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
I wear a blue County jacket and dark pants, denim or Dickies, when I’m out doing zoning enforcement inspections. This isn’t a regulation uniform. I don’t have to wear it. I’m an urban planner, not a cop.Continue Reading An Urban Planner on the Ground in South Central Los Angeles
Dear Pasadena Planning Commissioners,
We’ve come a long way from Pasadena’s 2004 second dwelling unit ordinance that effectively codified irrational NIMBYism in the Zoning Code. The proposed amendment to the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinance before you at the May 24, 2017 hearing represents a significant improvement; it came about as a result of the relaxed standards for ADUs by way of AB 2299 and SB 1069, as well as the passionate testimony of residents and housing advocates in public hearings and community meetings. However, a few points of contention remain – some of the “poison pills” and class-based inequalities carried over from the original ordinance – while other points merit highlighting for this latest public hearing. I ask you to take these comments under consideration as you evaluate the amended ADU ordinance for recommendation to the Pasadena City Council.
Dear Pasadena City Council Members,
A long overdue update to the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance is before you at the January 30, 2017, City Council public hearing. With the passage of AB 2299 and SB 1069, all local jurisdictions are obligated to amend zoning ordinances to facilitate easier pathways to building accessory dwellings units (ADUs). As the staff report notes, the new state laws came about in response to a statewide affordable housing crisis. We see it in Pasadena. It’s rendered in the presence of homeless encampments, occupied vehicles on city streets and parking lots, and the existence of unpermitted housing on private properties across the city.
Continue Reading An Open Letter to the Pasadena City Council Urging a Comprehensive Overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance
Dear Pasadena Planning Commissioners,
A long overdue update to the City of Pasadena’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance is before you at the December 14, 2016, Planning Commission public hearing. This will be the first of many hearings in response to the passage of Assembly Bill 2299 (AB 2299) and Senate Bill 1069 (SB 1069) and the upcoming Housing Element Implementation Program. At this juncture, I see three compelling reasons for your Commission to advocate a comprehensive overhaul of Pasadena’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance.Continue Reading An Open Letter to the Pasadena Planning Commission Urging a Comprehensive Overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance
Like many westerners, I left a rust belt eastern city decades ago, in the belief that the region, and certainly those old east coast cities were goners. So it was with surprise and pleasure that I recently read in Landmarks, the journal of The Landmark Society of Western New York, that residents with choices are moving back into the old downtown, and even more surprising, that nationally, corporate headquarters are also moving back to urban centers from the suburbs at an accelerating rate.Continue Reading Take me back to tomorrow – Some surprising indicators of change in U.S. cities
When it comes to the biggest trends that will reshape the urban environment in the future, it’s not just the architecture that will change. The next major revolution in urban design will be by landscapers. In fact, in some cities, landscaping — in the form of parks and other green spaces — is already making an appearance.
The positive effects on health, comfort, happiness and even local wildlife are startling. Let’s take a look at some of the major cities around the United States that have put landscaping to work as part of their urban design.Continue Reading Landscape Architecture: Shaping The Urban Future
With rising inequality, a looming climate change crisis, and persistent state of housing unaffordability being the defining issues in the growth of American cities in the twenty-first century, it is time for urban planners to take social policy seriously. Too often, social policy is relegated to a specialized role for advocacy planners, at other times ignored completely for being too political, and often times dismissed as “creeping socialism” that is inappropriate in land-use planning. This prompted planning legend Norman Krumholtz to call the profession “timid,” not as much to reflect on the work ethics of rank-and-file planners, but the leadership of those in power, who do not allow planning to pursue equity objectives. The most powerful piece on the planning chess-board is unavailable to most urban planners.Continue Reading Urban planning without social equity is like playing chess without the queen.
When we think of a city, we don’t necessarily think about its parks. Instead, the metro areas, shopping opportunities, entertainment venues and other aspects come to mind. However, even though parks and other natural areas are a relatively small component of modern urban areas, the impact that these features have on the urban population is enormous.Continue Reading The Effects Of The Natural Landscape In Urban Environments
The City of San Diego at 1.3 million and counting according to 2014 data, and notably the 8th largest city in the country, is unique at best and honestly still a small town. Planners, politicians and policy makers to name just a few, are in constant pursuit of definition for this city and our region. Ironically, this pursuit has been going on for the past 100 years with the first Panama-California Exposition in 1915.Continue Reading What is San Diego’s identity?