All posts tagged: urban planning

oakland city hall administration urban planning city planning

Meeting Oakland’s City Administrator

I have a soft spot for city employees. It started after the financial crisis, when my city almost shut down. I stopped feeling weird about my sympathies once HBO began airing Show Me a Hero. The show, created by David Simon of Treme and The Wire, features the Shakespearean drama unfolding in city bureaucracy’s basement. In the years I lived in Oakland, I admired and defended the regular city workers, the people with the skills, background and commitment to move the city forward despite its myriad (and historic) obstacles. I’m not talking about politicians. On a few occasions I had the opportunity to work alongside them, for example, as a volunteer with National Day of Civic Hacking. So when SPUR scheduled “A Conversation with Oakland’s City Administrator,” I was there. City Administrator Sabrina Landreth grew up in Oakland and raises a family here. She is newly arrived from her post in Emeryville, though she had worked as Oakland’s deputy city administrator and budget director immediately following the 2008 financial crash. The key to mapping the …

Imagining the Cities We Want

What is a city people want? Let’s begin with the basics: health, housing, justice and jobs. Dignity starts there. Transit that’s cheap and streets free from congestion. Add to this beauty, clean air, water and land, community and public commons where we meet each other and talk about building this ideal city. In the Bay Area, our cities struggle to meet the basics. It’s hard to imagine imagining more when the foundations of dignity go missing. The statistics locally prove it (as we have written), and nationally, as George Packer has chronicled in The Unwinding, the wave began crashing years ago. A full house at SPUR gathered to imagine “Making Cities People Want,” a discussion of how “to create magnetic urban centers that support economic integration as well as civic engagement.” The panel’s premise: the space for engagement, the public commons, could be the mechanism for moving from imagination to action. The talk marked the announcement of the Gehl Institute and an infusion of $1.6 million in support from the John S. and James L. …

Loud Neighbors

I’m writing at the kitchen table, in complete stillness. Maybe not. No, I hear some sounds: the neighbor’s wind chime, birds, a passing car, the low hum of a freeway four miles away. Now a dog far off barks. Ah, the neighbor with three Harleys has arrived. As Sofia wrote this week, those sounds that “we let in and what remains outside” shape our individual experience. What about our collective experience? As citizens in urban, suburban and rural Bay Area, how is our soundscape shaping us? Who lets the noise in and who keeps it at bay? The Bay Area continues to pack in more people and cars. Among other impacts, the increase in noise pollution threatens our health and sanity. It’s not a rural or urban thing. The sound in our environment communicates the presence or absence of care in our collective space. I want to know who’s doing what about noise.  (Crane photo, Royce Bair) Name your noise. Maybe construction, traffic, electronics, television monitors have you down. For a bigger list of potential …