Planning a Globalized World

This week’s readings examine and evaluate the application of theoretical planning to the evolution and development of globalization. The readings explore various mechanisms and structuring to globalization as it relates to local planning practices and policies. The articles establishes a consensus that questions how planning practices are capable of transcending beyond borders and to how global development impacts planning for communities in the United States. Yan Zhang’s article establishes parallels in the urban renewal processes between the United States and China. His article find that revitalization practices and programs in both countries use similar approaches that establish government authorized subsidies to attract private investment in local communities. Zhang asserts that through varying political and socioeconomic settings the influence of a global society institutes a system that enables community development to become a “political alliance” between government and private entities, ultimately expanding the conflict that persist in planning for the public interest. The article seeks to improve the functionality of planners as this modern practice of development continues to become extensive.   This article further expound on the importance of collaborative and community planning in renewal strategies, exclaiming that planners should continue to integrate the visions of the members of the community in incorporating plans , lessening the effects of private interest and political influence.

Steven V. Ward explores how various mechanism of planning practices and ideas are changed and influenced through international diffusion. His article examines and evaluates the degree of influence that globalization has on local planning.   Diffusion that is voluntary achieved and borrowed has a lower impact from external institutions than those diffusion practices that are imposed. This is evident in most western societies where planning practices and policies follows a pattern of development through the independent changes of communities, and through the emergence of modern technology and its influence to specific regions. This form of diffusion has been proficient in the United States, where the evolution of planning practice has been best described by the continued growth of the country and the various patterns of development that emerged through planning of American cities and suburbs.

Globalization has defined modern day planning practices, specifically in underdeveloped countries. The sphere of western influence is dominant in the way cities across the country are developed and the way growth is managed and distributed. Globalization imposes a high dependence for external influences to most developing countries and emerging world economies, altering their political system and shifting their planning processes to resemble that of western societies. Essentially, as noted in Zhang’s article, private interest and investment guides the process of global development as investment is generally funded where the demand is high. As practiced in the United States, economic growth and community development plans are designed to attract investment by developing community amenities that attract a higher income population, instead of developing plans to foster development for the members currently living in a community. I have experienced these planning practices in the country of Belize. My wife and I were married in Belize, and the year before the wedding traveled to the country for vacation. We admired the authenticity of the country and regarded the natural amenities that separated the country from any other place in the Caribbean. Within a year, the island became more modern and growth was spurred by development of western influence.

Thank you Ms. Hamer

Ms. Hamer’s presentation was very insightful and her experience in the urban planning profession is extraordinary. I appreciate her realistic and appealing approach to the planning profession, and admire her contributions to the communities of Alexandria and Montgomery County, MD. My biggest take away was her discussion of civic engagement and the challenges in obtaining a consensus with all the stakeholders involved in the planning process. Her explanation of the City’s racial division and the planning department’s efforts to involve the residents of the black community was most interesting. In my brief time in the area, it appears that development is designed around  black communities and doesn’t involve the consent  or input of those members.

I didn’t totally agree with her assessment of on the job training. It has been my experience that the technical aspects of this field is best learned on the job, but agree that the master program should be more practical and should incorporate more than writing plans and conducting studies.

Urban Politics, Governance, and Economics

This week’s readings explores the characteristics of postindustrial American cities, specifically as it pertains to urban communities afflicted by economic and social distress. The readings examines the unfair treatment of minority groups in American cities, and weighs the effects of policies and planning initiatives that restricts opportunities and increased disinvestment. The readings identifies the challenges in developing revitalization strategies and creating equity within these communities and amongst minority groups.

The social welfare model has been the government’s solution to address discrimination in America, and to remedy the gaps and disparities in the social and economic structures of inner cities. The model doesn’t directly promote investment in minority communities; essentially it is designed to supplement the inadequacies in income distribution, and to minimize socioeconomic hardships. Such programs includes subsidized rents, unemployment benefits, supplemental nutrition assistance, and financial support.

Some have argued that programs within the model restrict growth and further advances poverty in some inner cities. In most instances the capital provided through social welfare programs doesn’t provide a livable wage and doesn’t keep up with changes of the market. Ultimately, social welfare programs apply limits to the livelihood of certain minority groups, and spatially place these groups in certain neighborhoods where rents are cheap and public institutions and facilities are inadequate. The model also doesn’t provide any incentives for advancement by placing limits on the amount of income in order to receive benefits.

