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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Berkeley Planning Journal is an annual peer-reviewed journal published by graduate students in the Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) at the University of California, Berkeley since 1985.

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Journal Submissions

The Global Urban Humanities Initiative:Engaging the humanities and environmental design in pedagogical innovation

A new initiative to better integrate methods and theories from the humanities with those from the fields of environmental design is being launched at the University of California, Berkeley.  The project, known as the Global Urban Humanities Initiative, will bring faculty, graduate students, practitioners and critics together over three years through a series of methods workshops, theory courses, and research studios examining three Pacific Rim cities.  This article examines the history of the interaction of the humanities, social science and design and planning disciplines in teaching and practice and describes the pedagogical and research experiments planned for the project.

A Round-Table Discussion with Ed Glaeser

On April 25, 2013, the Berkeley Planning Journal invited Harvard Professor of Economics Ed Glaeser, along with UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus Martin Wachs, to participate in a round-table discussion with Department of City and Regional Planning PhD students. Moderated by Erick Guerra, the result was an hour-long discussion on cities and problems at the intersection of urban planning and urban economics. Professor Glaeser responded to questions on urban policy, affordable housing, development in developing countries, transportation, and what it takes to be a successful scholar.

The following text is a transcript of the discussion, edited to ensure that the recorded responses matched the speakers’ intentions.

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More Than “Not Urban”: Seeking a Quantifiable Definition of Rural

Traditionally, planners focus on urban areas, though a significant portion of the U.S. population and most of its land are rural. Existing federal and state definitions of "rural" conflict, inadequately distinguishing these areas, and obfuscating their challenges and opportunities. By developing a clear understanding of what makes a community rural, including a quantifiable and map-able definition, planners will be better prepared to improve outcomes in both rural and urban areas.

Finding Your Fit: A Proposal for Emerging Planning Scholars

Planning scholarship and professional practice roles can be confusing to navigate. I propose that it is useful to think about three different emphases that characterize academic planners: broker, scientist, or synthesist. These in turn have varying degrees of academic or professional emphasis. Within this discussion framework, it is possible to locate a wide range of scholarly and professional roles and functions.

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Shrinking Cities: Fuzzy Concept or Useful Framework?

Shrinking cities beset with sustained population losses have been the focus of a number of studies in the past decade. Much progress has been made in charting where they are and what cause them, but we are still at a point where more detailed case studies are needed for specificity and local context, keeping commonalities in mind but recognizing the crucial situational differences in how differently cities are situated. Per the observation that the term of shrinkage has been used for cities as diverse as Flint, MI and San Jose, CA, we will critically reflect on the concept of shrinking cities and argue how recognition of heterogeneity must be a starting point for any discussion of both analytical relevance and policy formulation.

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A Gradual Reawakening: Broadacre City and a New American Agrarianism

Frank Lloyd Wright’s utopian plan Broadacre City described a decentralized, agrarian landscape. Post-World War II American suburbanization reflected Wright’s vision in many ways. In response, a large body of literature on the harms of decentralized development was established and numerous alternative models for urban growth that aim to increase density, including New Urbanism, were developed. However, the agrarian ethos of Broadacre City is missing from American suburbia as well as its prominent alternatives. This absence is not incidental; the growing literature on biophilia describes the human need for nature to live healthy and satisfying lives. The contemporary rising interest in urban agriculture is an insurgent demand for the opportunity to reconnect with the land once again. In this paper I argue that planners must recognize this insurgence by incorporating agrarian design, not only denser design, in the latest models for urban growth.

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LEED for Neighborhood Development: Does it Capture Livability?

LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) is a fairly new system for rating neighborhoods on the sustainability of their design and planning.  This study examines LEED-ND’s criteria for Neighborhood Pattern and Design, starting from the hypothesis that these standards fall short of capturing the livability of a place as perceived by its residents.  Noe Street in the Duboce Triangle neighborhood of San Francisco serves as the study site. Field measurements show that Noe Street is ineligible for LEED-ND certification. Survey results show that a majority of residents find it highly livable, nonetheless. When asked to consider life on their street, residents put different emphasis on what makes a neighborhood livable than the LEED-ND standards.

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Codornices Creek Corridor: Land Use Regulation, Creek Restoration, and their Impacts on the Residents’ Perceptions

The Codornices Creek, an ecological corridor located in the northern part of Berkeley, California, is among the most visible, publicly accessible, and socio-economically diverse creeks in the East Bay. The current study examinesthe comparative influence of individual-level socio-economic conditions, involvementin Creek restoration activities, and the existing Creek-related land useregulations on the area residents’ sense of community and perception of areaecology. Based on the data collected through field measurements and survey ofthe Creek area residents, the study finds the respondents’ exposure to theCreek Ordinance, a key land use regulation in the Codornices Creek area, to be amongthe most important factors affecting their perception of the Creek’s role instormwater management, while the comparative impact of socio-economicconditions appears to be less important. In contrast, exposure to the Ordinanceis found not to have any significant impact on the respondents’ sense ofcommunity or overall perception of area biodiversity. Surprisingly, neither oneof the three outcomes of interest – sense of community, perception of areabiodiversity, or awareness of the Creek’s role in stormwater management –appear to be strongly affected by the respondents’ involvement in Creek-focusedrestoration activities.

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Book Reviews

Design After Decline: How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities, by Brent Ryan

This is a review of the recent book by Brent Ryan of MIT's Department of Urban and Regional Studies.

The New Geography of Jobs, by Enrico Moretti

The central problem of local economic development, namely, how to guide declining cities toward renewed prosperity, remains stubbornly resistant to resolution, both theoretically and in practice. Despite a long history of theory and empirical research going back to the economic base model of the 1950s, and an even longer history of practice, dating to the 19th century, cities and states in the U.S. are still chasing jobs, industrial plants, and football teams, offering huge subsidies. They are bemused by nostrums, such as the creative class, which promise success, but rarely deliver. On the academic side, much excellent research has been done, for example on industrial clusters, and many books have set out the principal tools for local economic development that planners have employed. Still, success eludes most of the places that really need it.


Kaye Bock Award

The Kaye Bock Student Paper Award is named in loving memory of Kaye Bock—DCRP’s Student Affairs Officer for over 20 years—to honor her unbounded concern for and commitment to graduate students in this department.

Recent DCRP Graduates, Doctoral Dissertations, and Master’s Theses

Recent DCRP Graduates, Doctoral Dissertations, and Master’s Theses