Archive: Jun 2015

  1. Planning for a More Just Future

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    As we head into another hot summer, there’s a growing chorus of community leaders, advocates, elected officials, and spiritual leaders calling for a fundamental shift in how we address some of our most pressing problems. These messages focus on creating a more inclusive society – one that tackles systemic inequities and ensures that all of us have an opportunity to share in prosperity. In our nation’s urban centers, we’ve seen too many instances where underlying social inequalities become manifest through tragedy. In light of this, we’re looking at the how broader values of caring, stewardship, and empathy can help create a more just society. As planners, that means we need to double-down on best principles that guide our work. We should be cognizant of the real life, day-to-day issues that face working families, and we should prioritize listening and collaboration over maximizing short-term economic gains. This month, we take a look at how a fundamental focus on equity can reshape our transportation network and make the community planning process more relevant. Likewise, we look at how innovative financing approaches can help property owners undertake expensive seismic retrofits without penalizing those who are least able to pay. Throughout this issue, we see ongoing efforts that aim to deliver investments in a manner that reduces existing inequities. Let’s continue to support these practices and build a lasting constituency of practitioners, advocates, and decision-makers committed to advancing equity.

    Sincerely,

    Cecilia V. Estolano, Jennifer LeSar, Katherine A. Perez-Estolano

  2. Taking Multi-Modal Transport to Scale

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    Americans have been driving less every year since 2007. This shift has been accompanied by regional and local planning efforts that are increasingly focused on giving residents transportation options that go beyond the automobile. There has been lots of positive momentum around transit expansion, planning for complete streets, and adopting initiatives aimed at making streets safer for people who ride bikes and walk. As planners, advocates, and their allies continue to make major multi-modal policy wins, groups are now focusing on the next big challenge. How do we translate successful experiments and policies at the local level to scalable interventions with adequate, sustainable funding? And how do we ensure that these interventions are implemented in a manner that reduces the systemic inequalities that characterize our existing transportation network? (more…)

  3. Community-Led Planning

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    Image from Paul Narvaez: https://www.flickr.com/photos/the_photographer/14981389300/in/photolist-9BmgAk-9BpcwY-9Bmbtz-9BmbRB-9Bmcgv-9BpdaG-9Bmdse-9Bmiyi-9xAkXs-9xAiuE-9i4myd-9i227z-9i4CMo-9i1Twn-9xxjEX-9i1ob4-9i1nNe-9i1RCV-9i1RfH-9i4XBq-9i1phT-9i4Q4A-9i1oSR-9i4Tvs-9i1n6v-9xAgEb-9i1QQB-p75Uct-oPS1eM-oPRx6w-9i4DBo-9i4T8d-9i4M6W-9i1NwV-9i1Hik-9i4pR5-cg5rnJ-9xAiTN-9xxi7T-9i1J7p-9i4Uwq-9i1GU2-9i56tQ-9i1K1k-9i4UeG-9i21KT-9i1yo8-fEmcvw-bySMrU-7BwdCE

    Image from Paul Narvaez

    Increased development and investment in infrastructure have the potential to permanently alter the fabric of communities. Local planning efforts, in the form of ordinances or community plans, are just a few of the many tools used to ensure responsible planning and zoning, and provide an avenue for community engagement. However, traditional methods of community engagement can fall short in communities of color. For these populations language barriers, time constraints, and a dearth of easily accessible information conspire to keep residents in the dark. In response, residents and community groups in some locales have upended the traditional planning process and initiated their own planning efforts to guide development on their terms. (more…)

  4. Preparing for “The Big One”

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    After watching Hollywood’s latest take on the demise of California, we thought we’d check in on progress that cities throughout the state have made to seismically retrofit vulnerable structures. San Francisco’s most recent seismic retrofit program is well underway, and it’s been about six months since Los Angeles revealed plans to embark on a similarly ambitious effort to shore-up the city’s at-risk buildings. But as earthquake-prone cities look to finance expensive retrofits, what tools are available? And how do we finance these efforts without significantly increasing costs for tenants and building owners? A growing effort to expand mechanisms like the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program to help property owners cover seismic retrofit costs may be part of the answer.

    (more…)

  5. City of Los Angeles Median Design Competition

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    Image from UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens: https://www.flickr.com/photos/47484186@N06/12327998474/

    Image from UC Davis Arboretum and Public Gardens: https://www.flickr.com/photos/47484186@N06/12327998474/

    The City of Los Angeles Innovation and Performance Commission (IPC) recently approved $35,000 to fund a competition for designers to develop a kit to help communities implement median beautification projects. The proposed kit will include streamlined permitting, little to no irrigation to address the drought conditions, and blueprints for communities wishing to improve their public medians. (more…)

  6. The Drought is About More Than Just Water

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    While California’s record drought has led to statewide reductions and local executive directives in order to conserve water, there may be an even larger, less-discussed consequence. The drought causing the state to sink. The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that California has experienced its worst sinking in at least 50 years. The Center found that widespread subsidence has the potential to destroy infrastructure across the state, which could cost well over a billion dollars to fix. (more…)