In addition, programs that provide on the job training to low income residents have been viewed by many as being non-productive, as the training doesn’t provide a tract of employment that fosters professional development and the possibility for advancement in positions that offers higher incomes. The social welfare model also lends to the misallocation of taxes by investing tax dollars in social services that are provided to a limited number of individuals instead of allocating funding to communal institutions such as schools and infrastructure. This raises the question if government programs are intended to stagnate progression in certain racial and cultural communities, and if the programs encourages complacency amongst these groups.

Michael Porter asserts that the government social welfare perspective focuses on the liabilities of the inner cities rather than the assets. He proclaims that economics in the inner city should be at the forefront of the policy agenda, and is the key function in the revitalization of inner cities. Porter proclaims that equity in an underprivileged community can be achieved, when government identifies the key components of a community’s economy and their resources. As previously mentioned, social welfare programs attempts to influence development in under privileged communities through training programs and workforce development. In this, government works with local businesses in providing training and then placing individuals in certain positions in the business. This method has been viewed as inefficient and ineffective as the pay in these positions are generally below the living wage and doesn’t provide a tract for advancement. Porter proclaims that this partnership between government and local businesses isn’t sustainable, as businesses that are involved in this partnership are dependent on government support. Economic programs should encourage growth through the resources that are readily available in the community. Porter asserts that economic development in the inner city should strategically consider the spatial relationship of the community and the market, and the local market demand the area provides. In this planners must consider the skills and specialties the members of the community already possess, and more importantly is there a market demand for this specifically in the region. Policies should promote integration in the regional job market.

Planning Goals: Justice, Conflict and the Right to the City

This week’s readings examines the challenges and conflicts in public policy making and planning, specifically as it pertains to the right of private ownership and the interest of the public good. The readings raises the question if the property rights of private developers and owners outweighs the rights of the public that are guaranteed by the constitution and state legislation. The reading also evaluates the social injustices brought on by private development and evaluates the law that conforms to these inequalities.

Scot Campbell’s article identifies several contradictions in the development of public policy and identifies the discord in determining priorities and the competing interests involved in the planning process. Campbell assets that planners must resolve at least three conflicting interests in the planning and development of communities; the planner must consider how to grow the economy, proportionally distribute the growth fairly and to preserve the natural environment. Planners are faced with the challenge of both creating investment in communities and managing the direct impact of the development project. This impact can be applied to the physical environment, whereas development strains the natural environment and compromise possible threats to open and public space. Development also threatens other physical attributes that are that are commonly used such as roadways. Impacts of development can also be characterized by the disproportionate distribution of benefits and the injustices that are created in the development process. These conflicts, opposing interest and injustices are abundant in modern society. The development conflict for instance has been at the core of challenges in modern planning. Within the last decade the most effective strategy to overturn blight in American cities has been polices that promote gentrification. In this, local government develops strategies that encourage investment in blighted communities through massive revitalization and restoration. High rents and increase property values causes displacement of long term residents that fiscally can’t adapt to demand of the new neighborhood. Planners are tasked in guiding sustainable development that is equal and appropriate for members of a community.

These conflicts in planning are further explained in Margaret Kohn’s The Mauling of Public Space. Margaret Kohn identifies several discrepancies involved in the privatization of public spaces, and uses the widespread development of shopping malls in the suburbs to support this claim. The article explains that shopping malls in suburban communities were used as a tool to promote economic development and investment in these low dense areas, and to provide the general amenities once associated with urban living. As the concept of malls progressed across the country, the mall begin to create the atmosphere of public squares and downtown districts where people gathered to share ideas, engage in political debate, and advance communication through the dissemination of newsletters and other correspondence. Local planning initiatives and government incentives to create public space in private development had an adverse impact to constitutional rights and the equity in development for all groups. Local government efforts that incorporate public-private partnerships tend to compromise the public good, as private institution such as shopping malls restricts the full privilege of freedom of speech and limits the organization and promotion of political debate, that is usually provided in public squares. This conflict is abundant in many inner cities where public land is provided to private developers with the intention to create large scale commercial developments to provide residents with goods and services not readily available. However, in the process some residents in the community are limited in taking part or occupying the space due to private restrictions and interest.

