Eric Damian Kelly's blog

Eric Damian Kelly is a professor of urban planning at Ball State University and a vice president of Duncan Associates.

Bright Lights, Big City?

I missed the APA national conference for the first time in 15 years -- but I quickly heard reports that one of the hot topics focused on banning electronic message boards.  I dissent.

What would Times Square be without the colorful, multi-message, oft-changing signs?  Would Las Vegas have become the tourist definition that it has without the colorful signs?  I am not a huge fan of Las Vegas, but I certainly think it has the right to define itself as it wishes.  

Tight Budgets and the Need to Plan

Which of these families most needs to plan its family commitments and related budget items?

Family 1:  Wife is a bankruptcy lawyer whose business is booming; husband is an executive at a growing wind-energy company and has just received a nice raise, paid out of growing profits.  The kids are grown.  The couple's two Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are very healthy.

Family 2:  Wife is a plant manager for a U.S.-owned automobile company, facing mandatory unpaid time off this year; husband is a travel agent who sells high-end vacation packages to school teachers, planners and other middle-income individuals and families.  Son has graduated from college but cannot find a job and is living at home and working part-time at a burger place.  Daughter will be a college junior next year at an institution that has had its funding cut by the state and has thus announced a 15 percent tuition increase.

Lighter Moments -- A Hardship Variance

DISCLAIMER:  This is a true story, but I do not pretend that it has great social significance.  Just one of those many "lighter moments" in a planning career.

I was in my home state of Colorado, at a zoning board meeting.  I do not recall why I was there (it must have worked out satisfactorily, or I would remember).  I do remember one case that the board heard, however. 

Transportation Concurrency and Sprawl

Transportation concurrency is the subject of a bill that has passed one house of the Florida legislature. "Concurrency" is the Florida term for "adequate public facilities controls," indicating that facilities need not necessarily be in place at the time of project approval but that they must be scheduled to become available "concurrently" with demand from proposed development.

Low Impact Development

A grad student in our program at Ball State told me several months ago that he wanted to do his creative project (a thesis alternative) on “low impact development.” His particular interest was in what we called “natural drainage systems” when I worked with the planners and landscape architects at Rahenkamp, Sachs Wells in Philadelphia 30 years ago.  I told him that it was a great topic and suggested some contemporary and older resources, including an excellent 1975 publication by the Urban Land Institute entitled Residential Storm Water Management. I also told the student that the big issue with such systems is maintenance.

Telling the Planning Story

During my term of office as president of the American Planning Association, I made my theme “telling the planning story.” My point then – and today – is that we need to do a better job of explaining to our many publics what it is that planners do and why it makes a difference.