Playing With Politics

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

Posts Tagged ‘Urban Planning’

Planning Confidential: You Don’t Know Gentrification

Posted by Roobs on June 20, 2013

Gentrification Sign

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.

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Planning Confidential: Time to Embrace the Neighborhood Bar

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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Planning Confidential: 4 Reasons SimCity is Better Than You

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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Planning Confidential: Everything you thought about planning is true.

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.

Post Index:

1) 4 Reasons SimCity is Better Than You

2) Time to Embrace the Neighborhood Bar

3) What They Don’t Teach in School Can Hurt You

4) You Don’t Know Gentrification

5) Developers, Height, and Cost of Housing

6) The Moral Imperative to Build

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Quotes by Taylor, 3

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.”

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Quotes by Taylor, 2

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.”

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Quotes by Taylor, 1

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.”

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In Defense of Los Angeles

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: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »