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San Luis Obispo County’s Local Adaptation Outcomes

Planning Pool authors, Daniella F. and Dylan M. are at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Charlotte, NC, for the next few days. We’re going to be liveblogging the more interesting conference proceedings. You can follow us on twitter @planningpool or with the hashtag #np4sg2011

Supervisor Jim Patterson answers audience questions


San Luis Obispo County in California is a politically conservative area that was challenged in drafting and implementing a climate change adaptation plan. Faced with resource cuts and shortages and climate change disbelievers, the County struggled to create an effective adaptation plan.
The speakers, Kate Meis and Supervisor Jim Patterson outlined a number of factors that contributed to the strategy’s success:

  • Utilizing current opportunities- general plan updates and community plan, state and … Continue Reading

Zoning Matters

This is the first in a series of articles written by Seth, a new PlanningPool contributor, that will highlight land use challenges and explore innovative ideas on the cutting edge of zoning thinking and practice, in pursuit of sustainability, justice, and prosperity.

Yaroslavl General Plan (2006). Courtesy of ЦНИИП Градостроительства.

I’m not sure exactly when I fell in love with zoning. Zoning’s an odd thing to love – intensely technical, opaque, and jargony. But the invisible logic of zoning – that language and maps (symbolic forms) could manage and transform the complex character of a city – drew me in. Zoning evokes the most boring, stodgy, and opaque subject imaginable, yet at this moment of urban and environmental transformation little could be more important.

The great challenge for urban planning … Continue Reading

Location, location, location

Reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that cause global warming is on most current political agendas. At 36%, the largest GHG source in British Columbia is transportation. GHG emissions are a product of vehicle miles traveled (VMT); therefore, a reduction in the latter contributes towards GHG reduction goals.

Thanks to Jeff Turner for this great Creative Commons photo of freeway infrastructure outside Los Angeles.

According to Philip Langdon of the New Urban Network, this is a “data problem” because achieving significant VMT reduction requires precise knowledge of vehicle trips and how they are impacted by mass transit, different development patterns and public policy interventions.

Location determines trips; no additional data is required. Langdon’s article cites a goal of 12% VMT reduction which could be accomplished simply … Continue Reading

Liveblogging the UBC Resilience Symposium: Uncertain Water Supplies

Drought-stricken farmland in Australia, between Melbourne and Sydney. Thanks to Beleobus on Flickr for the great Creative Commons photo.

Today, PlanningPool is coming to you live from the Symposium on Resilience at the University of British Columbia, where we just presented a lively panel discussion about Digital Media. (Our slides are online here.) Thanks to Karen Quinn Fung and Frances Bula for participating in the discussion!

An interdisciplinary panel of graduate students and professionals are currently discussing the critical planning issue of “Uncertain Water Supplies: Increasing the resiliency of development to water crises”. Planning graduate student Asrai Ord introduced the panel with the observation that a majority of Canadians believe in the “myth of abundance.” Unfortunately, frequent claims that Canada does not have to worry … Continue Reading

Rethinking the Good Life in Cities

City in a Bubble by Flickr user polishq

City in a Bubble by Flickr user polishq

Nicole Boyer facilitated a panel of speakers yesterday at Gaining Ground. Bill Rees, Vanessa Timmer, and Vincent Tan spoke about why we need to rethink cities and what cities of the future could look like.

To set up the context of why we need to rethink cities, Bill Rees showed how cities tax our ecosystems. Rees blamed Cartesian Dualism for creating the idea of “the environment,” something that is artificially separated from people and has infinite energy, resources, and capacity for waste. He also questioned the idea that economic growth is necessary, showing that growth is only a new phenomenon when considering the whole … Continue Reading

CIP Niagara conference: Communities on the competitive edge

The first plenary session this morning is focusing on economic development. The panel contrasts two very different communities- Hamilton, Ontario, whose main challenge is poverty and more conventional economic development, and Clyde River, Nunavut, which is suffering from climate change.

The first speaker, Mark Chamberlain, is an entrepreneur in Hamilton. Chamberlain argues that like good, competitive businesses, communities have to put people first. Many of our economic problems have root causes that we do not fully understand or address, like poverty. Poverty, or socioeconomic status, is the largest indicator of health, wellness, future earnings, and use of the healthcare and criminal justice systems. Hamilton is heading towards a community where collaboration and innovation address root causes of social ills as a form of economic development. One way Hamilton is going about this is the creation of social enterprises. Social enterprises … Continue Reading

Liveblogging from CIP Building a Better World Conference in Niagara Falls

Over the next few days, Vanessa and I will be liveblogging from the CIP/OPPI Conference in Niagara Falls, Ontario. With currenty 900 delegates registered and over 1000 expected from the private sector, the public sector and academia throughout Canada and abroad, the 3-day conference should be very interesting!

The theme of the conference is “Building a Better World,” which is appropriate for the current economic situation and for the location of the conference. As the Mayor of Niagara Falls noted in opening remarks, the recession offers an opportunity for changes. Also, Niagara Falls is a model of change. A former manufacturing center, Niagara Falls transformed itself into a tourism destination focusing on the falls, casinos, golf courses and vinyards, a place that offers attractions year-round.

Today, the conference is opening with keynote speaker Sheila Watt-Cloutier. A Nobel Prize nominee, Watts-Cloutier helped launch … Continue Reading

Proposed Drive-Thru Ban in Comox, BC: Cognitive Dissonance and the LEED-certified A&W

***Update, July 17: The Comox bylaw received first approval from the town council.***

Have you ever wished that your least favourite form of development could be simply banished? In the Vancouver Island town of Comox (pop. 12,000), the town council is considering just that.

Drive-thru A&W in the City of Coutenay, in the Comox Valley. Thanks to Brian Chow for the Creative Commons picture.

Drive-thru A&W in the City of Courtenay, in the Comox Valley. Thanks to Brian Chow for the Creative Commons picture.

A current resolution, meant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development, would amend Comox’s Zoning Bylaw to prohibit drive-thru services like restaurants and banks throughout the town. Existing uses would remain but no future drive-thrus could be developed.

Howls of protest and approval … Continue Reading

Unplugging Part One: Earth Hour

One Saturday last March, some friends and I sat around my kitchen table in the dark drinking beer, eating apple crumble and playing cards by candlelight. We hadn’t blown a fuse. The unplugged evening was in honour of Earth Hour, an annual occasion described by the World Wildlife Fund as a “symbolic event”:
Candlelight
Turning off our lights for an hour won’t stop climate change but it does demonstrate that our individual action is important and adds up to make a big difference. More importantly, it sends a very powerful message to government and world leaders that people want policies and regulations put in place that can achieve meaningful emission reduction to help fight climate change.

My personal experience of unplugging for Earth hour was enlightening (sorry) in a few ways.

The first few … Continue Reading