Social / Demographics
Although the latest immigration bill being debated upon in congress has attracted relatively little attention from planners, the planning implications of reforming or not reforming current immigration policy are huge. Immigration impacts labor markets, and thereby commuting patterns, transportation planning and economic development. Immigration swells the population of many cities and towns forcing planners to rethink their plans for housing, schools and other public services. Often overlooked, however, is f immigration’s impact on the planning process itself.
Two years ago I saw John Norquist, former Mayor of Milwaukee and current President and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism, give a presentation on the state of America’s cities. During the slide show, Norquist used two sets of images to effectively convey a point about urban disinvestment in America. The first set of images was of Berlin and Detroit circa 1945. Unsurprisingly, the Berlin image displayed a war-torn and rubble-strewn city, while the Detroit image revealed why it was once called the Paris of the Midwest -- it was simply elegant. However, the second set of images displayed the same two cities 60 years later. It was as if Detroit had been through an epic war and not Berlin.
Houston or Holland? The rapidly growing suburbs of Madrid uncomfortably (and instructively) amalgamate some of both. I was lucky to receive a recent tour from David Cohn, a long-time colleague and 20-year resident of Madrid; Sylvia Perea, a post-doctoral student and, until recently, an editor at the journal Arquitectura Viva, and Emilio Ontiveros, a young architect of the local Research Group on Social Housing.