Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Planning backwards

City Council met last night to consider a presentation by planner Seth Galloway on the city's Urban Design Program. The goal of the design framework being drawn up by the advisory Urban Design steering committee is to make London more "liveable," which Galloway promises in return will attract people and economic development. Galloway clearly has a bright future in City Hall by demonstrating a firm grasp on the buzzwords and conceits that motivate politicians to suppose that it is within not only their mandate but their capacity to manage the city's attractions and economic development, to say nothing of incontestably meaningless concepts like liveability. Like the improbable Creative Cities doctrine that preceded it, and which it certainly does nothing to dispel, the idea of liveability as suggested by Galloway completely reverses cause and effect — in reality, it is economic opportunities that attract people, who in return make a city liveable through the exercise of their choices and aspirations. As far as planning goes, liveability may mean nothing more at the moment than approving certain amiable housing designs but, just as with the idea of creativity, the term is abstract and intangible enough to rationalize whatever concrete and non-negotiable restrictions and taxes politicians would like to convey with it. In other words, sacrificing the first link in the chain of liveability cause and effect.

To take one example of what liveability as policy would attempt to eradicate, the prevalent "garage looming in the front yard" design is a feature of modern subdivisions that no one much appreciates. But it is not a natural accident, it is a product of municipal policies that place a premium on developable land and consequently create an incentive for developers to squeeze as much housing on parcels as they can. Without addressing those policies, adding new planning restrictions on developers will just as likely result in more unintended consequences, the most obvious of which would be inflating housing prices. As we mentioned, the first link in the chain of cause and effect…

21 comments:

Honey Pot said...

Another report, another feasibilty study, another waste of taxpayer money.

How many of these things have been presented to council? There wasn't really any details given, except the old ugly garage in the front of the house gig.

It reminds me of everytime someone gets shot in Toronto, the mayor and premier calling a press conference to ban guns.It is like they actually believe that will stop criminals from shooting people.

This is no different. Big hole, and more big holes a coming, and all this city council can do is pay money to look at useless sky-in-the-pie city models.

They need to rip the whole thing down and start over. It would be cheaper than paying people great gobs of money to tell them how fucked up the city is.

MapMaster said...

No wonder some councillors want to be paid more… you'd have to pay me a lot to sit through that sort of twaddle week in and week out. It's bad enough reading about it in the Free Press.

NIAC said...

Actually, HP, as radical as that sounds, it would be both cheaper and more logical to start over ... but the PTB's that are currently racing this three-legged horse are not the ones that should be doing the re-design.

There is a reason that 'aftermarket' parts for things are so much more expensive than 'factory' parts ... it is a pain in the ass to retrofit these things.

My wife hates the House-Behind-The-Garage thing. What happened to going back to the old alley-in-back style we almost re-embraced?

Honey Pot said...

I think street vendors, and entertainment would do it for the downtown, but London being so stuffy and boring couldn't go for that.

London is too busy chasing investment away for this city to ever become a number one.

Bringing out a marching band because they landed a cabinet counter making business from Korea, that will employ perhaps 200 people, has them thumping their chest like apes. All the while letting the big ones get away to the out laying towns.

How many manufacturing jobs have left, or are leaving?

Mark Rayner said...

I think we can agree that London is a relatively mediocre city and that this website and its commentors are about the same, so you both fit in.

Honey Pot said...

Mark we can't all be stimulating intellects like you, and be clever enough to steal from other blog sites, to make our blogs look as chewed over and redundant as yours.

Mark Rayner said...

Beweise her oder Maul halten!

Honey Pot said...

Potes meos suaviari clunes. Fabriacate diem, punk

Mark Rayner said...

Dein schlechtes Benehmen lasse Ich mir nicht gefallen!

lucky skwerl said...

Sie hat Haare auf den Zähnen.

eng said...

The translate button isn't working.

NIAC said...

I don't need a translate button to follow that thread. :)

Mark commented after three people, and said "you both", and realizing his logical error, apologized.

HP said she appreciated the apology, but noted that none was necessary, since the comment wasn't really germaine to the original post.

Mark then countered, saying that anyone posting to say that posting is pointless is just being sublimely funny, and it wasn't meant to hurt anyone.

I don't know what the "skwerl" is talking about, however, as nobody mentioned that it had teeth, let alone hairy.

;)

MapMaster said...

Glückliches Eichhörnchen, Sie entleeren angeführte Tiernahrungsmitteltrog-Unwahrheit! Ich furze in Ihrer allgemeinen Richtung! Sie bemuttern war ein Hamster und Ihr Holunderbeeren gerochener Vater.

lucky skwerl said...

MapMaster säuft wie ein Bürstenbinder

Honey Pot said...

Holly ist ein widerliches Schwein

honey slop said...

Honey Pot sehen nicht weiter als ihne Nasenspitze

NIAC said...

LOL, Honey Pot's Slop, you mean "kein Punkt". At least I hope so.

honey dew melons said...

Lisa, Anh ye^u em!

eng said...

I'm so confused.

son of gaia said...

I think I like you people. A lot.

Don't suppose you'd be interested in moving out here enmasse and helping to clean our mess up - would ya?

Roy in Edmonton
Surreality Times

Richard said...

Going back to the article, the example of the garage in the front yard, houses like that are only built by developers who charge $500K plus because they require the extra yardage on the lot and the houses themselves are of a higher end design. Only the upper echelon of the society can plop down that kind of coinage, or people with two mortgages and a massive debt load who hopefully can hold on to both their jobs.

Idealism is beautiful and
reality is ugly.