Leading Urbanist to Present Talk about “The Future of Placemaking in Economic Development …and How This Has Particular Meaning for Downtown Pasadena”

The Playhouse & Old Pasadena Management Associations will present a very special discussion with Christopher Leinberger. He will present “The Future of Placemaking in Economic Development …and How This Has Particular Meaning for Downtown Pasadena at 2:00pm on Tuesday, October 25, 2011. Event Details

For more about Placemaking: Project for Public Spaces

About Christopher B. Leinberger:

A leading thinker in Urban Planning. Visiting Fellow at Brookings Institute; Noted author; and Voted one of the “Top 100 Urban Thinkers”.
From his website:

The building of the built environment (real estate and the infrastructure that supports real estate) is in the middle of a structural change.

The previous mid-20th century structural change converted real estate development into a modular, formula-driven industry, based upon access and parking of automobiles and trucks; I refer to it as “drivable sub-urbanism”.

The real estate industry responded to the market demand of the day and yielded many benefits. Yet we now know that it actually narrowed consumer options, consumed land at 6-8 times population growth and produced “could be anywhere” places, based upon the “19 standard product types”. These drivable sub-urban formulas are re-enforced by the financing of much of commercial real estate which has turned what for thousands of years was a 40-year asset class into a product with a 7-10 year life.

There are many unintended social, economic, health and environmental consequences resulting from how America has been developing its built environment over the past two generations. These consequences include, among others:

• dependency on a car/truck-only transportation system which is putting excessive financial pressure on household budgets
• social segregation and secession of elites,
• dependency of about 1/3rd of the population who do not drive,
• subsidized public and private infrastructure for drivable sub-urban development that is increasingly expensive to build and maintain,
• lack of unintentional daily exercise which has partially contributed to the obesity epidemic,
• indirect impact on American foreign policy which is skewed toward securing sources of foreign oil from countries increasingly hostile to the US,
• economic exposure to increasing oil prices as the potential of “peak oil” approaches and
• over 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, the major contributor toward climate change.

Over the past 15 years, many consumers have been demanding different options to the “one-size-fits-all” drivable sub-urbanism. While single-family homes on large lots and strip commercial will be a significant part of the market demand for decades to come, there are many segments of the population that want something different; what I refer to as “walkable urbanism”. This is where most daily needs can be met within walking or rail transit distance. These alternatives include downtown and suburban downtown revitalization, New Urbanism, transit-oriented development, green field mixed-use development (“lifestyle centers”), regional mall redevelopment, among others.

Progressive public policy responses that allow for and promote this kind of development include smart growth, strategy and management of walkable urban places, impact fees that “level the planning field”, affordable & workforce housing development and creating “blueprint plans”, for the economic development and transportation future of metropolitan areas.