Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Two views of planning and zoning: the official city perspective (via Amanda Burden) vs. City Limits (City Without a Plan)

From the 2/6/11 New York Times Real Estate section, A New City Handbook Demystifies Zoning:
SINCE becoming New York City’s planning commissioner in 2002, Amanda M. Burden has presided over the rezoning of wide swaths of the city.

Some changes have served traditional zoning goals — encouraging higher density on commercial thoroughfares (particularly near transit hubs) while lowering density in residential neighborhoods. And some have served goals not usually associated with zoning — improving food choices (by encouraging grocery stores to open in underserved neighborhoods) and promoting nonpolluting transportation (by requiring bike parking inside new residential buildings, for example).

“It turns out that boring old zoning, when used creatively, can be used to solve a whole lot of problems,” Ms. Burden said in a telephone interview...

That the [zoning] resolution is “impossible to understand,” Ms. Burden said, has taken the tool of zoning out of the hands of the public. She hopes to change that, with a new handbook, available Monday, that she said not only “demystifies zoning, but I think is entertaining — it’s fun to read.”

...Ms. Burden says she will be happy when residents start attending meetings with dog-eared copies of the new book. “Planning,” she said, “is most effective when it’s in the hands of the community.”
From City Limits

In the January 2011 issue of City Limits, City Without a Plan (p. 16):
Unfortunately, the way New York City plans is largely broken.

Unlike many major American cities, New York has never compelted a comprehensive plan for its future. Instead, it has passed zoning laws to try to constrain the private market... Under Mayor Bloomberg, more than 100 neighborhoods have been rezoned, but it is not clear that those changes follow a logical, equitable or comprehensive plan for how to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of new residents the New York of 2030 will have to house, employ, and move.

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