In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown snuffed out California’s plethora of community redevelopment agencies (CRA), much to the lament of cities and their city planners everywhere. The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board recently wrote that city’s lament their loss primarily out of self-interest; stating that the structure of CRAs allowed them to self finance – giving lots of money back to the city. Planners, on the other hand, lamented their fall for a more practical planning reason: Redevelopment agencies were one of the great tools planners could use to assemble land in a manner that made development more feasible with tax-increment financing. So when California State Senator, Derrel Steinberg proposed SB 1 to create CRA’s successor agencies, tentatively known as Sustainable Community Investment Authorities (SCIA), planners took note. It was the first time we had heard of a serious attempt to restore one of the great planning tools we had lost. But how well can it work?
Archive for the ‘Urban Planning’ Category
Posted by Roobs on September 24, 2013
Posted by Roobs on August 19, 2013
The process build a new NFL stadium in Downtown Los Angeles, as well as draft an NFL team to fill it, has hit more than a few hurdles in the last few years. But one thing that has fascinated me, both as a baseball fan and as an urban planner, about a new NFL stadium in LA is the choice of location. Why would you want an NFL stadium in Downtown LA? With new owners, the Dodgers are spending hundreds of millions on new payroll and upgrades to Dodger Stadium. But perhaps they should consider a move to a brand new facility in Downtown and leave Chavez Ravine for a future football franchise.
Posted by Roobs on August 2, 2013
Real estate developers are controversial figures among the general population. But among planners, they are a more accepted group of people, if not downright appreciated. The general public thinks they understand what real estate development is all about and they malign those who take up the risk of building in our cities; accusing them of price gouging or kicking poor people out (gentrification). They accuse developers and city officials and planners of “Manhattanizing” our neighborhoods. But this is all wrong. Tall buildings don’t come out of no where. Most developers are simply trying to pen out financially a project that can not only win the approval of the city and community, but also make sense to the investors footing the bill. Tall buildings can even help solve the problems with the cost of housing.
Posted by Roobs on June 20, 2013
Gentrification. Often considered a third-rail topic, gentrification has become so controversial that the mere mention of it can elicit strong and passionate debate. Proponents of urban development (not calling it gentrification) say it improves neighborhood because it improves the physical environment of a neighborhood and quality of life for residents, new and old. Critics, however, see gentrification as a tool by wealthy developers and urban professionals to displace an undesirable bloc of the population (read: minorities). But in all the kerfuffle of debate, many critics of gentrification seem unwilling to look at the real causes of the problems they see – the displacement of the poor. Studies are showing that gentrification doesn’t actually do all that critics have long accused it of. By not focusing on the root cause of the poor’s displacement, gentrification critics are just as, if not more so, detrimental to the livelihoods of the very bloc they seek to protect.
Posted by Roobs on May 27, 2013
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.
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.