Thursday, March 2, 2017

Improving the Influence of City Planning & Design


Public appointments and elections are based on the concept that reasonable men and women can make reasonable decisions in the absence of conclusive knowledge. When uncorrelated zoning regulations conflict with site planning reality, as they often do, the officials appointed and elected face variance requests and render decisions to resolve conflict based on project details that defeat consistent leadership direction. When faced with annexation requests, they have even less ability to accurately analyze the area’s potential to offset a municipalities shared expense per acre for administration, maintenance, improvement, and debt service as both increase in age.
Opinion did not cure the Black Plague and it will not cure pathogenic urban sprawl. Sprawl consumes agriculture and The Natural Domain in a failing attempt to surround an expanding core of blight and decay. It will continue until we begin to define the cellular structure of its anatomy in a language that can lead us to prescribe consistent, reliable, and credible treatment.
Planning commissions, councils, and mayors depend on their planning staffs, but the staff does not have the language needed to define problems, conduct research, build knowledge and convincingly defend recommendations. They must rely on conflicting regulations. This makes them servants rather than leaders of opinion; and the result is often distorted logic, political leverage, and faulty assumptions that lead to arbitrary decisions by elected and appointed officials. These decisions remind me of the considered opinions that defended blood-letting as a medical cure. A common, correlated leadership language capable of defining problems and solutions is needed.
There are now two worlds on a single planet, and The Built Domain is slowly being recognized as pathogenic sprawl that is a threat to agriculture and The Natural Domain. A correlated, scientific language of city design is needed to study a physical anatomy that will grow without restraint until a cure for this disease is found. This is not a problem that can be solved with the logic of opinion until it is supported by the science of city design. Every profession has had to invent a specifically relevant language to build knowledge, lead others, and convince popular opinion of the benefit. Architecture, city design, and city planning are no different. They are just behind as the public consequences grow.

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