A participant in some of Seattle's most consequential planning processes puts out a call for a more inclusive use of language.
There's been a lot of talk about the effects of planning jargon already this year, but Laura Bernstein provides a new angle on the subject for The Urbanist. Bernstein is a former member of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) focus group member and former representative at the Northeast District Council, where there was constant exposure to acronyms that leave "newcomers feeling left out and overwhelmed." Bernstein wonders by urbanists seem so willing to use abbreviations like FAR, TOD, MHA, ROW, and MIZ. She asks the pointed questions: "Are they showing off? Are they in a hurry to try to convince you of something? Is it an essential part of every nerd subculture?"
Bernstein writes at greater length about the negative consequences of the esoteric language of urbanists:
I have observed people intimidated to speak up because of the jargon. It is imperative that the city fund “Land Use 101” education like the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association. I suspect that much of the mistrust of city officials is a lack of shared language to discuss land use decisions. When planning professionals–often nervously and defensively standing in front of a concerned crowd–use a secret code, it hurts the transparency of the process. We need more plain human everyday speech to demystify land use terms.
The article concludes with definitions of the acronyms above, including a special focus on PLUZ, which stands for the city of Seattle’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee.
Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes
The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.
4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design
With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.
LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water
The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.
Hawai’i Transportation Projects Receive Federal Grants
State officials say they need around $15 billion to mitigate the impacts of rising seas.
Feds Announce Over $3 Billion in Homelessness Assistance Funding
The Continuum of Care grants are directed to programs that provide supportive services and boost housing stability.
AI’s Growing Threat to Climate Justice
Emerging technologies like AI have great promise for climate innovation, but also a hidden environmental footprint could lead to disproportionate harm to low-income and marginalized communities.
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Harvard GSD Executive Education
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
Lassen County Planning and Building Services
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.