'Mr. Open Space' Should Have Been Called 'Mr. Rational'

The late Larry Livingston became known in planning circles and elsewhere as "Mr. Open Space." But, Bill Fulton writes, the tag was based on a misunderstanding of a fiscal analysis he prepared regarding housing development in a particular city.

"Livingston was best known for the project that brought him the most publicity – and the most frustration: An open-space study for the City of Palo Alto in 1971 that assessed the impact of permitting development of 5,000 acres of foothill land. Livingston concluded that the city would be better off fiscally if the land were left undeveloped – and bought by the city at market value - than if development were permitted.

It was the first time any planning study had ever dared to suggest that new housing was a money-loser for local government – and this was long before the passage of Proposition 13.

In the ferocious anti-development environmental politics of the day, Livingston also became the poster child for open space – and soon came to regret it."

Thanks to Paul Shigley

Full Story: Mr. Open Space? Let's Remember Larry Livingston As Mr. Rational Instead



Opportunity Knocks

After my own 30 years of writing and consulting in the field of planning, I guess I feel quite a bit of empathy for Larry Livingston. By now I’ve pumped out so much work product that I suppose you can find something I’ve researched or written to support just about any point of view about urban growth.

Perhaps then Mr. Fulton this would be a good time to revise your unmet housing needs assessment for Ventura County that has influenced your advocacy for so many zoning changes in both the city and county which now appear unnecessary.

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