.
 

Swyngedouw points to a climate of global consensus that has become pervasive over the past twenty years, effectively suppressing dissent and excluding most people from governance. He explains this consensus as limited to a select group (e.g., elite politicians, business leaders, NGOs, experts from a variety of fields) and perpetuated through “empty signifiers” like the sustainable/creative/world-class city. He argues that this consensus serves a “post-political” neoliberal order in which governments fail to address citizens’ most basic needs in order to subsidize the financial sector and take on grandiose projects designed to attract global capital. He adds that the flipside of management through limited consensus is rebellion on the part of the excluded, which he views as insurgent architecture and planning that claims a place in the order of things. Swyngedouw calls for open institutional channels for enacting dissent, fostering a democratic politics based on equal opportunity for all in shaping the decisions that affect our lives. He envisions the city as “insurgent polis” — a new agora where democratic politics can take place, where anyone can make a case for changing the existing framework

Listen to the presentation and read more on [polis]

An infusion of commons thinking can transform how we plan the future

As we strive to engage with publics that are to use the facilities we design we often hear the frustration with this process from design professionals and authorities who are often accused of doing this in a routine fashion or that we hear eh same few people engages and we bear the brunt of minority lobbying groups or worse we are beset by cranks – how to make this necessary and esentail process more productive ? BY DAVID M. MOTZENBECKER, on LAND Reader:

“It began with a simple enough thought: “There aren’t nearly enough people here.”

David M. Motzenbecker; President, City Planning Commission at City of Minneapolis

On a fall afternoon in 2007, I was attending a public meeting held by the Minneapolis Planning Department to garner citizens’ input on their latest revision to the City’s Comprehensive Plan – The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth. As President of the City Planning Commission, my charge is to stewardthe vision for the growth of the city as outlined in its comprehensive plan. One definition of stewardship is “a person using every talent and repeatedly sacrificing desires to do the right thing.” Wasteful actions or not doing everything possible to achieve a positive outcome is contradictory to notion of stewardship. It was the sensation of just going through the motions at this particular meeting, not really embracing the democratic notion of people shaping their own city, that struck me as wasteful. The attendance, comments, and results of meetings like this one led me to the conclusion that the planning commission wasn’t stewarding anything but the opinions of city staff and our own points of view. ”

Read the original articleon LAND Reader:

Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning

A in depth review of wether the “Planning Professions” are more than just graffiti on the walls of the city -as it forms itself – is there actually anything we can do to reign in rampant capitalism when socialism ‘s planing aims lie in tatters on the world stage – are any of our “professions” any more relevant or is it only Lawyers, Doctors and now Engineers who have a status and value in modern society?  This essay by THOMAS J. CAMPANELLA from The Design Observer Group
“Construction Potentials: Postwar Prospects and Problems, a Basis for Action,” Architectural Record, 1943; prepared by the F.W. Dodge Corporation Committee on Postwar Construction Markets. [Drawing by Julian Archer]

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
— T. S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

During a recent retreat here at Chapel Hill, planning faculty conducted a brainstorming session in which each professor — including me — was asked to list, anonymously, some of the major issues and concerns facing the profession today. These lists were then collected and transcribed on the whiteboard. All the expected themes were there — sustainability and global warming, equity and justice, peak oil, immigration, urban sprawl and public health, retrofitting suburbia, and so on. But also on the board appeared, like a sacrilegious graffito, the words “Trivial Profession.” [1] When we voted to rank the listed items in order of importance, “Trivial Profession” was placed — lo and behold — close to the top. This surprised and alarmed a number of us. Here were members of one of the finest planning faculties in America, at one of the most respected programs in the world, suggesting that their chosen field was minor and irrelevant.  Continue reading Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning

Spatial layout, urban movement & human transaction (via The power of the network)

Tim Stonor of Space Syntax gives a detailed account of the role of design in achieving sustainable mobility and all that goes with it in cities

Spatial layout, urban movement & human transaction Download my presentation "Designing mobility for democracy: the role of cities" #demobility Thursday, 14th April 2011 from 1pm to 5pm NYU, Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium 60 Washington Square South, New York Summary Given the title of this event: "Designing mobility", I want to turn to the subject of design and the role of architects. The key message of this presentation is that cities need architects, not only to design the building … Read More

via The power of the network

‘Neighborhoods Go Green!’ in highly educational exhibit at AIA via Switchboard

Though I don’t agree with everything about Smart Growth it is still a worthy step in overcoming the problems of urban sprawl and carbon footprints etc. , reviewing the progress on publishing the role of Smart Growth and the problems with the public understanding new tools like LEED-ND with even design professionals feeling overwhelmed with the complexity and depth of information and analysis required to apply this to developments, Kaid Benfield writes in Switchboard how he recession and these problems re being approached by this exhibit and simplified communications:

a display from the exhibit (courtesy of USGBC)

The architecture firm Farr Associates, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the US Green Building Council have produced a fantastic exhibit on how to create green neighborhoods.  It opened in Chicago last year and is now on display at the American Institute of Architects headquarters in Washington. Continue reading ‘Neighborhoods Go Green!’ in highly educational exhibit at AIA via Switchboard