The Definition of Planning Insanity

Blackson summarizes the urban growth models of Leon Krier (emulating organic growth) and Andres Duany (successional growth). He argues these models are the foundation for achieving more and better quality development that achieve modern planning goals. For the full discussion, please see the source article.1

Today, San Diego is failing to accommodate our growth demands. Due to NIMBY (people who oppose any new building with a “Not In My Backyard” attitude) pressure and fear, only downtown towers and greenfield sprawl sites are far enough away from them to secure any development permits. And these aren’t our best places to allow for enough attainable or affordable housing. Big, heavy downtown towers are very expensive. But so are sprawling subdivision roads, fire stations, community centers, parks, and new housing construction costs. Those subdivisions are far away from jobs, necessitate a car for every daily need. Suburbia encumbers agriculture lands and are at great wildfire risk. But, that’s mostly what we have available to us to build the housing we need to accommodate for the next 1.3 million people by 2050 (SANDAG).

To continue building our San Diego region, I recommend using Leon Krier’s model for development.   In Krier’s model, cities and towns expand by developing new mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods.  New neighborhoods extend from an existing neighborhood with centers and edges for each neighborhood about a quarter of a mile apart as opposed to endless housing without boundaries. Concurrently, I agree with Andres Duany’s successional development model in which neighborhoods gradually intensify from less urban to more urban patterns over time (from single-family detached to attached townhouses to stacked flats).

Mr. Krier says, “nature works fundamentally through reproduction/imitation and so do all human activities.” This is analogous to natural growth, in which energy circulates more and more efficiently within a relatively stable structure (neighborhood infill) of each ecology as it progresses towards a climax (think historic Paris, Tokyo, and Chicago). This analogy teaches us that new neighborhoods extending from existing neighborhoods in addition to infill growth follow the natural pattern of successful city building.

Up-zoning is becoming a common YIMBY (people who want more urban lifestyles in the city support new building with a “Yes In My Backyard” attitude) call across the country. However, we only need to look at our current level of incompetence in building better neighborhoods