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Old 04-10-2013, 10:58 AM
 
2,493 posts, read 2,199,495 times
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Ask most suburbanites why they prefer the suburbs over the city and the two biggest answers are schools and crime. It is quite ironic that urban planners have little control over either.

Although I believe when urban planners improve cities in general, the schools improve and crime goes down.
This is a function of bring people back to the city. The two downtowns I am most familiar with, Denver and Indianapolis, have both greatly improved over the last two decades. Both have also seen improvements in their schools and in lower crime rates. Bringing employed, productive people back into the city improves both.

Asking urban planners to improve schools and lower crime is like asking them to improve the menus at restaurants. They can provide an environment for restaurants to prosper, but they can not control the quality of the restaurants.

The two biggest groups moving to cities are 1) twenty somethings pre-kids and 2) empty nesters.
The families with school age kids are attracted to the suburbs by yards, more house for the dollar, more elbow room, other kids and a many other reasons in addition to schools and crime.
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Old 04-10-2013, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,066 posts, read 102,785,508 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JR_C View Post
The professions of urban planning, architecture, and engineering are closely related. There is a lot of overlap. I've done the work of an engeneer, and--to a lesser extent--an urban planner, myself.

Re: the second bolded statement. Schools absolutely are a part of the urban fabric. I wouldn't be surprised if urban planners could play a role in the placement of schools. But an urban planner's job wouldn't go beyond placement, and maybe outside appearance/form.
Which is what I have suggested several times now. I also think urban planners could be more mindful in general of the schools. The people planners want to attract to the city want good schools for their kids. Planners are always writing articles/blogs, etc. Perhaps they could address schools on occasion. I think the more impetus there is on the schools to improve, the more they might be motivated to actually do so.
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Old 04-10-2013, 01:11 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,473 posts, read 11,121,304 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Which is what I have suggested several times now. I also think urban planners could be more mindful in general of the schools. The people planners want to attract to the city want good schools for their kids. Planners are always writing articles/blogs, etc. Perhaps they could address schools on occasion. I think the more impetus there is on the schools to improve, the more they might be motivated to actually do so.
But you have not suggested HOW they should do this. You are tearing down planners for not doing something that isn't their job, suggesting this thing become their job, but have no input as to WHAT they should actually do.
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Old 04-10-2013, 04:22 PM
 
2,882 posts, read 4,624,821 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddyline View Post
Ask most suburbanites why they prefer the suburbs over the city and the two biggest answers are schools and crime. It is quite ironic that urban planners have little control over either.
But it's not the suburbanites who are obligated to confront the irony, or the chicken-egg conundrum of making cities more attractive followed by quality school development. I personally don't see how we can separate the issues if urban planning is a QOL concern.

The Ambassador Hotel was razed in L.A. to build six needed inner city schools. That was a matter of civic priorities over preserving an incredibly historic landmark. (In fact, just this weekend I met a guy whose mom was at the hotel when RFK was shot.) Zoning follows. This could have been the site of very attractive and lucrative business development instead. It seems to me this is an urban planning issue and if the profession can't address it, maybe the discipline needs maturing.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:26 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,066 posts, read 102,785,508 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
But you have not suggested HOW they should do this. You are tearing down planners for not doing something that isn't their job, suggesting this thing become their job, but have no input as to WHAT they should actually do.
Au contraire, I have made several suggestions. My post just prior to yours suggests writing something about schools in an urban planning blog. Considering some of these blogs are about the most inane subjects, like vegetables in the front yard, etc, a blog about schools would be very appropriate, IMO.

I have also said, at least twice, that someone from the planning dept of a city could represent the city on these various "community liason" committees that school districts have.

I am absolutely not "tearing down planners for not doing something that isn't their job, suggesting this thing become their job, but have no input as to WHAT they should actually do." Perhaps if you read my posts instead of racing off to the keyboard to disagree with me, you would have seen such suggestions, made several times in the past few days!
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:43 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,066 posts, read 102,785,508 times
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Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Au contraire, I have made several suggestions. My post just prior to yours suggests writing something about schools in an urban planning blog. Considering some of these blogs are about the most inane subjects, like vegetables in the front yard, etc, a blog about schools would be very appropriate, IMO.

I have also said, at least twice, that someone from the planning dept of a city could represent the city on these various "community liason" committees that school districts have.

