Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Pittsburgh Comprehensive Planning Process and neighborhood engagement and planning efforts

One aspect of the current PLANPGH comprehensive land use planning process in the City of Pittsburgh is to my way of thinking a good example of how to do neighborhood-based planning as an element of the overall process.  It illustrates the point I was making yesterday in "Where's the there? To get visitation to neighborhoods there must be destinations worth visiting" and "Speaking of the need for a comprehensive cultural plan for the City of Washington."

According to "Neighborhoods queried on public art, urban design" and "Mobile interviewers look to city residents to help craft a plan" from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that's exactly what the City of Pittsburgh will be doing, to the extent of doing a "road show" with a specially outfitted mobile truck that will visit each neighborhood, with the intent of getting greater resident participation in the process.

Now, I am torn about such efforts. Plans are supposed to have both breadth and depth, and too often, games and road shows are more about getting breadth of engagement at the expense of quality or depth of engagement. Still, more outreach is a lot better than limited outreach, and developing neighborhood-based priorities and plans is a lot better than the process in DC, which doesn't have substantive neighborhood plans as an element of the planning framework.

From the first article:

Beginning next month, the city will send a vehicle into neighborhoods to ask residents what the city can do in those two areas to help their community. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced Monday the city will send a film crew into 90 neighborhoods beginning April 6. The program is known as TALKPGH and is part of the city's first-ever 25-year planning process called PLANPGH, which has 12 components and is expected to be finished in 2014.

"Through this creative and innovative planning process, residents will have the opportunity to share what makes their neighborhood special, and how it can be improved through public art and urban design," Mr. Ravenstahl said.

From the second article:

After the mobile visits, community workshops for art and design will be held from April 22-30. The times and locations will be posted on the website. ...

The art and design planning process will revisit the city's commitment to budgeting a percentage of cost for art "in all city projects, from bridges to senior centers to pools," Mr. Brown said. "We want to raise the bar on public and private property. We've gathered every community design plan that has ever been done in neighborhoods, to pick out the 'greatest hits' of each and to educate people on best practice models."

The art and design plan will result in the city's first design manual, which will be a guide in the planning department for each area of the city. "That way, developers can say, 'OK this is what the people have voted on and what the city deems to be important,' " Mr. Brown noted.

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