I have been learning a lot lately. No, I have not returned to school or taken a few courses through Planetizen. Instead, I have simply been playing with my five-year old daughter and gaining a few insights along the way. Some of her favorite toys these days are Blockitecture sets which consist of colorful wooden blocks of buildings, parks, green spaces, rivers, and lakes. Together, we have built neighborhoods and had humorous conversations about what makes a city “fun” or “awesome,” two of her most often-used adjectives. Of course, this has brought me, a plannerd and father, much joy and satisfaction, knowing that my daughter is beginning to understand what I do as a planner and that she may even aspire to be one in the future (well, I am not sure about this yet). All kidding aside, I have seriously learned a few things through our play sessions that I would like to share below. . . . Read More
“Moving to the city,” “live-work-play,” and “sharing economy” – these are some of the soundbites of the new generation. As some metro areas compete to recruit and capitalize on the next workforce, are they overlooking or even sacrificing sound planning principals that focus on the long term retention of the next wave? [Read more…] about Should we plan for families in the ‘new’ city?
One of my former bosses would gleefully proclaim that “life is change” as if that phrase answered all our issues. Although I thought it a bit flippant at the time, I’ve come to realize that it embodies more truth than we wished to acknowledge. Nowhere is this axiom more accurate than the waterfronts of New York City, where change continues to engender theoretical confusion and unusual alliances. [Read more…] about West Side Story
Urban landscape architects, civil engineers and city planners face a number of sustainability challenges with no single or simple solution. Among the issues common to many metropolitan areas:
- Preparing for climate changes and/or intense precipitation events that cause excess storm water runoff;
- Replacing outdated architectural designs that introduce contaminates into the water system; and,
- Partially or completely losing natural flora and fauna.
In recent years, the concept of green infrastructure (GI) has grown in popularity and importance for sustainable outdoor design, architecture and construction. [Read more…] about Add More City Parks For A Sustainable Future
Was one of your new year’s resolution to exercise more? If yes, where have you been doing your exercise routines? Nowadays, many people immediately think of private gyms like LA Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness as the most effective and/or popular places to get fit. But as we all know, gym membership is not cheap and not everyone can afford it. As part of my research as a doctoral student and my work as a park planner, I have learned that the median household incomes in a number of urban unincorporated communities (like Florence-Firestone, Lennox, East Los Angeles, and Willowbrook) in Los Angeles County are well below the countywide median ($55,909 in 2013). This suggests that many residents are more likely to rely on free or lower-cost options for recreation and exercise because they simply have little or no money to spend on amenities and programs offered by private recreational facilities. So what opportunities are there for those do not have the means to join a private gym? [Read more…] about Where Do You Exercise? – Public and affordable fitness resources in LA
When asked about what I do for a living by new friends and neighbors, I usually start with “urban designer,” then drift towards “city planner,” and usually end with, “sort of like architecture…” Or, during one those late Sunday evening angst moments while contemplating just what in the heck am I doing on this earth, I like to tell myself that I’m a maker of great places. Then Sunday’s infinite theoretical possibilities and dreams butt up against Monday’s unforgiving reality*, and I’m back to selling traditional neighborhood developments, form-based codes, consecutive-day charrettes, and mixed-use, walkable, urbanism to anyone willing to listen, which I enjoy immensely. [Read more…] about I’m a PlaceMaker. . .
The common wisdom is that all the new development, or at least all the interesting development in San Francisco, is South of Market. This of course makes news because it represents a sea change from the prior 100+ years when “south of the slot” was the industrial, working class (or worse) sector of the city. [Read more…] about Where grows San Francisco?
As a park planner, I am always on the lookout for the latest news about parks and recreation. Recently, I have not had to look very hard. In particular, an article about efforts to increase parkland in Los Angeles was published by the L.A. Times on August 22, 2014 and has since been widely distributed, especially among professionals and associations in my field. [Read more…] about Unincorporated Areas Need More Parks Too
Local and regional parks can be used to mitigate the urban heat island effect and minimize local climate change. Unfortunately, this idea is not often shared, discussed, and/or adequately understood. If you do a search on the web on “climate change and parks,” you will find that most of the results are links to information about how climate change is impacting national parks. Examples include a discussion on the National Park Service (NPS) website, and recent articles published by National Geographic and Scientific America. [Read more…] about Parks and Climate Change: The L.A. County Story
City parks are more than pretty outdoor spaces — research shows they can also be critical to improving a community’s health. In fact, from the earliest days of their implementation, parks have been tools for boosting air quality, encouraging safe physical recreation, reducing disease and discouraging crime, according to the George Wright Forum. [Read more…] about How City Park Design Contributes to Resident Health