A Tale of Two Towns, And What Makes Them 'Authentic'

Rick Cole, city manager of Azusa and now Ventura, reflects on what 'authenticity' really means for towns struggling to balance identity with new development.

"What makes a place "authentic"? In places we cherish, we look for something unique and tangible. But personal experience of a place is not merely a product of the landscape and "built environment." It is also shaped by myths and perceptions."

"To some, new development [in Azusa] seems to violate the city's 'unique natural, historic and cultural heritage.' There is considerable concern that new structures might be undermining the cherished small town character.

This has led to a continuing political struggle. Is the new development creating "a distinct identity and sense of place" or altering the community's existing character beyond recognition? This reflects a deep ambivalence of local residents about change. So much of current development is simply generic "product" that even the value of new investment (and more permanent benefits of expanded jobs, housing and tax base) may seem like a poor trade-off against the loss of the familiar."

Full Story: Creating an Authentic Place

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month
Red necktie with map of Boston

Tie one on to celebrate your city

Choose from over 20 styles of neckties imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
$44.95
DVD Cover of The Story of Sprawl

The Story of Sprawl

See how America changed shape in this collection of historic films that visually document how sprawl evolved.
$29.99 for 2-DVD SET