Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Some Musings on Municipal Planning

In response to a recent post from Alex Tabarrok regarding urban planning, Arnold Kling wonders whether the process is still being explained in terms that are too simplistic:
Planning is something that never stops...How do you adapt a city to new circumstances?
New circumstance exist in several dimensions as well - some of which remain confusing because they are in need of internal generation, even if a charter is involved. Tabarrok's post touched on a recent interview with Paul Romer, regarding his own work in urban planning assistance. What are some differences between urban planning in general, and charter cities? Paul Romer provides an explanation from the relevant blog post.
A charter city is like urban expansion but some aspects of how the city will be run can be specified before anyone arrives. This gives the organizer of a charter city the opportunity to implement reforms that are difficult to implement after people are already in place. The name charter refers to the charter that William Penn wrote for Pennsylvania. This charter said that this new place would implement a separation between church and state and would always respect freedom of religion. With this charter in place, he could recruit people who wanted to live in such a place.
Recall that knowledge use systems - and their associated local corporations - would include characteristics of charter formation. Uncertainty regarding new circumstance is doubtless a factor why charter cities haven't gotten enough traction. Even so, those with the means to invest are not necessarily the ones who want - or need - to start over. Many who would benefit from new circumstance for working and living, may not necessarily have the financial means to make a new start. This has bearing why time value is needed as a valid component for investment - not just for personal service needs but those of community as well. Indeed, it would be difficult to participate in planning processes for new community formation, if one cannot generate resource capacity which would be useful for others.

Present day city formation in developing nations, tends to follow standard formulas, which mostly reflect twentieth century development. Many ideas for charter city development are presently in a theoretical stage. As Arnold Kling noted, changing circumstance will be an ongoing part of the process in the years ahead. The fact that the marginalized are the ones who would benefit most from new circumstance, yet are not actively involved in ongoing dialogue, has bearing on why many ideas in this blog are simply exploratory functions right now.

Paul Romer noted in the above linked interview that a "quality city needs a substantial amount of public space if it is eventually to support high density." This would also be true for any knowledge use community with inherent geographic qualities which make it a desirable location for the long term. Further, time based investment would likely augment the pleasant features that already exist. Communities such as these would come with recognizable time use "pricing" imprints to choose from as well, instead of standard taxation or fees. The fact that population densities would be closely aligned for walkable communities in particular, means more public space would be spaced alongside private use areas as well.

Often, in the past, communities were built around locally available resources which were treated as a centerpiece of group organization. For the most part this form of organization has been relatively informal, but there have also been examples of top down dictates which failed on more personal terms. Even so, much about knowledge use systems also involves organizational patterns which initially appear complex. How would they not come across as top down dictates?

Knowledge use systems would utilize services as a centerpiece of time organization, but in ways that allow individuals to set their own schedules with one another. The systems might evolve along two different templates, depending on whether they originate in already existing municipal surroundings or begin anew in areas with low population density. As to new community locations, Emily Washington recently penned an apt reminder, that today's infrastructure does not have enough options in terms of what people actually want from their environments.

Today, many individuals who would like to live among other individuals with similar lifestyle preferences, are geographically separated from one another, with little more than the forms of social media they have in common. Further, many who attempt to carry out alternative infrastructure on their own are often discouraged by local municipalities which adhere to strict codes. Eventually, domestic summits could help more like minded individuals find one another, in a process that would mean the beginning of new communities for those who need them most. Future posts will get into more detail, as to some of the charter conditions which would inform these communities at the outset.

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