From Vision to Policy, Making New Urbanism Work

“Brilliant podcast on placemaking, public policy, planning departments and the public. I cannot recommend this podcast highly enough.” Editor.

 

   BY STRONG TOWNS

This is our sixth dispatch from the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), which took place in Savannah, Georgia in May. Chuck Marohn attended CNU and hosted a series of in-depth podcast conversations about some of the most pressing topics for cities today, with leaders, thinkers, and activists in a whole range of fields. Now we’re bringing those podcasts to your ears throughout the summer.

In this episode, Susan Henderson (principal and director of design at Placemakers), Hazel Borys (principal and managing director at Placemakers), and Marina Khoury (architect and a partner at Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company) discuss the challenges of engaging with client communities for the successful implementation of New Urbanist innovations such as form-based zoning codes.

Questions discussed in this podcast include:

  • How do you go about engaging with communities around a vision, so that when you get to the stage of implementing policy, you’re confident that you’ve got the vision right?
  • Are we doing visioning well when it comes to New Urbanist ideas, and getting the communities we work in on board with those ideas?
  • How do you get a more representative cross-section of the community engaged in the planning process?
  • How is public engagement different in affluent communities versus those facing more socioeconomic challenges?
  • What are the cues, when you walk in the door, that tell you whether a place is going to be receptive to change?
  • How do you deal with local staff that have limited capacity or interest in working with you?
  • How do you overcome an internal roadblock, when your proposal gets to that one person in the bureaucracy who can derail it?
  • How do you start the conversation with elected officials who aren’t receptive to your ideas?
  • How do you deal with things that are outside the scope of what you can solve?
  • Zoning has come in for a lot of criticism lately from multiple corners of society. How can zoning be a tool for constructive change?
  • Why is the change from a use-based code to a form-based code such a dramatic shift?
  • What are the highest priority changes you urge client communities to implement?
  • Do you prefer to do full citywide code rewrites, or improve a city’s zoning code through more incremental steps?
  • How do you deal with the backlash to a policy that has been too successful and resulted in changes that spur community opposition?
  • How would you respond to the critique that you can’t legislate quality development or architecture?
  • How is capacity building part of what you do, beyond a normal consultant relationship?
  • What do you do to share the lessons you’ve learned?

Original article.