Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Planning Confidential Moving to Planetizen

Posted by Roobs on May 30, 2014

Just a programming note: I’ve begun writing as a blogger for the urban planning website, Planetizen.  In an effort to provide them and their readers with original content, I am moving my “Planning Confidential: Everything you thought about planning is true” series and it’s content to Planetizen.  I will still continue to write for this, my personal blog at the same rate I usually do (which is pretty much just when inspiration hits me), but feel free to mosey on over to Planetizen to check out some of my posts.

Thanks for reading!


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Round Two: LA Area vs SF Bay Area

Posted by Roobs on March 12, 2014


Yesterday I posted my first LA vs. SF comparison list, where San Francisco beat out Los Angeles in a pure city on city fight.  My list addressed what I thought was a gaping oversight on most internet lists on the same topic.  They would often (though, not all of them) grant LA regional status, while limiting SF to its city borders.  Meaning, some lists gave LA points for things like Disneyland, even though the happiest place on earth isn’t even in the same county.  HOWEVER, one of my earliest posts on this blog also addressed this ill comparison.   “In Defense of Los Angeles” showed how you can’t say Los Angeles has, for example, a horrible public transit system and SF has a great one because SF is tiny compared to LA.  The scales are different.  So  now that we have seen how city vs. city stacks up, let’s make this a fair fight by comparing the two general areas together.  So how does the LA Area stack up against the SF Area?

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LA vs. SF in 15 Categories!

Posted by Roobs on March 11, 2014


Lists on the internet comparing two different places abound.  But, perhaps, no list appears more than lists comparing the City of Los Angeles vs. the City of San Francisco (with maybe the East Coast of the United States vs. the West Coast coming in a close second).  But the one thing that has always annoyed me about these lists is that they never seem to grasp the fact that places like Disneyland are not in the City of Los Angeles.  In fact, Disneyland is not even in the same county.  So, as an urban planner (aka: map Nazi), I thought it would be fun to create my own LA vs. SF list.  Here is my totally subjective yet totally awesome comparison of Los Angeles vs. San Francisco.

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For the Love of Food

Posted by Roobs on January 13, 2014

Hamburger and Fries

When I was a child, I found the making of food to be fascinating.  My mom first let me enter the foray of cooking when I was probably around six or seven years of age.  She let me crack and scramble my own eggs in a plastic bowl and then let me put it in the microwave.  I remember watching as the eggs puffed up with great interest.  That pretty much cemented my love of cooking and food in general (I have since moved to cooking my eggs stovetop).  Now, one of my favorite activities to do outside my apartment is to try the new and trendy restaurants that are popping up over any of the cities I have lived in, now Los Angeles.  The result is a wide-ranging pallet of tastes but also some populist scorn at what others believe to be a type of food snobbery.

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Planning Confidential: The Moral Imperative to Build

Posted by Roobs on December 17, 2013

LA City Planning Density Types

Many planners and developers simply don’t like NIMBYs.  NIMBYs, or “Not In My Back Yard” is a term given to individuals and groups who can be counted on to sue, delay, and otherwise obstruct any new community plan or development proposal.  Developers are accused of being downright evil.  Planners are accused of corruption and being in the pocket of said-evil developers.  While there are numerous reasons why a planning policy that favors density and transit, and the developers who build them, are a good thing, there is one reason we, including myself, seem often reluctant to engage in.  And that is the moral imperative argument.

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Planner’s take on Senate Bill 1

Posted by Roobs on September 24, 2013

Legislation could create successor agencies to redevelopment focus on transit-oriented and walkable communities.

Legislation could create successor agencies to redevelopment, focusing on transit-oriented and walkable communities.

 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?

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Trading Places: Dodgers to DTLA, NFL to Chavez Ravine

Posted by Roobs on August 19, 2013

Dodger Stadium

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.

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Planning Confidential: Developers, Heights, and Cost of Housing

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.

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