Diversity and Inclusion in Planning

 

This week’s readings continues to examine the efficacy of the planning profession in the public policy making process, specifically how it pertains to the role of planners in developing and establishing just and equitable cities. The readings transcend planning philosophy discussed in prior readings and advance the practical application to how the planner practitioner should be developed. It identifies the intrinsic and social characteristics that shape the perspective of a planner, and outlines some of the tangible benefits in developing plans for communities. The focus of this week’s readings are also centered around inclusion and diversity in the planning process. This notion is incorporated through the individuals who constitute the ranks of the planning profession and of those stakeholders who are most effected by the process.

June Manning Thomas asserts that achieving equity in planning for the just city should be reflective of the individuals who are tasked with carrying out these goals. Her article suggests that a tangible way to establish equity is to ensure that the planning profession includes diversity in race and ethnicity in urban environments. The first course of establishing equality in the planning process is to promote inclusion and diversity in the profession itself. In determining the parameters of a “just city” theorist argue that the participation in the decision making process should incorporate those that are fairly powerless such as minority groups and other less fortunate groups such as the poor. Thomas suggests that the planning profession can be less creditable and less effective in establishing this form of justice when the practitioners are not comprised of these groups.

This notion raises the question to how reliable and trustworthy the interests of planners are, and if the lack of diversity and exclusion within the ranks of planning professionals contradicts the core principles of the planning practice? How can planners employ equity amongst all groups, when certain groups are not represented amongst the practitioners? In my experience, policies are better conceived and more willingly accepted by citizens where there is a level of understanding and where a connection is established with the individual(s) tasked with implementing the policy. This connection is established when citizens, particularly in minority groups, feel like they are equally represented; that they are not just the recipients of information but are amongst those who are included in developing the plan or policy. It is has been my personal identity and experience , to include my race and culture, that has help alleviate the misconception of being out of touch, far removed and non- understanding of the concerns of certain groups in a community. When I was a plans reviewer, there were many instances when my experience of being a minority and in growing up in a certain environment provided me insight and understanding, and help guide considerations to certain recommendations and suggestions that were made.

The idea of group representation in the planning process is also expressed in Iris Young’s Inclusion and Democracy article. Young asserts that inclusion in the democratic process goes beyond addressing equity in a society and identifying the limitations to equal and just communities, but more so involves providing accommodations that provides all groups the opportunity to be heard and represented. In a multicultural society each group should have a seat in the democratic process, as each group brings their own perspective on how to resolve issues faced in the community. The diverse social structures of a multicultural society allows for the clear deliberation of differing experiences and understandings to advance the planning process. It has been my experience that the planning process is most effective when the community is fully engaged and equally represented.

Planning in Action: Successes, Failures, and Strategies

This week’s readings continue to expound upon the significance of citizen participation in the development of public policy, giving particular emphasizes to the aspect of citizen control and government- community partnership. The readings outline some of the success and failures of these collaborative practices, and provide guidance to how organization and assembly along with government partnership in communities may further advance the common interest. Collaboration and citizen control also has the potential to influence how policy is designed and shape the way programs are developed. The readings bring into question the limitations of private and public partnerships. Should these arrangements adhere to the same scrutiny as fully funded public projects? and should these arrangements follow the same level of transparency? Most importantly the readings pose the question, if the public good can be met when there are competitive gains and monetary interest involved?

Siemiatycki examines the implications of private-public partnerships in his analysis of the design-build-finance-operate (DBFO) model used in the planning of public infrastructure in Canada. In theory, the concession of public land to private entities for the interest of the public good, assumes a greater standard of dedication and preservation to the maintenance and administration of public facilities. . Government contracts are held to a great level of scrutiny. As in most government programs, citizens have the opportunity to review contracts and object to the issuing of rewards to ensure that government agencies are making best use of public taxes, and that opportunities advances the public good . This presumption of good is often diverted by the emergence of greed and personal gain, not necessary providing the greatest public benefit.   Siemiatycki found that the public-private partnership intended to streamline government processes, lower costs, and uncover bureaucratic red tape in government projects actually produced additional procedural and regulatory restrictions, decreased transparency and increased development costs. In my opinion the government procurement process has the potential to severance relationships with both community members and local small businesses. Government- community partnerships in this regard are often motivated by outside incentives and are also heavily regulated.

