Sunday, November 18, 2018

Iconic urbanist Jane Jacobs would have loved Houston

I've been meaning to comment for a while on this excellent piece reinterpreting Jane Jacobs by Nolan Gray at the Market Urbanism Report site.  I *love* this, as she implicitly endorses much of the Houston model. FWIW, my own thoughts on Jane's model can be found at The Market Urbanism Report here (or on this blog here).  Here are some of the key excerpts/points:
"I argue that we should interpret Jane Jacobs as a spontaneous order theorist in the tradition of Adam Smith, Michael Polanyi, and F.A. Hayek. Built into her work is a profound appreciation of the importance of local knowledge, decentralized planning, and the spontaneous orders that structure urban life. Needless to say, this is not the prevailing interpretation of the importance and meaning of Jacobs’ work. Two very different alternative interpretations prevail. In this post, I argue that both interpretations are mistaken."
She did NOT support a form-based code, nor was she a NIMBY:
"Between the publication of Death and Life and 1961 and her passing in 2006, Jacobs regularly advocated for performance zoning, a form of zoning that focuses exclusively on the negative externalities of new development. At the 1970 event, Jacobs even articulated the key issues that such a performance zoning code should focus, including noise, pollution, scale, signs, traffic generation, and demolitions (VMT p. 216). “Under performance zoning, far greater freedom of land use could be permitted than is now the case, with superior results for the environment.” Given that her theory of urban growth and change militates against stricter top-down land-use controls, and her advocacy of performance zoning suggests a viable alternative to the status quo, there is little reason that Jacobs’ observations about urban design should be taken as a blueprint for any kind of form-based code or transect zoning."
I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

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