Monday, October 16, 2006

Good Advice from New York's Head Planner

New York is a city where planning matters. That's partly thanks to its mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who's made it plain that he wants the city's head planner, Amanda Burden, to think big. There's a good Q&A interview with Burden today on Planetizen that could easily serve as a primer for Philadelphia's new head planner, Janice Woodcock. Here are a few choice quotes:

Most pressing immediate issue: "Ensuring and encouraging affordable housing for all New Yorkers and maintaining New York's economic diversity."

Most significant long-term issue: Encouraging green design (that presumably includes waterless urinals!)

Thoughts on the building boom: "We have sought to promote growth in a more sustainable manner, emphasizing growth near the City's extensive transit system while limiting growth in more automobile-oriented neighborhoods. We have introduced "Contextual Zoning" districts to ensure that growth won't mean the out-of-scale overdevelopment of some of New York truly unique neighborhoods like the Lower East Side, City Island, Park Slope, or Greenpoint-Williamsburg."

Biggest news in the planning biz: "When I was in planning school, the future of places like New York was very much in doubt. The country was suburbanizing and dense cities were seen as modern-day dinosaurs. Today, successful cities like New York, San Francisco or Boston are thriving."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Green design?...Philly doesn't have recycling yet.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason NYC, SF and Boston are thriving is they have a lower tax structure than Philly (ie smaller wage tax) and have attracted more immigrants vs. our Brain Drain of local University students saying bye...bye. Also, Philly has a higher percentage of uneducated minorities that are a drain on taxes and resources to the city vs. Boston, S.F. or even NYC for that matter. Until our school system is better able to educate the masses we will only be fooling ourselves thinking a planning director will solve all of our problems. If Phiily could locate more smart development around transit hubs similar to New York...well that would be a start in the right direction. Why, heck they could even give apprenticeships to some of those students struggling in or out of school.

9:51 PM  
Blogger CitySpinner said...

No sustainable planning in Philadelphia? Wrong! Go to

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Uneducated minorities"? Archie Bunker lives and reads Skyline Online!!

10:37 PM  
Blogger act-ex said...

More emphasis on planning is definitely a step in the right direction. However, if the new planner can talk to Septa and get them to clean the trains, operate them faster and on time, and renovate their ugly, nasty stations, maybe we'd see some real development along transit lines.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do we want to keep all the poor people. Let the suburbs have some fun with them.

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the annonymous Edith at 10:37pm - go Stifle Yourself!! World class cities educate their citizenry and certainly do a better job than Mayor Street at addressing our crime problem. Why is the current police commissioner still getting a pay check? Maybe he should help George Jefferson in the cleaning business (located near a train station)!!!!

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hooray Inga for noticing that New York is talking about making big plans.

Hooray New York for actually getting them done!

You notice in the exceprts, and in the original interview with Amanda Burden, a real desire for positive change.

What is the lesson for Phlly? If planning is given more credibility and regulatory authority in Philadelphia, we will be able to think big and accomplish many things.

In Philadelphia we are not used to creating plans. But what would happen if we did?

We would have predictability, more say on our future, a better built environment, the protection of the public good, and the great ideas that come from serious dialoge about what should be done.

We would also get excitement about the City and the belief that the it is on the rise.

How about changing expectations that government can do this? Philadelphia, you can do it!

5:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


9:42 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

It is difficult to compare Philly and New York. NYC has the luxury of always wanting to be a destination for the young and the demand for housing and building is always high. So what can Philly do to keep people here? Jobs, greater public transportation infrastructure, and lower crime. Continue to lure businesses to the region; jobs will give Philadelphia-area college graduates a reason to stay after graduation. Cleaning up the financial nightmare that is SEPTA will hopefully increase ridership by adding new stations and increased service. SEPTA has been deteriorating for a decade; someone needs to mandate a top-down analysis of SEPTA's finances and management structure. Lastly, no one wants to move to a dangerous city. What can Philadelphia do to reverse the trend of violent crime, particulalry crimes involving guns? Mayor Street has been working with Mayor Bloomberg of New York to come up with a comprehensive plan to stop gun violence. Mayor Street must continue to pester Harrisburg pols so not to lose traction on this issue.

2:01 PM  

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