Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So We Are Presently A Hotbed Of What?

There was so much to cover yesterday this almost slipped through the cracks:
The city's planning process must be a hotbed of professionalism. (P-G, Osth, Swager & Loftness)

It's your semiannual message-in-a-bottle from the Civic Design Coalition!

It is also not uncommon to see a mayor lay off a good part of the city Planning Department and bring new people into his office in the name of "economic development." While this sounds good, it is inherently flawed.

Cities need a logical plan for how the city can develop, followed by a system that ensures that everyone is treated fairly. The developer needs a predictable process with clear rules. Citizens who have already invested in the city by either buying a home or owning a business are entitled to have their investment protected. Everyone is entitled to a predictable open process. The visioning, planning and zoning necessary to ensure the plan is carried out is the purview of the Planning Department. (ibid)

Mayors need a predictable stream of campaign cash extorted from developers who seek entrance into our marketplace. Pittsburgh's traditional developers need special privileges. Community groups with the correct political clout need license to accomplish whatever they want, when they want it, regardless of their neighbors or the greater good of the city.

So you can see where there is some "creative friction" in regards to Pittsburgh city planning.

A developer has a team of lawyers, engineers, architects and landscape architects working together to help the development get planned, permitted and built. The city needs equally qualified people in their Planning Department and on their commissions charged with improving the city.

Diversity should be one goal for the boards, authorities, and commissions of the city. The other goal should be highly qualified individuals who are well matched to their duties. (ibid)

Look around the table one of these days. Developer, attorney, developer, developer, developer, political hack, developer, political hack who is an attorney and wannabe judge...

Wait, why are we even looking at the Planning Commission? We should be looking at the URA. They're the ones who actually get to do things. They're the ones with the trenchant and fancy planning and civic design backgrounds. Right?


The cities we think of as successful like Seattle, Chicago, Boston and Portland, Ore., all have a strong planning ethic which has been informed by professionals in the industry as well as meaningful citizen input. (ibid)

WHOA! Slow down. They probably have Ethics Codes in those cities that don't permit their elected officials to accept near-limitless admissions to sporting events, either. Pittsburgh has its own unique set of priorities, and government isn't one of them.

A plentitude of rules is not a deterrent to development. A process clouded by inconsistencies and a lack of standards is. (ibid)

You know -- apropos of nothing. She's just saying. Something her mom always used to say, I'm sure.

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