I originally wanted to go to law school but I changed my mind during my junior year at Berkeley. I chose to go into urban planning instead, since it fit in more with my personal and professional interests. My two years in UCLA’s urban planning program were fun, educational (obviously), and stressful. I got to study really great topics in planning and even design a neighborhood around a potential high-speed rail station in Burbank (neat!) But now that I am a year removed from graduation; I look back and think that there are things that planning school just doesn’t do well in preparing future planners. I believe there are a few things we can change to fix that.
Archive for the ‘Urban Planning’ Category
Posted by Roobs on May 27, 2013
Posted by Roobs on May 14, 2013
The other day I read an article announcing that the beloved UCLA hangout bar, Westwood Brewing Company (aka: BrewCo), would be closing this summer; to be replaced by a chain seafood restaurant. The loss of this college-age oriented hangout is yet another loss for the student population in Westwood, and an example of the constant struggle for identity of this urban village between the wealthy homeowners and student population. What urban planners have always been willing to argue is that street-level retail and restaurants are essential. But what they are less likely, though arguably always thinking, is that neighborhoods need bars. It’s time we get over our reservations and embrace the benefits and necessity of a neighborhood bar in urban planning and development.
Posted by Roobs on May 8, 2013
SimCity. Possibly the most popular computer game among urban planners. You get to put roads where you want them. Transit where you want it. Build a high-rise, high-density core, and there’s not a NIMBY in site. Or at least none that you can’t simply bulldoze out of the way. Yes, every urban planner loves SimCity. Except for the ones that don’t.
It was about a year ago or so when I first read a planning-related article about the popular city simulation game. The article was more of an attack on the game being perceived as a “urban planning” simulation, citing how it is not at all realistic to what planners do and potential graduate students in planning should avoid it (if I could find it I would add the link, but I can’t). My response: of course it’s not realistic. It’s a computer game! But here’s why SimCity is better at planning than the haters.
Posted by Roobs on May 6, 2013
Welcome to my new series entitled: Planning Confidential: Everything You Thought About Planning is True. The title is a play on the great book by Anthony Bourdain: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Unlike Bourdain, I lack the years of experience to create a truly entertaining “tell all” book. However, like Bourdain, I have plenty of opinions and a willingness to share them. Over the next few posts under this parent series, I will explore some of my favorite topics in the planning and development field. Some may be serious. Some may be more playful. But it I hope it will all be fun. For me, at least.
If you don’t like it then I’m sure there’s a permit application you could be approving right now.
Posted by Roobs on April 22, 2013
When I was at UCLA for my urban planning master’s, one of my professors told us that whenever you are provided with a potential solution, you have to ask if that solution solves the problem you set out to solve. A post by Alexander Friedman on Streetsblog LA makes a decent argument to bring back trolley buses – electric buses powered by overhead wires – to Los Angeles as a way to provide a temporary fix to LA’s transit woes. While I have no problem with trolley buses given their great environmental benefits and long-term savings, I believe Mr. Freidman overestimates the effect trolley buses have on transit ridership and their benefits to overall transit service.
Posted by Roobs on February 14, 2013
The other day, someone asked me what is a “skyscraper”. Really. I mean, they knew conceptually what a skyscraper was (or is), but they asked me for a definition of a skyscraper since I’m an urban planner. Who cares, you ask? Well, this all stems from the current battle for short hairs that is the LA mayoral race. What exactly is a skyscraper and is Eric Garcetti even really responsible for Hollywood’s turn-around?
Posted by Roobs on July 10, 2012
During much of the debate leading up to and even during last week’s vote to fund HSR, many legislators and critics of HSR either implicitly or outright insult the Central Valley as a poor place to begin construction of the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project. After the years of listening and responding to HSR critics’ arguments, I really am simply and unquestionably irritated and downright tired their statements on the Central Valley. I have to force myself at times not to just go off on many of these individuals who fancy themselves experts on planning issues – many the most outspoken are those who have no background in the subject at all. But specifically regarding the Central Valley, I think they just need to stop. Just stop talking. As native son of California’s (and arguably the country’s) most productive agricultural region, catchphrases like “train to nowhere”, the Norcal-Socal centric statements that “no one will ride it between Madera and Bakersfield”, and that it should go along Interstate 5 as opposed to State Route 99, are just downright offensive to all residents of the Central Valley. There are many reasons why the Central Valley is an excellent place to begin construction. Here are just a few. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by Roobs on May 30, 2012
Los Angeles today exists as a truly polycentric city with multiple, often competing job and activity centers. Downtown Los Angeles, Wilshire Center, Miracle Mile, Century City and Westwood are often pulling workers from across the region and competing with one another, let alone the other cities within Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, the once expansive rail network that helped fuel Los Angeles horizontal expansion is gone, leaving the existing transit system struggling to deal with the dense, urban sprawl that defines Los Angeles. In an attempt to improve the quality of transit (and life) in Los Angeles, LA Metro has been aggressively expanding its rail network – rail routes once operated as the early Red Car system – and pursuing transit-oriented developments around its new train stations. But due to Los Angeles unique urban form, TODs spread throughout the public transportation system risk counteracting the benefits of each other and only preserving the urban form that contributes to its transit woes. The reason is in the unique urban form of Los Angeles and the necessary requirements to create a successful TOD.