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The Entrepreneurial Planner: A Series on Effective, Sustainable City Planning

by Lee Striar on June 23, 2010 · 6 comments

in Philosophy,Planning

Lee Striar has graciously agreed to be a guest blogger for us from now until whenever he tires of the effort. We hope you enjoy his writing and the inevitable conversation it will provoke. Share your own thoughts in the comments.

Nic and Chad have asked me to write a series of blog posts on the topic of city planning. As a strong supporter and big fan of the work of Postgreen, I am excited to share my opinions and expertise with them and the readers of this blog.

I’ll leave my bio relatively short. I have a Masters Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, with a focus in Urban Development and a certificate in Real Estate Design and Development, a joint venture of Penn’s School of Design and Wharton School of Business. Professionally, I have worked for the last 4+ years in the real estate industry, the last 2 years specifically in the real estate development industry. I reside in Fishtown/East Kensington, just down the street from the 100k house. Perhaps most importantly, my wife serves as head emergency babysitter for the beautiful babies of Postgreen.

Quite a few planning-themed websites exist already. To readers who are less familiar with planning and want to delve farther into the planning world: I will try to provide links to other sites and blogs whenever I find something relevant to the topic at hand. To readers with a planning background: I welcome your comments, ideas and inevitable criticisms…

This blog usually drills down into the details of specific projects. My series of posts will pull readers away from this more focused view and out into the satellite view. As this series moves along, more site specific posts will arise, but initially I intend to look holistically at the role planning should and must play in the modern, sustainable city.

We tend to only see city planners as the managers of our planning functions.  When friends, colleagues and family talk to me about planning, they most often talk about neighborhood zoning issues. Real estate developers see planners as those who approve (or disapprove) of development proposals. Community leaders see planners as people write community or neighborhood plans. The professional city planner does indeed play all of these maintenance roles.  The efficient and sustainable city however, needs entrepreneurial city planners who can create plans that recognize big picture opportunities and understand the economics of how to implement them on the city-wide and project-level scale. City planners also must be able to politically sell their plans to the public, and to reevaluate them when they become outdated. This series will look less at the traditional role and more at the entrepreneurial role of comprehensive city planning in reshaping our cities.

I will do my best to post weekly. My next post will begin the discussion on the role of planning with a little City Planning 101, touching on the evolution of city planning from the chaos of the 19th Century to, well, the chaos of today. Entire courses are taught on this, I’ll do my best to summarize it in my own 1,000 or so words.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chad Ludeman June 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I’m personally very excited for this series.

2 Ariel June 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

Lee, I would argue that the role of the City planner, as a profession with in City government needs critical re-examination. With out a budget to implement any of the projects, and thus with out the need to prioritize said projects, city planners end up creating wish lists for communities and promising them things that they cannot deliver. I would argue that the job of the City planner in the modern metropolis, should be to critically examine the capital budgets of different departments and proactively approach the community and act as the mediator between the community and the department to help shape those projects (before they come on line) to make sure that they meet the needs of the community. But this is a longer screed that I probably need to put up on MY blog.

3 Mid America Mom June 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Lee I am looking forward to hearing more from the planning side. Some of us over at the Slow Home – contend that planning plays a large part in the present state of residential design.

Mid America Mom

4 GreenBuildinginDenver June 28, 2010 at 1:48 am

I’ll submit this recent post as a good outline of the issues that planners face:

And this controversial but well-considered attack on the whole profession… “Planners are the people who created the system that gives residents the power to exclude people and uses, they are the people who operate that system as it functions today, and they are the people who perpetuate the legitimacy of that system.”

5 Lee Striar June 28, 2010 at 8:48 am

GreenBuildinginDenver – Thanks for the great links. I agree wholeheartedly. This series hopes to tackle the problems with the planning profession. City planning as a profession has not done well by the America City.

However, when progressive mayors talk about the need to bring back planning, I don’t think they intend to bring back 1950s era planning. They want to bring in planners who understand how people want to live, and who do more than respond to NIMBYs and protect the narrow economic interests of only the most politically connected.

I hope you keep reading the series to see my views on how this deservedly maligned profession can resurrect itself.

6 Greenbuildingindenver September 16, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Have there been any new posts, or did I miss them?

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