Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Next Planning Revolution!

The opinions of SPUR amuse me from time to time. In their July Urbanist issue, their executive director argues that the next planning revolution is the combination of modernist and anti-modernist (think Jane Jacobs) ideologies. He claims that doing more “infill projects” while maintaining the character and livability of a neighborhood is the next planning revolution.

In other words, he wants to build high density market rate housing along Mission Street in the Mission district, further gentrifying the neighborhood and displacing residents and businesses.

I don’t know about you, but to me this hardly seems revolutionary, it isn’t even a paradigm shift. According to Webster, the definition of revolutionary is a sudden or radical change in a system or state of affairs. I do not see any radical or sudden change in planning philosophy from combining two ideas.

It would be revolutionary if the city zoned the neighborhoods to require thousands of affordable (inclusionary) family size housing units in the Mission district and the other eastern neighborhoods. It would be revolutionary if the ENP incorporated the concerns of community members over the development lobby.

Sorry Mr. Metcalf, planning for profits over people is not revolutionary.

So why is the Next Planning Revolution important to the Eastern Neighborhoods discussion? Because, the comrades who subscribe to the next planning revolution are trying to recruit the Board of Supervisors to their revolution.

I caution the Supervisors to prevent the planning and urban research revolutionaries from leading them astray; I ask the Supervisors to prevent them from running amok in City Hall.

We are not in some in some planning class Mr. Metcalf, where we can discuss the merits of the anti-modernist movement. San Francisco is not academia. San Francisco is the real world, where working class families, who do not normally participate in your ivory tower discussions, must find a decent job and place to live.

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