Fixing American Cities, the 21st Century Way

I just posted my monthly blog post to Planetizen. Here’s part:

After the dramatic collapse of the Minneapolis freeway bridge last week, the collective hand-wringing began. The bridge was known to be faulty, but had not been replaced. Our entire public transit system is underfunded, we were told.

In addition to transportation infrastructure, those concerned with urban issues have a litany of complaints about American cities. Our transit systems are not adequately linked to zoning laws. Our high parking requirements doom alternative modes of transit and drive up development costs. Our policies encourage uncontrolled sprawl, which seemingly nobody likes. Planners’ recommendations are too often overruled by ill-informed and politicized zoning boards. Our buildings aren’t energy efficient. City mayors and councils play politics with projects painstakingly approved through highly democratic review processes. And nobody’s happy when local activists hold undue power over individual projects.

[…] Our city planners – whether bureaucrats, elected officials, citizen advocates, or builders – must embrace the new technology if they hope to realize their plans for our cities. For their part, even the best government planners work on the web is often limited to static online pamphlets about completed plans, or legalistic documents supporting development review processes. At their worst, there is a simple lack of any online information whatsoever about the planning process. Government planners, with their unique access to information and role in the official approval processes, play an instrumental role in facilitating the conversation. Internet technology is the best way to reach many people quickly, cheaply, and at their own convenience.

Read the rest: “City Building the American Way

Author: Rob Goodspeed