I have been learning a lot lately. No, I have not returned to school or taken a few courses through Planetizen. Instead, I have simply been playing with my five-year old daughter and gaining a few insights along the way. Some of her favorite toys these days are Blockitecture sets which consist of colorful wooden blocks of buildings, parks, green spaces, rivers, and lakes. Together, we have built neighborhoods and had humorous conversations about what makes a city “fun” or “awesome,” two of her most often-used adjectives. Of course, this has brought me, a plannerd and father, much joy and satisfaction, knowing that my daughter is beginning to understand what I do as a planner and that she may even aspire to be one in the future (well, I am not sure about this yet). All kidding aside, I have seriously learned a few things through our play sessions that I would like to share below. [Read more…] about Urban Planning Insights: Learning and Reflecting through Play
I wear a blue County jacket and dark pants, denim or Dickies, when I’m out doing zoning enforcement inspections. This isn’t a regulation uniform. I don’t have to wear it. I’m an urban planner, not a cop. [Read more…] about An Urban Planner on the Ground in South Central Los Angeles
Dear Pasadena Planning Commissioners,
We’ve come a long way from Pasadena’s 2004 second dwelling unit ordinance that effectively codified irrational NIMBYism in the Zoning Code. The proposed amendment to the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinance before you at the May 24, 2017 hearing represents a significant improvement; it came about as a result of the relaxed standards for ADUs by way of AB 2299 and SB 1069, as well as the passionate testimony of residents and housing advocates in public hearings and community meetings. However, a few points of contention remain – some of the “poison pills” and class-based inequalities carried over from the original ordinance – while other points merit highlighting for this latest public hearing. I ask you to take these comments under consideration as you evaluate the amended ADU ordinance for recommendation to the Pasadena City Council.
Dear Pasadena City Council Members,
A long overdue update to the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance is before you at the January 30, 2017, City Council public hearing. With the passage of AB 2299 and SB 1069, all local jurisdictions are obligated to amend zoning ordinances to facilitate easier pathways to building accessory dwellings units (ADUs). As the staff report notes, the new state laws came about in response to a statewide affordable housing crisis. We see it in Pasadena. It’s rendered in the presence of homeless encampments, occupied vehicles on city streets and parking lots, and the existence of unpermitted housing on private properties across the city.
[Read more…] about An Open Letter to the Pasadena City Council Urging a Comprehensive Overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance
Dear Pasadena Planning Commissioners,
A long overdue update to the City of Pasadena’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance is before you at the December 14, 2016, Planning Commission public hearing. This will be the first of many hearings in response to the passage of Assembly Bill 2299 (AB 2299) and Senate Bill 1069 (SB 1069) and the upcoming Housing Element Implementation Program. At this juncture, I see three compelling reasons for your Commission to advocate a comprehensive overhaul of Pasadena’s Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance. [Read more…] about An Open Letter to the Pasadena Planning Commission Urging a Comprehensive Overhaul of the Second Dwelling Unit Ordinance
Earlier this summer, I published an article on these pages remarking on the growing scholarship on informality in the U.S. housing market.  My article was intended as an opening salvo to planning academics who, as I see it, fail to understand American informal housing from the implementation side of planning—the enforcement and regulatory standpoint. [Read more…] about Response to Comments: The Informal Housing Debate Remains Open
Is working with planning consultants one of your key responsibilities at the office? Do you want to know how to work more effectively with consultants? [Read more…] about Book Review: Working with Planning Consultants
Today, planning scholars are examining informality in the United States housing market with the gusto once reserved for the Central Place Theory and other mainstays of planners’ education.  This surge of research is encouraging. Until recently, the subject of informal dwelling units in the U.S. housing market remained glaringly understudied. The developing scholarship builds on pioneering – though scant – research on “shadow markets”  and “accessory apartments”  in American single-family housing. [Read more…] about Converting Garages into a Dissertation: A Conversation with Jacob Wegmann
Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to read more and/or improve your project management skills? If your answer is yes, then I have a book to recommend to you: Project Management for Planners: A Practical Guide (2002) by Terry A. Clark. [Read more…] about Book Review: Project Management for Planners
“What’s up, doc?” Just about everyone knows this as popular cartoon character Bugs Bunny’s catchphrase. It is also what a few people have jokingly said to me after learning that I hold a doctorate in planning. [Read more…] about What’s Up, Doc in Planning?