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Strategies for dealing with the culture of City Hall

I don't wish to wade too deeply into the political weeds here, but I would be remiss to overlook the obstacles imposed by the city to improve this part of our downtown. to be clear I do not work for the city and I am not connected to that administration in anyway. This is, for the most part, an individual planning effort meant to illustrate how an urban plan is supposed to look and function. Most people in this city have never actually seen a functionable urban plan. This effort gives us a pretty good idea of how a plan needs to be constructed and how it can contribute to the development of a city. 

This planning effort is a reaction to a city initiative that was titled "The Hub." The city recently purchased a significant portion of this area so that they could have control over the development. The portion of the study area that the city owns would have a long term impact on the development of the entire study area. In fact, I determined the study area for this planning effort based on a judgement of what part of the city that would be most impacted by development of the site the city recently purchased. The cities' proposals revealed a very typical set of faults; they ignored the real issues and opportunities the site embodies, they solved for problems that don't exist and proposed built form that would not even solve the problems that they had imagined. The city arguments for making their effort tend to be contradictory, incomplete and fallacious. The effect would be to spend money on an irrelevant project that creates more problems than it solves. The proposed plan was loudly rejected by most of the public with interests in the area. This resulted in the city halting its efforts; it didn't correct it approach, and try again. The city just gave up.

Typically, this city does use planning as an effective management tool. Urban planning is intended to inform decisions related to public health and safety, and economic development, but here it is used to service political whims or personal agendas. Since after the Second World War to now the city's only consistent planning effort has been to promote and support car dependency. As a result there is little experience planning for and designing public space for the benefit of those who are not in their cars. While other cities have transitioned to more progressive attitudes, this city remains entrenched. We have an abundance of old ideas, which have never worked, buttressed by irrelevant regulation, uninformed management by decree, and marginalized planning efforts which improperly inform urban design efforts. Instead we need skilled planning efforts properly informing council, as well as, the design team who are making decisions regarding the development of public space for the benefit of people first, environment second and vehicles last.

At the moment the city is finalizing a city planning effort master plan designed to further entrench poor management and planning practices. A resounding rejection of this plan might be enough to waken the city to the need for serious reform, allowing the city to responded appropriately to issues and opportunities as they are presented, prioritize the development of public space for those who are not in cars, and establish more progressive objectives that will improve the economy of our city for years to come.

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