Posts tagged with "Planning":

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On the Right Track?

Yesterday afternoon in Denver, Colorado, President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law. The process of doling out the spoils begins, as we wait, and hope, for the desired economic recovery. One piece of good news for urbanites and green transportation advocates, the bill includes $8 billion for high-speed rail, according to Politico. Additional funding is expected at $1 billion annually for the next five years, through the normal budgetary stream. This represents a major increase in high speed rail funding. Last year, President Bush authorized $1.5 billion in high speed rail funding through 2013. Reportedly, Transportation Secretary Lahood has 60 days to plan how and where the funds will be spent. The rail funding is a special priority for President Obama, according to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “I put it in there for the president,” Emanuel told Politico. “The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future.” The rail-heavy Northeast and the planned California high-speed corridor seem like obvious recipients. Doubtless some in Chicago, and the down state Illinois district Lahood previously represented, will push for a Midwest hub and spoke-shaped system centered in Chicago. While architects do not typically design rail corridors, they do design stations, like this Calatrava-designed TGV station in Lyon, and transit oriented developments. Wouldn't it be nice to buy your Acela tickets in surroundings like this? UPDATE: The Huffington Post has a link to a 2002 Federal Railroad Administration map showing possible high-speed corridors. Which lines will make the cut?
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Another Planner Down

Just weeks after LA City Planning Commission President Jane Usher resigned, Southern California is down another major planner: The LA Times has reported that LA County's chief planner Bruce McClendon (pictured) was just fired by County Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka. McClendon told the Times that he believed the firing was likely in retaliation for becoming a whistle-blower against the Board of Supervisors. He said he had told Fujioka that supervisors' aides often tried influencing hearing officers' decisions on whether to permit development plans. "It was illegal, and they can go to jail for doing it," McClendon told the Times. McClendon arrived in LA two years ago from Orange County, Fla., where he was a planner. He is a past president of the American Planning Association. He is the author of five books on planning and in Los Angeles worked to update the county's master planning document, which had been basically unchanged for 35 years. In our third California issue ever, we sat down with the commish a few months after he took the job. While we're happy McClendon took a stand on an important issue, we're also sorry to see a capable planner let go.
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Showdown at the Coney Corral

So it comes to this. Later tonight--6:30 to be exact--the Municipal Art Society will hold its final meeting on Coney Island, where it will take comments from the community, present the work of its charrette team, and, finally, present their recommendations to the city, a copy of which AN has received. The group's timing couldn't be better because we have also learned that the city is to certify its own long-simmering plans for Coney on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the entire neighborhood has gone (further) to pot. Though the MAS has received more than 300 recommendations through its ImagineConey website--which it kicked off with a Will Alsop-led charrette in November--the heart of its recommendations come from a report prepared by "amusement developer" David Malmuth and real estate advisory company Robert Charles Lesser & Co. Though the group probably has other ideas in store, there are four in particular it would like to see the city take up. First is the purchase of any land to be utilized as an amusement park so as to prevent future problems akin to those the city and local businesses are facing with developer Joe Sitt. Second, the MAS believes any master plan should be shaped by locals, and especially amusement operators and vendors, and that it should include a singular iconic ride that can come to symbolize the new Coney. Third, the city should require, instead of recommend, entertainment- and amusement-related uses for Coney West and Coney North. (The current plan only requires amusements in the main park area, Coney East.) One of two major departures for the MAS from the city is the demand that some interim short-term programming be implemented to keep the neighborhood vibrant and viable as the new rezoning is worked out and new amusements are built, a process that could take decades. The other, and most damning, point is that, in order to be viable, the new amusement area must cover 25 acres. The city's most recent numbers call for only 9 acres of amusement park, which was reduced from 15 acres initially proposed last February, when the rezoning was announced. According to Malmuth's report, that is the level required to attract and support 3.5 million visitors per year, which he says is the critical mass needed to make Coney truly stable and protect it from the sort of market fluctuations and development pressures that have led it astray in the past. Still, even if the MAS has come to some firm conclusions already about what it wants to see from the city, the community proposals are certainly worth checking out. With submissions from the likes of Fred Schwartz and countless architecture students, they're pretty trippy, even garnering a particularly vicious and snarky perusal from Curbed blogger Robert Guskind. And yet, over at his main blog, Gowanus Lounge, Bob gives a thoughtful analysis of the MAS approach:
We respect our friends at the Municipal Art Society and their ImagineConey effort. They have been one of the most vocal groups insisting that the city come up with a interim plan to keep Coney Island viable. Yet, we’re also concerned that as latecomers to the debate–which has been ongoing now for nearly three years–some of what they are bringing to the table is more of a distraction than a help. [...] Mayor Bloomberg, Amanda Burden, Purnima Kapur, Lynn Kelly and all the CIDC Board members, Joe Sitt, Kent Barwick–we’re talking to you and about you. Let’s cut out the meaningless twaddle and get down to the real work of making sure the summers of 2009 and 2010 are not the Summers of Horror in Coney Island. And, if that means sacrificing vision and slowing down bureaucratic process, so be it.
Much as we wish that Bob's wishes would come true, something tells us neither MAS's proposals nor Tuesday's all-but-certain certification will deliver.