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Urban Planning and Reflection, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1119

Essay

Urban planning is more than just developing a cityscape or transportation system.  Urban planning is utilizing city planners, land-use attorneys, community investors, government officials and developers to mold and thread together a community that will outlast and directly impact our successors.  Smart growth which was implemented very effectively by Massachusetts strikes a chord with how I envision what urban planning and development possess.  Smart growth focused primarily on developing environmentally sustainable developments.  With this smart growth the ideas that provide the best results are promoted by incentives as opposed to regulation.  One of the main factors for driving change is by allowing those with the ability to make the changes step forward.  Massachusetts set the stage by supporting smart growth through legislation and incentives to those taking the strides forward.

The focus of the development of Boston’s transportation media focused on walkable, mixed use and mass-transit development was a key representation of sustainable and smart growth.  This development focuses on putting the people closer to the city they are living in and relying less on lesser efficient modes of transportation.  Other issues facing Massachusetts, like with any other city, are the limited land resources available for development.  Through the purchase and inventory of land, the state government limited the development that did not directly support smart growth.  Massachusetts started their development as early as the 1970’s but theirs sustainability and growth was hindered due to legislative laws regarding zoning and discrepancies in policies standpoints from the democrats and the republicans.  The laws and regulations were not supportive of the innovation required to support sustainable growth for urban development.  In the Massachusetts example, the state government played a significant role in how the goals of smart growth were achieved.  While all were supportive they all did it in their varying ways.

Reflecting on these issues there are two main areas that provide a source of passion.  The first area is developing a multipurpose and environmentally sustainable urban development plan.  Massachusetts is leaps and bounds above some other metropolitan areas in the United States but there is always room for improvement.  A purpose built plan does not detract from the overall purpose of the environment but also helps us still remain productive.  As humans, we are the only creatures on earth that live outside of our environment.  This fine line between urban sprawl and intuitive and sustainable growth is becoming more and more important to urban developers.  Limited resources, as noted in the paper on Massachusetts, are a paramount concern.  Purchasing land rights and encapsulating the natural resources of the community provides the basic necessity in successful smart growth.

Developing a smart plan with multiple benefits and fully maximizing the limited resources holds very true to my beliefs.  By providing a walk path or bicycle trail that leads in and out of major business or shopping areas the people needing to get there would now have the option to walk or bike to their location.  This seems simple and in fact it could be depending on the availability of land and resources.  In order to fully maximize a bike and walking path it could be through a local park with amenities throughout the path to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.  By developing a plan that serves a functional purpose is the first portion of development but making it an experience instead of a task.  Walking to work should be positive benefit to using the trails.  The more enjoyable the experience the more it would be utilized and potentially the less environmental impact transportation has on the environment.

This is also true with providing a good financial experience.  The urban developer could create a great layout and input green technology to enhance the sustainability of the environment but to increase the adoption of smart development financial or other incentives could be utilized.  This is where a close relationship between the urban developers and the legislative powers come into play.  There could be tax breaks issued for those developing through smart growth.  There could also be other financial incentives to entice the kind of behavior the smart growth developers want to encourage.

Building an urban development project also needs support from leadership.  Just like any project, support from leadership influences the potential success of the project.  I feel incentives for people to build environmental sustaining projects they will require more than just goodwill from the community.  While good intentions help start project through idea generation, business still needs to remain profitable and the creation of work for the communities is also important.  The smart growth takes a special set of skills to manage expectations of key stakeholders.  By building a smart plan, the intentions of the project must be understood in a clear and definitive project plan.  The project plan is where the rubber meets the road and the key stakeholders ranging from government officials to community members will need to understand the overall impact of the project.  I feel clear and consistent communication will enable the benefits of the project to be fully understood and eliminate confusion.  While this was not specifically addressed in the smart growth essay through my experience with projects, each project needs to have a clear line of communication both vertically and horizontally.

The next area of my personal belief is that it takes a concerted effort to implement change.  This includes everyone that can make a contribution to the success of the smart development does make that contribution.  Support from the government is important to drive incentives and mitigate legal issues that could hinder a project unnecessarily.  This was evident in the early 1970’s and 1980’s when Massachusetts was trying to make strides in smart growth but met with resistance due to antiquated zoning laws.  The other areas are the communities that are impacted themselves.  The people places and things in the area that will experience the most change need to fully support and understand what changes are happing to their created environment.  Resistance to change could hinder a smart growth development project because the smart growth may be dramatically different than previous development projects.  These projects should be dramatically different than there traditional projects.  These are more focused on multi-dimensional and multi-functional and in essence could be misinterpreted or misunderstood by the community.

The smart growth article struck multiple chords on the front of what types of development projects that spark an interest in me.  The focuses of smart growth to build a better community as well as the full integration of stakeholders are two highly critical areas to support sustainable growth for the future.  Urban development is the keystone to building the cities of tomorrow with a very limited resource.  It takes a full integrated effort to be successful.

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