I am absolutely not "tearing down planners for not doing something that isn't their job, suggesting this thing become their job, but have no input as to WHAT they should actually do." Perhaps if you read my posts instead of racing off to the keyboard to disagree with me, you would have seen such suggestions, made several times in the past few days!
For example, from this very thread, in the last two days:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
No, urban planners are not educators. Nor are they architects or engineers, but they get involved in that stuff. In fact, that's their bread and butter, so it seems. If building codes were just left up to the engineers, buildings would probably be a lot safer. If street design were left up to the engineers, all cities would probably be on grids with wide streets. But those are topics for another thread(s). Schools have all sorts of "community liaison" committees. Why shouldn't the city planners be a part of them? People sure do shriek when the school district proposes closing schools. "We'll lose our community center". They said it when my little ele school was closed back in the 70s (I think, maybe late 60s), and they're saying it now in Chicago. Schools are often polling places for elections. So schools are an integral part of the "urban fabric".
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
OK, I'm speaking from a position of being neither an urban planner nor an educator. Most planners work for a city or county govt (I assume, and yes, I know that's dangerous). However, how do urban planners address transit? Our transit agency serves Denver plus all/part of seven other counties. Do urban planners interface with the transit districts and say, "this is what we need here"? Could they not do that with public education as well? Look at that list of topics. Many of them are outside the purview of an urban planner, yet urban planners get involved with "design and architecture" for ex while being neither designers or architects. Ditto many other topics on that list, e.g. housing. Do urban planners build housing? Do they have any influence over those who do, outside of conformance to codes? No. Most cities don't build housing, except for public housing projects. "Interiors"-do urban planners have any business concerning themselves with the interior designing of people's homes? No, but they do so anyway. The section "Learning" is not about public education, it is about learning opportunities for urban planners, BTW. To reiterate, why don't urban planners care about education? Is not education more important than what kind of lighting is available for one's home? (Taken from "interiors") There is no reason urban planners can't have an interface with the education administration of their cities, a place on these zillions of "committees" educators have, etc. There's no reason urban planners could not take a stand that the performance of the public schools in their jurisdiction should improve. And so forth.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:52 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
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So that's what you mean? You want planners to get involved on liaison functions and design of the school? You think that's going to produce an appreciable difference?
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:24 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,066 posts, read 102,785,508 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HandsUpThumbsDown View Post
So that's what you mean? You want planners to get involved on liaison functions and design of the school? You think that's going to produce an appreciable difference?
I have no interest in seeing planners design the schools. Most schools hire an architectural firm when they are building a new school. But my district, and I'd be willing to be the vast majority of districts, have community reps on their advisory committees. There's no reason city planners couldn't do that.

Here's one example.

http://www.bvsd.org/dac/Documents/Sc...021%202012.pdf
II: Function of the School Accountability Committee
The School Accountability Committee is an official group where the community can be involved in educational improvement at a school. It is through the cooperative efforts of teachers, parents, staff, administrators, students, and community members that the foundations for school improvement are built.


The primary role of the SAC is in the areas of making recommendations about spending priorities, making recommendations about the school improvement plan, and discussing implementation of the school improvement plan. These specific duties and powers are enumerated below with reference to law, in a manner that reflects models schools might use and questions that SAC members might ask in evaluating their committee’s performance.


I do not understand why you are being so hostile. I have years' of experience in the public schools and I have a pretty good idea what's going on in them. Why wouldn't an urban planner's involvement in school liaison be helpful? It's a lot more helpful than them ignoring the schools.

Schools are a part of a community. Urban Planners have an obligation to be involved in them. It seems like, from what I can tell, most of them don't even want to get involved as individuals.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Southern California
15,087 posts, read 17,595,753 times
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Originally Posted by Eddyline View Post
Ask most suburbanites why they prefer the suburbs over the city and the two biggest answers are schools and crime. It is quite ironic that urban planners have little control over either.

...
In California, public schools are not subject to the jurisdiction of the local agency, i.e planning department. Public schools are under the jurisdiction of the state government. This includes school locations (they can exclude themselves from local zoning), site planning and architecture (reviewed and approved by the State Architect), and operations (we can't regulate it). We do have the opportunity to review proposals and provide comment, but they don't have to comply.

Regarding crime, we can, with the cooperation of the private developer, design/build communities that have the amenities/features that would help lower crime and/or prevent crime but at the end of the day, there is not a lot we can do directly about crime.

[it's like designing a nice car - what the owner does with it after he drives it off the lot is not within our control]
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:31 PM
 
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,473 posts, read 11,121,304 times
Reputation: 3118
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
I have no interest in seeing planners design the schools. Most schools hire an architectural firm when they are building a new school. But my district, and I'd be willing to be the vast majority of districts, have community reps on their advisory committees. There's no reason city planners couldn't do that.

Here's one example.

http://www.bvsd.org/dac/Documents/Sc...021%202012.pdf
II: Function of the School Accountability Committee
The School Accountability Committee is an official group where the community can be involved in educational improvement at a school. It is through the cooperative efforts of teachers, parents, staff, administrators, students, and community members that the foundations for school improvement are built.


The primary role of the SAC is in the areas of making recommendations about spending priorities, making recommendations about the school improvement plan, and discussing implementation of the school improvement plan. These specific duties and powers are enumerated below with reference to law, in a manner that reflects models schools might use and questions that SAC members might ask in evaluating their committee’s performance.


I do not understand why you are being so hostile. I have years' of experience in the public schools and I have a pretty good idea what's going on in them. Why wouldn't an urban planner's involvement in school liaison be helpful? It's a lot more helpful than them ignoring the schools.

Schools are a part of a community. Urban Planners have an obligation to be involved in them. It seems like, from what I can tell, most of them don't even want to get involved as individuals.
The reason I'm coming off as hostile is that you continued To express your opinion of planners: that they don't care about schools. I'm surprised that all it would take to convince you otherwise is for one of them to sit on a board or something. I'm not entirely sure that isn't done, but I'm also not sure what good it would do. Do they have any influence as a liaison? Do they have access to funding to implement changes the school community wants? Well, you Said you don't want them in design, that's for architects. They can't be in education, because that's for educators. So what exactly do you want them to do in this liasion function? Who will they be working for? For transportation projects im familiar with There are planners who work as community liaisons, but usually it is a communications/pr type with good technical knowledge.

This is a position designed for failure. If implemented it would do nothing to challenge your view of planners caring only about bike lanes and proximate bars, I'm afraid.

Perhaps if a school had some issue in transportation; inadequate sidewalks to school, maybe more bus unloading is needed ... But planners already work on these projects. So I'm just still not clear what this job will entail. It feels like a straw man.
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