Equity-Based Urban Planning

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= also called 'Equity Planning'.


Benjamin Schneider|October 22, 2019:

"Can city planners use their technical tools to share resources more equitably among residents? That was the radical idea proposed by one Midwestern planner during the height of the urban crisis — and it offers lessons for American cities today as they struggle with aging infrastructure and unaffordable housing.

When Norman Krumholz became Cleveland’s Planning Director in 1969, he brought a new agenda to city hall: Evaluate all urban planning decisions through the prism of how they would affect the least advantaged residents. This philosophy, which came to be known as “equity planning,” represented a major shift in a profession that had long been focused on technical problems like zoning and road design, as well as finding new ways to stimulate economic growth. Through numerous books and a stint as president of the American Planning Association, Krumholz synthesized his theory as “providing more choices to those who have few, if any choices.”

Today, the word equity appears on nearly every urban planning document. But in an era when cities are defined by skyrocketing housing costs, extreme inequality and gentrification, and climate events that disproportionately affect the poor, achieving the ideals of equity planning remains an ongoing struggle. That makes now a great time to take a fresh look at equity planning and its potential to solve contemporary problems.

“It does feel like a time when planning as a profession has an opportunity to pick this up again in a really serious way,” says Lisa K. Bates, a professor of urban planning at Portland State University and the author of a recent book chapter on 21st century equity planning initiatives in Portland. It’s a time, she continued, for planners “to not just have a cute community engagement meeting, but to actually have their work be motivated by and driven by frontline communities that are experiencing the impacts of rising urban inequality.” (https://www.shareable.net/bringing-equity-to-the-forefront-of-urban-planning/)



Benjamin Schneider:

"Community groups contribute momentum:

Their efforts paid off: The Comprehensive Plan, released in 2016, explicitly requires a displacement analysis for major developments or zoning changes. Portland’s latest planning documents, Better Housing by Design and the Residential Infill Project, included displacement analyses, according to Eden Dabbs, a communications specialist for Portland’s planning department. The department is also reflecting on its past wrongdoings through a document called A History of Racist Planning in Portland.

The advocacy surrounding the Comprehensive Plan produced greater momentum on other equity issues, including a new inclusionary zoning ordinance in Portland that requires housing developers to reserve between 10 and 20 percent of units at below market rates for low-income residents. At the state level, Oregon recently passed a first-of-its-kind statewide rent cap — which was soon copied by California — and another law that “upzones” virtually all residential land in major cities to allow at least four housing units per lot. Both of these laws were supported by ADPDX, providing a contrast to Oregon’s southern neighbor, where anti-displacement groups have been wary of the state’s upzoning efforts.

“I think ADPDX has been really sophisticated in their analysis,” Bates says. “They’re not out here saying upzoning causes displacement, shut it all down.” Instead, they’re advocating “place-specific mitigation” and “offsetting equity investments” in vulnerable neighborhoods." (https://www.shareable.net/bringing-equity-to-the-forefront-of-urban-planning/)