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considers outdated and ineffective aspects of planning: 1) unitary planning, 2) the traditional planning commission, and 3) too much focus on physical aspects of urban areas Author argues against these aspects, and offers an alternative to each problem: 1) pluralism in planning 2) a true democratic process of planning, and 3)a more inclusionary view of the scope of planning field General sense that controversy, tension, opposing viewpoints are natural and healthy to the planning process. These tensions should not be avoided; rather they are a means for true democratic decision-making.
1) Unitary vs. Plural Planning a. Unitary Plan – one agency prepares a comprehensive plan with little or no outside input, and without researching viable alternatives b. Plural Plan – Exploring and discussing multiple options for each proposed plan, hearing from different interest groups, giving all groups a voice whether they have had traditional ‘power’ within a community or not. c. Davidoff’s encouragement of tension and contentious discussion is critical to plural planning. d. Three benefits to utilizing plural planning as opposed to unitary planning: i. It better informs the public of alternative choices ii. Forces public agency to compete with other organizations preparing plans, thereby increasing the quality of the work generated by the public sector iii. Gives outside organizations a chance to take their work to the next level – not just protesting government’s plans, but creating their own alternatives. 2) Planner as Advocate (brings this point up in the middle of his 3 arguments against traditional planning) After stating that the correct process for planning is pluralism, Davidoff argues that the correct role of the planner is one of an advocate. a. Social values and justice must be integrated into planning. Planning can no longer be just a technical field; the act of recommending plans and actions to the city is in itself infusing technical worker with ideas of social and economic justices. This shouldn’t be fought or discouraged. b. Compares the role of advocacy planning to that of a lawyer. Each group/idea is entitled to fair representation and deserves a voice. Takes this comparison a step further and suggests that an advocacy plan would
UPP 500 Group Presentations: Reading Outline
be similar to a legal brief, in that it not only argues for its own ideas, but argues against the alternative plans created by other agencies c. Beneficial to community as under-represented groups (such as low-income residents) will have a professional to speak for them; also beneficial to planners as they can select to work with organizations/firms that hold values and interests similar to their own. 3) The public planning agency vs. democratic planning process a. Three groups should be involved with a democratic, public planning process: i. Political parties. Ideal situation would be if both parties in the legislative and executive branches would form their own plans, these plans would be discussed and appraised, and the planning agency would carry out its activities based on constituent demands. However, Davidoff admits this is a lofty ideal that would be difficult to realize. ii. Special interest groups. Chambers of commerce, labor-rights organizations, civil rights, environmental issues. Again, Davidoff mentions this is also difficult, as many organizations are reluctant to disagree with city plans, as it decreasing their ability for funding, support iii. Ad-hoc protest organizations. Eg., neighborhood associations developing alternative plans that better suit their community. b. Antithesis of the democratic process he describes is the public planning agency i. Originated in the conservative reform movement in the early 1900s. ii. Main problem is that they have no true constituency. Not that connected to the public, and commission members are quick to come to a group consensus rather than discuss individual opinions, disagreements. Therefore, when the public has complaints about activities in their neighborhood, they don’t know who specifically to speak with 4) Inclusive Definition of the Scope of Planning a. Davidoff’s third element that he argues should be changed is the focus on only physical space of a community. b. The purpose of buildings is to serve people. Their functional use is of primary concern. Spaces and structures only take on true meaning when examining them in relation to social and economic conditions. c. Example – Urban renewal…article written during a time when government practiced ‘physical determinism’…argued that if the buildings were changed, the social problems would change accordingly. Obviously, Davidoff contends that this thinking should be reversed. d. Three ways that planning’s scope can be broadened to include more that physical aspects:
UPP 500 Group Presentations: Reading Outline
i. State legislation needed to allow municipal planning departments to address issues outside of land use. Should address all areas of public concern ii. Planning education should allow students to specialize in specific areas of public planning (not necessarily physical planning) iii. APA should widen its scope and purpose. Current mission statement excludes those planners not focused narrowly on physical planning 5) Planning Education and Conclusions a. Planners should be knowledgeable in a wide spectrum of issues (on social, economic, systematic, physical levels) affecting urban areas. b. Planners should serve as coordinators and liaisons c. Merge the advances in technical skills and resources with the analytic practice of forming social policy. This allows planners to address urban planning on many levels – design, social work, law. Problems planners face are both pragmatic and philosophical, and it’s not an either/or decision…all angles must be discussed and fought over in order for meaningful decisions to be made.