Ken Bernstein's blog

Ken Bernstein is Manager of the Office of Historic Resources and Principal Planner of the Citywide Planning Division for the City of Los Angeles' Department of City Planning.

Can "Webinars" Make Planning Workshops Obsolete?

Can planners effectively use on-line meeting technology to host public participation workshops? The City of Los Angeles' Department of City Planning recently decided to find out for itself by experimenting with a "webinar" format for two kickoff workshops highlighting the City's 2010 draft citywide Bicycle Plan.

A webinar is a web conference, where participants can access a virtual meeting using a computer and Internet connection. Participants access a website to see the presente's computer screen and also listen to the presenter through the computer's speakers or using a telephone.

Planning Lessons from an Olympic Beauty Contest

Last week, my home city, Los Angeles, lost out to Chicago for the right to represent the United States in the international competition to host the 2016 Olympics.  Since an Olympic city selection represents the ultimate inter-urban beauty contest – dare I say, a kind of urban “International Idol” – what did this process tell us about the state of urban planning in two of America’s largest cities? 

'Historic', Not 'Hysterical': Preservation Goes Mainstream

Historic preservation still suffers from an image problem, even in the face of all available evidence. Some critics still have the misimpression that preservationists are fussy (even fusty) antiquarians. When I hear complaints about the requirements of historic review commissions, I’m amazed that the griping is often accompanied by a crack about the local “hysterical society.” Even the Wikipedia entry on “historic preservation” contains the passage, “‘historic preservation’ is sometimes referred to as ‘hysterical preservation’.” (And, of course, Wikipedia is ever-infallible).