James DeFilippis evaluates the history of community involvement in public policy, where certain groups and interest seek self-governance and community control. These groups sought to have control of the issues that directly affected their community, governing the process to how programs are developed and implemented. In examining the concept of community control, DeFilippis identifies that certain discrepancies and imbalances existed in collective organizations. DeFilippis describes various movements during the 1960s where certain groups in America sought empowerment of an unjust society and regulations that encouraged isolation from the political workings of government. DeFilippis provides a narrative that groups with ambitions of having complete control of the needs and organization of their community ultimately failed with the absence of regulation and government participation. Government intervention in community development provides the structure and stability to the way communities are organized. Government intervention also can promote equity amongst class and other social organizations, and balances the distribution of resources and services.

Govrenment-communtiy participation in policy making is needed and creates a balancing act amongst various interests. Citizens has the ability to identify the inequalities that exist in their community and provide recommendations how programs should be administer, where government has the resources and expertise to execute polices and plans.

Planning in Action: Successes, Failures, and Strategies

This week’s readings examines the significance of citizen involvement and participation in the planning process. These readings further build on the concept of communicative and collaborative planning, exemplifying the importance of citizen participation and evaluates the success and failures of government’s cooperation with the community. Sherry Arnstein distinguish effective participation as a means of having the power and authority to affect the outcome of policies rather than being part of the empty ritual of participation where ideas are simply heard and arguments are made. Arnstein establishes a “ladder” of participation where the degree of involvement and influence are categorized by various levels of participation. She implies that the less affluent members of society generally falls at the lower tier of the ladder where strategies of participation involves more delegation than collaboration. At this level, citizens are solely given information that government agencies are willing to divulge and what they decide is important to disseminate, which provides a constituency that is not fully informed and aware of policy changes and programs. The level of participation increases as you go up the ladder where I believe Arnstein designates the citizenry at this level as being more affluent and influential. As you increase in the steps of participation, involvement in the planning process becomes more collaborative, negotiable and transparent. At this level, government information are administered properly and citizen’s feedback are not only heard but are taken into account.

This tier system of citizen involvement resonates in the development process and is an effective tool in measuring how successful a project may be. Working in the development community in both the public and private sector, I have experienced how effective participation described in the upper part of the ladder has been successful in moving projects forward. I can also argue that less effective strategies such as manipulation, informing and consultation can stalemate projects. I have been involved in a project for the past six months that have received a lot of citizen opposition. When the project was in its preliminary phase, it was the role of the consultants on the development team to circulate information and describe the parameters of the project to the community. The information provided was too technical and didn’t properly inform the citizens how the project will affect them. This caused major problems for the developers in having the preliminary plan approved, and as a result they decided to take a different approach. Community involvement became more collaborative and information was provided in smaller groups to increase the level of understanding for the community members. Several Ideas were considered by the development team and some of the citizen concerns were addressed and were incorporated in the project which provided the support from staff.

I agree with Arnstein idea that there is a typology of participation, but question her assertion that this is an issue between the have and the have nots. I believe effectiveness of citizen control and collaborative forms of participation can be exerted in poor communities as well. High levels of community involvement can translate to effective policies specific to individual communities. I believe this was the basis of the Wilson and Kelling article. The article describes this notion of informal social control whereas community members sought out conformity to norms and laws that govern there community. It is this sense of citizen control that Keller/Wilson identified as being the driver of public opinion and collaboration that made the police foot patrol program successful amongst community members. It was the citizens that identified what behavior in the neighborhood was unruly and could potentially lead to more heinous crime. Though the study showed that crime didn’t necessary decrease it proved that the public order was elevated; community members were more engaged in collaborating with police and were willing to do their part in keeping the neighborhood clean and orderly. The article shows that in the absence of community engagement and participation, a domino effect emerges as disorderly conduct leads to deviant behavior and more heinous crime. Growing up in Brooklyn I have experienced the effectiveness of community involvement and informal social control. Crime wasn’t as abundant when community members were familiar and acquainted with other members of the community and when citizens collaborated with police in establishing crime prevention strategies.