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.
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Posted in Planning Confidential | Tagged: bars, city, complete neighborhood, complete streets, neighborhood, Urban Planning, walking distance | 1 Comment »
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.
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Posted in Planning Confidential | Tagged: Education, Graduate School, NIMBY, SimCity, Urban Planning | 1 Comment »
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.
1) 4 Reasons SimCity is Better Than You
2) Time to Embrace the Neighborhood Bar
Posted in Planning Confidential, Urban Planning | Tagged: Development, Planning Confidential, Urban Planning | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on March 1, 2011
Professor Brian Taylor on dedicated lanes:
“Nothing beats having your own dedicated lanes because having bus, rail and cars share rights of way on the road is like having a roommate in college you don’t like but need. You want the freedom and benefits of your own place but its just so damn expensive! Having the roommate makes it cheaper.”
Posted in Urban Planning | Tagged: Brian Taylor, UCLA, Urban Planning | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on February 21, 2011
Todays quote brought to you by Professor Brian Taylor, UCLA.
“For a civil engineer, seeing a fully laden firetruck careen down a residential street is like watching the Death Star come around the planet. Everything is going to be destroyed in one pass.”
Posted in Urban Planning | Tagged: Brian Taylor, Death Star, UCLA, Urban Planning | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on February 18, 2011
I have been seriously neglecting this blog. For those who have enjoyed the past discussions, I apologize. My time has been consumed by an increasing workload as I continue to pursue my Masters in Urban Planning at UCLA. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun. And thats what this is.
One of my professors and my graduate advisor, Professor Brian Taylor, is brilliant and a leader in the field of transportation. But not only that, he is a fun and energetic professor who loves to teach. And with that comes some pretty funny quotes. So with out further delay… I give you the first in a series I call “Quotes by Taylor”:
Taylor: “…so the HTF – you guys know what that is, right?”
Class: “Highway Trust Fund.”
Taylor: “Excellent! You’re all becoming planners. Soon no one will know what you’re talking about.”
Posted in Urban Planning | Tagged: Brian Taylor, Masters, UCLA, Urban Planning | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Roobs on December 13, 2010
In the great battle between San Francisco and Los Angeles, LA is the butt of many jokes when it comes to urban planning. But they are more often than not ill comparisons.
On a sunny yet cool weekend in Berkeley, CA, my mother, friends and I began to pack up my long time college apartment at the corner of Blake St. and Ellsworth St. I had lived in this apartment for five years; from my sophomore year at UC Berkeley to my time working as a paralegal at a law firm in Emeryville. Sure, after a while, I got tired of my neighborhood. The constant trampling of drunken college students who were just one shot away from alcohol poisoning was beginning to become tiresome. But I loved my apartment itself and the great view of the Golden Gate bridge it offered from my floor to ceiling sliding glass window. But that was all over now.
After graduation, I found my true professional joy working in the field of urban planning. And come early summer, I accepted admission into UCLA’s masters of urban and regional planning program. This meant I was to move to Los Angeles, a city I have spent a great deal of time in and enjoyed but, nevertheless, often maligned and teased, if not lovingly.
We all know the stereotypes of Los Angeles: Its a culture-less wasteland yet the capitol of car-culture in America; representing everything that is wrong with urban sprawl. Not only can you NOT walk in Los Angeles but nobody does. Transit is incomplete and is only for poor people, anyway. The list goes on but you get the picture. Columnists like Steve Rubenstein at the San Francisco Chronicle, fully displaying the semi-serious battle between Northern and Southern California, gets his jollies from railing on America’s second largest city:
Contrary to popular notion, it’s legal to walk in Los Angeles. In fact, some people walk in L.A. by choice, it being the accepted means of getting to and from a parked car.
Is all this teasery true? Is Los Angeles the glowing city on a hill in the middle of a parking lot? My quick answer is… yes and no. But some qualifiers are definitely needed. But let’s get some things straight.
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Posted in Pop Culture, Urban Planning | Tagged: California, Los Angeles, Norcal, San Francisco, Socal, Transit, Urban Planning, Visalia | 1 Comment »
Posted by Roobs on August 23, 2010
One of the best cartoons ever made was called Hey Arnold! on Nickelodeon. It ran five seasons from 1996 to 2004. To this day, it remains one of my all-time favorite childhood cartoons for its mature, yet incredibly accessible story lines, symbolism, music and heart.
Hey Arnold revolved around the lives of Arnold (last name never revealed) and Helga Pataki, Arnolds secret admirer and nemesis. Like any good kid show, it tried to teach life lessons. Many of these were lessons such as standing up to bullies, tolerance, leadership, and first loves. The lessons were taught in a slightly more mature way compared to other cartoons. And for all the great aspects of this lovable cartoon, one of its greatest and under-appreciated strengths was was it’s setting.
Set in a city setting, Hey Arnold! was one of the only cartoons to depict life in a dense urban environment. Even the show’s music director, Jim Lang, used jazz as the primary theme music for Hey Arnold! which gave the show even more of that mature, urban feel while still maintaining its child-like accessibility. (Scroll to end for soundtrack clip!). Arnold’s character utilized everything that makes a city great, from his constant use of the local bus and walking around his very livable neighborhood, to the fact that everything from the butcher, florist and grocery store was within walking distance of his home.
Hey Arnold depicted the end-result of the kind of urban design that America has strayed from but now planners wish to re-create: a walkable neighborhood where walking and transit are more viable means of mobility than the automobile. But beyond that, it fosters a kind of social interaction that is often ignored when planners and the public discuss urban planning. The environment we wish to create and animated in the Hey Arnold! cartoon helps foster relationships with multi-ethnic, multi-income families where individuals (in this case, young kids) co-mingle; crossing many social boundaries to form a cultural narrative unique to dense urban settings.
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Posted in Pop Culture, TV & Movies, Urban Planning | Tagged: Cultural Narrative, Hey Arnold, Jazz, Nickelodeon, Sociology, Urban Design, Urban Planning | 5 Comments »