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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.

Issue cover

A Publication of the Graduate Students of the Department of City and Regional Planning, University of California at Berkeley

Editor: Susan Handy Business Manager : Roddie Cole Assistant Editor: Raphael Fischler

Editorial Collective: Lee Axelrod, Lisa Bornstein, Roddie Cole, Cliff Ellis, Raphael Fischler, Subhrojit Guhathakurta, You-Tien Hsing, Richard Lee, jonathan Levine, Anne Martin, Betsy Morris, Ayse Pamuk, Ruth Steiner.

Faculty Associates: Edward Blakely, Robert Cervero, Peter Hall, Michael Teitz, and Melvin Webber.

Editorial Notes


The world is undergoing radical change at the beginning of this new decade. As Professor Manuel Castells articulated in a keynote speech at the October meeting of the American Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), the fall of communism and the rise of a global economy repre­ sent unparalleled changes in the world order and present new con­ cerns and opportunities for planners. Within the U.S., crisis often seems imminent these days, in light of infrastructure fiascoes, the growing number of homeless, increasing levels of crime, and the apparent likelihood of a recession, among other concerns. The local NBC-affiliate station recently broadcast a special report entitled "What's Wrong with the System?" which repeatedly pointed to planning failures. Indeed, the planning field may never before have faced challenges as great as those it faces today.

Book Reviews

French Modern: Norms and Forms of the Social Environment by Paul Rabinow

French Modern is one of these books that one should read twice: the first time, in order to enjoy the author's storytelling; the second time, to learn from his skillful analysis. The story, in this case, is that of the gene­ sis of French urbanisme. It is the story of "technicians of general ideas": social reformers and statisticians, military men and politicians, architects and social scientists whose work lies in "the middle ground between high culture or science and ordinary life" (p. 9). Rabinow tells us about their efforts to fashion new fields of knowledge and technologies of social control, as well as new urban forms and social spaces. Through this story, Rabinow analyzes the specific forms of rationality that these men embodied and articulated, forms of rationality that made possible a new mode of social regulation: modern city planning. While the book is about French planning, it has lessons for American planning practi­ tioners, historians, and theorists, who may find that the field of planning evolved in similar ways on both sides of the Atlantic. Both French and American planning share an early emphasis on hygiene and both gradu­ ally came to rely on universal standards in order to analyze and regu­ late the city and its population.


Planning in the 1990s: Growth and the Environment

Transcriptions ofportions ofa symposium held on May 3, 1990, at the University of California at Berkeley

Density Perception on Residential Streets

The purpose of the study summarized in this article was to explore which physical characteristics influence people's perception of density on urban residential streets. Three streets in San Francisco, California, were evaluated and compared in terms of visual characteris­ tics, such as variety and distinctness of form, colors, materials, and patterns. These measurements were compared to the perceived density of these streets as indicated by both residents and non-residents. The study found three physical characteristics to be very strongly associated with perceptions of lower density: (1) greater building articulation; (2) less facade area or smaller buildings; (3) a greater number of "house"-like dwellings. These findings have significant implications for urban policy and design practice.

The Economic Impacts of the Loma Prieta Earthquake: A Focus on Small Business

This paper identifies the impacts of the Lorna Prieta earthquake on the economy of the San Francisco Bay Area as a whole and specifically for small businesses. Findings are based on an analysis of published agrg egate economic data and a survey of small businesses in two cities. The paper finds that the economy showed a great deal of resistence, and concludes by outlining three lessons for future disaster planning in all areas prone to natural disasters.

Poverty, the Underclass, and Immigration: Another Look at the Debate on Poverty

The current popular debate on poverty focuses on the underclass. Poverty is considered, in this context, a problem of unskilled, uneducated individuals or of groups ofpeople whose lifestyles mire them in poverty. In this article, the author argues that the focus on the underclass, and subsequent use of individually and culturally focused explanations for poverty, skew our understanding of the problem and divert our attention from appropriate policy responses. Using evidence from four different periods of immigration into Ameri­ can cities, an argument is presentecffor the importance ofstructural and institutional factors in understanding the success or failure of each group to find work and move up. The author concludes that these factors are better able to account for poverty and justify increased attention to structural conditions in poverty.

Collectivism and Productivity in Rural Development: The Chinese Experience

This paper investigates the Chinese experience in col­ lective farming during Mao's period. The relationship between collectivism and productivity, efficiency, and labor incentives are examined in a comparative frame­ work between the collectivization and the privatization years. The author argues that there is insufficient evi­ dence to support the conventional view that rural col­ lectivism directly generates the problems of lack of work incentives or the inefficient use of resources. In other words, the problems in the collective period are not necessarily generated by the collective practice itself

The Potential for Filtering as Public Policy

The paper reviews the potential role of housing filtering to provide long-term improvements in housing for the poor. It reviews alternative definitions of filtering in the literature, and speculates on market imperfections which may decrease the effectiveness of filtering in meeting the needs of specific households. Finalfy, it briefly describes alternative public policy techniques to maximize the benefits of filtering for low-income families.

Urban Fringe

Congestion and Enlightenment

The author returned from a recent visit to Bangkok convinced that western planners could learn much from tlie Thai approach to traffic management


Abstracts and Titles of Student Work

Recent PhD Dissertations, Masters Thesis and Professional Reports from the Departmet of City and Regional Planning.