What if the city held a meeting, and no one showed up?

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One of the best-known architects and urban planners in the country has now said that sometimes there can be too much public participation in how plans are being made by a city.

This caught my eye, in a story posted in Architect magazine:

“Andrés Duany is souring on what he sees as excessive, obstructionist community engagement in urban planning. At an event last year, the co-founder of New Urbanism complained of ‘an absolute orgy of public process’ In the U.S.: ‘Basically, we can’t get anything done.’ Is there a place anymore for bottom-up planning?”

(Duany helped found the Miami firms of Architectonica Architecture and later DPZ, with Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. DPZ has completed a host of New Urbanist projects. New Urbanism grew quickly a few decades ago as a way to control suburban sprawl, but to some it’s more like Old Urbanism with a new coat of paint.)

To be honest, that lead-in ratchets up what Duany is saying in the Q. and A. with Diana Lind. Still, I don’t think I’m the only one who believes that in some cases – and at some meetings – is anyone in charge really listening? (Diana Lind is the founding managing director of the Penn Fels Policy Research Initiative; before that, she was editor-in-chief and executive director of Next City.)

People I know who attend civic meetings over the years often have felt like they’re throwing spaghetti against the wall – and nothing is sticking. I know I felt that way years ago when numerous meetings were held over the fate of Skyline Park and later the future of Civic Center. It was like being on a hamster wheel, sitting in miserable chairs and knowing that a lot of what was said by community members just floated into the ether.

Still, we know that people need to have a voice, so we can’t stop.

The next opportunity for community participation in Denver is a set of meetings to learn about the changes in the city’s new Denveright plan, in terms of zoning. You remember Denveright, right? A hefty plan that kind of sounds a lot like now – though not totally?

On January 7, the city will release second drafts of several of its new plans (Comprehensive Plan 2040, Blueprint Denver and Game Plan for a Healthy City). Comments then can be made online. The city also will release the final drafts of two other plans (Denver Moves: Transit plan, and the Denver Moves: Pedestrians and Trails plan). Then, there will be what are termed drop-in sessions with city planners starting on January 10 through February 5 at various libraries.

That’s only three days to read all of this before the first opportunity to respond, so shut off the phone.

Below are links to the Architect magazine piece and information about the next round of Denveright plans. (Please note: The image on here is a view of the interior of the Buell Theatre, which is much more beautiful than any traditional meeting settings.)





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